What’s The True Cost Of Living An Average Life?
Not everyone is interested in joining the rat race to become insanely wealthy. For most, it’s enough to make a living and join the ranks of the “average” Malaysians. This has seen a rise of people who are rejecting the hustle culture, practicing ‘quiet quitting’.
These people reject monetary gain as a priority, instead wanting to focus on their happiness, which leads to the goal of living a simple, average life.
What is an average life?
Before we can talk about the cost of living an average life, first we need to understand what is an ‘average life’ for Malaysians.
There are five factors that we will look at and find out what the average is, in order to find what the average life for a Malaysian is.
|Number of children||2|
So from this collection of medians for Malaysians, we now know that the average Malaysian family brings home an average of almost RM6000 per month, lives in a RM300,000 house, has a small family of 4, and owns 2 cars.
So now, how much will this cost you?
Just how much does an average life cost?
In the previous section, we’ve determined what an average life for a Malaysian would look like. Now, let’s look at how much it costs.
We’ll start with the first factor, housing.
As per stated above, the median cost of housing in Malaysia is RM300,000.
However, this depends on the location too. In the Klang Valley, you’d be hard pressed to find a house that is suitable to raise a family in for RM300,000. If you choose a location that is a bit secluded and located in the outskirts of the city, you might be able to get a house with three rooms and two bathrooms at this price.
And of course, the state you choose to settle down in helps too. If you’re looking to settle down in a state like Kelantan or Terengganu, the housing there will be a lot cheaper than in Kuala Lumpur.
As per our loan calculator, this translates to at least RM1533/month, if the loan is for 30 years.
Number of children
How about the number of children? The median household size right now according to this census is 3.8, which equals to around two children per family.
So what’s the cost of raising two children? According to this report from 2018, it can cost anywhere from RM400,000 to RM1.1 million.
Felix Neoh, director of Wealth Vantage Advisory Sdn Bhd, estimates that parents spend around RM800 to RM1000 on child care every month before they enter preschool. This cost can increase to RM2000 per month nowadays.
As the child grows older, the cost grows exponentially as well, which takes up to around RM3000 per month on average per child.
With two children, that brings it up to RM6000 per month on childcare.
In Malaysia, the top two cars in Malaysia are the Perodua Myvi and the Perodua Bezza.
So how much will this cost?
A Perodua Myvi can cost you around RM642.03 per month, and a Perodua Bezza will cost you around RM535.70.
However, a majority of Malaysians only get their second car once they’ve finished the payments on their first car.
So for the cost of transportation, let’s take the average of these two cars, which comes up to RM588.87/month.
And finally, you will also need to save for your retirement. The Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) says that you need to have a minimum of RM240,000 in your account when you retire. However, this number rises to RM600,000 for this in the Klang Valley.
To reach this number, financial experts recommend saving 30% of your monthly income. If you meet the median household income amount, that would be RM1,957 per month.
This might sound a lot, but there is one thing to keep in mind. You are already saving about 20% of your income through the EPF. Your monthly deduction amounts to 11% of your base salary, while your employer also contributes an additional 9%.
Therefore, you only really need to be saving 10% of your salary after deductions. So realistically, your household will be putting away about RM587.30 each month for retirement.
It’s also important that you do not withdraw from your EPF if possible, or else you will have to save even more later in life to make up the difference.
Total cost of an average lifestyle
So how much does an average lifestyle really cost?
Let’s put it all on a table.
Sadly, it’s plain to see that meeting the median household income is not enough to lead an average life with minimal luxuries. Our calculation doesn’t include monthly expenses and is still 30% more than what most Malaysians earn.
So what can you do?
For a growing number of Malaysians, the solution is to cut down on the biggest household expense: children. The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reports that the national total fertility rate has fallen to just 1.7 babies from 4.1 in 1970.
While this could have severe consequences for the country in the long run, it is the present economic reality that families cannot afford to have children.
The other alternative would be to live in an urban area, where the median income is much higher. According to DOSM numbers, the highest median income is in Kuala Lumpur with RM10,549 followed by Putrajaya (RM9,983), Selangor (RM8,210), Labuan (RM6,726), Johor (RM6,427), Pulau Pinang (RM6,169) and Melaka (RM6,054).
However, if you do this, you will have to contend with much higher housing prices. The median house price in KL was at RM498,000 in 2021, while Selangor was relatively more affordable at RM395,000. This is assuming that you aren’t too picky about location.
With this in mind, this is how what an average life in Selangor would look like:
|Housing (in Selangor)||RM2,019|
|Childcare (one child)||RM3000|
While it’s not too bad compared to the median income of RM8,210; there’s really not much room for much else.
But this does not mean that you have no choice but to embrace the hustle culture. You can live a simple life, and still afford enough to attain that dream ‘average lifestyle’ you wanted.
How do you do this?
The first thing you can do is look at passive investment. If you follow this guide, it will help you build an investment portfolio that is diversified enough for you to treat it as a form of passive income. With a diversified portfolio, you won’t have to worry about your investments, as it will help itself grow and branch out your money.
It might not be as lucrative as active investing, but it’s much safer.
Other ways you can consider include having enough savings for emergencies, getting proper coverage from insurance, and living within your means.
If you do all this, your ‘average life’ is that much more attainable.