Cost of Living in Malaysia: Travel and Stay for International Students

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    In comparison with other countries, Malaysia is much more of an affordable place to study for international students. In fact, the capital city Kuala Lumpur was named as the second most affordable student city in the world by QS. You can expect to pay a tuition fee of INR 2,91,000-4,36,000 yearly, while the cost of living in Malaysia for international students comes to be INR 29,115-50,951 per month.

    These expenses can be supported through the various scholarships available in Malaysia, offered by the government as well as the individual universities. International students have the opportunity to receive the Malaysian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), or the Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS), which covers travel costs, accommodation and other allowances.

    Cost of Living in Malaysia: Travel Guide

    Since Malaysia is not as far from India as most other study abroad destinations, the one-way airfare only comes to about INR 17,000-77,600, excluding the numerous offers available. You must carry these documents with you, to complete the immigration procedure:

    • Passport, with at least 6 months’ validity
    • Letter of acceptance from a Malaysian university
    • Proof of financial support
    • Visa to study in Malaysia

    As a new international student in Malaysia, you will have to get a medical screening done within 7 days of arrival. You will also need to purchase a health insurance in Malaysia, costing anywhere from RM 540 to 1112.

    Malaysia Travel Restrictions

    Individuals going to study in Malaysia are allowed to travel to Malaysia even during the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have to abide by the government regulations:

    • You will have to fill in and submit the Indemnity and Undertaking Letter in order to be issued a Travel Notice.
    • Submit the Travel Notice at the checkin.
    • Install MySejahtera App in their mobile phones.
    • Quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

    If you have not taken a Covid-19 PCR test at least 3 days before departure, you will need to take one upon arrival.

    Cost of Transportation in Malaysia

    One of the main factors adding to the cost of living in Malaysia is travel costs. The average cost of transport in Malaysia is RM 81-122 per month. An international student in Malaysia can use the following modes of transportation:

    • An average bus ride in the city costs you around RM 1-3. Some universities have bus services on campus, for which you may pay up to RM 60 per semester for unlimited bus rides.
    • Taxis are available in plenty, although a fair bit of haggling usually happens. It is worth knowing that the standard fare for taxis is RM3 for the first kilometre.
    • Train
    • Metros outside cities, called KTM, can cost up to RM 3 for a ticket.
    • If you are in Kuala Lumpur, the Mass Rapid Transit line has tickets costing RM 1.1-6.4, which you can use to get around the city in less time. Monorails like this are also found in other cities.
    • It is possible to rent cars for RM 197, but it is generally not recommended considering the cost.
    • Malaysia having a long coastline, has plenty of ferries available. These are not used by students for everyday transport, but it is used to visit certain locations, with rides costing RM 56-223.

    Instead of purchasing a ticket every time you use public transport in Malaysia, you can get a Touch ‘n Go (TnG) card for RM20. This has the option to top up whenever you want.

    One of the most important errands to run after you have settled in Malaysia is to open a bank account. You must carry these documents:

    • Malaysian student visa
    • Proof of identity
    • Passport
    • Certificate of enrolment at a Malaysian institution
    • Proof of address

    You must pay a cash deposit of RM 250 to complete the process. This bank account can be used to make all your transactions with your university.

    Cost of Living in Malaysia: Student Accommodation

    Nearly all universities in Malaysia provide accommodation, especially to international students. At times there are special residences for international students, though these may be located off-campus. There are other types of off-campus accommodation too, which students can find on their own if the university does not provide the resources. The cost of living in Malaysia varies with the type of accommodation and the location.

    On Campus Accommodation in Malaysia

    Certain universities like Universiti Malaya guarantee accommodation for first year undergraduate students, but most of them require you to apply in advance in order to secure a seat at the student residence. Most halls of residence are fully or partly furnished, with bed, mattress, table, chair, shelf, curtains, etc. You can choose between catered and self-catered residences, and there are usually options for other amenities like:

    • En-suite bathroom
    • Air conditioning
    • Television
    • fridge

    Wi-fi is normally included in the admission fee itself. Residence buildings also have facilities like self-service laundromats, where students will have to pay extra.

    Cost of Living at Top Malaysian Universities

    On an average, students pay RM 325-1221 in monthly rent for on-campus housing. Take a look at the rent rates at top universities in Malaysia:

    University Accommodation Rent
    Universiti Malaya RM 7-35 per day
    Universiti Putra Malaysia RM 4-9 per day
    Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia RM 3.5-13 per day
    Universiti Sains Malaysia RM 122-305 per month
    Taylor’s University RM 970-2160 per month

    Off Campus Accommodation in Malaysia

    Due to the sheer number of international students in Malaysian cities, most locations near university campuses have apartments and other properties available for renting by students. Keeping in mind the walking distance to college, furnishing, and the range of amenities provided, you may choose one of these types of accommodation in Malaysia:

    • Individual rented apartments have rents of RM 407-2849 per month.
    • Shared rented apartments are slightly cheaper, with a single person having to pay RM 203-1017 per month.
    • Condominiums are fancier types of accommodation, with amenities that apartments usually do not have. The rent at an individual condominium comes to RM 610-8141 while that at a shared condominium is RM 407-3256 per month.
    • Landed property in Malaysia is also quite expensive, costing around RM 814-3256 per month.

    It is best to opt for off-campus accommodation that has reasonable prices, as selecting a property in prime locations will increase your cost of living in Malaysia.

    Cost of Living in Top Student Cities in Malaysia

    The cost of living in Malaysia is comparatively lower compared to other countries, coming to an approximate RM 14,400 per year, including food, travel and accommodation. The top student cities and the expected expenses are as follows:

    City Cost of Living (per month) Accommodation (per month)
    Kuala Lumpur RM 2,053 RM 1,193-1,893
    Penang RM 1,924 RM 1,011-1,236
    Johor Bahru RM 2,124 RM 813-893

    As expected, the student accommodation in Kuala Lumpur costs higher than other places, due to it being a popular international destination. Apart from accommodation, if one were to break down the cost of living in Malaysia, the cost of other necessities would come out to be:

    • Food - RM 12-40 per day
    • Mobile and internet - RM 20-203 per month
    • Laundry - RM 61

    Once you are well-informed about the living expenses to expect, you can plan a budget, following which will definitely help you cut down on unnecessary expenses. You can also utilise money from some scholarships to pay for rent and living expenses in Malaysia. Universities in Malaysia often provide the expected cost of living on their official websites too, which you may refer for more information.


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