Home is where we lay our hat, or so they say. Now you have a chance to experience something new – to venture into a new city, a new country, and a new culture. Let us give you the lowdown on what’s what when it comes to comparing these two incredible cities.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and largest city of Malaysia, with a population estimated to be around 1.8 million people. With a rich history, this incredible city dates back to the 1850s, when it was established as a settlement due to its location near the tin mines further inland.
Currently one of the fastest growing regions in Southeast Asia in terms of population and economy, many excellent opportunities continue to arise in the city. More recently, Kuala Lumpur has also been announced as the New7Wonders Cities of the World.
Dubai, by comparison is a young city. With origins as a pearl-mining destination, as well as a stop on the trade route from India, it has flourished over the last 30 years in a way that defies belief. Now it is a city that stretches a length of about 60km, the artery of which is the 14 lane highway Sheikh Zayed Road.
The residential areas have of course spread out, creating large urban areas. Dubai is the larger of the two cities, with an estimated 2.4 million residents.
Throughout the decades, Kuala Lumpur has been a melting pot of different cultures, the result of which is the diverse and tolerant community we see today. The largest ethnic groups are Chinese, Malay, and Indian, with an increasing number of Indonesians in the mix.
Due to the city’s expansions and increasing power on an international and commercial scale, there has also been a notable increase of expats residing in Kuala Lumpur. The latest estimate shows that over 10% of KL residents are now foreigners.
Dubai is similar to Kuala Lumpur in many ways. It has also boomed on the world stage, resulting in over 160 nationalities now calling Dubai home. Expats in Dubai are at the other end of the scale however, representing an estimated 90% of the community.
The average age of the Dubai resident is very young, at merely 27 years old, while Kuala Lumpur’s average age is creeping up steadily due to falling birth rates.
Cost of Living
A major consideration when deciding on a base for your future is always the cost of living. Dubai is notoriously expensive, while prices in Kuala Lumpur are generally much more reasonable. According Numbeo, the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is 36% lower than in Dubai, when you exclude rent.
If you add rent to your calculations, then cost of living is a staggering 56% lower in Kuala Lumpur.
Numbeo offers a detailed breakdown of the independent aspects of living costs and consumer prices to give you a better idea. In short, their formula shows that you would need about 9,975MYR per month to maintain the same kind of lifestyle that 20,000dhs per month buys you in Dubai.
Kuala Lumpur has a strong reputation for excellent health care. Although only 3 hospitals currently have JCI accreditation, it has become increasingly popular as a medical tourism destination.
With almost 1 doctor to every 1,000 people, excellent and affordable medical treatment is very easily found. There are 2 public general hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and a National Heart Institute. The hospitals provide comprehensive services and are equipped to deal with emergencies.
The state operates 30 health clinics. A further 13 private hospitals and more than 30 private clinics are also available.
Consultations with doctors at private clinics are comparatively low, with an average of US$5 – while a visit with a healthcare specialist can set you back up to US$30. Most expatriates visit private clinics for minor illnesses and pay out of pocket for ad hoc visits.
That said, it is essential that expats in KL have their own medical insurance through a private insurance broker because most employers offer limited coverage.
In contrast, Dubai healthcare is considered to be quite expensive. That said, the quality of the care provided is excellent, and medical teams are also predominantly expat, so treatments and consultations can be offered in many different languages, based on the clinic or hospital you go to.
Almost all facilities are private, and it is possible to make and pay for appointments independently. Due to the expensive care however, most employers do provide a fairly comprehensive medical insurance package, which usually covers family members or dependents as well.
What good is a city if you can’t enjoy your down time? Luckily, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur each have some exceptional entertainment offerings.
Dubai is becoming an up-and-coming destination for performers, and there has been an increasing number of musicians, bands, and performing arts groups adding Dubai to their world tour schedules.
Sporting events are also becoming increasingly popular. Dubai hosts the annual Dubai World Cup (horse-racing) as well as the ever-popular Rugby 7s tournament, while every November the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix also draws large crowds.
Kuala Lumpur also offers something for everyone. From stage plays and musicals to art galleries and concerts, the Kuala Lumpur arts and entertainment scene is incredibly varied.
Whether you enjoy black tie evenings at places like the National Theatre and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Hall, or more casual nights out at a comedy club or improv dance exhibitions, you are never too far from some of the city’s best offerings.
Sporting events are also on the up-and-up, and Malaysia also plays host to the annual Formula One Grand Prix. Visit TimeOut KL for up-to-date information on what’s on.
In the end, the choice between the cities can only be made by you. Both offer plenty of warm weather, (albeit Kuala Lumpur is usually more humid and has almost daily rain showers), as well as a varied year-round entertainment scene and breathtaking natural beauty not too far out of the city. So, which one appeals to you most?