Cost of Living Comparison: KL and Australia

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The statistics unanimously decree that the cost of living in Australia is significantly higher than in Malaysia. Indeed, according to, it is 48% cheaper to live in Kuala Lumpur than in Sydney and a staggering 58% cheaper to live in Johor compared to Melbourne!


Food Cost Comparison

Though the notion of eating out every night in most Australian cities would seem too pricy to even consider, frequenting the local café, mamak or banana leaf in KL can, in some cases, be cheaper than shopping and preparing food at home. Food, overall, is 52% less expensive in KL than in Sydney and 50% less than Melbourne. However, those who crave a high-class, quality restaurant experience in the heart of KL should be prepared to be hit with a significant bill (though ringgit for dollar, still less than most of the swanky eateries in Australia’s top cities).  Potential expats will be happy to note that, all in all, restaurant prices are a whopping 277% more expensive in Australia than in KL.
There are a few exceptions to the rule of food being cheaper in KL. For example, some dairy products, such as imported cheese is, 1% more expensive than in Oz. Whole Fat Milk can cost you up to 21% more at certain grocery stores. Australian expats who develop a real craving for some of the staples of home (Vegemite and Milo excluded: these can be found just about anywhere, though the taste of Milo in Malaysia is nothing like the Aussie variety) can find certain important goods from specialty vendors. Potential buyers should be aware, however, that these goods come with a price-tag that does suggest that you are paying what you would in dollars plus a bit extra.
Alcohol in KL, and wider Malaysia, is largely more expensive than in Australia. Though locally brewed beers such as Carlsberg and Tiger is cheaper, a decent red wine will run you around RM67: A good 27% more than you would pay for an Australian bottle.

Transportation Cost Comparison

Train, Bus and Taxi costs in Kuala Lumpur are, as one would expect, far less costly than in Australia. Gasoline is roughly RM1.94 per litre, 55% less expensive than Australia’s AU$1.46. Due to the high import tax imposed on foreign vehicles, instigated by the Malaysian government to encourage the purchase of locally manufactured cars such as the Proton SAGA SV, purchasing a car in Malaysia can, providing you want to buy international, cost you far more than it would in Australia. For example, the cost of a new Volkswagen Golf or the vehicular equivalent minus extras will cost the consumer in Malaysia up to 86% more than in Australia!

Overall, however, getting around in KL is still 28% cheaper than Oz. However, certain inconveniences such as road jams and tolls found in Malaysia renders the low cost of travel just a little bit less idyllic.

Leisure expenditures, monthly utilities, clothing, housing and personal care costs in Kuala Lumpur are virtually all comparatively cheap. Though a few products (certain brands of detergent and [surprisingly] a few top of the line flat screen TV models for example) are more accessible and less expensive in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane, the everyday expenses that comprise the Malaysian/Kuala Lumpur cost of living is sure to tantalize anyone considering making the big move north from the land down under.


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