Cost of Living in Malaysia for Indian Students

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Malaysia, a captivating Southeast Asian nation, has emerged as an increasingly popular destination for students seeking an exceptional quality of life without breaking the bank. As of 2024, the number of Indian students enrolled in Malaysian universities and colleges surged to over 6,000 in 2024

As of 2024, Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, ranks 24 among worldwide cities for students, scoring high on affordability and student mix. The country’s diverse population comprises Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic groups, providing a multicultural experience for international students.

Key Highlights

ElementsImportant Points
Cost of LivingEstimated budget: INR 27,000 and INR 45,000 per month.
Indian Student Population in MalaysiaApproximately 6,000.
Estimated Monthly Budget for Top CitiesKuala Lumpur: INR 32,000 per month
Penang: INR 29,000 per month
Top Universities Taylor’s University
University of Malaya (UM)
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Average Tuition FeeINR 89,000 to INR 500,000 per year.
Popular Study FieldsBusiness
Medicine
Arts and Design
Engineering
Accounting
Monthly Miscellaneous Expenses Utilities: INR 2600-INR 5300
Transportation: INR 1800
Food: INR 90 – INR 180 
Scholarships for Indian StudentsMonash University Malaysia Campus Merit Scholarships (up to INR 5L)
AIMST University Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship (up to INR 2L)
Taylor’s University High Achievers’ Scholarship (up to INR 2L)
Malaysia International Scholarship (up to INR 3L)
Perdana Scholar Trust Fund (up to INR 10L)
MAHSA University Merit Scholarships  (up to INR 3L)
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Why Study in Malaysia?

Many educational institutions in Malaysia are known for their innovative teaching methods, including problem-based learning, project-based learning, and industry collaborations. The tuition fees at public universities typically range from INR 1L to INR 2L per year for undergraduate programs, while private universities can charge anywhere between INR 4L to INR 10L per year for similar programs

  • Strategic location in Southeast Asia, ideal for exploring the region
  • Affordable cost of living and education compared to other study destinations such as Singapore and Indonesia
  • English is widely spoken, making it easier for international students to adapt
  • Malaysian universities such as The University of Malaya (QS World Rank 65) and Taylor’s University (QS World Rank: 284) are recognised globally and offer industry-relevant curricula

City-Wise Cost of Living in Malaysia 

As of 2024, around 60% of students in Malaysia prefer to live off-campus in private accommodation or shared apartments due to the lower costs and greater flexibility.

CityAverage Monthly Rent for 1BR Apartment (INR)
Kuala Lumpur (City Center)INR 32,000
Kuala Lumpur (Outside City Center)INR 21,000
PenangINR 19,000
Johor BahruINR 18,000

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Cost of Living in Malaysia for Indian Students

Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur (Miscellaneous) 

As of 2024, the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is approximately 40% lower than in Singapore, making it an attractive option for Indian students and families.

ExpenseAverage Monthly Cost (INR)
Utilities (electricity, water, internet)INR 4,000 – INR 8,000
GroceriesINR 9,000 – INR 14,000
TransportationINR 3,000 – INR 5,000

Cost of Living in Penang (Miscellaneous) 

Penang is known for its stunning street art. As of 2024, Penang’s cost of living index is 32.1, making it one of the most affordable cities in Asia for international students.

ExpenseAverage Monthly Cost (INR)
Utilities (electricity, water, internet)INR 4,000 – INR 7,000
GroceriesINR 7,000 – INR 11,000
TransportationINR 2,000 – INR 4,000

Cost of Living in Malaysia: Student Accommodation

As of 2023, over 3,000 Indian students were enrolled in Malaysian universities and colleges, making India one of the top source countries for international students in Malaysia.

UniversityType of AccommodationPrice Range (per month)
Taylor’s UniversityHalls of Residence, ApartmentsINR 9,000 – INR 27,000
University of Malaya (UM)Single rooms, ApartmentsINR 4,000 and up
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)Residential colleges, Apartments, Student hostelsINR 3,000 – INR 6,000
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)College Dormitories, Student ApartmentsINR 3,000 – INR 8,000

Please Note: The prices mentioned are approximate and may vary depending on the specific accommodation type, amenities, and occupancy (single or shared). 

Cost of Living in Malaysia (Utility Expenses)

Utility costs in Malaysia are generally reasonable, contributing to the overall affordability of living in the country. The average monthly utility bill for a small apartment, including electricity, water, and internet, ranges from INR 2,600 to INR 5,300. Malaysia’s efficient utility services provide excellent value for money, ensuring that students can enjoy modern amenities without stretching their budgets.

