Malaysia Boleh : Budget Tips on how to survive in Malaysia for a Low Income

Disclaimer : “Lived in Kuala Lumpur from 2012 to 2016, prices may vary”

Malaysian says “the living cost in their country is high” but with a careful budgeting, you will overcome those challenges on how to live in the city. Saving seems impossible? Well.. it’s POSSIBLE you just need to “Learn How to Leave without“.

Be Financially Aware and if you have “Bad Spending Habits” your savings will be turn into ZERO!


#1. Stay in a low cost Apartment

Staying in the city center of Kuala Lumpur is quite pricey. But if you will find outside the city center or let’s call it downtown or uptown here are the range of accommodations:

(per room)

  • Flat – RM300 to Rm500 per month
  • Apartment- Rm350 to Rm600
  • Condominium – RM 500 to RM750
  • Service Apartment – RM 900 to RM 1300

Tips: Make sure that it’s nearby any train station, check what is included (electric bill, water bill, wifi, etc) . You must have extra money for cash deposit – owner/agent will usually ask for 2 to 3 months deposit.

*My rental before was RM950 which includes: water bill, electric bill, and wifi in a service apartment in Cheras. But if you are lucky enough in searching, you will get RM500 including bills and wifi in a condominium, because some of the owners renting out their spare room to get an extra income. 

#2. Use a Public Transportation

The one thing I like about Kuala Lumpur transportation is very accessible, efficient and commuting in the city is inexpensive. Don’t for out a money to service a car loan, because that is a liability and not an asset.

Transportation Guide:

  • KL Light Rail Transit (LRT)
  • KL Monorail
  • KTM
  • Rapid KL bus
  • Taxis

#3. Cook at Home

Everyone gets tired after work and we just want to rest on our bed or on the sofa and just call for delivery or a take away food. It’s okay to eat food outside, but if you want to save money- it’s better to cook at home.

Tips: Buy cheap groceries at Hero Supermarket, Tesco or you can go to nearest wet market- they are more fresher and cheaper. Some of the big supermarkets in Kuala offers free taste, go for it ! 🙂 And go for food exhibitions where in you get plenty of free taste- you can skip a one meal for that 🙂

  • I used to buy my food or groceries at nearby Hero Supermarket and I’m spending only Rm150 – that’s my budget for 2 weeks for food. So in a month, i’m only spending Rm300+ , compare if you will eat outside.
  • Rm300+ food budget in a month can cover my breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and snacks and fruits.
  • Hawker Food in KL are cheap, you can a plate of Chicken rice at Rm5 to Rm6 and a bowl of noodles at the same price.
  • If you spending rm20 in a day for food that will be rm600 in a month, if you cook at home- you will save 50%
  • My work before was start at 7am or 8am- I have to wake up at 5:00am to prepare for my breakfast and lunchbox.

#4. Less/No Entertainment

I’m not saying that you are not allow to have some fun, but the more you stay at home- the more savings you could get. I will give you some



  • Apply for MAYBANK ATM CARD (visa paywave)” it can actually use to pay for your movie ticket. Normal movie ticket will cost you RM18 but using the MAYBANK ATM CARD (visa paywave) it will cost only RM10 – check for more Maybank Cards privilege at “TGV CINEMAS” Take note!! ONLY AT TGV CINEMAS. If you don’t have one- ask a friend who have it, I have mine- so every time we want to watch a movie i’m using my maybank to pay and my friend’s just pay me a cash.
  • Student PROMO– Student will only cost Rm8 (weekdays) TGV Cinemas/ Golden Screen Cinemas
  • EARLY BIRDS– RM8 (weekdays before 12pm) check their website for more details – TGV Cinemas/ Golden Screen Cinemas





  • Do you love to sing? Check Redbox or Neway because they having a promotions every time and you can get 50% off


  • Freelance- work as a part time “promoter” – If your day’s off is during weekend, this is good for you. Find Part time job through Facebook. Promoter wages in KL in range of RM80 to RM 160 per day
  • Look for remote job online- register online and fill up all the information and most importantly is your skills. I will recommend Upwork


Malaysia Boleh : Filipino experienced a Malaysian Culture

“Malaysia is in my heart” for almost 4 years staying in Malaysia I admit that Malaysia has a space in my heart. What I love the most? Food Paradise- varieties of mouthwatering dishes, whether you like Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and even Thai food which you can find them “malaysian style hawker food court” and it will cost you a few ringgits. Apart from that Malaysia is an incredible culture- Malaysian cultures, Chinese cultures and indian cultures and  it’s totally  diverse.

*Disclaimer: I am from Philippines who lived in Malaysia from 2012 to 2016. All of these are based on my experienced, so don’t be too harsh 🙂



1. Locals always use “LAH” when they talk


Have you heard “Manglish- Malaysian English”? Let me give you an example “Eh, I’m hungry lah”, “Just go lah”, “Sorry lah”. Malaysian normally use “LAH” as a suffix. Yea, they added in the  end of the word, that makes their language UNIQUE. Apart from “LAH” they even use “Meh, liao,loh, lor, gua, ke” and a lot more. “Lah Lah Land” 🙂

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2. Malaysian use their HAND to eat in Fast Food Restaurant, Mamak and even weddings

36 Hours Penang, Malaysia
Dining at Restaurant

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When I ate at the Fast Food Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur for the first time, I was surprised when diners using their hand to eat the Fried Chicken, which is totally different in the Philippines- other fast food restaurant will give you disposal spoon and fork and some are they have stainless spoon and fork designated at the corner of the restaurant. But well, eating fried chicken with your hands is much more better.

