International students studying in Malaysia will find out that the cost of education and daily expenses are generally affordable. In fact, its capital city of Kuala Lumpur is hailed as one of the most affordable cities for students, per a 2019 compilation of the QS Quacquarelli Symonds.
That said, the fact remains that money is finite. For international students who are in a different environment and country, it will be difficult if they suddenly exceed their monthly or even daily budget. As a student living far away from home, no matter which country you are staying in, it is always prudent to follow some money saving tips.
Cost of Living in Malaysia
An international student’s monthly expenses largely depend on two factors: their accommodation’s location and personal lifestyle. According to StudyMalaysia, as of 2020, a monthly budget of USD 500 would already provide students a comfortable life in Kuala Lumpur. Staying outside the city center or outside the city itself would cost even less.
For students to have an idea of how much they should allocate for each item for their daily expenses, here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost, per the Malaysian Government.
|Food||USD 1.00–3.00 (local food stalls and coffee shops)
USD 5.00–10.00 (mid-range restaurants)
|Telecommunication||USD 5.00–50.00 per month|
|Accommodation||USD 50.00 (shared apartment)|
|Transportation||USD 20.00–30.00 per month|
|Laundry||USD 2.00 and up|
|Medical Checkup and Medication||USD 15.00|
|Medical Insurance||USD 250.00 annually|
|Movies||USD 2.50 per ticket|
Tips on Saving Money in Malaysia
Take Advantage of Free Educational Resources
Students in Malaysia don’t always need to buy new books or pay for membership fees in public libraries to access educational resources. In fact, universities themselves provide many free educational materials to students. Moreover, students can join free lectures, training, and events that they deem helpful for their area of study.
Avail of Free Entertainment and Activities
If you want to join some cultural activities or just want to learn various activities in the country, make use of free public activities. These activities are organized by the local government, private organizations, and even educational institutions. For example, in Kuala Lumpur, the City Hall sometimes organizes guided walking tours highlighting the city’s architecture, food, history, and shops.
Moreover, there are many galleries and museums that students can access for free, such as the Wei-Ling Gallery, and the Galeri Petronas.
Shop at Local Street Markets
Instead of always eating out in restaurants, international students can buy ingredients so they can cook themselves. Aside from buying from big supermarkets, they also have the option to shop at local street markets, which is usually cheaper. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, they can go to Petaling Street and Kasturi Walk to buy ingredients for cooking as well as some apparel and accessories.
Use Discount Cards
Another money saving tip international students can do is to apply for an international student identity card (ISIC). Students with an ISIC are eligible for discounts from various establishments and services in Malaysia. This includes transportation and travel costs, restaurants, and even galleries.