Living & Working in Malta
Moving country can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. The trick to making the most of it, however, is to know what to expect.
Over the past couple of years, Malta has become a favourite among expats from all the world; both for those moving here with their families and those keen to kick-start a business.
But, like any other country in the world, there are many nuances that those moving here may not be aware of. In this page we will provide you a brief summary of what to expect when thinking of renting a home and relocating to the Maltese Islands.
Understanding the Culture
Culture shock is something we all experience when visiting a foreign country, particularly if we’re moving there. Malta has a laid-back, Mediterranean culture and getting used to the new pace of life can sometimes be quite daunting.
Most shops away from Sliema and St Julian’s – the main tourist and foreign hubs – tend to open earlier in the day (6-7am for newsagents, grocers and green grocers; 8.30-10am for cafés, offices, clothing stores, etc.) and then close down for ‘siesta’ between 1-4pm.
Moreover, the locals, true to their Mediterranean roots, tend to be louder than most Northern Europeans, but they are also incredibly outgoing and helpful, and will greet you with open arms. Politics, current affairs, religion, sport and general weather banter dominate their conversation.
Malta also has an astonishing 14 public holidays – eight of which mark important saints’ days in the liturgical calendar. Some foreign companies opt to work on most of these, but many Maltese use the time off to spend time with their family and friends, or to go shopping or to the sea.
While Maltese is the main language here in Malta, English is also one of the State’s official languages, and many foreigners who have lived here for decades have managed to get through without any major problems. English in fact is widely spoken by 90% of the population. Nevertheless, it is advisable to learn some simple phrases to help you get by.
Getting an eResidence Card
To live and work in Malta, foreigners need to apply for an eResidence Card. This is a new form of documentation that covers all types of residency status for all non-Maltese nationals who are currently working or living in Malta, including those registered under the schemes administered by the Inland Revenue Department. This card basically shows your immigration position as a foreigner living in Malta and can also act as a legal mode of identification both to apply for certain services, as well as in the case of an emergency. Refer to this blog “All important E-residence Card” for more information.
Setting Up Home
With innumerable towns and villages located all over the Maltese Islands, it can sometimes feel quite confusing to choose a place to set up home in. Places like St Julian’s, Sliema and Swieqi tend to be the favourites among foreigners as all amenities are nearby, including entertainment facilitates and shops that open well into the night. This is also due to having the majority of offices being located within a few of square metres. One may consider living in the Special Designated Areas (SDA's). The SDA are mainly condominium complexes with both rental apartment and those that maybe on the market for sale. Rental availability may be scarce at time due to the high demand.
Even so, Valletta, Gzira and the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua) are also on the rise, and with a variety of property available for rent – including apartments, townhouses, houses of character, and even palazzos – many are choosing to live here. It is important you speak to a reputable real estate agency that understands the Market and has experience dealing with Ex-Pats. A good rental estate agency will be able to become your link to everything required including finding an honest maid, setting up your internet and satellite television amongst other amenities.
Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that, while Malta is incredibly tiny by international standards, the number of cars on the roads has increased, and it still makes sense to live somewhere close to your place of work.
There are also several restaurants and a variety of cuisines being offered in Malta; the more reasonable bistros are still of a very high quality whereas if you are looking for medium to fine dining plenty restaurants are found throughout the islands of both Malta and Gozo. The main hubs are concentrated in bay areas of St. Julian’s, Sliema, St. Paul’s Bay, Marsascala and Marsaxlokk. Look out for Trip advisor stickers or the Definite(ly) Good guide to Restaurant plaques. There are also a number of websites that may guide you further on many of the other questions that you may have about Relocating to Malta.
The best part of it all? While living here, you can also make the most of the attractions that over a million tourists flock to Malta for: head to the beach, explore the history, or simply go for a walk and take in all of Malta’s Mediterranean splendour.
For more guides and information about renting and relocation to Malta head to our Letting Knowledge base.