2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap

–>Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Livability Factors
–>Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Cost of Living
–>Kuala Lumpur Best Area to Stay, Cheapest Flights, Best Tours
–>Kuala Lumpur Must See Tour
–>Kuala Lumpur for Digital Nomads
–>Kuala Lumpur Facts and History
Best Travel or Retire Cheap in Paradise Locations in the World

[kkstarratings]This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. This is my 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia retire early cheap guide. My earlier guide is now 3 years old so it is time to update it. Here is my earlier 2016 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia retire early guide, in case you’re curious.

We just returned to Kuala Lumpur (KL) after a 16-month world tour. Here is the path we took on our 16 month retire early world tour. We didn’t go to every retire-early in-paradise country in the world on this tour. But here is the list of my current favorites to retire early each year. If you pick one of these places, you won’t need as much money to retire. Here is my 2019 Best Retire Early in Paradise Locations in the World. This is your cheat sheet to early retirement. You can retire much earlier if you pick one of these places instead of retiring in the USA, Canada, or Europe. Since I love Kuala Lumpur, it should be no surprise that it is on my 2019 Best Retire Early in Paradise Locations in the World.

We are heading north in Malaysia in a few days. We will stop in Qiang Hui’s village in Malaysia before we cross into Thailand. Stay tuned for that post in a few days.

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Kuala Lumpur Livability Factors

Our 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide starts with our livability factors. We spent 5 weeks in KL upon returning from our retire early world tour. KL is the largest city in Malaysia. KL is expensive compared to other areas of Malaysia. But the cost of living in KL is reasonable compared to many places around the world, such as the USA, Japan, China, Singapore, Canada, and Europe. But a low cost of living is just the first question we ask when deciding whether to investigate the best retire early places. That is why I also consider my livability factors. Each factor is rated high, medium, or low, and then the overall desirability of a destination is considered.

Walkability: High. This one will need an explanation. At first, you may think this is a place you need to have a car. But there are several neighborhoods in KL where you could live without ever having to get in a car. Three examples would be the Petronas Towers area, the Bukit Bintang area, and Bangsar. In fact, there is even a covered air-conditioned walkway between the Petronas Tower area and Bukit Bintang. You can also take the subway from the Petronas Towers to Bukit Bintang. Once in any of these three areas, you are walking distance to all necessities like movies, malls, and restaurants from super expensive to super cheap. Plus KL has an amazing transportation system that you can access using google maps. You could easily live here without buying a car.

Internet: High. Kuala Lumpur has fairly decent Internet speeds. I used the AT&T Speed Test on the wireless router in our Airbnb and it registered 19.09 Mbps down and 1.46 Mbps upload speeds with 120 ms latency. It works fine for Skype video and uploading Youtube videos.

Food: High. On average, groceries are about 30% cheaper than in the USA. Alcohol, beer, and wine are easily double. We stayed in the Jalan Ampang area of KL in M City. There is a high-end Village Grocery in the building here and we shop there if we need something quick. But if we are shopping for a few days worth of groceries we shop at either of these two grocery stores that have lower prices and almost as good a selection. Store 1, Store 2.

Weather: High. This might be my favorite weather in the world. But I like heat. March and April have the highest average temperatures 33 C, 91.5F. January is the coolest month averaging 23.4 C, 74 F. But the daily average is fairly consistent running between 27.6 C, 81.7 F and 28.8 C, 83.8 F. The rainy season is October through December, March, and April. when it averages about 10+ inches, 290 mm per month.

Things to Do: High. If you are interested in city life, Kuala Lumpur has everything you will need. Symphony, Live Music, Performing Arts Center. There are literally hundreds of great restaurants. Kuala Lumpur has an amazing international airport so all of SE Asia and the world is a reasonably priced flight away.

Social Considerations: It seems that everywhere you go here people speak English. It was a former English colony and they continue to teach English in school. The main local language is called Malay. There are three major ethnic groups here, Malay, Chinese, and Indian. All three groups speak their ethnic languages and most speak at least some English. The people are very friendly and nice. I don’t believe you will face any additional challenges because you are a foreigner.

Real Estate: You can buy 2 and 3 bedroom condos starting around 400,000 RM, $100k USD. But if you want to be in one of the three neighborhoods I am recommending (see walkability), you will have to pay two to three times that much. The weird thing is, rents are so low here that it might be smarter to rent than buy. The place we are in rents for about $700 per month and sells for about $250,000 USD. If you keep the $250k in the market instead, and average 6% return, you will make twice as much in the market as the rent you would save by buying. Plus, I do not recommend buying until you have been here for at least 2 years.

