The Rising Cost Of Living

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By Louise Sim & See Foon Chan-Koppen

Ipoh, the city which tin built, has lost its lustre as a town with low cost of living. The price of everything, ranging from edibles to non-edibles, has gone up and appears to be on the increase. Gone are the days where one could get a decent meal at a low price here. Some even complain prices in Ipoh are on par with cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang. So how do people cope?

 Eating out is oftentimes more economical than cooking at home

Retiree K.S. Lim, 70, said he spends about RM50 daily to buy meat and vegetables for his small family of seven. “Sometimes the RM50 is not enough for our lunch and dinner,” said the grandfather of two. Lim said that due to supply and demand of foodstuff, some foods tend to be more expensive than other types of edibles during certain times.

Citing fish as an example, Lim said river fish will be highly sought after when fishermen don’t go to sea due to bad weather. “Consumers can expect to pay a high price for river fish if they insist on eating fish during monsoon seasons,” he explained. When such situations arise, Lim said he would change to other types of meat like poultry or pork. “But if on days all meats are expensive, we will have vegetarian meals,” he quipped.

Ipoh Not Cheaper than Penang

Private sector employee, who wished to be known as M. Kaur, 36, said she used to think cost of living was lower in Ipoh prior to her transfer from Penang. “So you can imagine my shock when I found out it was the opposite after I relocated here,” she said. The mother of one said food formed a major part of her budget. “Due to my work schedule and having a toddler to take care of, I seldom cook and my husband and I normally eat out,” she said.

“I can attest to you it is not cheap to eat out in Ipoh, contrary to claims by people otherwise,” she added. Besides food, Madam Kaur also complained about the high cost of public transport within the city. “Recently my mother, who came to visit me from Penang, had to take a taxi from town to my house in Meru,” she said. “Can you believe the taxi driver charged her RM18 for the journey?” she exclaimed. “And I thought it is more expensive to take taxis in cities like Kuala Lumpur,” she smirked.

High Cost of Taxis

Echoing Madam Kaur, her friend Reena Raj, 28, said a taxi ride from the railway station to her home at Taman Tinggi, which is next to First Garden, cost her RM13. “It is a mere 6 km drive but it cost me RM13 for the ride,” she said. “I vowed never to take taxis after that expensive experience,” she added.

Reena also noted that food costs are high in Ipoh. “I normally spend between RM20 and RM30 daily for my breakfast and lunch,” said the Kuala Lumpur lass. “And mind you, those places where I eat are not high class places,” she added.

Besides transport, Reena also complained about the high price of houses in Ipoh. “Prior to moving to Ipoh, I thought I could get a double storey house for RM200,000,” she said. “Imagine my shock when a 20’ by 75’ double storey house at First Garden is sold at RM330,000,” she said.

A. JeyarajHomecooking for Jeyaraj

For Ipoh Echo’s correspondent Jeyaraj, he says that home-cooked meals are his preference. “It must be noted that in home cooking, good grade rice is used, fresh and expensive vegetables are bought, expensive fish, good quality oil is used, ingredients are clean, masala may be homemade or bought from people making it at home, no colouring or preservatives are used and there is less salt. We can remove chicken skin and excessive fat from mutton and the food is cooked hygienically. Food is freshly cooked and stored properly. This for me is a healthy diet.” With his wife making her own masalas and hand grinding some of the ingredients, Jeyaraj reckons that he spends an average of RM990 a month for his family of two.

Rising Cost Of Living
The Kumar family

Other Family Food Expenditures

For Marketing Manager Ramesh Kumar, he and his family of four rely on eating out and takeaways. Spending an average of RM16 on breakfast, lunch and dinner, his very conservative estimate is RM1,440 per month which allows for very little in the way of treats for his two children.

Leong feeds his family of four for about RM1,650, with no frills. This would include what he classifies as a normal breakfast for RM20 or RM5 per person; a normal lunch of economy rice at RM4 per person (without beverage) averaging

Rising Cost Of Living
Rosli & Sarah

about RM600 per month and the same for dinner. Special breakfasts of dim sum would bring it up to about RM15 per head. Lunch and dinner at a restaurant consisting of 2 meats, 2 vegetables and 1 soup would average about RM17 per person whereas a homecooked meal of 1 meat, 1 fish, 1 vegetable and 1 soup with meat works out to the same amount. By the time one factors in the time, labour and costs of gas or electricity, this means that it is oftentimes cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.

