Malta's breathtaking island landscapes, centuries-old architecture and quality of life have lured many an expat to the country's sunny shores – whether to find work or spend their retirement lounging on the beach.
Living in Malta as an expat
Located south of Italy, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, Malta holds a strategic position between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The island has been the source of contention among many countries, and was even occupied multiple times by powerful nations such as Ancient Greece and the British Empire.
Due to Malta's rich history, the country is a wonderland for arts and culture lovers, with plenty of fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, such as the island’s capital city of Valletta, founded by the Knights Hospitaller in 1566. Another must-see is the underground chambers of the Hypogeum, which date back to 3000 BC.
Along with Maltese, English is the official language of Malta, and 90 percent of the population is fluent in the language, while many locals also speak Italian. As an EU state, Malta allows EU citizens to live and work in the country on an Ordinary Residence Permit, which is renewable yearly.
On the other hand, non-EU citizens will only be eligible for a work permit if they have specialised skills and a job offer. The manufacturing, tourism, film, online gaming and financial services sectors are some of the country’s biggest employers.
Cost of living in Malta
The cost of living in Malta is relatively affordable compared to other European countries. Accommodation outside the city centres is reasonably priced, though this is changing owing to Malta’s growing expat population. Education will likely be the highest expense expat parents will face, as international schools can be quite steep. Fortunately, groceries and dining out are fairly inexpensive, provided expats stick with local products.
Expat families and children in Malta
Malta is an ideal destination for raising children. The island’s small-town feel combined with its strong family values and the plethora of excellent healthcare and schooling options makes it perfect for expat families.
The island country offers free public education for all children between the ages of six and 16. Most state schools teach in Maltese, while the independent and church schools offer English-language instruction at a lower cost than international schools. Though, international schools can be a great option for expat parents who want their children to continue in their home country’s curriculum or learn a global syllabus such as the International Baccalaureate.
There is also plenty for expat families with children to do in their leisure time. Thanks to the island country’s abundance of picturesque green spaces and convenient access to the Pacific Ocean, sports and outdoor activities are sure to become expats' favourite pastimes. There are also plenty of historical sites, aquariums and museums to explore.
Climate in Malta
Malta is blessed with warm weather all year round. Its Mediterranean climate ensures that summers are hot and dry, while winter is mild with little rainfall. Perhaps, the only downside to Malta’s weather is the Scirocco winds that may bring unseasonably hot temperatures during the summer months.
With so much to love about Malta, many expats end up staying far longer than they intended. The relaxed lifestyle, rich culture and friendly locals make for a pleasant and laid-back life.
Population: Around 533,300
Capital city: Valletta
Neighbouring countries: Malta is an island nation and shares no physical borders with any other country, but is located south of the Italian island of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya.
Geography: Malta is an archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea. There are three inhabited islands: the main island of Malta, and the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino.
Political system: Unitary constitutional parliamentary republic
Major religion: Roman Catholicism
Main languages: Maltese and English
Currency: The currency of Malta is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. It is relatively easy for expats to open a bank account in Malta, though there is a fair amount of bureaucracy involved.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Malta. Between 5 and 10 percent is common if a service charge isn't already included.
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.
Internet domain: .mt
International dialling code: +356
Emergency contacts: 112
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Malta has an established transport network consisting of buses.
►Find out about daily life on the island by reading Culture Shock in Malta
"I enjoy being on the seaside, the rocky wild landscapes, hidden nature spots and the mild climate. People are friendly, and they're used to living with lots of foreigners. The island is small enough to have everything easily accessible yet large enough not to feel claustrophobic. There's space to move around and new things to discover, even after living here for the third time and nearly six years in all."
Read all about Hungarian expat Marianna's expat experiences in 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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