Monthly Cost of Living Comparison between Malaysia and Japan


Mon, Mar 7, 2022

6 min read

Did you know that Malaysia has ranked 1st for Japanese to reside in for 14 years in a row?

According to data from Statisca, as of October 2023, nearly 21 thousand Japanese residents were registered in Malaysia and of that total, about 10 thousand Japanese are based in Kuala Lumpur. 

Japanese residing in Kuala Lumpur

One of the main reasons for this is the low-cost of living that Malaysia has to offer. As such, it comes with the privilege of saving more money in comparison to staying in Japan.

Many would think that living in a capital city will be a huge burden on the wallet, which is relatively true, think New York, Sydney, or even Singapore.

However, in Malaysia, it is somewhat different.

Kuala Lumpur, Capital of Malaysia

Let’s break it down and do some comparison on the cost of living between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Tokyo, Japan.

For this scenario, we will be assuming that you are planning to stay in the city center which is Kuala Lumpur where the city is fun and buzzing with activities.

First things first, accommodation in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur. A suite or a one-bedroom with an approximate size of 480 - 600 sqft condominium would set you back at the rate between RM1000 to RM4000, which is considered fairly priced as it comes with amenities such as a private parking space, security, public lounge area, swimming pool, and etc. Utility costs are considerably low thanks to the government’s subsidy policy. Depending on your usage and tariff tier, you may be paying around RM100 – RM200 per month. As for transportation, there are many options available such as e-hailing rides, taxis, and public trains or buses. This would cost you approximately RM125 per month. Finally, the cost of food and raw ingredients has a controlled ceiling rate hence it would not be a burden.






RM250 (¥7900)




RM2,500 (¥78900)




RM125 (¥3900)



Groceries/4 times a month

RM600 (¥18900)




RM250 (¥7900)



Mobile phone

RM50 (¥1600)



Cost of eating out /

4 times a month

RM160 (¥5000)



Total / a month

RM3,935 (¥124,200)



*This table is for a single person.

1 Unit for a single person in Malaysia (RM1700 ~ RM2000)


In contrast to Malaysia, the monthly cost of living in Japan is higher, around 120,000 yen ~ 150,000 yen (RM3,800 ~ RM4,800). Renting a 480 sqft apartment will cost between 70,000 yen ~ 80,000 yen (RM2,200 ~ RM2,500), utility costs at about 8,000 yen ~ 10,000 yen (RM250 ~ RM320). The monthly transportation fee costs about 10,000 yen (RM320) including taxis and trains. Prices of the most common ingredients for home cooking cost 100 yen ~ 1,000 yen (RM3 ~ RM30) excluding alcohol products.


1LDK apartment in Japan (80,000 yen ~ 90,000 yen)

Now let’s compare the salary between Malaysia and Japan: A monthly salary for fresh graduates in Japan ranges from 200,000 yen ~ 250,000 yen (RM6,300 ~ RM7,900). In Malaysia, the average salary for a Japanese ranges from RM7,000 ~ RM10,000 monthly, which is slightly higher compared to Japan.

With such income, you would be able to enjoy a better standard of living in terms of an affordable yet quality accommodation, accessible healthcare and a variety of social activities. 

To have a better comparison for savings, let’s use these few expenses as the main components; monthly rent, utility fee, food and drinks, and transportation fee. With the total amount of expenses tabulated, we will then deduct it from the monthly gross salary. For instance, an approximate monthly cost of living in Japan is 136,000 yen (RM4,300), after deducting the living cost from the salary of 200,000 yen, you are left with 64,000 yen (RM2,000). On the other hand, an approximate monthly living cost in Malaysia is RM3,935, and after deducting the monthly salary in Malaysia of RM7,000, you will bring home around RM3100 (98,000 yen).






RM7,000 ~ RM10,000

(¥220,000 ~ ¥315,000)

¥200,000 ~ ¥250,000

Monthly Expenses

RM3,935 (¥124,000)


Approximate monthly savings

RM3,100 (¥98,000)



Comparing these two countries in terms of living expenses and salary rate alone, living in Malaysia does provide a better outcome financially. Just by the cost of living alone, in Malaysia, you will be spending 10% lower than in Japan.

Monetary wise aside, there are a whole bunch of gains if you decide to move and work in Malaysia. Just to highlight a few, you would be enjoying Malaysia’s tropical weather, the warm and friendly people here, the food, and much more.

If you are still hesitating on whether to move to Malaysia, we hope these comparison factors will help you on your decision making. And whenever you are ready, you can always jump on a chat with a consultant at FIND to help you kickstart your job search opportunities in Malaysia.



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