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Malta, is a beautiful 5-island archipelago nation just to the south of Italy is famed for its stunning coast and Roman historic sites. With a total land area of 122 square miles, it is one of Europe’s smallest countries.
While Malta may be small, it has a lot to offer and is becoming a retirement, digital nomad and real estate investment hotspot—and it’s very easy to see why. In recent decades, Malta has earned a solid reputation among seasoned travelers and discerning expats as an affordable, welcoming destination.
Cost of living in Malta is similar to other Mediterranean destinations like Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Croatia. With an archipelago coastline that boasts dramatic cliffs, ancient roman forts and quiet fishing villages, stone walls, strips of olives, wheat, and potatoes separating fields, while vines hang full with grapes in every part of this beautiful island. With its mild weather, hot summers, great food and rich history and culture, Malta is a quintessential Mediterranean island.
Malta’s fascinating and rich history dates back over 7,000 years. The islands has been rules by Greece, Italy, France, England and Arabs, amongst others, living behind a rich and diverse culture. Suffering during World War II, when the Axis blitzed the tiny nation into submission, nowadays, Malta is a modern and prosperous nation, member of the EU with a long-standing democracy.
If you love sunshine and good weather, but you still like the idea of living somewhere with seasons, then Malta has an ideal climate for you. Waters are clear blue and quite cool, and the sun almost always shines.
Malta enjoys around 12 hours of sunshine during the summer months, low humidity, and delightful relatively warm yet humid winters. Winter temperatures average 57F with 6.5 hours of daylight. Summer averages 73 F with 10.5 hours of daylight.
A key trading and transportation port in the Mediterranean and a vibrant tourism hub, Malta had been welcoming expats for centuries. They are welcoming people, and with no language barrier, it’s easy to slip into life here.
Maltese are generally very polite, welcoming and open.
Malta is a place where relaxation is taken seriously. On a daily basis you need to choose between the urban buzz, morning swims, cafe culture, fresh seafood, delicious local deserts, exploration of cobblestoned streets, boat trips to hidden coves and nightlife of the main island Malta.
Malta however is small and densely populated. Be prepared for the influx of summer tourists if you decide to live in a popular part of the city. If you like destinations with a lot of space and natural diversity, Malta may not be your cup of tea.
With historical roots as a British colony, English is widely and fluently spoken by locals which makes for an easy transition to the island’s lifestyle for English-speaking retirees and those who aren’t interested in learning a new language.
Malta is one of the safest countries in Europe for travel and residency according to the Global Peace Index. This is reflected in very low rates of crime around the country. Crimes mostly fall into the ‘petty’ category like pick-pocketing. Nonetheless, it is always prudent to take the common-sense precautions of guarding your valuables especially in touristy areas.
Most beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, helping prevent water-related deaths as. Malta’s roads on the other hand are notoriously in poor condition with around 20 traffic deaths in Malta every year.
Due to a recent spike in tourism and expats choosing to relocate to Malta, the cost of living on the islands has increased. But Malta is still relatively cheap and compares favorably to the U.S. when it comes to cost of living. Rent in touristy locations is very popular amongst expats and can be more expensive than certain parts of the States. Expect to pay around 17% less at the supermarket and 23% less for a nice apartment compared to the US. Save yourself a lot of money by eating at family-run non-touristy restaurants, and buying your fruits and vegetables from the weekly farmers’ markets.
You do not need to own a car in Malta as the islands are small and the bus system is extensive, dependable and very affordable ($1.65 one-way bus ticket). There is also a public transport concession card for retirees who are 60+ years old.
If you are a business organization looking for the perfect location to penetrate the European market, then Malta gives you all these and more. In a well-regulated market, Malta provides you with the opportunity of paying meagre taxes, which yacht and private jet companies buy into. Malta has also integrated a full imputation tax system which prevents double taxation of company profits.
Are you an American or Canadian who intends to spend retirement in Malta? Then you are spoiled for choice in the number of visa options and residency programs. Some of them are:
The best visa option for retirees is the Maltese permanent residence permit, allowing you to live in the islands collecting retirement income, but not work in retirement in Malta.
Requirements for Malta’s permanent residence permit :
Once permanent residence is granted, you need to either purchase a house worth at least $133,423 or an apartment worth at least $79,271or pay at least $4,882 in annual rent.
The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent and according to the World Health Organization ranks amongst the best in the world. Malta had built a reputation as a destination for medical tourism and is home to several state-of-the-art public and private healthcare facilities, staffed by highly skilled doctors that are also fluent in English.
Maltese and EU citizens get free health care services through Malta’s national health system that runs alongside the private sector that enjoys an even higher standard of service than the free national public system. Expect to pay a lot less than in the US for your health care even through the private sector.
Now, you might ask yourself, which is wiser? Rent or buy property on the islands. We may not have the answer for you as property in Malta is a very liquid asset that can rakes in profits as massive as 5-10% per annum if you choose the right house or apartment. And even though opportunities are limited it is not very hard to find them.
Places like the small Island of Gozo is where you can find cheaper properties and better deals. If you are interested in terraced houses (popular in the islands), then you should look into the Northern regions of Malta, like Gzira.
This is the nation’s second-largest Island, and in contrast to the county’s largest Island, which has a typically modern setting, Gozo is more rural, with a laid-back lifestyle dominating the scenes. This is why it ticks all the boxes for many retirees in Malta, and to top it all, its low cost of living is yet icing on the cake.
This city was home to the European Capital of Culture in 2018, which saw the rather attractive but old buildings retouched. Valletta coincidentally serves as the country’s capital, and the city carries huge relics of the nation of Malta. Outside of its historic indentations, Valletta has big shopping centers and good offerings of entertainment you will enjoy.
Even though there are no direct flights to Malta, flying between the two countries is relatively straightforward. Fly to a major European city in France, Italy, Germany, Spain etc with a carrier like United, American, Delta, Lufthansa, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, and then connect to the island. Total flight time from NY is around 14 hours.
Isn’t it mind-boggling that despite the small land area in Malta, there are a large number of places of attraction to visit? Everyone can have a swell time in Malta, whether you are a history junkie or watersports lover or probably you enjoy touring wildlife. Even those who value alone time can find such spots dedicated to such.
It’s amazing just how much there is to see and experience in the islands of Malta. Despite the relatively small size of all three islands, Malta offers a surprisingly diverse and rich range of world-class sites, attractions and activities for all tastes and budgets. From historical sites, and fine dining to diving, hiking, boating, or spending time picking grapes in vineyards and visiting beautiful villages, it’s simply impossible to run out of interesting things to see and do. And if your preference is simply doing nothing other than soaking up the sun on a cliff-lined beach, then you will have plenty of breathtaking spots to choose from.
With the three islands of Malta ticking so many boxes —rich history, beautiful natural scenery, fantastic climate, 300 days of sunshine per year, wine production, a set of appealing tax benefits, high level of English spoken, large expat communities, and with a sense of camaraderie that is palpable with the friendly locals —it is a country with broad appeal that deserves a worthy mention. With so much going for it, Malta demands a place on your overseas shortlist.