Savings and Property – Can Malaysians Afford To Have Both?

Most Malaysians do not have adequate savings for retirement; women are especially at risk

Malaysians are living longer with an average expected life expectancy of 74.7 years, and women is expected to live 4.6 years longer than men. (In 2016, women are expected to have an average life expectancy of 77.2 years while men are expected to have an average life expectancy of about 72.6 years). As the life expectancy among Malaysians increases, so does the need for more savings to sustain a longer life span, especially after retirement. (Recommended minimum target of EPF savings by the age of 55 is RM 228,000).

Nonetheless, most Malaysians do not enough savings to support themselves upon retirement through their golden days.

(Only 38% of active EPF members have the old recommended minimum savings of RM196,800, while two thirds of EPF members aged 54 have savings of less than RM50,000). This is more critical among women as they have lesser chances of saving and preparing for their old age due to lower labour force participation rate compared to men.

Recommended Basic Savings, Malaysia

Source: EPF (2017)

Owning a home has become increasingly out-of-reach for Malaysian families

Malaysian housing prices are considered ‘seriously unaffordable’ for the average Malaysian household income and are more unaffordable compared to several high income nations such as Ireland, U.S., Canada and Japan. Moreover, Malaysia’s average house price index is moving up consistently along with the Malaysian household mean and median income index. Given that more than 70% of the population reside in urban areas today, rising prices of houses have put buying out of reach for many.

Median-multiple Housing Price by Country

Source: 13thAnnual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, Performance Urban Planning, 2017; Making Housing Affordable, Khazanah Research Institute, 2015

Price gap between mean annual household income and average all house prices in Malaysia (RM), 2002 and 2014

Source: Ipsos analysis, based on National Property Information Centre (NAPIC) all house prices data & DOSM annual household income data

Despite existing housing policies, majority of Malaysians still feel that housing in the country today is unaffordable compared to before.

Question: Disregarding whether you currently own a house or not, how affordable do you feel housing in Malaysia are today compared to 5 years ago? Source: Population survey conducted under this study (2017), Q. E9 Base: All Respondent 3,044

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