Malaysian Cities Among the Cheapest in Asia Pacific for Expats

According to a survey carried out by ECA International, Malaysia cities are now in the bottom 50 of the most expensive locations for expats in Asia Pacific.

“Cities in Malaysia continue to rank amongst those with the lowest cost of living for international assignees in the world, and have even become marginally cheaper over the past five years,” said regional director Lee Quane.

Compared to last year, Kuala Lumpur fell 15 spots in the global rankings to 212th position while George Town and Johor Bahru fell 10 spots to 245th and 250th, respectively, out of 262 ranked locations. This drop also means that the gap between Singapore’s cost of living and that of Kuala Lumpur has increased in the last year despite Singapore dropping to 24th most expensive location in the world from 18th last year.

Quane added that the continuing decline of the Malaysian Ringgit was a major contributor to Kuala Lumpur’s latest ranking and Johor Bahru’s status as the place with the second-lowest cost of living in the region. So it seems there is a silver lining of Malaysia’s weakening ringgit after all, as it makes Malaysia a more attractive and affordable location for expats from around the world. (Of course that benefit is lessened substantially if expats are paid in Ringgit!)

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, retains its rank as the cheapest location in Asia Pacific for expats while Hong Kong overtakes Tokyo as the most expensive.

ECA International provides data on cost of living, salary, accommodation, tax, labour law, benefits, and quality of life for international assignees, and carries out bi-yearly cost of living surveys.  ECA clarified that when coming with the rankings, three factors were taken into account: Food, Basic (household, recreational goods, general and leisure services), and General (clothing, electrical goods, motoring, meals, alcohol, and tobacco). Other costs such as accommodation and utilities were excluded due to the fact that many expats are usually compensate separately for those things.