by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE cost of living for a single person in Kuala Lumpur (KL) is estimated at about RM3,262, which remains the cheapest among its South-East Asian peers, according to data by iPrice Group Sdn Bhd.
Still, the cost is almost three times higher from Malaysia’s minimum wage of RM1,200 in major towns.
“However, according to Numbeo’s database, KL ranked second-highest in monthly average net salary of RM4,259, right behind Singaporeans, who are estimated to earn RM10,195 a month.
“Hence, the quality of life in KL is relatively better, especially after comparing it to other South-East Asian cities, such as Manila where its residents are estimated to earn only RM1,609 monthly. The cost of living in Manila even tops other South-East Asian cities such as KL by 33%, Vietnam (28%) and Jakarta (24%),” iPrice said in a recent statement.
iPrice gathered the estimated monthly cost of living in six of South-East Asia’s popular cities on Numbeo, one of the world’s largest cost of living databases.
Based on the database, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Singapore is RM6,200, 81% higher than in KL.
The cost of a single bedroom apartment in the heart of KL is at least about RM1,200, and about RM700 outside the city centre.
“The cost of living in Singapore is at least 132% higher than its South-East Asian peers. Shockingly, however, Bangkok and Manila are placed at the top three as well.
“Bangkok has an estimated monthly cost of living of RM4,387 for a single person. This takes into account every necessity (rent, food, transportation, utilities),” it added.
With an estimated monthly cost of RM4,325 for a single person, Manila is only 1% lower in cost of living compared to Bangkok. Without rent, the total cost of living still reaches about RM2,448 per month in Manila.
“This leaves us wondering how comfortable people residing in KL really are compared to other residents from other cities with lower salaries like in Bangkok (RM3,449), Ho Chi Minh (RM1,990) and Jakarta (RM1,955).
“Residents in these countries have to pay higher monthly costs with lower salaries. That said, KL residents must have a better quality of life compared to most of its South-East Asian neighbours since they pay for the cheapest cost of living with a higher estimated monthly salary,” said iPrice.
Meanwhile, EMIR Research Sdn Bhd analyst Sofea Azahar said many people have been struggling to cope with the living costs, which do not appear to be in tandem with the income of many Malaysians.
“Current minimum wages remain low, ranging between RM1,100 and RM1,200 despite the effort to remove the disparity in wages between West and East Malaysia.
“Let’s say a one-person household earns RM1,200 per month and lives in KL, but the minimum amount of income to acquire basic necessities at a minimal level is RM2,216.
“How would this individual live comfortably given the huge gap? So, there is a crucial need to relook at our minimum wages in consideration of whether they make sense for people to live proper lives with such wages,” she said.
According to a study by the World Bank, issues pertaining to cost of living include stagnant growth in incomes, elevated household debt and unaffordable housing.