Last Updated on
Just an update: this was written over 2.5 years ago and the situationen on the island has changed a little. Higher prices and harder to come by good rentals for example.
As I have been living in Malta for about 5 years now, I feel experienced enough to write a review about this island.
I came here January 2012 and have been living here pretty much full time since then, except for some months every year that I spent in my home country Sweden and some business trips to i.e Philippines, Caribbean and Dubai to escape the worst winter months here.
Living in Malta for 5 years – Should you move here?
Let me summarize this post for you and tell you the pros and cons.
I was living in Malta for almost exactly 5 years, from age 19 to 24 (now I switched over to the neighbour island – Cyprus).
All in all: I really loved my time in Malta. Met the best people in the world, had a good work/life balance, enjoying great food and just having overall good feelings there. It was a great timing for me to leave as well though.
Upsides with Malta
- Very good network of entrepreneurs, from everywhere on the map. Meetups and coworking opportunities exists.
- Simple and relaxed way of life. It’s super easy to find apartments (at least it was), you don’t need a car and things generally are never that complicated (except the simple things).
- About the lowest effective taxes if you’re running your own business. Also have upsides for people looking to retire.
- Great party life, heaven for young people. Abundance of clubs, bars and nightlife.
Downsides with Malta
- Compact, hard to find space. If you love having plenty of space, and not so much people, then Malta might not suit your dreams. It’s the most densely populated place in the world.
- Lack of nature. Nature is not very diverse. There’s some nice beaches, but they tend to be overcrowded in the summer. Gozo has more nature to offer.
- From a value standpoint, heavily inflated prices last years may have made it less attractive to rent or buy.
- There’s a lack of structure that I’ve never seen before. Things work, but there’s no systems, and it’s generally difficult to get things done on a bureacratic level. This will describe it: I have once asked a Maltese person on how we should structure up the companies. He responded “Structure? What do you mean structure?”. He literally didn’t know how the word was supposed to be interpreted.
Malta consists of 7 islands (where of 3 are inhabited) in the southern part of the Mediterranean Sea (south of Italy, east of Tunisia) with a population of 450 000 people, most people live on the main island “Malta”.
The official languages are English and Maltese. Maltese is a Semitic language written in Latin, sounds a bit like someone talking Arabic in an Italian accent.
The Maltese are friendly, typical Mediterranean people, relaxed and non-stressful. They love food and are the top 5 most overweight people in the world, it is also one of the countries with most cars per capita. A bad combo, fitness wise.
The weather in Malta
Many people move to Malta because of the weather.
In my personal opinion, the Maltese weather is not a hundred percent optimal..
But of course, if you just like me, have been spending your life in a country with more rain than sun, you will surely appreciate the weather here in Malta. We have about 3200 hours of sun every year.
Weather in summer
The summers are way too hot and humid to be able to feel comfortable. Hottest months are July, August and September, where the average temperature is 32C and humidity is around 75%. This is really uncomfortable, and it doesn’t really get any better during the nights, when the humidity tends to rise up to 90%. Rest of the year is quite wonderful.
Weather in winter
The winters here are OK, the coldest month is February with a average temperature of 15C. It does rain a lot, but most of it bursts down in a concentrated period of the year (Dec-Feb), and usually never lasts for more a couple of hours. What I feel obligated to mention, is that the indoor climate is really miserable. No central heating, bad isolation, high humidity and cold winds. Don’t bring one sweather, bring all your winter jackets and use them simultaneously.
Cost of living in Malta
Overall, the cost of living in Malta is okay (at least when I lived there).
I come from Sweden and the prices I’m used to over there are quite higher than the prices I find in Malta. According to Expatistan (“Cost of living in Stockholm is 58% more expensive than in Valletta”), so it is quite a difference.
However, there are some things, that for some reason, are very much overpriced here on this island. Cars, crisps and shampoo are three things. Enjoy a nice meal in good restaurant for about €20 including wine, coffee for €1.5. Taxis are quite cheap, based on fixed fees instead of distance.
Housing situation in Malta
The housing situation here is quite wonderful, even though it have been getting much more busy lately, it is still very easy to find a good place to live (but you should avoid house hunting between May and September due to high season).
Setup an appointment with a real estate agent
Send an email to a real estate agent. They will contact you and ask you what kind of place you’re looking for. You will tell them the preferences you have. They will pick you up where you live the next day, and drive you around to all the places they found based on your preferences.
You may see 5-10 different objects in just one tour, that lasts for some hours. You tell the real estate agent which one you like, and you may get the keys a couple of hours later, if the apartment is available from that date. This is basically how simple it is.
Office & internet
Offices are not as easy to find and it will cost you to rent a place with an office permit. There are plenty available throughout the island, but finding an affordable one near the sea will require a bit of luck, unless you’re willing to pay.
Internet is working fine, most of the time anyway. Pay €50 monthly for Fibre 60 mbit/s. You can get up to 250 mbit/s for €100. WiFi is common in coffee shops and restaurants, but don’t expect to find the ultimate work spot around every corner.
Setting up a business in Malta
Malta is very popular among small business owners and entrepreneurs who wants to set up a business fast and easy without too much tax pressure. There’s many benefits of having your business in Malta and I can while there’s some bureaucracy to deal with, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. I wrote a post more specifically about the business aspect of Malta, read it here.
What do to in Malta & Gozo
Once you have visited all the big tourist attractions, been to the beach, the parties and visited the other islands, there is unfortunately not a lot of stuff left to do in Malta. The island is really tiny and you can get from one part of the main island to the other in just about 30-45 minutes with car. Gozo, the second biggest island, is half as big, and has some beautiful nature and cool scenery, but something you can spend a weekend doing, not more.
Therefore, it’s important to get away once in a while. Luckily, there are really cheap tickets to a lot of European capitals, only a few hours away. Or maybe North Africa just an hour away?
Hang out with other internet entrepreneurs
The most amazing thing about Malta is how international it is. You find people from all and every country here. I think I have meet people from more than half of the world’s countries here. It also tend to attract a lot of entrepreneurs, like myself. Probably because of the good weather, taxes and business-friendly environment.
One of the main keys that played a role in the success of my own business was all those great people that I encountered and brainstormed with daily.
I also mention this in my story on how I started to make money online.
Tax climate in Malta
The very gainful tax climate in Malta is basically why I got eyes for it in the first place. Pretty much the whole gambling industry in Europe is based in Malta due to it’s generous gambling license regulations and low tax pressure.
The corporate tax here is 35%, however, if having the right corporate structure, you’ll get a tax refund of 6/7 on dividends, resulting in an effective tax of 5%. If the dividend is not remitted to Malta, there are no further tax consequences.
Moreover, the salaries here are way lower (average €950 per month) and the social security tax is not as high compared to other European countries, which makes it a good place to keep its workforce on. If you’re interested to hear more, contact me and I can set you up with good tax lawyers.
However, you don’t have to live in Malta necessarily for some of the tax benefits to apply. This depends on your personal residence more than anything.