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Great cost-of-living escape: Aussie flees 'impossible' housing crisis to buy home and now saves thousands

Mohamed Yousuf moved to Malaysia last year and has revealed exactly how the cost of living compares to Australia.

A young Aussie has revealed how he escaped the rising cost of living and achieved the ‘great Australian dream’. But he had to move overseas to do it.

Mohamed Yousuf decided to pack up and move to Malaysia last year in search of a cheaper lifestyle and more work opportunities. He had previously been living in Sydney, paying $500 per week to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

Facing high living costs, the 29-year-old consultant told Yahoo Finance he thought the prospect of owning his own home in Australia was slipping “further and further out of reach”. Median house prices have hit $1,094,539 across the combined capitals, according to Domain data, while units are $638,372.

Mohamed Yousuf left, and right is a picture of Kuala Lumpur.
Mohamed Yousuf has found the cost of living to be much cheaper in Malaysia, compared to Australia. (Source: Supplied)

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“For young people, it is far too expensive because the average salary does not give you the average house price,” Yousuf said


“You’re faced with paying an extremely high amount. It was just impossible looking at that and thinking what your repayments would be, and having to use up the rest of your 20s and 30s on repayments.”

Having previously travelled to Malaysia for his parents’ work and knowing it offered a cheaper lifestyle, Yousuf decided to relocate to the capital Kuala Lumpur — something that was possible through his remote advisory work.


Once there, he was able to purchase his first property — a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the city centre for the equivalent of $300,000. That's half the price of the average unit in Australia’s capitals.

Yousuf said he paid for half of it with his own savings and took out a smaller loan for the remainder of the property, with his repayments about $100 per week. He is now “rentvesting” the property and rents a smaller two-bedroom apartment for himself downtown for $800 a month, or about $185 per week.

Mohamed Yousuf's Kuala Lumpur apartment
Yousuf bought a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre for $300,000. (Source: Supplied)

“I thought get on the property market earlier and [get a] second base, stop paying rent,” he said.

“In the future there is always the option to sell and use that equity you’ve built to come back to Australia and be at an advantage.”

How does the cost of living compare?

Yousuf said he is able to save “at least $1,000 a month” by living in Kuala Lumpar, compared to his former life in Sydney.

Here’s a comparison of his budgets for the two cities.

Cost of living in Kuala Lumpar

  • Rent: $800 per month

  • Utilities: $100 a month

  • Groceries: $200 a month

  • Gym: $20 a month

  • Phone: $30 a month

  • Transport: $200 a month (Uber)

Total: $1,350 per month

Cost of living in Sydney

  • Rent: $500 per week

  • Utilities: $350 a month

  • Groceries: $150 a week

  • Gym: $80 a month

  • Phone: $70 a month

  • Transport: $50 a week (public transport), $70 a week (fuel), $30 a week (tolls)

Total: $3,967 per month
Difference: $2,617 per month

Aussies head overseas after being 'priced out'

Yousuf isn’t the only Aussie who has headed overseas as Australia becomes increasingly expensive. Smartraveller estimates there are around one million Aussies living and working overseas at any time.

Aussie dad of two Jimmy Mitchell is a permanent traveller and is currently living comfortably off $60,000 a year with his wife and two young sons.

The family has lived in four different countries in South East Asia over the past year. They have no plans to permanently return to Australia and Mitchell told Yahoo Finance he felt like he had been “priced out”.

But others say relocating can be extremely expensive. Kiki McGrath relocated from Perth to Bali with her family of six, but revealed she was spending “double the average Australian income” just on rent.

Yousuf is encouraging other Aussies to explore their options outside of the country. He has started his own online consultancy business Trueworld Capital which advises others who are thinking of moving to Australia or overseas. This also allows him to work remotely from Malaysia.

He also noted you needed to get a Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa if you wanted to live in Malaysia on a long-term basis. Malaysia also issues work permits depending on your circumstances, including an employment pass.

“I’d suggest young people look at the world — there are a lot of options out there. If it’s too hard here, it’s not hard everywhere. You can always come back … What do you have to lose?” he said.

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