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 market relies on several factors, including demand, building space limitations in Malta, and a growing expat population. Expat investors capitalise on high-end properties for eventual returns, while pensioners often choose dwellings with lower property taxes, and young professionals prefer reasonably priced accommodation close to work prospects.
Property prices in Malta are more affordable than in major European capitals, but there are regional variations and restrictions on foreign property ownership, so many expats decide to rent initially.
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 either new or old. Older stone townhouses usually have numerous floors and have traditional features such as patterned tiles, wooden floors and stone arches. The new townhouses, or terraced housing, have a more contemporary style.
The house of character is a distinctly Maltese building. It is common in rural areas and 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, with some dating 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 for 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 real-estate agents charge a fee for these services, 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and community groups on social media are other popular ways of finding accommodation in Malta, but the listings may be outdated and don’t always give an accurate representation. Groups on social media are a great source of current listings, but the properties don’t stay on the market for long.
Renting accommodation in Malta
Even though plenty of Malta's rental accommodation is short-term and aimed at tourists, expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to renting residential property. The best time of the year to begin the house hunt is autumn and winter, as lower-priced accommodation is abundant 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 furniture. Overall, properties are well equipped, but some may have outdated interiors, especially the houses of character.
After finding and securing a property, the tenant and the landlord sign a tenancy agreement. The lease specifies the duration of the contract, the notice period and how bills will be separated and paid. 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 often not included in long-term rentals. This may take the form of a fixed price or can vary according to the monthly bills. We recommend expats ensure any fixed costs are listed in writing before they sign the tenancy agreement.
Deposits are typically equivalent to one or two months’ rent and are refundable 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 moldy 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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