UtilityAverage Monthly Cost (INR)
ElectricityINR 900 – INR 2,700
WaterINR 400- INR 900
InternetINR 1,400 – INR 2,700
Mobile INR 600 – INR 1,500
TotalINR 2,700 – INR 5,300

Cost of Living in Malaysia (Transportation Costs)

Malaysia boasts an extensive and affordable public transportation network, including buses, trains, and the efficient LRT (Light Rail Transit) system in Kuala Lumpur. A one-way ticket for local transport starts from INR 50 only, making it a budget-friendly option for commuting within the city.

Transport OptionEstimated Monthly Cost
Monthly Public Transport PassINR 1,800
Short Grab Ride (up to 10km)INR 140 – INR 270
Fuel (per litre)INR 45

Living in close proximity to public transportation hubs, such as Subang Jaya, Mont Kiara and Taman Tunku can significantly reduce transportation costs and is recommended for students on a budget.

Cost of Living in Malaysia (Food and Dining Expenses)

Malaysian cuisine is not only diverse and delicious but also highly affordable. Street food and hawker stalls offer very budget-friendly options, starting from as low as INR 50.

Dining OptionEstimated Cost
Meal at Local Street StallINR 90 -INR 180
Meal at Mid-Range RestaurantINR 360 -INR 890
Monthly Groceries (Single Person)INR 5,340 -INR 10,670

Cost of Living in Malaysia (Grocery Cost)

Groceries also won’t break the bank, with fresh produce, essential staples, and everyday essentials available at affordable prices. The average volume per person in the Fresh Vegetables market is around 70 kg in 2024.

ItemPrice in INR
Milk (regular), (1 litre)INR 130
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)INR 70
Rice (white) (1kg)INR 100
Eggs (regular) (12)INR 150
Local Cheese (1kg)INR 1,030
Chicken Fillets (1kg)INR 310
Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)INR 630
Apples (1kg)INR 200
Banana (1kg)INR 100
Oranges (1kg)INR 200
Tomato (1kg)INR 100
Potato (1kg)INR 70
Onion (1kg)INR 80
Lettuce (1 head)INR 80
Water (1.5 litre bottle)INR 40

Cost of Living in Malaysia for Indian Families

Malaysian cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang offer an affordable lifestyle for Indian families. As of 2024, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four in Kuala Lumpur and Penang are as follows.

  • The estimated monthly cost of living in Kuala Lumpur for a family of four is INR 2L
  • The estimated monthly cost of living in Penang for a family of four is INR 1L.

Please Note: These estimates include costs for rent, groceries, utilities, and other living expenses in Malaysia but may vary based on individual family circumstances and lifestyle choices.

Cost of Living in Malaysia Compared to India

The cost of living in Malaysia is slightly higher than that of India, but it is affordable for budget-minded Indian students. As of 2024, over 20L Indian nationals are residing in Malaysia. Here’s a quick comparison to illustrate the difference.

Expense CategoryAverage Cost of Living in Malaysia per Month (INR)India (Estimated Monthly Average in INR)
Accommodation (1BR Apartment)INR 18,000 – INR 32,000INR 12,000 – INR 28,000
UtilitiesINR 2,600 – INR 5,300INR 1,500 – INR 3,500
TransportationINR 1,800INR 800 – INR 1,500
FoodINR 4,500 – INR 5,330INR 3,000 – INR 4,000

Please note: These are estimated figures, and actual costs may vary depending on individual lifestyles, spending habits, and city choices in each country.

Cost of Living in Malaysia Compared to Other Southeastern Countries

Malaysia offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to other popular study destinations in Southeast Asia. However, the cost of living in Malaysia for a single person can vary significantly based on individual lifestyle choices and proximity to city centres.

CityCost of Living IndexEstimated Monthly Cost for a Single Person
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia57.8INR 32,000
Penang, Malaysia52.4INR 29,000
Singapore107.7INR 60,000
Bangkok, Thailand67.1INR 37,000
Jakarta, Indonesia62.9INR 35,000

Please Note: The estimated monthly cost for a Single Person is a rough estimate based on the Cost of Living Index and is provided for comparison purposes only. Actual costs may vary depending on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices.

Education Costs for Indian Students

The teaching methods in Malaysian universities aim to develop well-rounded graduates with strong problem-solving, critical thinking, and practical skills, better preparing them for the demands of the global workforce. Education expenses in Malaysia vary depending on the level and institution. 

Education LevelEstimated Annual Fees (INR)
Private Preschool/International SchoolINR 2L – INR 5L
Public University (Undergraduate)INR 88,000 – INR 3L
Public University (Postgraduate)INR 2L – INR 4L

Average Tuition Fees at Top 4 Universities in Malaysia

Pursue your academic goals at esteemed institutions with internationally recognised Universities in Malaysia. As of 2023, over 3,330 Indian students were enrolled in Malaysian universities.