For newly-married couple Rosli Mansor and his wife, eating out is the main option which costs the couple about RM1,200 a month while single Ed Shahir, spends about RM500 for his meals.

Perak Consumers Association

Rising Cost Of Living, Perak Consumers Association
Abdul Rahman Said Alli
President of Perak Consumers Association

Perak Consumers Association president Abdul Rahman Said Alli when contacted, blamed the high cost of living in Ipoh on the Government’s plans of wanting to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.

“Why must we be so obsessed with becoming a high-income nation?” he questioned. He claimed that by pushing the country towards high-income, traders also push to have higher income by increasing their prices.

He said the problem is more evident during festive seasons when the price of everything skyrockets. “And I am not talking about the controlled price items,” he said.

He said the association had been receiving calls from the concerned public daily, over difficulties in making ends meet. “Our advice to them is to try to look for alternatives,” he said, adding that many people are working two jobs nowadays just to ensure there is enough income for the family.

4 thoughts on “The Rising Cost Of Living

  1. I’m here to complaints a fun pub – Hot Traxx in Ipoh. Please consider this comments as a complaint at the same time unsolicited suggestion for the services that they’re providing for their clients and customers., I am not satisfied with the services that their company has provided us. First of all, they serve the beer that we ordered, the beginning few round is fine for us, after an hour ago we decided to opened a plum wine that we brought, one of their waitress come over & took a full glass away is doesn’t matter, but she are not providing the service for us, at the moment all of our tumbler is not full and should giving us the refill, but the girl are not responsible for it & directly gone to other table that was a guy sitting alone & acting tempted. So we complaint to your manager – Christine, she solved it well. Finally, when we decided to leave, the girl purposely came out from your pub & f**king to my friends seriously, this is my bad experience & first i met. The waitress gave us the bad performance. This way, in Ipoh city i can found out what a shameful service here.

  2. I live in Australia and till recently was back a few times a year to visit mum.
    Ipoh is still cheap for housing,eating out and other services by comparision.
    One can go Foh San yum cha for about RM15 per head,eat the best crabs
    in Bercham for RM40, a body massage for RM100.
    i cannot get this in Penang,KL or any other places.
    But after saying all these after about a week in Ipoh I do not know what to
    do with myself.

  3. I stay in Ipoh and travel to KL and Penang for work every week. I am not at all choosy about food. I agree that there are a few places in Ipoh where food is significantly cheaper but prices are generally only 50 sen cheaper than KL and Penang. However, the prices of drinks in most places are the same as in KL and Penang, and sometimes more expensive. Food prices in Ipoh are “relatively” expensive because people in KL and Penang earn more and could afford higher prices.

    Public transport is terrible, which is the reason that most people use motorcycles and cars to get around. In any case, taking the bus nowadays is not cheap.

    The only thing in Ipoh that could be considered cheap is houses. However, many outsiders (some were from Ipoh but staying and working elsewhere) and foreigners are buying properties in Ipoh and driving up the prices.

    Soon locals won’t afford to buy houses in Ipoh because salaries in Ipoh are much lower than KL and Penang. There were recent advertisements that listed prices at RM700,000 to RM900,000. These prices are out of the reach of most people working in Ipoh. Even RM500,000 is too expensive for Ipoh.

  4. Not too sure where the writer and interviewees eats or shops in Ipoh, but I guess it is in all the wrong places. You can definitely still get double portion Hakka Mee in Ipoh Garden South for RM2.80. Of course if you wanna eat at all the so called “Tourist” branded restaurants like Lou Wong and so forth, you pay the premium.
    I have come back from to Ipoh to retire after 19 years in KL and its a bliss!!! everything is cheap relative to KL and Penang. For those that feel that Ipoh is as expensive as KL or Penang, well try moving there, because the claim of Ipoh being equal in cost of living will not make a difference then.

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