Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can't afford to live in this country!

    I graduated in 1977. My starting salary in government service was RM1,205.
    Consider the price of items in 1977: teh tarik (20 sen); mee goreng (30 sen); ais kacang (30 sen); Toyota Corolla (RM18,000); single-storey terrace house (RM35,000); first-class cinema tickets (RM1.60)

    Graduates of today earn an average salary of between RM1,500 and RM2,300. They pay RM1.20 to RM1.50 for teh tarik; mee goreng (RM3.50-RM4); ais kacang (RM1.50-RM3.50); Proton Saga (RM35,000); single-storey terrace house (RM100,000); cineplex tickets (RM10).

    —Hassan Talib, in a letter to the editor published in the New Straits Times

He is wrong on two counts; the single-story terrace house, at least in Petaling Jaya, is more in the region of RM300,000 to RM450,000 -- I've been doing some desultory house-hunting. The cheapest car in the country today, the 660-litre engine Perodua Viva with manual transmission, is RM24,900 including road tax & insurance costs. You can only dream of owning a Toyota -- the most basic model of the 1.5-litre Vios costs RM70,783.

Cars have become so unaffordable that one of the local makes advertises "100% loans". I didn't realise how they managed that till I started car-shopping. Then the salesman explained to me: you buy the most basic model of the car, they put in a loan application on your behalf for the top-end model, the bank approves the loan, and as a result the loan amount covers the entire cost of the car. Thus you get a car with no downpayment at all.

It's a bit scary to think that there are so many people out there who are struggling so badly to manage that they can't scrape together enough for a down payment, and this is the only way that they can afford a car. It's even scarier to think that they will then take a 9-year loan (the maximum term) and struggle to pay the installments.

As for buying a house, I'm now wondering how anyone manages to afford one. Property prices are ridiculous in the city, and if you buy on the outskirts you have to factor in the commute: traffic jams = time & fuel & tiredness. Seriously do you realise that RM450,000 for a single-storey terrace house is nearly half a million? Sheesh! Talk about paying through your nose...
Related reading: Then and Now -- Life Gets Harder in Malaysia


Alpha Lim said...

A good friend today told me that a mutual friend from Switzerland who now lives in KL says that the cost of living here is too high compared to Switzerland, when you factor in purchasing power.

*Switzerland*, for crying out loud.

Alvie said...

You do realise that's one of the major reasons why most people that studied overseas never return to Malaysia, right?

Living in Malaysia has become a joke tbh. I'm sorry but to live on a salary of 1-2k a month is ridiculous and they expect graduates to own a car, buy a house and then have a wedding on top of that?

You may as well revert back to the feudal system where everybody depended on the king/government for food and day to day necessities.

Sunflower said...

@Alpha: That's ridiculous. I guess it explains why Switzerland is First World and we're still Third.

@Alvie: I never studied overseas; if I had, I might well have stayed on and not come back. It's like the road not taken...

Alpha Lim said...

"You may as well revert back to the feudal system where everybody depended on the king/government for food and day to day necessities."

That may just be what certain sectors are trying to engineer ;).