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By Hanniz

What is the cost of raising a kid in Malaysia? Now that you’re ready to have a kid, you’ll need to be prepared financially as well. 

Here’s a break down the spending for a middle-income family, from the moment a child is born until they’re 17, for an idea of how much to figure into your monthly finances.

Birth

What has become abundantly clear is that since the adoption of GST, the cost of having a baby in Malaysia has gone up significantly. While costs vary between cities, hospitals, birth type, and between public and privately funded hospitals, on average you will need to budget around the following costs:

Item Government Hospital Private Hospital
Pre-Natal Check-ups RM 0 RM 200 per appointment
Normal Delivery RM 60 – 2,000 RM 3,000 – 6,500
Caesarian Delivery RM 100 – 800 RM 11,600 – 14,300
Confinement Lady RM 5,000 RM 5,000

Source: Multiple Hospitals around Malaysia

You may be getting plenty of baby essentials as gifts after the baby is born, but those won’t last (or fit) forever. Still, the gifts will definitely help during the early stages, as you’ll need to set aside cash for childcare, paediatric visits, childcare, and possibly formula milk if you are not breastfeeding for some reason or other.

Childcare: From RM500 up to RM1600
Immunisations and check ups: RM150 (monthly average after divided over the whole year) . You can also get your child immunised at a government clinic or hospital for free, instead of at a private or paediatric clinic.
Formula milk and food: RM300
Diapers: RM120 to RM150
Clothing: RM20 to RM50 (monthly average divided over a year)
Monthly estimate: RM1090 to RM2250

One time extras: Baby/child car seat, stroller, bottle steriliser (if needed)

The estimate for milk and diapers might differ depending on the brands you buy, but the estimate is more or less the average.

A study by parent group Babycenter found that of the over 80% of Malaysian parents rely on third party childcare – 41% relied on grandparents or other relatives to take care of their children, while 40% turned to babysitting or nanny services.

If you choose a babysitter of nanny, the annual bill amounts to an estimated RM 12,000 per year. If you choose to employ a live-in domestic helper, the cost could be up to RM 22,400 for the first year, not including accommodation and food. Whilst the one-time cost of using a domestic helper agency will range between RM 8,000 and RM 18,000.

The cost for childcare varies greatly depending on the area where you live, or where you send your child to. If it’s a well-established centre and/or part of a reputable franchise chain, fees might be on the higher side, but at least you’ll have peace of mind. Of course, you could find cheaper childcare providers – just be sure they are licensed and have a good reputation.

2 to 4 Years Old

After the age of two, your child may not need regular immunisation appointments, and most of them will be optional at this point. Thus, the monthly estimate will be slightly lower.

Childcare: RM500 to RM1600
Food expenses: RM300
Diapers: RM120
Clothing: RM20 to RM50 (monthly average divided over a year)
Monthly estimate: RM940 to RM2,070

5 to 6 Years Old

Remember all those savings from not having to buy diapers and formula milk anymore? Now you’ll be spending your child’s development via kindergarten expenses, including school transportation. If you’re transporting your kid yourself, consider these your petrol expenses (unless you found a nice kindergarten within walking distance in your own neighbourhood).

Kindergarten: RM300 average
Half-day Day Care: RM350 to RM500
School transportation: RM100 to RM150
Food expenses: About RM200
Clothing: RM20 to RM50 (monthly average divided over a year)
Monthly estimate: RM970 to RM1200

Yearly extras: At most kindergartens, you will be charged a one-time registration fee, which varies among the different schools, as well as an annual fee, which includes the cost of school uniforms and books. There will also be sports day fees and awards day or annual concert fees, which might be included in the annual fee, or to be paid separately before each event. These usually run from RM100 to RM150 on average. You will also need to pay extra for your child to join one or two field trips throughout the year, which could be about RM90 to RM150 per trip, depending on the school and activity. I didn’t go to kindergarten as I kept getting bullied in the school bus and couldn’t pay attention in class and only enjoying finger painting so my parents and grandma taught me my ABCs, 123s and I saved them lots of money for at least 2 years.

7 to 12 Years Old

Fees are much lower if you’re sending your child to a government school in Malaysia. However, while official school fees are no longer charged, you will be expected to make a donation to the Parent-Teacher Association (or PIBG) for the general upkeep of the school, as well as for extra study materials that the teachers will provide.

PIBG donation and payments for study tools: RM20 monthly average, usually paid early in the year one-shot
School club fees: From RM20 to RM100 per month, depending on the sport or activity
Transportation fees: RM100
Half-day day care or transit fees: From RM150 to RM300
Food expenses: RM200-RM300 (including allowance for recess)
Monthly estimate: From RM490 to RM820

Miscellaneous payments: If your child plans to be active in co-curricular activities at school, be prepared to have a fund that will cover their activities. From out-of-state trips for school competitions to sports equipment or musical instruments or Scouts uniforms, you’ll need to be able to pay from RM50 up to RM200 per activity. Of course, there’s also the back-to-school expenses including new uniforms and school shoes, school bags, exercise books and stationery, all of which could come up to around RM300 per child.

Despite the extra-curricular activities and school expenses, though, this is probably the time when the estimate on how much you’re spending monthly to raise a kid in Malaysia is lowest. Thus, it’s the best time to sock away the savings at the bank. 

13 to 17 Years Old

You’ve gone through the always-hungry phase when you were a teenager, I’m sure. I remember eating 6 slices of bread on weekends while watching cartoons.  Teenagers grow at a rapid rate and are genuinely always hungry, most probably due to their high metabolism rates. Thus, you should allocate a bit more for their food if you want to keep them happy and able to concentrate on their studies. Speaking of studies, once your child enters secondary school, they will most probably need to attend tuition classes (if they haven’t already in primary school).

 I was weak at Add Math so took tuition classes especially closer to the SPM exams. Money well spent as I passed and not remembering a single thing today! 

Remember not to overwhelm your kid with too many extra classes though. They need their down time and play time too.

PIBG donation and payments for study tools: RM20 monthly average, usually paid early in the year one-shot
School club fees: From RM20 to RM150 per month, depending on the sport
Food expenses: RM300-RM500 (including allowance money)
Transportation fees: RM100
Tuition classes: From RM100 for one subject up to RM500 or more for 8 subjects and above
Monthly estimate: From RM540 to RM1270

Just like in primary school, be prepared to pay for miscellaneous expenses such as sports equipment and uniforms, sports day expenses, out-station competitions, field trips and club activities. In fact, the costs may be higher for secondary school activities since students are old enough to participate without having to depend on their parents being there.

Also, be prepared for your child to lose interest in the activities they swore they would die if they did not take part in it. I remember wanting violin lessons and wanting to be a scout to be cool. I was cool for maybe a year before getting bored and dropping out with RM100+ worth of scouts gear hanging in the cupboard. Never got my violin lessons.

University
As you look towards University-level education for your child, your expenses can escalate rapidly depending on where you want your child to study.

University costs abroad continue to rise for foreign students. Parents who send their children to countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia experience having to pay approximately RM 145,000 annually, depending on the type of course, length of study, cost of living in the area, currency movements and other variables. 

If you prefer your child to study locally, the cost hovers at about RM 400,000, which is also a hefty sum. 

So what’s the total cost to raise a kid in Malaysia over the course of at least 20 years?

The total cost of raising a child in Malaysia lies between RM 400,000 – RM 1.1 million. Depending mainly upon how and where you spend your money on education. From state and private schooling, to local and international university costs.

Remember to check out the tax reliefs offered by the Malaysian government here. Good luck with your parenting budgets!

 

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