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Malaysia vs. Singapore A Head-to-Head Comparison

Malaysia vs. Singapore: A Head-to-Head Comparison 

Deciding between Singapore’s cosmopolitan gleam and Malaysia’s laid-back charm is quite challenging. Both offer vibrant cultures, delicious food, and stunning landscapes, but the ideal home depends on your priorities.

Singapore shines with its modern buildings, exciting job opportunities, and a high standard of living. On the other hand, Malaysia has a lower cost of living, with lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and ancient traditions to explore.

Dive deeper into this head-to-head comparison and discover the perfect place to call home.

Cost of Living in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Cost of Living in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by Dina karan
The monthly cost of living for a single person in Malaysia and Singapore differs significantly. The average for Malaysia is $770.46; in Singapore, it’s $3,296.86.

The cost of living in Malaysia is approximately 76.63% lower than that of Singapore, considering apartment rental and other essential costs.

See the table below for the living costs in Malaysia and Singapore. The data is from

Expenses Malaysia Cost Singapore Cost 
Housing (Average Rent per Month) 
1-bedroom apartment (Downtown area)$326.71 (RM 1,538.17)$3,603.58 (S$4,904.11)
1-bedroom apartment (Outside the city center)$217.05 (RM 1,021.87)$2,425.90 (S$3,301.41)
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill) 
Internet connection (50 MBPS)$26.77 (RM 126.01)$36.32 (S$49.43)
Utilities for two people (Includes electricity, water, gas, and heating)$34.40 (RM 161.97)$123.15 (S$167.59)
Public transit pass (Monthly)$18.01 (RM 84.79)$96.26 (S$130.99)
Gasoline (1 liter)$0.47 (RM 2.22)$2.33 (S$3.17)
Taxi trip in a downtown area (Fare)$5.07 (RM 23.86)$9.02 (S$12.28)
Food (Average Costs)
1-person meal with a drink (Inexpensive restaurant)$2.36 (RM 11.09)$7.52 (S$10.23)
1-person fast food combo meal$3.63 (RM 17.09)$6.77 (S$9.21)
Bottle of water (0.33 liter)$0.34 (RM 1.61)$1.12 (S$1.52)
Local beer$3.43 (RM 16.13)$7.52 (S$10.23)
Cigarettes (1 pack)$4.06 (RM 19.10)$11.28 (S$15.35)
Gym membership (Monthly)$32.59 (RM 153.44)$113.03 (S$153.83)
Movie theater/cinema (1 ticket)$3.62 (RM 17.05)$10.90 (S$14.84)

The cost of living in Malaysia is considerably lower than in Singapore, especially for housing and utilities.

The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Malaysia is 90.93% cheaper than in Singapore. This means that renting in Malaysia can help you save money significantly.

Similarly, utilities are 72.07% cheaper in Malaysia than in Singapore. The average monthly utility bill of one person living in Malaysia is $34.40; in Singapore, it’s $123.15. 

Overall, Malaysia is a more economical alternative for those looking to live in Southeast Asia.

Real Estate Prices in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Real Estate Prices in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by The Cloudy Poet
Real estate prices are crucial factors to consider when moving or investing. 

A comparison of average property listing costs on PropertyGuru Malaysia and PropertyGuru Singapore shows that buying properties in Malaysia is much cheaper than in Singapore.  

In Singapore, condominium prices are 391% higher than in Malaysia. One-bedroom apartments are even pricier in Singapore than Malaysia by 1,120.19%.  Detached bungalows show the highest price difference: they’re 2,113.82% more expensive in Singapore than in Malaysia.

With only 720 square kilometers to support a population of over 5.5 million (Statista), Singapore faces housing shortages and land scarcity, driving up property prices.

On the other hand, Malaysia has a land area of around 330,000 square kilometers (World Bank), offering more space for property development and contributing to lower costs.

See how property prices differ between Malaysia and Singapore for popular housing types below.

