The Cost Of Living 

by Darya Ebrahimi

As Malaysians struggle with rising living expenses , inflation and its resulting high costs are frequently mentioned in the news.

From shopping to dining out, numerous everyday expenses have increased over the past year or two. Considering that, it is difficult to fathom how much less expensive things were thirty years ago.

Here is a review of significant expenses since 1993 using information from the Department of Statistics Malaysia's Household Expenditure Survey (DOSM).


1. Communications

It may not be a shock that costs associated with communications—your phone and internet fees, the latter of which did not exist in 1993—have increased the most during the previous 29 years.

The average Malaysian at the time used a landline phone, therefore monthly phone costs were just approximately RM24, or 2.1% of all spending.

In 2019, that expense has increased 9.5 times to RM229 per month, or 5% of overall spending. Certainly, the internet and cell phones are responsible for this.

Malaysians currently pay a minimum of RM89 per month for the cheapest 30Mbps home internet speed and a peak of RM349 per month for 800Mbps. Out of 105 nations, Malaysia had the 60th-most expensive internet, according to Numbeo.

Despite the fact that Malaysians' spending on mobile data has increased, the country still rates it as affordable, with 1GB of data costing only $46 on average.


2. Housing, water, gas, and other amenities

From RM245 per month in 1993 to RM1,068 per month in 2019, Malaysians have paid 4.4 times more on housing, water, electricity, and gas. Given this, only a small increase in the percentage of overall spending has occurred, from 21.1% in 1993 to 23.6% in 2019.

Early in the 2010s, local housing costs surged rather quickly, which led to an increase in rent for Malaysians.

In the meantime, the cost of coal, crude oil, and natural gas affects the price of electricity. In 2019, crude oil made up 29.2% of the total energy supply, followed by coal (24.4%) and natural gas (41.9%).


3. Restaurants and hotels

From RM145 per month in 1993 to RM631 monthly in 2019, expenditure on dining out and lodging has likewise climbed by 4.4 times. In 1993, this amounted to 12.5% of overall expenditure; 26 years later, it did so at 13.9%.

Nearly one-third of Malaysians, or up to 15 times each month, eat out at least twice every week.

Before the epidemic, the typical Malaysian travelled at least 1.4 times annually and spent an estimated RM103.2 billion, or RM3,225, each year.


4. Health

Medical bills are now a top worry as Malaysians work longer and more frequently in the modern world due to the epidemic and other factors. Among the highest percentages of diabetes prevalence in the world is found in Malaysia, where complications including heart disease are the leading cause of mortality.

So, from RM21 per month in 1993 to RM95 per month in 2019, spending on health has increased by 4.4 times.

Healthcare for people is essentially free in government hospitals, despite the fact that this may seem poor. Additionally, a lot of organisations offer group insurance coverage for private healthcare treatments, though typically only for less serious conditions like colds, flu, and fevers.


5. Groceries and non-alcoholic beverages

It might surprise you to find that expenditure has increased the least since 1993 on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Between 1993 and 2019, monthly grocery spending climbed by 2.8 times, from RM276 to RM783. The majority of Malaysians now spend more money on fish and shellfish (RM169 per month), beef (RM109 per month), and bread and other cereals (RM108 per month).

Malaysians are actually spending less on groceries and non-alcoholic drinks as a percentage of overall spending - from 23.8% in 1993 to 17.3% in 2019 - despite rising food prices, particularly for poultry and eggs.

However, a larger expenditure on eating out could be the cause of this decreased proportion. However, even after accounting for eating out and shopping spending, the percentage fell from 35.6% in 1993 to 30.6% three years later.

Malaysians' monthly spending has increased overall, from RM1,161 in 1993 to RM4,534 in 2019.