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Kuala Lumpur Desirability Score: High. I could see myself living in Kuala Lumpur. The costs are 50% higher than in other parts of Malaysia, but everywhere else in Malaysia feels a little rural for me. Also, most of Malaysia feels a little conservative for my taste. KL is more open-minded and accepting of diverse ideas.

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Kuala Lumpur Cost of Living

Our 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide next discusses cost of living here. The below cost of living numbers are an integration of my own experience and Numbeo. However, if significant inflation occurs or time passes after this post, then update my below numbers using Numbeo.

Monthly Cost of Living, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia ($USD)






Airbnb/per month rate





1 Br Apt w/lease





Hostel/per day





High-End Restaurant





Neighborhood Restaurant





Food Cart





















Per Month





Per Day




The above numbers are for one person and do not include alcohol, tours, or extras. I do not guarantee these prices for anyone. Here is a link explaining how the table works.

Please book using our links to recommended flights, tours, or accommodations. You will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. Your kindness will encourage us to keep making these travel guides and videos.

Best Area to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

This 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide provides the best areas to stay. Your first stay should be in Bukit Bintang, Petronas Towers (area), or the Bangsar area. I have marked where to stay on the above map. I have also made a recommendation below at each price point. The following recommendations go from most to least expensive. After that, I will tell you where we stayed.

Here are recommended places at various price points: High (beautiful hotel), Medium (apartment in a great location), Low (Hostel near Bukit Bintang).

We stayed in this Airbnb for a month when we were in Kuala Lumpur. I do not recommend paying the quoted rate when you are staying for a month in an Airbnb. We made significantly lower offers on 10 different properties and one of our favorites accepted our offer. (If you are new to Airbnb, use this code http://www.airbnb.com/c/dbell50 for a big discount).

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Cheapest Flights to Kuala Lumpur

To really enjoy our 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide, you need to save money on your flight. We almost always get our cheapest flights on this Skyscanner. They have a web crawler that is constantly looking for the cheapest prices all over the world. As usual we found the cheapest flight to Kuala Lumpur on Skyscanner.

Best Guided Tours of Kuala Lumpur

For your best deal on a tour, our 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide includes these best deals on tours. There are two tour sources I recommend in Kuala Lumpur. These are tour aggregators which means almost anybody can put their tours on here. So in addition to price, you should see how many reviews a tour has and read the customers comments before deciding which tour is best. You should also check both links below before making a final decision. Sometimes you will find significant savings on any given day for similar tour quality.

  1. The 10 Best Tours in Kuala Lumpur
  2. Top Tours in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur Must-See Tour (self-guided)

Like all of our live cheap in paradise guides, our 2019 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Retire Early Cheap guide starts with a free tour provided by us.

Here is the order you should see the Kuala Lumpur Free Must See Tour. But you don’t need a car to do this tour. Just follow the below directions below the map to get to each destination. We used public transportation and Grab.com taxi (Malaysia’s version of Uber).

Above is the video of our Kuala Lumpur Free Must See Tour. The video discusses each stop on the tour and the below links will take you to each. The video and below instructions are free. Make sure to buy a Malaysia Hotlink SIM card for your smartphone at the airport when you land. Then you can use all of these links in Kuala Lumpur to save time and money. Don’t be an idiot and pay roaming fees, that cost 20 times as much.

Batu Caves: Take a Grab Car to the Batu Caves for about $6 USD, 24 RM depending where you are in the city. You can also ride the commuter rail if you are near any of the stops on the way to Batu Caves. The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. Visitors must climb 272 steps to reach the top.

Petronas Towers: From the Batu Cave, take a Grab Car to Petronas Towers. Walk around the gorgeous park behind the towers (KLCC Park). In the evening there is a light show i the water fountains. You can also buy tickets there to get to the top of the towers (tickets are about $20). If you just want a great spot to take a picture of the towers, stop at this rooftop bar for happy hour. Catch a movie in English on the top flower of the fashion mall between the towers (Suria KLCC). If you decide to stay in this neighborhood, there are two full size grocery stores in the basement of this fashion mall. I am not recommending the TV Tower. The view is better from Petronas.

Pavillion: You should walk the air conditioned covered path from KLCC Park to the Pavillion. As you walk out of Suria KLCC onto KLCC Park, turn right at the water fountain and walk straight about 100 meters. Go through the glass doors and start walking and watching for signs that say “Pavillion.” Your first time you will feel lost. So just ask anyone as you go … “Which way to Pavilion?” The Pavilion is a gorgeous shopping mall and surrounding neighborhood with amazing food, nightlife, and entertainment.