Property TypeMalaysia CostSingapore Cost
1-bedroom condominium$187,079 (RM 874,126)$917,665 (S$1,222,000)
1-bedroom apartment$76,190 (RM 356,000)$932,384 (S$1,241,600)
Detached bungalow house$533,761 (RM 2,494,000)$11,381,454 (S$15,156,000)

Diversity and Demographics in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Diversity and Demographics in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by Clay Banks
Malaysia is more populous than Singapore, with a younger population and lower life expectancy based on Malaysia is also more ethnically diverse, with over two-thirds of the population identifying as Bumiputera/Malay.

In contrast, Singapore has a majority Chinese population, with over three-quarters identifying as such. Indians are the third-largest ethnic group in both countries.

See the table below for a comparison of Malaysia and Singapore’s size, population, and demographics.

Geographic LocationSoutheast AsiaSoutheast Asia
Size (Area)330,345 km²719 km²
Population 33,938,0005,637,000
Female Population 48.9%47.7%
Male Population 51.1%52.3%
Median Age 29 years old36 years old
Female Life Expectancy77 years old86 years old
Male Life Expectancy73 years old81 years old

Overall, Malaysia surpasses Singapore in territorial expanse and population size.

Malaysia’s landscape is ethnically dominated by the Bumiputera/Malays, who account for over two-thirds of the population.

In contrast, Singapore presents a more diverse ethnic tapestry, with the Chinese constituting the largest ethnic group, comprising over three-quarters of the populace.

Indians are the third-largest ethnic group in both Singapore and Malaysia, with a slightly higher proportion in Singapore. The remaining population in both countries is made up of people from various other ethnic backgrounds.

You can find the information we gathered from Statista in the table below.

Ethnicity MalaysiaSingapore

Career Opportunities in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Career Opportunities in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by Dylan Gillis
Based on data from NationMaster, the unemployment rate in Malaysia is 3.5%, compared to 2.1% in Singapore. Malaysia has a slightly higher unemployment rate of 1.4%.

Malaysia’s 3.5% unemployment rate is slightly higher than Singapore’s 2.1%. Additionally, the employment rate in Malaysia is 60.5%, while Singapore’s is 61.62%. These statistics suggest similar career opportunities in Malaysia and Singapore.

World Salaries reveals striking disparities in the average and earnings range between Malaysia and Singapore.

Annual SalaryMalaysiaSingapore

In Singapore, the average annual salary is over four times higher than in Malaysia. However, Malaysia has a broader salary range, which suggests a more diverse economic landscape. 

Looking beyond the average salary and evaluating the overall economic dynamics is essential when considering a career in either country.

Crime and Safety in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Crime and Safety in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by Wesley Tingey
Singapore and Malaysia have lower crime rates than other Asian countries based on global crime rate statistics from the World Population Review.  

Malaysia’s crime rate decreased by 4.1% in 2022, but robberies, residential burglaries, and vehicle theft remain prevalent. 

In contrast, Singapore’s overall crime rate increased by 4.4% in the same period due to a rise in outrage of modesty and thefts. 

Statistics from the Department of Statistics Malaysia reveal a general decline in crime rates in Malaysia over recent years. 

In 2022, crime rates dropped by 4.1% compared to 2021, with significant reductions in robberies and property theft. This positive trend reflects effective measures implemented by the authorities.

Crimes of Concern20212022Percentage change (%)
Causing Injury4,0633,807-6.3
House Break-in & Theft11,35210,585-6.8
Vehicles Theft13,43214,4467.5
Other Thefts16,69515,434-7.6

Singapore’s reputation for cleanliness and order extends to its safety record, consistently ranking as one of the safest countries globally. 

However, there is a slight rise of 4.4% in total physical crime cases from 2021 to 2022, according to statistics from the Singapore Police Force.

Still, Singapore maintains a low crime rate compared to other major cities. This positive trend is attributed to effective policing strategies, a strong sense of community, and strict laws.

Crimes of Concern20212022Percentage change (%)
Outrage of Modesty (Direct Act of Indecency in Public)1,4741,610+9.3%
Shop Theft2,6523,244+22.3%
House Theft1,3591,729+27.2%
Total Physical Crime Cases19,34320,193+4.4%

Despite their contrasting trends, both countries have made strides in enhancing public safety. 

