This article provides a short list of advantages and disadvantages of moving to Malta, including basics that anyone should think about if considering a move. With its Mediterranean sun and relaxed pace of life, it is no surprise that moving to Malta is a common dream for potential expats. The island does indeed have a lot to offer. Life in Malta is no paradise, however, and, as with everywhere else, there are advantages and disadvantages to life on the island.
Below you’ll find several pluses and minuses of life in Malta, covering six different areas, written from the perspective of one who’s lived on the island for 3 years, and who also has experience in 5 other European countries.
Alongside Maltese, English is an official language of the Republic of Malta, owing to the island’s history. English is very widely spoken, and all government documents and forms are available in English. Road signs, restaurant menus, advertising, and other information necessary for daily life is available in English, too.
Day-to-Day Cost of Living
On the plus side, everyday life on the island is quite affordable compared with most other European countries. Public transportation is inexpensive, €0.75 per trip, or €26 for a monthly pass (the cost of 35 trips per month). Beer in a pub can cost as little as €1.50 per pint.
Although food is cheap in general, eating in restaurants can be costly, especially for picky eaters. There is an abundance of restaurants, including some really great ones, but they do charge a premium for their food. You can expect a meal in an average restaurant to cost around €25-30 per person.
Accommodation and Domestic Utilities
Domestic utility costs are very low in Malta, provided you manage to subscribe to those services on the same terms as locals (see our recent article on this to avoid paying “foreigner” prices). Your utility bills, of course, depend on your consumption and the number of people in your house, but even if you use an air conditioner, you can expect your power and water bills to be under €50 per person.
One downside is that rent prices have increased dramatically in the last few years, and prices now are higher than ever. There have been calls for the government to act and regulate rent prices, and some responsiveness on the part of the government, but it may be a while before that happens. Be prepared to negotiate hard with any potential landlord. The rent price issue is particularly acute in areas popular with expats and tourists. For example, a small apartment in Mosta or Naxxar will cost you around €700 per month, a similar apartment in Sliema or St. Julian’s can easily cost more than €1000. Be aware that prices also tend to rise in the late spring and summer, which is the high season for tourists.
It is also an unfortunate fact that telecommunications services, especially internet and mobile phone, are rather expensive on the island. Subscribers can expect to pay around €35 per month for mobile phone service, and around €30 or more for a 50Mbs/3Mbps broadband connection, considerably more than those services would cost in mainland Europe.
The Maltese Climate
For those who love the heat, Malta is an excellent destination. The island sees over 300 sunny days each year. Though temperatures in July and August can climb higher than 30 °C, the humidity on the island is not excessive, so even the summers are quite pleasant.
Winters in Malta can be uncomfortable, however. Outdoor temperatures rarely drop below 10 °C meaning that, even in winter, it is not unpleasant to spend time outside. Maltese houses are not insulated well and there is no central heating, so a pleasant 10 °C outdoor temperature can easily turn into a chilly 10 °C indoor temperature. Most places are equipped with electric space heaters or small gas units, however.
It is always easy to find an entry-level service job in Malta, especially in the spring and early summer, when tourism-oriented business expand their staffs for the summer rush. During that time of year, a simple walk around a tourist area like Sliema will reveal “Help Wanted” signs everywhere.
There are also a lot of international companies with offices in Malta, the two largest fields being finance and online gambling. These companies offer higher-paying jobs than most local companies, to those who have the right skills. The international companies operating in Malta also often require employees who speak foreign languages, a potentially lucrative opportunity for someone with those skills.
There is a downside, however. Higher-paying, skilled jobs in local companies can be scarce, relative to the population qualified for them, and can often be difficult to find, especially for foreigners, as local employers frequently prefer to hire local employees, if they are available.
Check our guide on how to find a job in Malta.
The Business World
Tax rates in Malta are very attractive, especially for international firms, which can benefit from several tax rebate programmes on offer. The governmental situation is also very stable, with a very low risk of political or financial instability, making the island an attractive and safe place for investment.
The downside is that dealing with the island’s bureaucracy can be difficult and frustrating for foreigners. Processes that can be completed in a matter of days in other European countries, such as filing incorporation paperwork or opening a bank account for your company can easily take months in Malta. If you plan to do business here, be prepared for things to take longer and be more complicated than you are used to.