Let’s start with the obvious, Malta is an absolutely wonderful place to live. The weather is fantastic, the people are easy going and there are so many hidden treasures that you will keep discovering new things about the island even if you have lived on it for decades.
With all of that being said, starting a new life in Malta can be as challenging as it is exciting. Here are 5 things to consider before your actually move.
Get your paperwork right
There is still quite a lot of bureaucracy in Malta and that’s a fact. It doesn’t mean that people working in government positions are difficult to work with, quite the opposite. Most are very friendly and are more than willing to help you, especially when they see that you are making a real effort and simply don’t know all the rules. At the same time, a missing form or incorrectly entered information can be a real stumbling block and delay a simple process for months.
Plan even the shortest of journeys around the island
You can be forgiven to think that Malta is a small place and getting around is easy. In reality, the traffic situation in recent years has become horrendous. It can easily take over an hour for a 10km trip in rush hour. So plan carefully, avoid the busiest times in the morning and the evening if possible and most importantly consider using a form of transport different than a car. Cycling is becoming more and more popular with drivers attitude towards riders improving constantly, and there is even a bike sharing scheme in places like Sliema and St Julians. There are a few options for car sharing too, but the easiest thing is probably to get a cool Vespa.
Choose wisely where you live
It sounds obvious and yet so many foreigners get it wrong. Yes, Valleta and Mdina are wonderful cities, but are they the best places to live? Ask yourself what is important to you – to be close to all the restaurants, to enjoy quite Sunday afternoon by the pool or to look at the open see first thing in the morning? Booming economy and influx of expats have driven property prices to record levels. The demand is so high that many residential areas now look like building sites with more and more houses being demolished and block of flats appearing on their place. Your best option would be to live in an area for a few months, see how you feel and only then consider buying. There are a ton real estate companies on the island, but very few properties are sold exclusively by a single agent. You can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by checking out the latest properties for sale in Malta first and then choosing which agency to do viewings with.
Winter heating – it’s a thing!
OK, this may be a bit counter-intuitive, but bare with me for a second. Malta is known for having over 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures are often in double digits even when the rest of Europe is freezing cold.
Nevertheless, keeping warm in winter, which last only a couple of months really, can often be a problem. The nature of the paradox is that it’s a lot warmer outside than it is inside. Most apartments have huge open spaces, the buildings don’t have outside isolation, double glazed windows aren’t common and let’s not even mention central heating. Gas heaters (which can be quite smelly and unsafe) and air conditioning are the preferred solutions by most people.
The very least you can do is choose a place which gets a lot of sunshine and a layout that allows it to be heated.
Go with the flow and don’t try to change things
There are certain things in Malta that may drive a foreigner mad, especially in the beginning, but the sooner you realize that it’s better to go with the flow the faster you will start enjoying life on the island. Yes, rubbish bins in many areas are simply put on outside on the street and that can lead to a lot of mess and a terrible smell in Summer. Yes, bus drivers can be rude, but trust me they are a lot better than 20 years ago. Yes, it’s often who you know not how good you are at your job and yes, of course, foreigners can often be ripped off at the vegetable shop or when it comes to paying utility bills.
But on the grand scale of things, aren’t these just little quarks that are simply a part of Malta’s charm? Isn’t it better to enjoy the slow pace of life, eat a pastizzi and drink a pint of Cisk, while you hear yet another “Mela” 🙂
Life is to short to complain. Simply spend more time enjoying the immense beauty of this Mediterranean gem.