Securing accommodation in Malta is relatively straightforward and expats will likely find good-quality housing to suit their lifestyle and budget.
The stability of the real-estate sector is based on a number of factors, including local demand, the fact that there is limited space to build property in Malta, and a growing expat population. Expat investors capitalise on high-end property for the eventual returns, while pensioners are lured by lower property taxes and young professionals are attracted by reasonably-priced accommodation and work prospects.
Property prices in Malta are more affordable than major European capitals, but there are regional variations and restrictions on foreign property ownership, so many expats rent in Malta at first.
Types of accommodation in Malta
There are various kinds of accommodation in Malta, including apartments, villas, townhouses and maisonettes.
Maisonettes are similar to apartments but have a private entrance rather than the shared entrances typical of apartment blocks.
Maltese townhouses are divided between old and new. Older townhouses usually have several floors, are built from stone and have traditional features such as patterned tiles, wooden floors and stone arches. Newer townhouses, or terraced housing, have a more contemporary style
A distinctly Maltese type of housing is the house of character, usually found in rural areas or small villages. These typically have thick, unpainted stone walls, a central courtyard and sometimes even a well. Three- and four-bedroom houses are the norm and some houses of character date back to the 17th century. Supply is limited, although there are newer houses that replicate this traditional style with a modern twist.
Finding accommodation in Malta
Real-estate agents can be helpful to expats who are unfamiliar with the local market. Aside from taking their clients through the process of renting or buying property and presenting homes matching clients' specifications, some agents assist with setting up utility accounts such as electricity and internet access. The downside is that hiring an agent incurs a fee, usually equivalent to a percentage of the rental price. For expats with money to spare, though, this is the most convenient way of finding a new home in Malta.
Online property portals and local newspapers are other popular ways of finding accommodation in Malta, but listings can be outdated and don’t always give an accurate representation. Groups on social media are a useful source of current listings but available listings move fast.
Renting accommodation in Malta
Even though a lot of Malta's rental accommodation is short term and aimed at tourists, expats will have numerous options when it comes to renting property. Autumn and winter are the best times of year for house hunting as more accommodation is available. Also, prices are usually lower in the off season.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Most rental properties are furnished, so expats may have to make special arrangements if they want to bring in their own furniture. Overall, properties are well equipped but, especially when it comes to houses of character, their interiors may be somewhat dated.
Signing a lease
After finding and securing a property, the tenant and the landlord sign a tenancy agreement. This specifies how bills are to be paid, the duration of the lease and how far in advance notice has to be given before the agreement can be terminated. Long-term leases are usually between six and 12 months, with an option to renew at the end of the rental period.
Utility bills such as electricity and internet are not usually included in long-term rentals. This may take the form of a fixed price or can vary according to bills. We recommend expats ensure any fixed costs are listed in writing before they sign the tenancy agreement.
Deposits are usually equivalent to one or two months’ rent and are refunded at the end of the lease, with any damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear subtracted.
►For more on local living expenses, see Cost of Living in Malta
"You need to look carefully. Although these days there are newly built, modern blocks and beautifully renovated Maltese houses, there's still a huge gap between the quality and less liveable options. Mid-price range can still have surprises like mouldy walls, rotten pipes, faulty electrical systems, no heating alternatives and breezy window frames." Read more of Hungarian expat Marianna's advice about moving to Malta.
Are you an expat living in Malta?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Malta. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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