Malaysia vs Singapore: Which Country Is Cheaper To Live In?
Who thinks the cost of living in Singapore is much higher than in Malaysia? Well, most people actually, considering that the island republic just topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 Worldwide Cost Of Living Survey, making that the third year in a row. The survey compares the cost of living in 133 cities around the world.
Cost of living is the amount of money you need to sustain a certain way of living, including paying for basic expenses like food, clothing and housing.
Of course, if you take it at face value, cost of living is indeed higher in Singapore, especially since Singapore has already attained developed nation status and is also a cosmopolitan nation, so naturally things are more expensive there.
Housing and cars in the island nation are also way more expensive to own there. Due to its land scarcity, housing and rental rates in Singapore cost up to three times more than in Malaysia!
Transportation, on the other hand, is way more advanced in Singapore, hence many residents in the island do not need to own a car. That is not something many Malaysians can do yet, as public transportation is only robust in certain areas of the Klang Valley. It is for this reason that many Malaysians need to own a car to get around.
If you factor in the currency conversion rate (which stands at 2.9 at this point in writing), it might appear at first, that it would be much more expensive to live in Singapore than in Malaysia.
However, for an apple-to-apple comparison, currency conversion should not be factored in when assessing the difference in cost of living in both countries.
Cost of living is more accurately adjudged when you compare the average income of a nation versus the average prices of goods and services, especially in purchasing the necessities for sustaining a decent livelihood.
To date, Malaysia’s average monthly disposable salary is RM3,505 (US$869.10) while Singapore’s is S$4,152 (US$3,028.38). The bad news is, Malaysians do not only earn less than their neighbours across the causeway, the weaker Ringgit currency compared to the US dollar (with an exchange rate of roughly 3.9 versus the Singapore dollar’s 1.36 at this point in writing) also means that imported goods that are sold in Malaysia often cost more in the Ringgit quantum.
For instance, apparel like a pair of Nike shoes and Levi’s jeans could cost up to two times more in the Ringgit quantum, while a typical McDonald’s combo meal is sold for RM12 in Malaysia, compared to just S$7.50 in Singapore.
Though the comparison of cost of living between these two countries do not just comprise comparing prices of clothing and McDonald’s meal, there are many areas that Malaysia prices top its counterparts across the causeway.
So, which country has it better? View our infographic to find out.
*Prices shown in the infographic are averages.
Article is updated as of 11 May 2016.