Updated: Aug 13, 2018
If you are looking for sunny place in Europe to live in, that offers job opportunities, an international bunch of interesting people, tons of history and beautiful beaches and snorkeling spots, Malta might be the perfect place for you. It certainly ticked all the boxes for me! Malta is not only one of Europe’s smallest countries it is also very densely populated and offers a rich and exciting history. There is a lot of stuff to do and opportunities on this little rock in Mediterranean. Malta is located just 60 miles south from Sicily and while Maltese is the local language, English is widely spoken here so communication is easy. It is very diverse as there is a lot of work attracting people from all over the world choose to settle in this unique environment. Malta’s Capital, Valletta is not only a really pretty place but also the smallest capital in Europe. The locals want to live as close as possible to the capital, so like most cities you will find that the prices are higher the closer you want to live to Valletta. The country is so well connected to almost every other European country that the next weekend trip is always close, whether it's a ferry ride to Sicily or a cheap flight from the International Airport, people can get off the rock once in a while. If all that sounds really good to you and you are starting to pack a bag dreaming about relocating to the sunny island, have a glimpse at these points that I wished someone told me before I moved here. They will be useful for a start in the land of “mela” (Maltese for: alright, well, I got it, and many other things).
Everything is on Facebook
So, before we get started and think of moving somewhere, what do we do? – Right, we type it in Google and see what pops up. It is the normal way to go. But in the case of Malta, what happens is that you can get outdated information. You will see apartments for €300 instead of €900 or outdated prices on other things. A few of the websites are regularly updated but for the most accurate try Facebook. In Malta you can find everything on Facebook. A Job, a house, a friend, a car, a pet and the next exciting event to attend. I highly recommend to join some groups and have a look before you start browsing through websites. Of course, there are still some sites that are useful. Head to the Expats in Malta Group, that is a good starting point and then join the multiple Job and Housing Groups, you will find what you are looking for.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Malta’s Economy is booming and there is a lot of work. Especially if you speak more than one language you are very likely to find something here. Especially German, Swedish and Finnish are languages that are sought after. But there is a lot of opportunities for other nationalities too. There is a lot of finance and online gaming businesses in Malta that provide a great work environment. A lot of them offer great benefits and there are about 14 public holidays in Malta, so lots of opportunities to take weekend trips around Europe.
There are a lot of platforms for expats and international job seekers but also for locals. I personally had good experiences with:
For a European, it is very easy to work here and for Non-Europeans, it is a little trickier since you require a separate permit and the companies have to assure that the job cannot be done by an EU citizen. But it is not impossible, there are a lot of jobs that are tailor-made for you guys, so give it a try!
Prepare for the Apartment Hunt
While it's relatively easy as it is to find a job in Malta, finding an apartment can be far more time consuming. There is a lot of demand and not enough apartments. This drives prices up and you have to decide really quickly whether to choose an apartment or not, as it may be let out within an hour! Usually you have to leave one month’s rent as a deposit and if you go with an agent you have to pay him half of a month’s rent and half to the owner. Make sure you get written confirmation that you have secured the apartment and paid the deposit. It can be helpful to have a good agent on hand to help you find a good apartment that is reasonably priced, and if you found a good one, keep their number handy as you may need them again sooner than you think! Apartments are usually equipped with furniture and almost everything you need. Contracts are usually made for a year and the prices are lower before and after summer.
One thing – Many Opinions
Be prepared to run an errand twice when it comes to paperwork. What you need to bring can vary a lot depending on the person you ask. That is not necessarily a bad thing it is just good to know and be prepared to bring everything you can think of, in case you come from a country that works in a very structured and organized way. You just have to get used to it and call or go to an office more than once. In general, they are very attentive though and always happy to help.
In Malta you will find there are almost as many cars as there are people, and as a result on such a small island it can get rather congested. The locals tend to drive even in the shortest of distances, so you will find driving around the very narrow streets it can take just as long to find a parking space as it would take to walk to you destination, especially during rush hours 7-9am and 5-6.30pm. If you are from the UK you'll find driving slightly easier as driving is on the left, but the driving style is quite similar to other European countries like Italy and traffic laws are taken more like guidelines, so be aware. If you are travelling around the main areas like Sliema, St Julian or Valletta, you might find public transport an easier and cheaper way to get around, but it is not always the most reliable or punctual way to get about. So as long as you're not in a hurry you might find this a better way to get around.
Hot Summers, Pretty Springs and Rainy Winters
When you read about Malta you usually hear about the 300 days of sunshine and from my experience I think that we are close. But 300 days of sunshine does not mean that we have always 20-30 degrees, winters can get quite fresh and rainy with temperatures dropping to 2 degrees at night. The autumn and spring are the best times to go on long hikes and discover unique spots on the island. But if you plan on staying longer bring a coat for the winter. You will thank me for that. Other than the short winter, the weather in Malta is enjoyable the whole year around.
You'll find the locals friendly and welcoming, however socially they tend to keep to themselves especially in the small villages and other islands, so you will tend to find that it will be easier to make friends with other expats. As there is a such a large expat population you will find new friends if you just start talking to someone else who is also trying to figure out what form is needed in the post office. There are many interesting groups and meet ups for specific activities or nationalities such as:
Malta is not hard to settle in and you will have no problem getting stuff sorted in the beginning and as well enjoy beaches, nightlife, a drink by the seafront and some of the most ancient sights in the world and a lot of other history spots. The country has a huge expat community and I think there is a good reason for why so many people choose Malta as their base.
But come and see for yourself…
Ines Bahr is a German blogger and freelance writer who grew up in Germany, lived in Cuba and now lives in Malta. She is passionate about travelling like a local, discovering local culture and hidden gems. You can find out more of her tips from her travels on her blog Locally Abroad.
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