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Finding ways to save money

The cost of living in Malaysia is undoubtedly higher than in some other places, but small ways to save money can soon add up.


Malaysia has a double taxation treaty with various countries, including the UK, to avoid double taxation while you’re living abroad. Check whether your home country has an agreement in place, so you don't end up paying too much tax unnecessarily.


Provided you are in possession of the correct visa and work permit, and can present your passport or ID, you can open up a bank account in Malaysia. It’s worth shopping around to find the best deal for expatriates — some packages allow you to make transactions between Malaysia Ringgit and multiple currencies. Find out which banks have branches and ATMs close to your home and place of work. Make sure you check the charges for your bank account — for example, international transfers, standing orders, and general account fees. ATMs charge high transaction fees for international cards, so opening a bank account in Malaysia will also help you save on cash withdrawals.


In Kuala Lumpur, the light rail system (LRT) is efficient and continually expanding to include additional stops and detours. Tickets are reasonably cheap, and you can purchase swipe cards if you travel frequently.

The RapidKL bus in Kuala Lumpur is a good alternative way to travel and you can purchase an ALL-DAY ticket that will offer unlimited rides.

Check out the following link for more information:

If you’re frequently commuting, you can now buy a ‘Touch‘n Go Travel Card' for 10MYR at some stations around Kuala Lumpur, including KL Central, KLCC, Ampang Park, and more. This will allow you to travel on some lines including Rapid KL, NadiPUTRA, Ampang & Sri Petaling (formerly known as STAR Line), Kelana Jaya (formerly known as PUTRA Line), KTM Komuter, KL Monorail, and Express Rail Link (ERL) lines. It will also allow you to travel on RapidKL buses and you don’t need to buy separate tickets for each journey.

For more information on the Touch‘n Go Travel Card, visit:

While taxis are cheap and readily available, be aware that as a foreigner the driver may try to overcharge you. In the city centre, you’ll find it’s more cost effective not to own a car. If you’re in the suburbs, you’ll definitely need to invest in one. Imported cars are very expensive, so do your research on more locally available and reliable models.


The cost of local food products is low, and there is a huge range available, as a result of the cultural diversity of the country. Opting for local street food, which is cheap and good quality, often costs less than RM75 (£14) for a meal for two people, compared with foreign restaurants that would charge around RM140 (£27) for a full meal for two people. Alcohol is expensive, particularly when purchased at a restaurant, so having friends round for dinner and drinks, rather than meeting at a restaurant, could save you more than just the cost of the food.


Throughout Asia, it’s possible to find bargains even if haggling is not your strong point. But its acceptability varies from place to place and depends on what you’re buying.

Many Asian vendors believe that the first sale of the day offers a foretaste of the day’s trading — if they are slow to start, the rest of the day with not be fruitful. If you’re up and about early, you may just clinch the best price at the market.

Ask for the wholesale price if you’re buying more than one object from the same outlet as often there will be dual pricing — one price for a single purchase, and another lower price for bulk.

Be aware that often foreigners may be offered a much higher price to take advantage of their lack of local knowledge. Shop around and before you commit to buy make sure you know the ballpark figure you should pay for your goods so you’re not taken in by a hugely inflated price. If in doubt, walk away. Appearing too keen won't help you reduce the price. But remember that if you leave, you should be willing to let the item in question go if the vendor does not call you back.

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