Changkat Bukit Bintang: You can also take the same air-conditioned covered path a little further and it will get you to Bukit Bintang. You will already have noticed the signs for Bukit Bintang during your walk to Pavillion. You can also take the purple bus from Pavilion to Bukit Bintang if you prefer to ride in an airconditioned free bus. Just look for the buses purple bus near the front entrance to the Pavillion. Ask anyone if you get lost. Once on the purple bus, it is two stops from the Pavilion to the Bukit Bintang top. While in Bukit Bintang, you must see the street-food market at night and try some food and deserts. You must also walk in the Party Area after 10 PM to see the nightlife. There is also a great electronics market in Bukit Bintang if you need a great deal on something electronic. Also, can walk from Pavillion to the electronics market to Bukit Bintang. To get to the next stop, Chinatown, … just jump back on the purple bus and go 6 stops to the Pasar Seni stop.

Note: These are just the free buses in Kuala Lumpur. There is also an entirely separate public transportation system that you will find on Google Maps by clicking the rail icon above the destination search box.

Chinatown: The main attractions in Chinatown are the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple, the Guan Di Temple, and the Chan She Shu Yuen Clan Ancestral Hall. You also must eat and shop in the Chinatown walking street in the evening.

Bangsar Baru: You should also visit the upscale Bangsar Baru area of Kuala Lumpur. You will find mostly the 20-somethings partying above in Bukit Bintang, and there is a slightly older and classier group that visits Bangsar Baru at night. There are also a bunch of great restaurants in Bangsar Baru. You can take the rail to from Chinatown to Bangsar or get a Grab Car.

Nearby Destinations: There are a number of day trips, long weekend trips, and extended trips with short flights, buses or trains from Kuala Lumpur. I have included those in my previous 2016 Kuala Lumpur post.

Digital Nomads in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Here are our best food experiences in Kuala Lumpur this visit.

Thai Chala: We loved this place. Great and fairly priced. The owner is Thai, no wonder. 🙂

Korea Gomonae (Korean Food Ampang Point): Love this place. We try to eat here once a week or so.

Simple Life:  This is a nice vegetarian chain of restaurants.

Vagabond Buddha’s Kitchen: We cooked the rest of our meals at home, in our Airbnb kitchen. I already discussed our favorite grocery stores above under livability factors. We keep buying food there and cooking at home.

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Kuala Lumpur Facts and History

Here are some interesting facts about Kuala Lumpur Malaysia according to Wikipedia. I am here in KL as I share these facts.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia with over 7 million people within the metro area.

Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial, and economic centre of Malaysia. It is also home to the Parliament of Malaysia, and the official residence of the Malaysian King (Yang di-Pertuan Agong), the Istana Negara.

Kuala Lumpur is the tenth most-visited city in the world in 2017 and has three of the world’s ten largest shopping malls.

Kuala Lumpur has been ranked the 70th most livable city in the world and the 2nd most livable in Southeast Asia after Singapore.

During World War II, Kuala Lumpur was captured by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. The wartime occupation of the city resulted in significant loss of lives. 5,000 Chinese were killed in Kuala Lumpur in just a few weeks of the occupation. Thousands of Indians were sent as forced labor to work on the Burma Railway where a large number died.

The British occupation ended when the Malayan flag was raised for the first time at the Padang in 1957.

Race riots broke out in Kuala Lumpur in 1969. Violent conflicts that took place between members of the Malay and the Chinese communities. Malays were dissatisfied with their socio-political status. 196 people died during the violence and led to major changes in the country’s economic policy. The Malay majority has since promoted and prioritized Malay economic development over that of the other ethnicities.

The city remains as the economic and business hub in the country. Kuala Lumpur is a center for finance, insurance, real estate, media and the arts of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is rated as an alpha world city, and is the only global city in Malaysia, according to the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC).

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I started living internationally over 11 years ago. If you would like to learn how to make money online, or how to live internationally possibly with less money than you spend at home, please subscribe to Vagabond Buddha, our YouTube Channel, or get a free copy of my Ebook.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

I am not offering you any of the above prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different if significant inflation or deflation occurs or the market changes after this post. and livability for your lifestyle and needs. Never move anywhere until you have visited first to verify prices I will not update these numbers until I am on the ground again here, if ever.

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