How Much Does It Cost to Retire in Malaysia?

Ever wondered how much does it cost to retire in Malaysia? Find out and compare various scenarios below. Although the numbers and statistics are everywhere on the internet, we have compiled and organised the information accordingly (by type of retirement) in one place. The pricing information below is based on the published prices from various sources available on blogs, forums and the internet.

Semi-independent living

Say, you are ageing healthily and have no major complications but may need some assistance such as house chores, which involves hiring a maid. You have paid your mortgage and car loan and have no outstanding loans and debts and want to live a simple lifestyle.

Here’s how much you’ll spend on average in a year in today’s value:
  • English-speaking maid: RM1,400 X 12 months = RM16,800
  • Medical check-up at a private hospital: RM1,500
  • Medication & supplements: RM150 x 12 months = RM1,800
  • Annual premium for medical insurance: RM3,500
  • Groceries: RM700 x 12 months = RM8,400
  • Transport (petrol & toll): RM200 x 12 months = RM2,400
  • Yearly 3-day holiday within Malaysia: RM1,000
  • Utilities (water, electricity, etc.): RM150 x 12 months = RM1,800
Total: RM37,200

However, this is a very conservative estimate and disregards many of the complications related to old age.

It merely assumes that the elderly person is able to live semi-independently with minimal assistance. However, that is not always the case.

As we age, our mental and physical health deteriorate, and we may find living on our own no longer an option at one point. This is when assisted living comes into the picture.

What’s the price of assisted living?

The thought of sending the elderly to a nursing home may be frowned upon in Asian culture. But taking care of an ageing loved one is not easy and is a round-the-clock commitment.

Also, very few have the luxury of staying at home and tend to their family members full–time.

This is when assisted living arrangement can be considered to ensure the elderly person is taken care of comfortably.

For a semi-private room with basic care services, the average price is RM1,000 a month. A private room with trained nurses and in-house doctors providing professional and specialised healthcare will set a person back RM5,000 a month. Diapers and other services may be charged separately.

Twin Sharing Room
Walking, assistance with ADLS (activities of daily living): RM2,500 / month
Bed-Ridden: RM2,650 / month

Multiple Sharing Room ( 3-, 4- or 5-bedroom)
Walking, assistance with ADLS: RM2,300 / month
Bed-Ridden: RM2,450 / month

Single Room
Single room with shared bathroom: RM2,850 / month
Single room with attached bathroom: RM3,250 / month
Couple: RM3,800 / month
Diapers (per month): RM300

  • Prices include: 24-hour care, assistance and nursing; health check-ups; six meals a day; reflexology/massage; physiotherapy; Astro TV; laundry.
  • All rooms are fully air-conditioned.
  • Medical-related fees are charged separately and prices vary according to care and treatment.
Here’s how much you’ll spend on average in a year in a nursing home:
  • Multiple-sharing room: RM2,500 x 12 = RM30,000
  • Diapers: RM300 x 12 = RM3,600
  • Medical check-up at a private hospital: RM1,500
  • Medication & supplements: RM150 x 12 months= RM1,800
  • Annual premium for medical insurance: RM3,500
Total: RM40,400

What if a senior citizen falls ill?

The top criterion that determines if someone elderly needs assistance or is able to live independently is his or her health condition.

According to the World Health Organisation, the top killer diseases among Malaysians are coronary heart disease and stroke.

Also in the country, the medical inflation rate is between 10% and 15% every year, and these diseases are not cheap to treat.

Treatment for heart attack costs between RM10,000 and RM30,000. In 30 years’ time, it will be around RM174,494 to RM523,482.

As for stroke, expect to pay RM35,000 to RM75,000. In 30 years, that will be from RM610,729 to RM1,308,705.

This cost will be on top of the living costs detailed above and it will likely wipe out a person’s retirement savings if he/she does not have adequate medical insurance coverage.

So, how much do you really need during retirement?

With the above scenarios in mind, you need to prepare for your retirement early to ensure adequate savings in your old age.

Assuming life expectancy of 75 years old, here’s a rough estimate of the total retirement savings that you need:
  • First 5 years Independent living at RM36,000 a year: RM180,000 
  • Next 5 years Semi-independent living at RM37,200 a year: RM186,000 
  • Last 5 years Assisted living at RM40,400 a year: RM202,000 
TOTAL RETIREMENT SAVINGS REQUIRED FOR 15 YEARS: RM 568,000 (Non inflation adjusted).
TOTAL RETIREMENT SAVINGS REQUIRED FOR 30 YEARS: RM 1,360,000 (Non inflation adjusted).

Wrapping It Up

Choosing whether to live independently or assisted will very much depend on your physical health.

In the long run, if someone is fit as a fiddle, living independently costs less, but that depends on the person’s lifestyle before and during retirement.

If you have health complications and do not want to burden your family, then assisted care would be best as you will have someone to check on you from time to time. Some nursing homes have day care or even seasonal options where you only need to check in for a certain duration as opposed to full boarding.

Learn to be financial literate, know how to invest safely and learn new skills to continue to make money as most people will not have enough savings to retire completely. In Malaysia, it's called KSM (kerja sampai mati).

Never neglect your health either. Yearly medical checks, moderate lifestyle, social networking, healthy diet might help mitigate the effects of ageing.


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