Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Low Cost of Living, Retire Early, $20 Day

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia: To retire early and travel the world, reduce your cost of living while you start your online business, or travel cheap while you plan world domination, our list of travel cheap to paradise locations (for under $20 per day) will be the cheat sheet for your new life.

When I think of Southeast Asia in terms of places where I enjoy the amenities of a large modern city, I think of places like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Singapore.  I hadn’t really thought much about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before going there.   But it turned out to be a nice surprise.   

Kuala Lumpur, Live Cheap, Million Dollar View
Kuala Lumpur, Live Cheap, Million Dollar View

Kuala Lumpur has a well-stocked cheap Electronic’s markets (Low Yat Plaza), high-end shopping malls (Pavilion, Suria KLCC), beautiful city parks, and a fairly robust middle-class that are well-educated, interesting, fun, and polite.  There are also crazy cheap street markets and fun walkable bar hopping areas (Bangsar, Changkat Bukit Bintang).  I never felt intimidated or in fear during my stay in Kuala Lumpur.  

Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have the high energy of Hong Kong, the organization of Singapore, the crazy night-life of Bangkok, or the extreme cleanliness of Tokyo, but it is an oasis from the isolation from modernization that you may feel after spending months in smaller towns and beach communities in SE Asia.  Kuala Lumpur’s charms are not so obvious upon arrival but they will grow on you.  I was there for a few months and really enjoyed my stay.  

Grab a ==>free copy of my Ebook<== if you would like to learn my secrets of how to live cheap all of the world while you make money on your laptop.    Here is my list of the ==>best live-cheap in paradise locations<== in the world.

Travel Hub: Kuala Lumpur is a great travel hub in Southeast Asia.  

Flights: There are connecting flights throughout Southeast Asia and flights back to most of the major cities of the world.  The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is one of the most beautiful and well-organized airports anywhere in the world.  It is a great travel hub because the flights are often reasonable and if you want to stay a few days before transferring, there is a lightning-fast train (KLIA Ekspres) that takes you 57km into the middle of Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral) for $13 per person.  Just look for the KLIA Ekspres as you exit baggage claim. The KLIA Ekspres will take you to KL Sentral.  

KL Sentral: Once in KL Sentral, you can take buses, trains, taxis, and trams all over KL and surrounding areas.  Just walk to the center of KL Sentral ground floor and tell the information desk where you want to go.  They will direct you to the ticket counter for your train and the ticket seller will tell you which stop to get off.  

Grab:  Before departing KLIA, buy a local sim card for your cell phone and download the Grab taxi application.  You can get to most places in Kuala Lumpur for under $6 one way using a grab taxi, usually around $3.  Plus, the Grab application tells the Grab driver where you are so you just need to know where you are going.  They will drive right up to you and take you door to door.  The public transportation can be a nice exploration for less than a dollar, but sometimes you will be willing to pay a little more.  

Food:  There are many amazing restaurants, including high-end restaurants ($$$), middle range restaurants ($$) and some very delicious low-end restaurants ($).  At the highest end restaurants whether Japanese, European, or Fusion, you could easily spend $100 per person depending on your order and whether or not you order expensive wine and after dinner drinks.  But you can also eat one of the best meals of your life in a more typical upper-end restaurant for under $12 per person.  Family style mid-level restaurants are all over town for $3-6 per meal, and at the low end in open street markets are around $2-4 per meal.  

Accommodations: While in Kuala Lumpur, I started a new online business and needed reliable connectivity for the first few months.  So, I decided to remain stationary for a few months.  Subscribe to the Vagabond Buddha web page or youtube channel if you would like updates about the ways I make money online.  Also, since I love to cook, and was going to be stationary for a few months, I decided to rent a furnished 1 bedroom apartment with kitchen, while I was in Kuala Lumpur.  I found a chic 1 bedroom apartment on the 37th floor of a high rise condo complex.  It has a floor to ceiling view of the Petronas Towers and was located in the high-end embassy row section of Kuala Lumpur, called Ampang.  It cost me $37 per night.  There were 1 bedroom furnished apartments for under $30 per night on Airbnb.com, but sometimes I splurge for a nice view.  Before finding the apartment I stayed in a respectable mid-level hotel room for about $20 per night.  There are also hostel dorms starting for about $7 per night.  

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur:

  1. Petronas Towers:  You are going to need a picture of yourself in front of the Petronas Towers or nobody will believe you have been to Kuala Lumpur.  If you would like to go to the top for a visit, the tickets are about $20.  
  2. Little India: Malaysia has three main cultures–Malay, Chinese, and Indian.  Make sure to visit Little India for your Indian experience of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.
  3. Chinatown:  Make sure to visit Chinatown also.   
  4. Bangsar Baru: For a walkable neighborhood that includes an assortment of great restaurants, pubs, wine bars, coffee houses, and dance clubs, visit Bangsar Baru. Walk the 4 block area around this Bangsar Baru link to find your favorites.  
  5. Parks Visited:  From a Google map of Kuala Lumpur, you can see that there are a number of parks.  I visited a few during my stay there.  First, I visited the Perdana Botanical Garden.  It is big and beautiful with many photo opportunities.  Second, is the park at the Petronas Towers, KLCC Park.  The park is beautiful and has a padded running track if you are worried about your knees.  Finally, there is a beautiful lake I ran around in the mornings, Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir.  
  6. Changkat Bukit Bintang: For a walkable neighborhood that includes an assortment of great restaurants, pubs, wine bars, coffee houses, and dance clubs, visit Changkat Bukit Bintang. Walk the 4 block area around this Changkat Bukit Bintang to find your favorites.  
  7. Batu Caves:  From KL Sentral take the KMUTER train to one of the most beautiful and sacred Hindu temples in the world, Batu Caves.  Make sure to walk around and explore completely.  
  8. TV Tower and Observation Deck:  Make sure to visit the world’s highest TV Tower and Observation deck.  I wouldn’t have dinner there though.  The food was a bit predictable.  But the $12 ticket cost for just the observation deck, is worth the money for the view.  

