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Food inflation in Malaysia and Singapore.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

We are always saying how things are cheaper across the Causeway and I do it too. 

I have said it often enough to get rebuked by some of my Malaysian friends.

"You Singaporeans only find it cheap because of the strong S$. 

"Life is actually very difficult for common Malaysians, you know.

"And you people come here and drive prices up.

"You think the people in Johor like higher prices?"

I grew up loving McDonald's fast food.

It was always a treat.

These days, I still go to McDonald's and I like ordering the S$2.50 Fillet o fish. 

Since they dropped the price to S$2.00 before increasing it to S$2.50 for the burger alone, I have not had the meals.

The meal comes with fries and a drink but costs S$5.00.

It is just paying more for extra (and empty) calories which I don't need.

In JB, I remember it cost me about RM9.00 for a Fillet o fish meal.

That is less than S$3.00!

It is like paying 50c for fries and a drink!

It is a no brainer for me.

Of course, I would take the meal! 

Yes, I know.

Suddenly, I am OK with with the extra (and empty) calories.

Bad AK! Bad AK!

For the Malaysians, however, paying for a Fillet o fish meal in Malaysia is like Singaporeans paying for a Fillet o fish meal in Singapore.

It is not more affordable for them.

Actually, it is the opposite.

I found out that an optometrist makes about RM4,000 in Malaysia but an optometrist makes about S$4,000 in Singapore.

The former pays RM9.00 (0.225% of his salary) while the latter pays S$5.00 (0.125% of his salary) for the same meal.

Although inflation is affecting food prices everywhere, it is worse in Malaysia than in Singapore.

Malaysia Food Inflation  Forecast 2016-2020

Food Inflation in Malaysia is expected to be 4.50 percent by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Food Inflation in Malaysia to stand at 4.70 in 12 months time. Source: HERE.

Singapore Food Inflation  Forecast 2016-2020

Food Inflation in Singapore is expected to be 2.50 percent by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Food Inflation in Singapore to stand at 2.90 in 12 months time. Source: HERE.

I have made a mental note to be more sensitive when I talk about the cost of living when I am with my Malaysian friends.

Malaysia cuts food subsidies.

Related post:
We manage our savings better!

Malaysia and India pay higher interests in similar pension schemes but our Singapore dollar is rated AAA and has appreciated against the currencies of many other countries.


Anonymous said...

can break even by talking about cars and flat/house?


AK71 said...

Hi FC,

If we are looking at core inflation, then, we leave out cars. In Singapore, most would agree, cars are a luxury.

As for housing, if we stick to BTO flats which I believe provide the best value for money, Singaporeans are still better off because I look at the public housing in Malaysia, I faint.

Cory said...

Many sg conveniently folks forgot about the strong S$ and higher salary relative to increasing expenses.Sure there will be some with lower pay but we are not talking about communism here. :)

MSAPersonalFinance said...

Hi AK71,

I agreed that the income to expense ratio in Singapore is very good (provided no private property, no car and no dependent) compared to other countries.

When I see how the KL youngsters are spending money on their home, cars, restaurants, Starbucks, holidays etc, I feel stress for them. Everyone tries to lead a rich life even though they are not so rich. Although these people are highly educated and work as professionals, it is quite a stretch financially based on the salary earned in general. I noticed that there is this culture in Malaysia, people trying their best to stay in more expensive property because they want to avoid complicated neighborhood and poor foreigner in view of the security in Malaysia is pretty bad.

Public Housing in Singapore is about S$200K whereas public housing in Malaysia is about RM25K (this is the price that someone told me 20 years ago). Therefor, it is not apple to apple comparison.

streamyx88 said...

one of the option for some malaysians is to live in johor and work in singapore.

AK71 said...

Hi Cory,

Singaporeans are mostly a lucky bunch. :)

AK71 said...


I don't think public housing in Malaysia is RM25,000 a unit anymore. Public housing in Malaysia is more likely to have a price tag of about RM300,000 to RM400,000 a unit (not exceeding 1000 sq. ft. in area). This is gathered from articles I read in 2015 and 2016.

AK71 said...

Hi streamyx,

I do know many people who do that but the commute is a pain. -.-"

Kevin said...

Hi AK,

Speaking about food, our very own Kimly kopi tiam in Singapore is going for IPO. Hopefully it does not drive up food prices and set new barometer for kopi tiam food prices on the whole. -.-"

AK71 said...

Hi Kevin,

I will be watching from the sides. ;)

AK71 said...

Jack James says...
(Malaysian) EPF has higher interest but the housing loan interest rate is rocket high at 4.5% too .

Pay package in Singapore is 10 times better than in Malaysia , this one not need to argue .

Prasad Rnv says...
But you have to borrow less to live in a decent house compared to ridiculous house prices in Singapore!

Actually, AK you must compare apples with apples.

If you are in Malaysia earning ringgit then you should not really compare and say Sing dollar is better.

Their higher interest and more readily withdrawable cash from their EPF is a better feature than ours, no matter how strong our currency.

AK says...
If we compare apples with apples, generally, Malaysians are having a harder time coping with cost of living.

When I tell them that their McDonald's meals are so cheap, they tell me to stop converting the prices into S$. :p

Honestly, I rather have what we have in Singapore and use our strong S$ to jalan jalan and makan in Malaysia whenever I want to.

Actually, my Malaysian friends earning Ringgit happen to say earning Singapore Dollars is better, always. ;)

As for the CPF system, I like the system and since I believe that everyone should have an annuity, I like CPF Life too.

Of course, for people who do not believe in annuities, I can understand why they would feel that the Malaysian EPF system is better. ;)

As for the high cost of housing and cars in Singapore where land is scarce and demand is healthy, high prices are hardly ridiculous unless you think economics is ridiculous. :p

AK71 said...

Jack James says...
Forgot to add one more point , Singapore personal income tax is dirt cheap compared to Malaysia . You want to compare , compare until the cow comes home .
It drills down to each individual , what kind of lifestyle you want , that’s it .

AK71 said...

Robin Lim says...
Agreed. Dong is better, 8% interest saving account.

Koh Kai Xiang says...
Really? 😂 how do you quantify this “better”? What does “no matter how strong” means. U sound like someone who says “XXX is a good company doing great business, I will buy its stock regardless of how expensive the price of the stock is”. The moment u use an extreme statement like “no matter” suggest u didn’t rly weigh the pros n cons of Msia PF system vs SG’s.

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