University and QS World RankingTuition Fees (per year)
Taylor’s University (Rank: 284)INR 6L – INR 9L
University of Malaya (Rank: 65)INR 1L – INR 6L
Universiti Putra Malaysia (Rank: 158)INR 1L – INR 5L
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Rank: 159)INR 1L – INR 4L

Scholarships for Indian Students Studying in Malaysia

As of 2023, around 15-20% of Indian students receive scholarships or financial aid from Malaysian universities or government agencies.

University/ScholarshipEligibility CriteriaAmount Offered
Monash University Malaysia Campus Merit ScholarshipsOutstanding academic performance in previous studiesUp to 5L per year
AIMST University Vice Chancellor’s ScholarshipExcellent academic results, co-curricular achievementsUp to 2L per year
Taylor’s University High Achiever’s ScholarshipTop scorers in relevant pre-university examsUp to 2L per year
MAHSA University Merit ScholarshipsHigh academic scores, extracurricular activitiesUp to 3L per year
Malaysia International Scholarship (MIS)Outstanding academic performance, extracurricular activitiesUp to 3L per year
Perdana Scholar Trust FundAcademic excellence, leadership potential, co-curricular achievementsUp to 10 L per year


Employment Opportunities for Indian Students

Cost of Living in Malaysia for Indian Students

While the Malaysian job market can be competitive, with a preference for hiring Malaysian citizens, international students may find opportunities in sectors such as hospitality, education, and certain industries with labour shortages

Top Employment Options for Indian Students After Graduation

The processing fee for an Employment Pass (EP) is INR 2,200 for Indian nationals. International students should also be prepared to provide supporting documents, such as academic transcripts, a valid passport, and a job offer letter from the prospective employer.

Job TitleAverage Annual Salary (INR)
IT AnalystINR 12L
School TeacherINR 8L
Marketing AssociateINR 8L
Customer Service RepresentativeINR 8L

Tips for Indian Students on How to Reduce Cost of Living in Malaysia

Monitoring the INR to MYR exchange rate is crucial for Indian students to ensure effective budget planning. Utilising efficient international money transfer services can help minimise transaction fees and ensure competitive exchange rates. 

Services like Wise (formerly TransferWise) and remittance platforms tailored for students, such as Remitly and TransferGo, can be valuable tools for monitoring the cost of living in Malaysia. Some tips for managing the cost of living in Malaysia as an Indian Student are as follows.

  • Look for student discounts and promotions at restaurants, cafes, and attractions
  • Explore affordable accommodation options like shared apartments or student housing
  • Use public transportation or consider cycling for short distances to save on travel costs
  • Cook meals at home or find affordable food courts and hawker stalls for budget-friendly dining options
  • Apply for scholarships or financial aid offered by the universities and the government of Malaysia, to reduce the cost of living

Currency, Payment Methods, and Budgeting

The Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) is the official currency of Malaysia, and its exchange rate plays a crucial role in determining the affordability of living expenses for international students. As of May 2024, 1 INR is equivalent to approximately 0.056 MYR, offering favourable rates for Indian students.

Malaysia has progressed towards cashless payments, with e-wallets and QR payment methods like GrabPay, Touch ‘n Go eWallet, and bank apps becoming widely accepted for added convenience. This digital payment ecosystem has made budgeting and managing expenses more streamlined for those unfamiliar with the local currency.

Summing Up

With its rich cultural heritage, modern infrastructure, and welcoming environment, Malaysia presents an enticing opportunity to experience a high quality of life without breaking the bank. Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways to kickstart your Malaysian study-abroad journey.

  • Affordable Living: Enjoy a relatively low cost of living compared to other popular study destinations, with estimated monthly expenses ranging from INR 27,000 to INR 45,000
  • Quality Education: Pursue your academic goals at esteemed institutions with internationally recognised programs
  • Diverse Cuisine: Immerse yourself in Malaysia’s rich culinary scene, savouring delicious and budget-friendly local delicacies. Groceries also won’t break the bank, with fresh produce, essential staples, and everyday essentials available at affordable prices
  • Cultural Heritage: Experience the unique blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous traditions that Malaysia offers
  • Employment Prospects: Graduate with valuable qualifications and explore job opportunities in sectors like hospitality, education, and IT.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is the cost of living in Malaysia per month for international students?

    A: The cost of living for international students in Malaysia is relatively affordable compared to many other study destinations. Students can expect to budget between INR 27,000 and INR 45,000 per month, covering living expenses in Malaysia such as accommodation, food, transportation, and other living costs. Factors like lifestyle choices and proximity to city centres can influence the overall cost.

  • Q: Is it possible to work while studying in Malaysia as an international student?

    A: Yes, international students in Malaysia can work part-time while pursuing their studies, subject to certain conditions and restrictions. According to the Malaysian Immigration Department, international students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during their semester and full-time during academic breaks. However, they must obtain a work permit from the Immigration Department before commencing any employment.

  • Q: What are the popular part-time job opportunities for international students in Malaysia?