Nearby Destinations: There are a number of day trips, long weekend trips, and extended trips with short flights, buses or trains from Kuala Lumpur. As I post blogs to each of these places, I will insert links below.  

  1. Cameron Highlands: A beautiful hill station with tea gardens and mossy tropical forest.  I will post a link from my visit soon.  
  2. Mekala: Colonial town just a few hours away by bus, $10. I will post a link from my visit soon.
  3. Penang Island:  Penang, Malaysia: Tropical Paradise from $12/Day.   
  4. Taman Negara:  A gorgeous jungle national park.  I will post a link from my visit soon.  
  5. Perhentian Islands:  If you time this right you can get round trip airfare to the Perhentian Islands for about $100, and the hotels there range from about $30-120/night.  The hostels are about $12/night per person.  Food is $4-12/meal. I will post a link from my visit soon.  
  6. Langkawi Island:  If you time this right you can get round trip airfare to Langkawi Island for about $100, and the hotels there range from about $22-60/night.
  7. Singapore: If you time it right you can get round trip airfare to Singapore for about $110, and the hotels there range from about $70-300/night.  Hostels are about $15/night.
  8. Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia: Borneo Jungle Travel Cheap Under $20 Day  
  9. Sipadan, Malaysia: World’s best white sand islands $16 Day + Best Diving

Weather:  Malaysia is in the equatorial region meaning it has a tropical rainforest climate.  The temperature in Kuala Lumpur ranges from about 28-32C, which is about 82 to 90F.  While the temperature is fairly constant, there are two monsoons (rain) seasons.  It rains the most in March, April, and then again in October, November.  The least rainy months are June, July, and August.  Make sure to get a place with AC and take frequent trips to surround hillside stations when the heat gets to you.  If you like warm weather, you will love this part of the world.    

Exercise:  The condo I stayed in at The Elements at Ampang has a gym and swimming pool.  

Thank you for reading this post about the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Please leave a comment below, subscribe to our youtube channel, like this post on Facebook or share this video with your friends.

Also, please visit Vagabondbuddha.com if you would like to learn how to wander the planet being healthy wealthy and wise.  This is Dan Bell from VagabondBuddha.com.

Have an amazing day!  Here are the estimated costs of living in Kuala Lumpur,  Malaysia:

Cost of Living, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Monthly Multiplier
Expense Cost Low Medium High
Airbnb (1 Bedroom Apt) $37.00 0 14 30
Moderate Hotel $20.00 0 12 0
Backpacker Hostel $7.00 30 4 0
High End Restaurant $12.00 1 4 8
Neighborhood Restaurant $6.00 30 44 48
Food Cart $2.00 30 12 4
Subway/Train/Metro $1.00 20 26 8
Bus $0.70 20 10 0
Taxi $4.00 6 10 20
Total Per Month $520.00 $1,195.00 $1,590.00
Total Per Day $17.33 $39.83 $53.00

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.  I will not update these numbers until I am on the ground again here, if ever.

Grab a ==>free copy of my Ebook<== if you would like to learn my secrets of how to live-cheap all of the world while you make money on your laptop.    Here is my list of the ==>best live-cheap in paradise locations<== in the world.

Vagabondbuddha.com, Copyrights 2016.

2 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Low Cost of Living, Retire Early, $20 Day”

  1. This is a 2016 post. Here is the 2019 post for Kuala Lumpur: https://vagabondbuddha.com/2019-kuala-lumpur-malaysia-retire-early-cheap/

    They stamp my USA passport with 90 days with no questions asked. They have never asked me for proof of accommodations or an exit ticket at immigration when I enter the country.

    I have only once been asked for an onward flight by any airline flying into Malaysia. 10 times and only once have I been asked for an onward flight, but only by Malaysia airlines, not immigration and not any other airlines. I have flown from the USA on 4 different Chinese airlines a total of nine times and was never once asked for an onward ticket when boarding. For that reason, I suggest not flying Malaysia Airlines unless you have an onward ticket exiting Malaysia.

    Every time I re-enter they stamp me with 90 days again. I have done it 4 times in one year before. There is no language barrier here. This is a former British colony. Business is conducted mostly in English here.

    I found Qiang Hui on tinder here. So yes, it has been a great place for me to find love.

  2. How long can you stay here on a tourist visa? Can you leave and re-enter quickly for another stay? Language barrier? Good place for a 60 plus man to find a girlfriend/wife?

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