In January 2019, I will be celebrating a decade in Malta. In my adult life, I have not lived anywhere else longer, including Glasgow, my home town.
This dose of realism got me thinking about when I initially moved my family to Malta and how the island has changed. Moreover, how some of the things that were solid truths back then, are no longer fact, on an island where the economy is booming.
As a consequence, I was keen to set the record straight and help people realize the things that HAVE to be considered before a move to this wonderful island.
- Malta is not your own country in the sun.
If you are expecting to come to Malta and it to simply be like your home country in the sun, then think again. Malta has its own culture, people and outlook, which has been formed over centuries, just like any country. The Maltese have their own systems and bureaucratic procedures and they work. It may not ‘seem’ as efficient if you are from Germany. Moreover, the Maltese are incredibly friendly, but they don’t have that British need to be courteous about every action and be overly polite. Therefore, there will be a period of adjustment to get used to the living here.
- It’s cheap cheap cheap.
10 years ago, you could have gotten a 3-bedroom apartment in the core areas of Sliema and St Julian’s for between €800-€1000 a month. It would have been modern with a sea view sometimes. However, the price is now closer to €2000 a month for the equivalent scenario. Even more expensive in some cases, depending on the build, so the deals that were available back in 2009 are now gone. To eat out has also increased in price however, so has the quality. When I first arrived, you had to be careful where you ate and there were maybe 10-12 choices across the island. The ‘middle of the road’ places have increased in quality and there are countless options if you want quality food, including many fine dining establishments.
- They are building everywhere.
The economy is booming. iGaming companies are everywhere and now Cryptocurrency/Blockchain businesses are also making the move to this small island. As a consequence, in order to sustain the growth, they are building UP. Indeed, there are 4 or 5 skyscrapers planned with over 35 floors and this is only set to continue. This is great as it allows more businesses and more high-end apartments however, eventually they will have to do something with the infrastructure around Sliema and St Julian’s. If they don’t it will be a car park with so many people travelling in and out every day. Moreover, if I look across the skyline I can see lots of cranes and several more building sites. It can be noisy and dusty in already stifling heat.
- There are no spaces in schools
If you want to send your kids to one of the Private (English speaking schools) or even, a partly English-Speaking Government school, many of the years are full, so if you have kids, the relocation can be incredibly tough. My advice would be to check the schools you want before you make that decision to relocate. There are talks about building more private schools however, this is being met with a lot of resistance as it would result in building in the Countryside generally.
- It’s the 8th most densely populated location in the world.
In the Sliema and St Julian’s area, it is incredibly urban, opposed to the commonly held myths of beach and sea, and there are a lot people living on top of one another. Don’t get me wrong, being next to the sea is incredible and a ‘dream’ for some, however, particularly in the summer when the population can swell from 400,000 to over 1m people it can feel a little claustrophobic. The countryside does exist and of course you have beaches, but again, they can have a lot of people visiting.
- It’s a thriving metropolis.
With the economy booming, there is a direct effect on the entertainment industry. If you want to find something, you will find it in Malta. Whether it be a new fitness hype or a particular type of music you want to see live, Malta has it. The music scene is thriving and many Maltese bands like Red Electric and Airport Impressions are doing well internationally too. Gone are the days, when nothing was open on a Sunday or religious Public Holidays now, the Supermarkets are opening.
- There’s still a link to the past
The Maltese love a festa. It’s the most celebrated event in communities all across Malta, bringing together the local people in a big way. This ‘community’ driven outlook is also extended to the Non- Maltese who are willing to make an effort. If you take time to get to know people, they will welcome you into their confidence and, even their homes. For me, this stems from the past and the almost naïve outlook to the foreigner coming to live on their island.
- Sport is a major way of life in Malta.
Yes, there are only just above 400,000 people however, given what the British and the Italians have brought over the years, the best has to be the love of sport. An obsessive nature means, every sport can certainly be viewed, with a crowd across the island. Indeed, during major competitions, like the World Cup, for example, there are large screens all over the island.
Malta like any country has a lot of pro and cons. However, whether you are looking for a new position in a great location or you are considering a new destination for your company, Malta is a wonderful island and worth serious consideration. But as always forewarned is forearmed.