Recognizing the specific crime concerns in each nation and adopting necessary precautions will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors and residents alike.

Lifestyle in Malaysia vs. Singapore 

Lifestyle in Malaysia vs. Singapore
Photo by Carson Arias
Singapore’s vibrant atmosphere and efficient healthcare system may be ideal if you’re looking for a modern city with iconic landmarks and luxurious amenities.

However, if you prefer a more affordable option with stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and diverse adventure activities, Malaysia offers a slower pace and a deeper cultural immersion.

Let’s compare the differences in weather, activities, and healthcare between Malaysia and Singapore to determine which country offers a more desirable lifestyle.

Malaysia and Singapore share a tropical climate with warm temperatures, abundant rainfall, and high humidity throughout the year. Though they share a tropical climate, they differ in several ways. 

For example, Malaysia’s average annual temperature is around 25.4°C, slightly lower than Singapore’s 27.5°C. Despite this, Malaysia receives significantly more rainfall, with an average of 3,085.5 mm annually compared to Singapore’s 2,166 mm

Also, both countries experience frequent afternoon thunderstorms. In terms of sunshine hours, Malaysia enjoys around 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, but cloud cover tends to dominate the afternoon and evening.

Additionally, Malaysia experiences occasional Sumatra hurricanes, which bring heavy rain and strong gusts, a phenomenon not observed in Singapore. These weather differences make each destination unique.

Singapore and Malaysia are popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, each boasting unique attractions.

Singapore is a fascinating city that blends modern architecture and cultural diversity. Visitors can enjoy exploring iconic landmarks like The Merlion and Marina Bay Sands and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Chinatown, Little India, and Little Korea. 

Malaysia offers a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and exciting adventures. Tourists and locals can visit UNESCO sites, festivals, and historical landmarks like the PETRONAS Towers.

The ideal destination ultimately depends on individual preferences and travel goals. Singapore offers a modern and luxurious experience, while Malaysia is perfect for cultural immersion, adventure, and various activities.

Statista’s 2023 Health Index ranks countries based on how much their populations enjoy good health and access to quality healthcare services. 

In this ranking, Singapore holds the top spot with a score of 86.9, while Malaysia sits at 42nd with a score of 77.3. This difference shows a big gap in healthcare quality between the two countries.

Singapore’s success in the health ranking can be attributed to several factors. The country’s thriving economy allows for significant investment in healthcare infrastructure and services, which leads to better health outcomes for its citizens. 

Effective government policies like mandatory health insurance and smoking bans have also improved the country’s overall health. Also, Singaporeans tend to lead healthier lifestyles, with lower rates of smoking and obesity.

However, it’s important to remember that relying solely on the Health Index Score may not give us a complete picture of the reasons behind the differences between the two countries.

Malaysia vs. Singapore: Which is the Better City?

As with any comparison, it’s difficult to declare one city as “better” than the other. 

Both Malaysia and Singapore have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Malaysia boasts beautiful natural landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and a lower cost of living. 

On the other hand, Singapore is known for its impressive modern infrastructure, high standard of living, and efficient transportation system.

Ultimately, which country is “better” will depend on the individual’s preferences and priorities.

Factors The Better City Why 
Cost of Living MalaysiaThe cost of living in Malaysia is significantly lower than Singapore’s, especially considering housing and utilities.
Real Estate MalaysiaCompared to Singapore, the average property listing costs across all property types in Malaysia are much lower.
Diversity and DemographicsMalaysiaThe ethnic makeup in Malaysia is more diverse than Singapore, resulting in a vibrant cultural landscape.
Career Opportunities SingaporeThe average annual salaries are higher in Singapore than in Malaysia, and there is a broader range of high-paying jobs in Singapore compared to Malaysia.
Crime IndexSingaporeThere is a lower overall crime rate in Singapore than in Malaysia.
Lifestyle SingaporeThe weather in Singapore is better, with more sunshine hours and less rain than in Malaysia. Additionally, the healthcare system in Singapore superior and ranked #1 globally.
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