In Mamak, when you order especially “ROTI’s” – locals will really eat using their hands. But spoon and fork is available.

Malay Weddings- On the table they have this kinda “kettle” made of plastic that has water for the guest’s to wash their hands. Spoon and fork is available upon request, but it’s better if you follow their culture- make sure to use your right hand, because eating with your left hand is very bad etiquette for them- be mindful on this!

That’s the thing to use when you want to wash your hand

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3. No “SLIPPERS” inside the House

Take off your “Shoes” please ! When visiting someone’s home in Malaysia, you have to take  off your slipper/shoes, because it’s consider rude. Now wearing shoes indoors also serves as a mark of respect. But not only in the house, some of the shops that I entered in Malaysia is “NO SHOES/SLIPPERS ALLOWED”, and even Restaurants- they have shoe racks at the side of the entrance. In the Philippines, when I go visit someone’s house, they’ll ask you to bring your slippers- mostly in province area. Every time we have celebration at home in the province- visitors coming inside with their slippers on, after the celebration expect to sweep your house and bhundred times of mopping. haha!


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4. Friends “TREATS” on your BIRTHDAY

When I celebrated my birthday in Kuala Lumpur, my college friends and I went to Karaoke. They surprised me with a cake and when our bill came out, I told them that I would pay all the bill because it’s my “BIRTHDAY”. But they said ” No, we will pay, it’s your birthday and your not supposed to pay any single cents!” . Same goes on one of our college friend, we surprised her with cake,pizza’s and spaghetti in our school and after we’ve ate the birthday celebrant asked “How much I should pay?” and then one of our friend says ” No need to pay lah, it’s your birthday”

*The birthday celebrant shouldn’t have any burden on his/her birthday paying the food, hehe! In Philippines, the birthday celebrant is the one who “MUST PAY” for the food – not fair enough.



5. Woman’s can’t shake their hand to Man’s (During Ramadan)

I have experienced this when my guy friend who is malay brought me to his friend open house. They started to greet each other, shaking their hands and so I did the same thing, well I have no idea- my friend didn’t inform me. But he explained to me after, so I didn’t done it anymore. They must be understand, but I feel guilty after knowing it. It’s in their faith so we should respect it.

Man is not allow to touch woman’s hand who is not his “mahram” (a person whom she is never permitted to marry because of their close blood relationship (such as her father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.)



6. Offer to “PAY THE BILL”

When someone ask you out for a LUNCH, DINNER, COFFEE or even a date it doesn’t mean that the person who invites you will going to pay for the bill, which is very uncommon in Philippines- YOU INVITE, YOUR TREAT ! That’s why every time I am having a holiday back in Philippines I couldn’t ask someone to go out, because I gotta have to pay the bill. But some of my friends would tell me we can share or “I will treat you” which is good thing. In Malaysia, it’s very common to split the bill whether you’ve been invited or you are the one who invite and it does happen on “DATES” girl’s actually insist to pay for her bill.

In the the Philippines, it is common practice to let the “guy” pay on dates! Which makes my friend surprised when he invited me out for a drink and I did offer to split the bill because I get to used of it.

When I flew back to Manila from Kuala Lumpur, one of the passenger asked me “Why Filipino’s always asked me to treat every time I asked them out” – He is talking about his colleagues. So, I told him “maybe next time ask them to split the bill, before going out with them”



7. Address people by Mr. and Miss

In the Philippines we often use Sir/Maam or Mdm to address someone or strangers. But in Malaysia they use Mr. and Miss. On my college days in Kuala Lumpur, I always address our teachers or school staffs by “Sir/Ma’am” which is I don’t get to used of it. But upon hearing my classmates saying “Ms. or Mr”I slowly changing on how I address people in Malaysia, but when I started to work as a Customer Care I started to use “Sir/Maam” to our Singaporean customers which makes me more comfortable in talking and then my colleagues started to use “Sir/Maam” as well.

In sending emails and letters “Mr./Mrs./Miss/Sir/Madam/Ma’am is acceptable as a sign of courtesy.



8. There’s an “ANG POW”(red pocket) rates in a Wedding

If you planning to attend a wedding especially a “CHINESE WEDDING” you have to give an Ang Pow. Most of the Chinese Wedding that I attended, they celebrated their dinner at very nice hotel. This is the tricky question- how much should I give as an Ang pow? Well.. Make a research on how much “per head”. The last Chinese wedding that I’ve attended was rm79 per head we are two so we ended up giving rm150 for both of us.

Most of “MALAY WEDDING” that I’ve attended-they held in their residence, as my friends says they usually give rm20 and that is good enough. When one of our teacher got married- 4 of us bought a set of kitchen ware and we split the cost. I have no idea about Indian wedding.

In the Philippines – the common rate is 500 peso and some more 1 invitation will bring the entire family. Peace 🙂 but it’s very common.

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9. Make money on Chinese New Year (For all singles)

During Chinese New Year- married couple must give “ang pows” to single’s. Visit families, relatives, friends and eat the food they’ll serve. It’s time to get yourself fat as well :))

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10. Avoid drinking or eating in Public Place during Ramadan

Most of the population in Malaysia are Malay and they are muslim, during Ramadan or fasting month- they are not allow to eat or drink smoke or engage in sexual intercourse during the hours of daylight. So if you taking a public transportation especially a train, don’t drink a water or eat snack obviously because it’s a disrespect to all muslims and don’t wear sexy clothes.

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