    A: International students in Malaysia often find part-time job opportunities in sectors such as retail, food service, hospitality, tutoring, and administrative work. Some popular part-time jobs include the following.
    Retail/Sales Associate: INR 150 – INR 230 per hour
    Food Service/Hospitality: INR 130 – INR 190 per hour
    Tutoring/Teaching Assistant: INR 190 – INR 380 per hour
    Administrative/Office Work: INR 190 – INR 280 per hour

  • Q: What is the minimum wage in Malaysia, and how does it compare to the cost of living?

    A: The minimum wage in Malaysia is set at INR 27,000 per month for employees in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Putrajaya. This minimum wage is generally considered livable, especially for single individuals or students living a modest lifestyle. However, it may not be sufficient for larger families or those seeking a more comfortable standard of living in urban areas.

  • Q: Are there any specific visa requirements for international students in Malaysia?

    A: Yes, international students in Malaysia are required to obtain the appropriate visa or pass based on their purpose of stay. For international students, the most common visa is the Student Pass, which requires a valid offer letter from a recognised educational institution, proof of financial means, and other supporting documents. International students may need to pay a one-time visa processing fee of around INR 37,000 – INR 56,000 upon arrival in Malaysia.

  • Q: How does the average cost of living in Malaysia compare to other popular study destinations in Southeast Asia?

    A: Malaysia offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to other popular study destinations in Southeast Asia. However, the cost of living in Malaysia for a single person can vary significantly based on individual lifestyle choices and proximity to city centres.
    The cost of living in Malaysia is approximately INR 32,000 per month for a single person (Cost of Living Index 57.8)
    Singapore: Cost of Living Index 107.7 (Approximately INR 60,000 per month for a single person)
    Bangkok, Thailand: Cost of Living Index 67.1 (Approximately INR 37,000 per month for a single person)

  • Q: What are some tips for budgeting and saving on the cost of living in Malaysia?

    A: Here are some useful tips for budgeting and saving on the cost of living in Malaysia.

    Opt for accommodation in areas with good public transportation connectivity to reduce commuting costs
    Explore local markets and street food options for affordable and authentic dining experiences
    Consider sharing accommodation with roommates to split rental costs
    Monitor exchange rates and use cost-effective international money transfer services
    Limit unnecessary expenses and prioritise essential living costs.

  • Q: How can international students open a bank account in Malaysia?

    A: International students can open a bank account in Malaysia by following these general steps.

    Choose a bank that offers accounts for non-residents or international students. Some popular banks for international students in Malaysia include Maybank, CIMB Bank, Public Bank, and Hong Leong Bank
    Visit the bank branch with your valid passport, student visa/work permit, and proof of residence (rental agreement or utility bill)
    Provide any additional documents required by the bank, such as proof of income or financial statements
    Complete the account opening application form and provide your personal and contact details
    Make the minimum initial deposit required by the bank. For local banks, the minimum deposit is usually between  INR 400 and INR 1,800. For foreign banks operating in Malaysia, the minimum deposit can range from  INR 8,900 to  INR 18,000.

  • Q:  What are the healthcare options for international students in Malaysia?

    A: Malaysia offers a range of healthcare options for Indian students, including both public and private healthcare systems.

    Public healthcare: Students can access the public healthcare system, which includes government hospitals and clinics. Annual premiums range from INR 9,000 – INR 19,000
    Private healthcare: Malaysia has a well-developed private healthcare sector with modern hospitals and clinics that offer high-quality medical services. Private healthcare can be more expensive but provides faster treatment and more personalised care

    Many universities also offer student health insurance plans as part of their enrollment.

  • Q: Are there any cultural considerations or customs to be aware of when living in Malaysia?

    A: Malaysia is a multicultural society with a rich blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous traditions. Here are some cultural considerations to be aware of.

    Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or conservative areas
    Remove shoes before entering homes or places of worship
    Use your right hand for eating, greeting, and passing objects, as the left hand is considered unclean in some cultures
    Respect religious and cultural festivals, and be mindful of local customs and practices
    Be respectful when discussing sensitive topics like religion, politics, or the royal family.

  • Q: Is it possible to find vegetarian food options in Malaysia?

    A: Malaysia caters well to vegetarians, with a wide variety of vegetarian dishes influenced by Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines. From flavorful curries with tofu and tempeh to noodle dishes and fresh spring rolls, vegetarians can enjoy a delicious and affordable culinary experience in Malaysia.

  • Q: How many Indian students are currently enrolled at Malaysian universities?

    A: As of 2023, over 3,330 Indian students were enrolled in Malaysian universities. This number has steadily grown over the past few years, indicating Malaysia’s increasing popularity as an affordable and attractive study-abroad destination for Indian students. This trend is likely to continue, with Malaysia offering a quality education system, a vibrant multicultural environment, and a relatively low cost of living compared to other popular options.


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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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