When RM12,000 a month isn’t enough.

Miraculously, an old post in The Malaysian Insider just got popular again. You can read the entire article below.


Parts of the excerpt.

One of them is Caroline Wong, who believes her combined household income of RM 12,000 is not enough to sustain a living in Penang, famed for its beaches as much as it electronics manufacturing sector.

The 34-year-old clerk lives with her husband, a sales manager and their young daughter are starting to feel the pinch despite earning an income that was once sufficient to live comfortably.

“We are always eating in at home now and we can no longer afford to buy goods like branded clothing,” Wong told The Malaysian Insider in Penang’s capital city George Town.

According to Wong, every month the couple have to fork out RM 4,000 for the house and car, RM 1,500 on food and another RM 1,500 on daycare, baby food and milk for their child.

On top of that, there is RM 750 on insurance and a family medical card, RM 700 on petrol, RM 600 on phone bills, WiFi and broadband, RM 120 on Astro, RM 140 on water and electricity bills and RM 110 on a weekly housekeeper.

“We put aside RM 500 every month for road tax and car insurance. Come May next year, we will have to spend another RM1,500 a month on our second child when it arrives,” Wong said.

So is RM 12,000 enough for doctors to start a family?

I had previously written a post on how much was needed in general to be sustainable in Klang Valley here. However, that’s only applicable to a single person. One would require an estimated of RM 5,000 to be able to live comfortably. What if it’s for 2? Simple mathematics would tell you that it’s roughly gonna be about RM 10, 000. Family of 3? You do the maths.

Reading through the comments posted on The Malaysian Insider, many disagreed with the statement and justified that it was more than enough. I beg to differ. Now, of course to survive, you don’t really need that much but let’s talk about it from a comfortable (not lavishly) point of view. To have a family and to live in KL (or any where in the Klang Valley), you would probably have to get a condominium or a house, which ultimately takes up a chunk of your income. Houses in KL these days, at least within the KL vicinity, costs no less than RM 500,000. Staying further away would be cheaper, but it’ll be replaced with increased petrol cost and time vs. distance traveled. With that in mind, to service the loan itself will require you to fork out an estimated of Rm 3,000 a month. RM 1,000 left for the car loan is fair enough to get a decent car (excluding proton cars).

However, RM 700 for petrol and RM 600 for phone bills are rather excessive. Additional cost saving measures should be undertaken in those categories, which can be improved.

Therefore, a note to all future doctors out there, your starting income will hardly be enough for you live comfortably, let alone starting a family.

Here’s the salary of a house officer (Pegawai Perubatan UD41).

Base: Rm 2,778

Housing allowance: RM 250 (pathetic, can’t even rent a decent room)

Public service allowance: RM 300

Critical allowance: Rm 750

COLA: RM 100 – RM 300

A grand total of whooping Rm 4,378 (using max COLA), which is hardly even close to RM 5,000, or RM 12, 000 on combined income assuming your spouse (assuming a doctor too) is working too. What’s next? For those planning to do medicine, better be really prepared. And for those already in it, plan your finances in advance as it ain’t gonna be an easy road ahead.


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