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Malaysia: Student Finances - Must read

Student living costs in Malaysia

Our guide to living costs for international students in Malaysia, including accommodation, public transport and food.

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

Modern, robust and ever-growing, Malaysian cities attract an increasing amount of international visitors each year. Hosting about 70,000 international students from over 100 countries, one of the main drawcards of studying in Malaysia is no doubt the low cost of living. The Malaysian Ringgit is valued relatively low, but is almost too easy to spend at once. Our breakdown of living costs in Malaysia will help you plan your study abroad budget.


Note: RM1 = £0.18 = €0.22



Universities normally offer on-campus accommodation for international students that can range from as little as RM600-RM3000 per semester. Some universities offer rental deals that include meals for about RM10-RM20 extra per day. Whilst prices vary across cities, specific institutions and room types, for a basic on-campus single bedroom, you’d be likely to pay between RM100-RM500 per month. You would also be likely to pay a deposit at the start of your let, whilst some universities also charge a processing fee. For example, Monash University Malaysia offers single rooms in residence halls at RM1150 per month including facilities, plus a RM 1500 deposit and one-off RM300 processing fee.

If you’d rather live away from the bustle of campus life, you can also search for off-campus housing through your university or rent a private or shared property privately. Whilst these are generally cheaper options, the price of utilities is not always included in the rent of off-campus housing, and is usually paid in addition to rental costs of privately rented accommodation. Access to shared facilities such as a kitchen and laundry also varies from property to property, so it is worth checking and then weighing up the relative costs of what you’re actually getting. You can expect a bedroom in an off-campus shared flat to be around RM350-RM500 per month, and an off-campus studio flat to cost about RM1500-RM2500 per month.


Living Costs

Essential living costs in Malaysia are inescapable, but they are also quite low. Here is an idea of what you’d be looking at paying:

  • Utilities (if not included in rent), monthly ...RM164.90
  • Internet, 6MB, monthly... RM145
  • Basic prepaid phone plan, 6GB data...RM148


Malaysian cities are very modern and boast well-developed transport networks. International ports all connected to bus and rail services, whilst larger cities offer options of travel by bus, minibus, taxi, pedicabs and trains. As an international student you are ineligible for a national travel discount card, but some cities might still offer you a kind of student discount. Some cities will give you the option to load credit onto a ‘pay as you go’ travel card that electronically deducts funds for every trip you make.

  • Bus fare, 1 zone, Kuala Lumpur...RM1
  • Myrapid pass, Kuala Lumpur, international student discount, 7 days... RM45
  • Myrapid pass, Kuala Lumpur, international student discount, 1 month... RM125
  • Taxi, 1km, normal tariff... RM1.66



You can find supermarkets from many major chains in Malaysia, but with a variety of local market stalls and smaller stores you might even find deals that are even cheaper. But you can always rely on your local Tesco or Carrefour, and on average can expect to pay the following for basic food costs:

  • Milk, 1L...RM7.99
  • Loaf of white sandwich bread, 660g...RM3.35
  • Chicken breast fillet, 1kg...RM14.88
  • Spaghetti, 500g...RM3.39
  • Coca-cola, 1.5L... RM3.30
  • White rice, 5kg...RM22
  • Eggs, 10pk... RM4.50
  • Olive oil, 250ml...RM16.99
  • Big Mac... RM10


Misc. Costs

Fortunately, as with everything else in Malaysia, student social life is incredibly easy on the wallet.

  • Pint of larger in a bar...RM17
  • Cappuccino in a cafe...RM10.80
  • Bottle of water, 330ml...RM2.20
  • Eating out, mid-range restaurant, three-course...RM25
  • Bottle of wine in a restaurant... RM60
  • Movie ticket, without student discount...RM12


Now that you know the costs of living in Malaysia, why not start browsing courses in Malaysia now and plan your study abroad adventure?

Useful Links properties to rent Malaysia Malaysia’s largest rental database

Finding student accommodation in Malaysia

Study in Malaysia


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About Author

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.