Which Malaysian State is The Cheapest to Live In?

Ever wonder which of Malaysia’s beautiful states cost the least to live in? We did some number-crunching to find out the truth of the matter!

The grass is not always greener on the other side, or is it? We might often wonder how much our fellow Malaysians are spending on utilities and rent. To find out, we’ve analysed three important utility costs; electricity, water, and house rentals. These are the essential living costs that every working adult will have to pay.

Note that our table does not cover meals, transportation, or other living expenses, which while also significant, are highly variable. So from the perspective of these vital expenses, which state or territory in Malaysia is the cheapest to live in?

No State Power Consumption Per 500 kWh (RM) Average Monthly Water Bill (RM) Average Housing Rental Per 1,000 sq. ft. (RM) Total (RM)
1 Perlis 178.61 11.30 400.00 589.91
2 Kelantan 178.61 11.40 450.00 640.01
3 Kedah 178.61 12.25 500.00 690.86
4 Terengganu 178.61 10.00 600.00 788.61
5 Perak 178.61 12.60 650.00 841.21
6 Sarawak 147.50 12.60 700.00 860.10
7 Malacca 178.61 14.40 700.00 873.01
8 Pahang 178.61 10.22 750.00 938.83
9 Negeri Sembilan 178.61 13.00 750.00 941.61
10 Sabah (And Federal Territory of Labuan) 157.20 11.80 800.00 969.00
11 Johor 178.61 21.00 1,000.00 1,199.61
12 Selangor 178.61 13.98 1,100.00 1,292.59
13 Penang 178.61 5.50 1,200.00 1,384.16
14 Federal Territory of Putrajaya 178.61 13.98 1,500.00 1,692.59
15 Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur 178.61 13.98 1,700.00 1,892.59

What the Table Tells Us

It is quite clear that Perlis, Kelantan, and Kedah are three of the cheapest states to live in if we only factor in the costs for housing, electricity, and water. However, these states also report a lower median household income.

Also, the states with the highest level of expenses also report a higher median household income, namely the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Selangor and Johor. In other words, just because a place has cheaper rent and expenses, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to move there, thinking that it will cost you a smaller percentage of your income.

Power Consumption

Electricity rates depend on the tariff imposed by the energy supplier. In Peninsula Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Berhad has standardised fees for domestic usage, thus the majority of states in Malaysia are paying the same rate. East Malaysia however, has two main suppliers that charge differently.

Sabah Electricity (SESB) generates power to Sabah and the federal territory of Labuan while Sarawak Energyprovides the lowest domestic electricity rate in Malaysia to Sarawak.

Water Bills

Water tariffs differ from state to state, and when compared does not vary by a lot save for two states, Penang and Johor. Based on our table, Penang has the lowest monthly water usage rate, averaging at only RM5.55 per month. Johor residents, on the other hand are paying some of the highest rates with an average monthly bill of RM21 – this represents a 26% tariff difference between the states.

Average House Rent

Rental costs vary in each state based on the type of home, location, furnishing, and nearby amenities, among others. So it goes without saying, the figures presented aren’t exact. We used the size of the home as a base metric in addition to the number of times these rental prices were advertised on property sites. Note that the four most expensive housing rentals are in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Penang, Selangor and Johor.

These states also represent some of the most costly states to reside in; this means, housing prices have potentially, the biggest hold on whether or not a state is considered expensive.

While we try to make our estimations as close to real life costs as possible at the time of writing, this doesn’t mean that you won’t find places that are cheaper or more expensive than what our research suggested. But hey, if you’re looking for a rough guide, this is a good place to start.

If you are thinking of settling down in a home of your own soon, you’ll want to find ways to save more money and reduce your overall costs. One such way is to choose a loan package with a nice, low interest rate. To discover home financing with the most attractive rates, come on and check out our comparison page.


Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • John Koh

    May I know the source of info for power, water and rental cost

  • Wan Nazrin

    There is certain subsidy for certain state. Have you include this in your calculation? Thanks.

    • RinggitPlus

      Hi Wan Nazrin,

      You're right! There are certain subsidies given for certain states when it comes to properties. These subsidies in general can lower the prices of rent.
      However, the implementations, amount, and availability of these subsidies vary a lot from state to state and may not be eligible for everyone who seeks to rent out a place. This is why we opted to exclude subsidies from our calculations.
      In future, if enough people ask about these different state-specific rental subsidies, perhaps we can write another article that focuses on just that.
      We hope this answers your question!

    • Lucifier

      How about the average income from each states? No point living in cheapest states and the salary is too low...

      • RinggitPlus

        You make a good point! Living comfortably doesn't just depend on how much is being spent, but also how much is earned. Purchasing power is relative and people's lifestyles can be the same even with vast differences in income and expenses.
        We may elect to write a followup article in the future to explore this even further.
        Thanks for your comment!

      • Irwan

        air mahal takde impact sangat. tapi kalau electric mahal memang impact besar. maximum air aku guna sebulan RM 50 selepas subsidi tapi electric aku pernah guna sampai RM 1000.

        • Hafiiz

          Jom pindah perlis

          • Steve

            Your maths is flawed because you didn't take into account income, which is a huge factor in deciding if a place is cheap or expensive to live in. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is the most expensive, if not the top 3 most expensive place to live in in Malaysia because of the low salary and expensive groceries (in hypermarkets), higher prices in eateries, and transportation (you have to take Uber if you don't have a car, there's no LRT, MRT, KTM here, and bus service is pathetic).

            • RinggitPlus

              You're right about our exclusion of income levels in each state. We've in fact mentioned that in our article right after our table.
              Purchasing power is something we didn't include in this piece because it wasn't what we were measuring. But this can definitely make for a good article for us to work on in the future.
              Thanks for your comment!