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.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/when-even-rm12000-a-month-isnt-enough-to-get-by-in-malaysia

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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Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2)

Finally a chance to have a look at Malaysia’s most boasted new low cost carrier airport which opened recently. Looks better than KLIA itself. Maybe coz’ it’s new, but I guess gotta give credit to where it’s due. Looks way more vibrant and livelier as compared to the main airport. Here’s a couple of shots taken on my flight back to Singapore.

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A really big display board.

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Starbucks’ one of the main tenants. Another one is located in the other block.

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Really surprised to see Tissot to take up a slot here.

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AirAsia check in kiosks. Now everyone gets to fly, as long as you pay for every little darn thing. No money no talk.

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It’s empty coz’ it’s located right after the immigration counters. OMG. So strategic!

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Integrated shopping mall.

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You see more people here as compared to its main counterpart. Understandable since it’s a terminal for the low cost carriers, more people  are able to fly.

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Big shiny gates to greet you along the way.

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A plus point for the waiting area as compared to LCCT. Clean. No smell. No flies. Brightly-lit with clean toilets. Clean toilets are very important, you know. Right?

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And finally, the gate. Most stuff ain’t in order yet. Many shops are yet to open. And be warned, you may end up being breathless if you’re exiting the plane, walking towards to immigration counter. It’s a long stretch. Despite the area being air-conditioned, I ended up sweating. Do grab any trolleys you see along the way if you’re carrying any heavy bags, or you might just end up regretting not doing so.

Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL.

On Mother’s Day, we made a trip down to Changkat Bukit Bintang for food. To be honest, of so many years I’ve lived in KL, I’ve never actually got down here at night. Going to Elcerdo was my first time. Yes, was a virgin then. Not many activities were going on since it was in the burning hot afternoon. However, it’s totally different at night. Plenty of nice hangouts with lots of good eateries around. Despite the drizzle, managed to grab a couple of night shots. Excuse the phone cam quality.

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Many cabs in the area since it’s a famous tourist spot. You won’t be able to get anywhere in KL without a vehicle. Just don’t get ripped apart by them. Take the ones that uses a meter. Or use MyTeksi app. Highly recommended.

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Take your pick.

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Just a note. Remember not to bring too much cash, or blings that may attract unnecessary attention. Being a happening area, it’s also famous for its fair share of snatch thefts and robberies. So just be careful.

Work Place

Ever curious as to how a polyclinic in Singapore looks like? Here’s a shot for ya.

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Although I hate to admit it, it’s considered one of the more comfy clinics that I’ve worked in so far.

Nowadays, surviving as a general practitioner in Malaysia is gonna be tough, and it’s gonna get tougher by the end I get my stuff settled here. Has plans (more like thoughts) to get one going but seeing GPs back home can go bankrupt, I shudder at the thought starting one myself. The initiating cost itself will definitely be a very damaging start. And to start anew in a place with hundreds of other GPs competing with one another, it’s a race out there. Building rapport with patients, and to have them like you, will take time. And time, is of essence. Income will fluctuate, and may very well end up in the losing end. Despite that, I still have dreams of having a clinic of my own. It’s considered a joy, at least for me, to see some form of continuity in care of patients with chronic illness that improves through proper management. However, you don’t really see it (the continuity) in the government polyclinics as the load of patients are shared among different doctors. Seeing a patient and having a plan does not guarantee that the patient will see you again the next, and most likely the plans will change when another doctor sees him/her.

Have you got yours planned out yet?

Cost of Living in Klang Valley, Malaysia.

How much to live comfortably in the Klang Valley? Let’s do a break down.

Ultimately everyone wants to own a place of their own. So a property value of RM 250000 – RM 300000 (although I do believe a decent property in Klang Valley is double/triple of what I’ve stated), you’ll have to service a loan between Rm 1000 to RM 1500. If not, a rental around Klang Valley area would costs about the same. Utility bills about a RM 100. An average car value of RM 100000 , brands from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, etc. Estimated loan of RM 1000 to RM 1500. Of course if you’re a Proton fan, by all means. You can lower that value by half to about RM 500. Let’s take RM 1000 as of now. And when you have a car, you need to pay for petrol as well. Let’s put this at RM 250. Internet bills. Let’s take UniFi’s cheapest 5MB package which costs RM 150. Phone bills. RM 100 for calls and 3G. If you’re gonna be a cheapskate like me who uses prepaid, that’s fine too. Food wise, average of RM 5 per meal. Let’s assume you eat 3 times/day. So, RM 15 a day. In 30 days, RM 450. Eating the same food everyday would be kinda tedious, to add in some spice to life, probably additional RM 50 for each weekend, be it food or other entertainment purposes like movies, hang outs and stuff. So 4 weekends, that would tally up to RM 200. If you do take up an insurance scheme, maybe about RM 100 a month. Although it varies depending on which kinda scheme you’re getting.

