Whilst you are staying in Malaysia, you will have a variety of accommodation options available to you. Your choices will depend largely on whether your college or university has student hostels, what city you are located in, and the amount of your monthly budget.
When you have applied to and accepted a course at a particular college or university, you will need to indicate that you will require accommodation (unless you already have something arranged).
Do not assume that you will automatically be given accommodation, but as a general rule, international students will be given priority over other students.
Most Malaysian universities will provide some kind of managed, on-campus accommodation for international students. On-campus accommodation in Malaysia varies more in nature than countries such as the USA and UK, where living ‘on-campus’ typically refers directly to living in a residence hall. In Malaysia, on-campus housing can be in the form of a residence hall or student hostel, each with a different set of facilities and rental rates. All universities that welcome international students have an international admissions office whose jobs it is to help find you find accommodation and settle into Malaysian student life, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of the resources they offer.
Where residence halls are offered, they are a popular option for international students as they place you right at the center of campus life. Some halls are located a few minutes’ walks from campus but are seldom much further than that. Particulars of residency agreements vary across location and institution: for example, some universities provide the option for students to purchase a meal plan at around MYR10-MYR20 (BDT206-BDT413) per day, whilst others only have self-catered options. Very broadly, students will be likely to pay between MYR600-MYR3000 (BDT12391-BDT61959) per semester, with a single bedroom is likely to be around MYR100-MYR500 (BDT2065-BDT10326) per month. For example, a shared room in the University Putra Malaysia’s International Residential College costs between MYR540-MYR600 (BDT11152-BDT12391) per month, whilst a double costs from MYR270-MYR300 (BDT5576-BDT6196).
Students with the option to stay in a residence hall will need to research their options well before their arrival in Malaysia, or ideally, as soon as you’ve received your offer. You will need to apply for a place in a residence hall and submit your request directly to your host in accordance to their set deadline. Students should pursue and confirm these details on their host’s website.
Student hostels are the most commonly offered types of student housing in Malaysia. With varied communal facilities and living areas, living in a student hostel is somewhat comparable to living in a shared college house, or even a dormitory. Students may share rooms or have private rooms within a communal space.
For example, the Swinburne University of Technology (SARAWAK)’s student hostel offers 420 places to students, with priority going to international and regionally-located students. There are four room options available, ranging from MYR90-MYR222.50 (BDT1858-BDT4595) per week in rent, not including deposit costs. Rent is payable per semester, and students must submit a booking form to the university in order to secure a place. Rooms are divided into hostel blocks that are each furnished, equipped with Wi-Fi, a bathroom and toilet on year floor and a communal living area. Each block has 24-hour security guards on duty.
It is common for both local and international students to live in off-campus housing whilst studying in Malaysia. Conceived as kind of student communities, most student housing areas are located within a short distance of the institution and maybe share houses, apartments or studio flats, typically with three-four bedrooms, a living area, and communal facilities. As with on-campus housing, students will need to apply for off-campus housing directly through their host university.
Rent is paid monthly and usually does not include amenities. For example, Monash University Malaysia’s Sunway Monash Residence is a 22-story apartment block located a three-minute walk from campus. The complex is designed to function as a student community, offering 2114 bedrooms equipped with beds, desks, wardrobes, and Wi-Fi. Students may elect to live in a single room with shared facilities for RYM 3540 (BDT 73112) in rent, payable every three months, or a single room with an ensuite for RYM 4960 (BDT102440) in rent every three months.
Managed apartments and studio flats (condominiums)
Typically more expensive options than shared flats or some residence halls, these options allow students to live more independently as they study. Some universities offer these types of accommodation to students in addition to other on and off-campus housing options. For example, Multimedia University (MMU) offers students the chance to rent apartments in the area of Ixora for between MYR180-MYR400 (BDT3717-BDT8261) per month, including water and electricity bills. Units are shared between four-eight people and come furnished with 24-hour security and Wi-Fi.
Managed apartments are often shared and come both serviced and non-serviced, but are typically not located within a larger ‘student community’ as with most off-campus housing options. Whilst of course rental costs vary between cities and institutional agreements, students can expect to pay something like MYR1500-MYR2500 (BDT30979-BDT51633) per month, including facilities.
Student agencies and renting privately
There are also a number of housing agencies that specialize in student housing. Many university admissions offices will be able to help you contact these agencies, or you can contact them directly yourself. As with any local property market, prices and property availability varies wildly depending on where you are, what your budget is and what you’re looking for. On average, rental costs per month for a single bedroom apartment in the city center is around MYR1,530 (BDT31599). Whilst some student agencies will enable you to organize accommodation before arriving, students wishing to rent privately will usually be unable to secure housing until they arrive in Malaysia. If this is the case, students are advised to have a backup plan and perhaps organize to stay in a hostel whilst they sort out their details. With plenty of other student housing options though, there should be no reason you would find yourself without a place to live.
Malaysia is a tropical, temperate country, and so most rental costs will change depending on whether they include air conditioning or not. Make sure you ask exactly what is meant by ‘air-conditioning’: sometimes a cheaply rented room with ‘air-conditioning’ might mean a small desk fan.
If you’re renting through an agency, privately or even choosing between different types of off-campus accommodation, it’s always a good idea to contact other bodies and ask questions so you can best weigh out your options. The very trade of real estate agencies is to provide you with insight into their property market, and you shouldn’t feel any sort of obligation towards them for because you’ve asked for information. Real estate agents expect people to be frugally-minded, so if you’re dealing with an agency or private agent, don’t be shy to ask if there are specials available for students.
University-managed accommodation is fixed at price but where possible, be sure to do a virtual tour and get into contact with student ambassadors who have lived there or know more about it. If you’re staying in a student hostel, type the name of the hostel into travel sites, forums, and search engines: the hostel might be geared towards students, but might also accommodate travelers or short-term stays. Travel sites almost always have a reviews and comments section, and often rank hostels based on their cleanliness, value for money and atmosphere.
Now that you’ve got an idea of your accommodation options whilst studying in Malaysia, start browsing courses in Malaysia now and plan your study abroad adventure!