KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — The next time you complain about how expensive Kuala Lumpur is, just remember that a global survey showed the city has some of the cheapest movie tickets, gym memberships and restaurants.
In Deutsche Bank’s “Mapping the World’s Prices” report, Kuala Lumpur is the eighth cheapest city out of 55 surveyed this year for the price of one movie ticket at US$4.50 (RM18.85).
Kuala Lumpur’s movie ticket price is almost half the ticket price of US$8.80 in neighbouring Singapore, which ranks as the 23rd cheapest city for a movie.
A movie ticket in Kuala Lumpur is also slightly cheaper than that in Manila (US$5), but more expensive than the US$3.70 rate in Jakarta which is the second cheapest out of the 55 cities ranked using Expatistan figures.
For fitness buffs, Kuala Lumpur is where the 14th cheapest price in 55 cities can be found for one month of gym membership in the business district at US$38.70.
This puts Kuala Lumpur ahead of Manila (US$46.30), Jakarta (US$47.60) and the second-most pricey city for monthly memberships in a business district gym—Singapore (US$121).
All in all, Kuala Lumpur is the city to be for cheap dates, being the ninth cheapest out of 54 cities at US$49, only a few bucks pricier than neighbours Jakarta (US$45) and Manila (US$45.30), but almost half the price of Singapore (US$93.50).
Deutsche Bank’s definition involves the package of taxi rides, dinner or lunch for two at a pub or diner, soft drinks, two movie tickets and a couple of beers.
This is probably why Kuala Lumpur is ranked among the cheapest for couples looking to go on a date, as a survey of 55 cities shows it to be the third cheapest to buy soft drinks, the fourth cheapest (for an eight kilometre taxi trip on a business day at US$4.80), the seventh cheapest (basic dinner for two in a neighbourhood pub at US$18.90), 12th cheapest (full-course dinner for two at an Italian restaurant at US$38.70)
This is despite Kuala Lumpur having the 25th most expensive prices out of 54 cities for a pint or 500ml of beer in a neighbourhood pub in an expatriate area (US$5.30).
Hourly cleaning rates are the 18th cheapest of 55 cities in Kuala Lumpur at US$7, slightly pricier than Jakarta’s US$5 and Manila’s US$6, but cheaper than Singapore’s US$12 and the most expensive cities of Stockholm and Helsinki at US$39 per hour.
Kuala Lumpur is the 14th cheapest out of 55 cities to get a standard haircut for men in an expatriate area of the city at US$9.90, pricier than Manila’s US$4.10 and Jakarta’s US$6.90 but half the price of Singapore’s US$19.80. The priciest city for a similar haircut is Copenhagen at US$47.60.
Other lifestyle choices in Kuala Lumpur are less cheap, but remain competitive when compared against other cities globally, the survey which used Expatistan figures showed.
For example, getting a cup of cappuccino in an expatriate area of the city costs US$3.90 this year in Kuala Lumpur, a gradual increase from US$3.80 last year and US$3.70 five years ago in 2014.
This places Kuala Lumpur as having the 26th priciest tag for a cup of coffee or the 25th cheapest tag out of 55 cities, depending on your starting point —— pricier than Manila’s US$3 but cheaper than Jakarta’s US$4 or Singapore’s US$5.40 (fifth most expensive city for a cuppa).
For one month of internet access at speeds of 8Mbps, Kuala Lumpur also has a somewhat middling position of being the 23rd most expensive or 27th cheapest rates at US$29.
Kuala Lumpur’s monthly internet rates are fairly comparable to Jakarta (US$21), Singapore (US$28), Manila (US$32), but far removed from the most expensive of the 55 cities —— Dubai (US$82), Dublin, San Francisco, New York all at US$52 — or the cheapest cities — Moscow (US$7), Istanbul (US$9), New Delhi (US$11).
What about incomes and monthly rental?
The average after-tax monthly salary in Kuala Lumpur is on the leaner side, ranking 41st highest out of the 55 cities surveyed, or the 15th lowest if you flip it around.
Using Numbeo’s figures, the monthly salary in Kuala Lumpur this year barely crosses the thousand-dollar mark at US$1,009, shrinking from US$1,108 last year and from US$1,093 in 2014.
Kuala Lumpur’s average salary rates are about two or three times higher than Manila (US$480) or Jakarta (US$362), but is about three times lower than the US$2,900 in Singapore which has the 11th highest salary out of all 55 cities.
As for the monthly rent for a mid-range two-bedroom apartment using Expatistan figures, the survey lists Kuala Lumpur as being relatively cheaper at US$448 (in fact the seventh cheapest of 55 cities), while Manila is at US$563, Jakarta (US$662), Singapore (US$1,893).
After using the after-tax income to deduct monthly rental per individual renter of a two-bedroom apartment shared by two working individuals, Deutsche Bank places Kuala Lumpur as having the 18th lowest disposable income at US$785, or the 36th highest if you flip it around.
In contrast, the disposable income after monthly rental in Manila is US$198, and US$1,953 in Singapore.
Quality of life
Using Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index that tracks eight indicators, the Deutsche Bank places Kuala Lumpur at 39th spot out of 56 cities, ahead of cities such as London (41st), Hong Kong (44th), Shanghai (48th), Jakarta (52nd), Dhaka (53rd), Manila (54th), Beijing (55th), but trailing behind cities like Singapore (23rd).
For quality of life, the top 10 cities out of the selected 56 cities compared in the Deutsche Bank report are Zurich at the first spot, followed by Wellington, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Vienna, Helsinki, Melbourne, Boston, San Francisco and Sydney.
The figures compiled by Deutsche Bank of Numbeo figures show Kuala Lumpur’s scores in the purchasing power index (31), safety index (51), health care index (38), cost of living index (11), property price to income ratio (16), traffic commute time index (24), pollution index (41), climate index (53).
A check of Numbeo’s site currently shows Kuala Lumpur as being categorised as having a “high” score at 110.10 in the quality of life index, and categorised as being “high” in the pollution index (67.99) and “low” in the safety index or for regional crime and safety (32.81), and “moderate” for the four indexes of climate or regional climate likeability (56.55), traffic commute time including traffic congestion (40.34), property price to income or housing affordability (10.81) and purchasing power (73.14).
On the positive side, it is categorised as having a “very low” cost of living index score in terms of the general cost of consumer goods, and a “high” score for the health care index in relation to the overall quality of health care availability.