Whether you are backpacking for several days, visiting a relative or working here in Malaysia, it is important to always have some sort of estimation on your pocket money. However, as many people fail to realize, even if you asked someone who has been there, your estimate can always fall short from what you think will be enough for you to survive. Moreover, with the unstability of Malaysian Ringgit, going to the money exchange and selling your currency may leave you with a lighter wallet and cancellation of planned places to visit. Hence as a helpful fellow, I’m compiling a price list comparison of the basic necessities you can find on famous groceries to give you an idea about the cost of living here in Malaysia.

This is Part 1 of the Cost of Living Series that will include the fundamental grocery needs of someone who aims to travel here in Malaysia for visit and work. It will also include prices on wet markets, rentals and other essentially important things on the future blogs in order for you to accurately measure the Cost of Living and have a proper basis for your pocket money.

Without further ado, below is a table containing the most bought items on supermarkets in Malaysia and their prices as of today:

Products Description* Size / Quantity Price (MYR)** Price (PHP)***
Milk Dutch Lady Purefarm UHT Milk 1 L 6.84 82.08
Cooking Oil Knife Blended Palm Cooking Oil 1 KG 3.60 43.20
Rice Jasmine Super Special Tempatan 10 KG 25.98 311.76
Cereals Nestle Koko Krunch/Milo/Honey Stars 500 G 15.36 184.32
Bread Gardenia Classic Bread 400 G 2.40 28.80
Eggs LH Egg Classic by 10s 10 pcs 3.95 47.40
Oats Quaker Quick Cook Oats 1 KG 12.18 146.16
Coffee Nescafe Oh-So-Creamy White Coffee 15 sticks 15.17 182.04
Energy Powder Milo Powder Soft Pack 1 KG 18.99 227.88
Softdrinks Coca-Cola/Sprite/Fanta 1.5 L 2.89 34.68
Canned Tuna Ayam Brand Flakes in Olive Oil 150 G 5.08 60.96
Catsup Maggi Sos Tomato 325 G 3.10 37.20
Sandwich Filling Heinz Sandwich Spread 270 G 7.94 95.28
Potato Chips Jack-N-Jill Potato Chips Classic 60 G 3.04 36.48
Biscuits Oreo Vanilla 137 G 3.18 38.16
Snacks Pringles Original 110 G 5.08 60.96
Pork Luncheon Ma-Ling Pork Luncheon Meat 360 G 6.89 82.68
Chocolates Kitkat 4 Fingers Classic 35 G 2.79 33.48

These are the things you’ll most likely to buy from a store if you’re staying in Malaysia for more than a week. It is, however, recommended to find local stores than the large supermarkets (Cold Storage, Giant, Tesco etc…) because the price would often be lower by a ringgit or some cents. Even a small price difference will make a huge impact on the budget sheet you keep updating inside your bag.

Here are also some additional tips when buying your groceries in Malaysia:

  • Why so cheap lah? Check the Expiry Date

When you’re buying from local stores in Malaysia, a cheaper price most likely means something. Hence if you see “Promotion”, “On Sale” or “Discounted”, always check the expiration date. If it is a produce, check carefully if some parts of it looks squishy soft, super dry or have different color as these may always refer to spoilage.

  • Non-Halal? Go Inside the Corner Over There.

In general, most stores including the local ones separate the halal or non-halal. If you are looking for pork products (pork luncheon, pork meats or any processed foods mainly comprised of pork), search for the non-halal section in the supermarket. Since non-halal products are generally not accepted in the market, pork products naturally available on most countries (like pork broth/cubes) may not be available here in Malaysia. Muslim cashiers will also not hold non-halal products when pricing on the counters so be sure to have extra tissue to clean your hands just in case.

  • Leave your coins on your pouch.

Stores always accept debit or credit cards so there is no need to count your coins on your bag if you’ll just buy a cup of noodles downstairs.

  • Saya tidak boleh cakap Bahasa Malaysia (I can’t speak Bahasa Malaysia).

Since Malaysia is a developing country, most products are always expressed in Bahasa Malaysia, their national language. If there is no English transcript and you are unsure about the product you’ll buy even though it’s cheap, you can freely ask the store attendants to better help you in choosing the right product.

  • Do you have <Product Name>? Ah, no lah we don’t sell that here.

There are special products, aside from the non-halal ones, available in your country that you will never find here in Malaysia. The list will be published on the next series of Cost of Living.

  • RM 15 for Rice Cooker! Limited Stock.

Some groceries, like Tesco, discounts group products especially on famous holidays such as Chinese New Year or Hari Raya. As such, whenever the time comes, always buy bulk products to better have your fridges full although your roommates will be mad at you for stocking the fridge.

  • So heavy ah – my arms weak already! How much your trolley bag?

Most Malaysians always have cars to cram their groceries in. If you’re saving some cash and do not want to take taxi in order to take it home but you live nearby, avail of one of those trolley shopping bags to help you pack your groceries and reduce the effort of carrying those plastic bags. It may also help you in the long run since some of the stores charge 20 cents for a plastic bag.

  • I’m too lazy today, let me shop on Tesco.

Here in Malaysia, the online shopping is heavy and booming, not only on electronics and appliances but also on groceries. You can shop online at Tesco and after you finish they can deliver your goods right to your desktop (it will take some time of course, don’t be silly). There’s also another site called HappyFresh where you can choose where to buy groceries and they’ll buy it for you. They will even deliver these on your doorstep in as little as one hour! How cool is that?

I hope that with these informations I have provided, you will have a definite estimate of the pocket money you will bring here in Malaysia. The next Cost of Living series will detail the prices on the wet market which will include the produces (fruits and vegetables) and meat (chicken, fish, beef and pork) and their comparison to grocery prices. Cheers!


*Manually inspected from Cold Storage (Section 14) supermarket.
**Price subjected to 6% GST as of today (24-Apr-2016)
***Foreign currency exchange as of today (Google: 1 MYR = 11.96 ~ 12 PHP)