Now let’s add them up. House loan/Rental (RM 1500) + Utilities (Rm 100) + Car loan (RM 1000) + Petrol (RM 250) + Broadband (RM 150) + Phone (RM 100) + Food (RM 450) + Entertainment (RM 200)  + Insurance (RM 100) = RM 3850. As you can see, an estimated monthly expenses incurred would be RM 3850. How about savings? Say you plan on saving RM 500 each month. That would be RM 4350. As this is the take home income, we’ve got to include the EPF (forced savings) and tax in too. So give and take, RM 5000 would be the figure.

Do take note though, this is calculated based on one person. If you have a family and other commitments, the figure itself would definitely be higher. Of course the amount can be pushed lower, by taking out the car loan and petrol expenses but I would not consider that as living comfortably. Unless you do not intend to move out from your parent’s place and stay in forever, probably you could remove the burden of a housing loan then.

Then again, is RM 5000 really enough? I wonder.

Why Singapore?

Every now and then, friends and colleagues ask me, “Why are you here in Singapore?”. I’m not actually surprised since not many go through the same route that I’m taking.

And the next statement which follows would be, “You’re from UM or UKM?”. Since it’s the 2 only universities that are recognized in Singapore. Understandable. And when I say no to both, they’ll be stunned for a few seconds, just like how you stun them in DOTA.

Anyway, the very reason why I’m in a Singapore polyclinic is to be eligible to take the final paper of  Diploma in Family Medicine in Malaysia, which is a 2-years course and I’m already close to the end. I travel back each time there’s lectures. Hopefully it pans out well to proceed on to the next path. RACGP, anyone? Then why not just practice in Malaysia instead since I’ve already attained full registration?

Well, you see. Our Klinik Kesihatans (KK) aren’t really a conducive place for on-going learning. Workload is crazy and there’s a huge number of patients to be seen, that is if you’re posted to a densely populated area in the city. In districts, it may not be as busy but most likely you”ll have to turn your “self-survival” mode on. Not to say that Singapore’s polyclinics workload is not crazy. We see approximately 50-70 patients per day per doctor depending on which cluster we’re in. However, the situation is more ideal for learning, with bosses monitoring your management and give you a big spanking if something is not done right. KK do have Family Physicians too but correct me if I’m wrong that most of them  don’t actually bother with your “progress” as long the work gets done by the end of the day. Can’t blame them either, with the current glut of doctors in Malaysia, so many medical officers get thrown to the KKs with so few family physicians, how possibly can they monitor each and everyone’s progress?

Besides, with the same amount of work you’re doing in KK, why not Singapore with a better pay too? At least there will be a standardized care. And with that extra income, you can expand your portfolio by investing in properties, trust funds and insurance to secure a better future. I don’t believe in focusing solely on medicine for your basic necessities. In this new age, you need back ups.

I was in the private practice world for a year, but then I realized it’s heading no where. Working with a company was fine and all, good life, good pay, fixed working hours but there’s not much of a prospect and it kinda went against my principle to put sales at the top of my priorities. And when patients were referred as customers, I knew something was way wrong. As I was planning to leave, Singapore opened its door for me so I just took the opportunity.

Then why not be a general practitioner (GP)? To be honest, GP these days are struggling too. Ain’t gonna join in the fun. Working hours ain’t fantastic either. You’ll have to dedicate more than half a day at work to earn a decent living. With other headaches such as monthly rentals, staff payments, stock checks, licensing and management stuff, absolutely not worth the trouble. At least for now, for where I am. Just gotta set some standards for myself too before I venture out. Skills and knowledge are a must to being a good GP. Once I’m able stand on my both feet planted firmly on the ground then only I’ll think about it.

What’s your plan for the future? Thought about it yet?

Elcerdo, Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL.

We were given a groupon voucher to dine at Elcerdo along Changkat Bukit Bintang. This stretch of road is famous for its fancy restaurants and night life. However, we had our lunch there instead as the place were booked to the brim in the evening.

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One of the rare places that sells pork only. Thing is, their menu is accompanied with pictures of cute little pigs, that you get this kinda awful feeling when you’re placing your food orders.

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Awesome ambiance. Loh-man-tic giler.

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Mushroom at its best.

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And of course, do not forget to order the ribs. Fantastic. However, it does a significant amount of damage to your pocket. RM 80 plus for just the ribs. That’s the reason we went with a voucher! Yea, I know, I’m cheap. Soooory.

Here’s the address and phone number if you’re keen on trying them out.

  • 43&45, Changkat Bukit Bintang,  50200 Kuala Lumpur.
  • Land: +603-2145 0511 / Mobile: +6013 309 4197