Malaysia still cheap for expats in spite of cost of living increases

Published:  18 Dec at 6 PM
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The latest cost of living survey aimed at expats shows Malaysia is still an inexpensive country for expats in spite of its cost of living hikes.

Unsurprisingly, Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s costliest expat hub, rising 24 places in the survey to 188 in the world city rankings, with Penang and Johor Bahru also seeing significant rises. KL is now more expensive for expatriates than Mumbai, New Delhi and Manila. In spite of the bad press as a result of the survey, KL is still one of Asia’s cheapest locations for expatriates relocating from overseas, with Singapore now set at 18th in the top 20 most pricey destination cities in the world after last year’s 21st place.

One reason for Singapore’s rise in the rankings is the Singaporean dollar, which has performed strongly throughout 2018, but the city is still far less expensive than Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Even Bangkok has now moved upwards by 37 places and ranks in the 100 most pricey world cities for the first time. Since 2013, the Thai capital’s cost of living has risen by more than 80 points and is now ranking 90th, mostly due to the strong, some say manipulated, baht and the country's expanded economy. All Thai locations have seen sharp rises in their costs of living, hitting on expat workers as well as expat retirees.

All the 14 mainland Chinese conurbations are now in the top 50 group, with Shanghai now at 14th, but no world city can beat the massive cost of living in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat, even if few expats are certain exactly where it is! The central Asian capital rocketed from 146th last year to number one this year due to a major economic crisis which saw the price of goods soar to unprecedented heights. Inflation is running riot, along with a shortage of hard currency and goods, with those expats who’re actually living and working there in the oil and gas industry almost unable to survive, however satisfactory their salaries and packages. The city itself is bizarre, often described as being a cross between Pyongyang and Las Vegas.
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