considering Malta? here's my honest recap after 5+ years

Every experience is different of course, but after 5+ years and knowing a lot of expats from all over the world this is what you have to expect:

- expect racism if you're from Scandinavia or look Scandinavian. The locals tend to blame rising costs on Scandinavians. I have dark hair and don't look Scandinavian so I usually just hear the rants instead, but it is a truth you'll have to deal with

- expect racism if you have darker skin. Despite African refugees doing all the 'dirty work' the Maltese are (no offence) too lazy to do, there is a lot of racism towards people of color. Especially on busses. Busses might not stop for you, drivers will refuse to give change,.. I've seen it over and over again and sent a lot of complaints to public transport Malta.

- don't expect public transport to be even close to European standards. It has somewhat improved and they now have an app, but that doesn't mean that busses will break down, or be so packed that they don't stop. If you're outside of St Julians and Sliema you WILL have problems with busses at some point. Busses will be disgusting and shabby and you will have to rub against tourists in straw fedoras.

- it's dirty. Unfortunately the locals (and some of the low budget tourists attracted by low budget prices) have no regard for environment protection. There is rubbish everywhere. And as bad as it sounds, usually it's a handful of dedicated expats who do the cleaning up of beaches and such. There are frequently 'scandals' such as government workers pouring left over paint into the ocean and such.

- driving is THE WORST. unless you live close to work or have thick skin when it comes to public transport, you WILL NEED a car. Not only are the cars you get here usually beat up (by bad roads and 'misuse'), the drivers are borderline insane. It's also in the newspaper and if you follow the news or police reports you will be alarmed - and rightfully so - by the amount of car accidents in this county. I've heard that 1/3 of the people drive without a licence and I wouldn't be surprised if that's true. Traffic is war in Malta. Don't be surprised by head on collisions in blind bends, cars driving without lights at night, cars completely ignoring road markings or cars not able to stay within their own tracks. It has gotten better and the government is working hard on getting some order into it, but there are still no alcohol tests and especially on weekends there will be A LOT of drunk drivers. The police is not doing checks and even in drivers schools they tell you 'don't drink TOO MUCH' and not 'don't drink. period'.

- bicycle? forget it unless you have suicidal tendencies

- unless you have AC it will be hot and humid in summer. if you have AC make sure you don't overpay on bills. I've been paying for 'commercial' instead of 'residential' for years which tripled the cost.

- it will be cold and wet in winter. Your laundry will not dry and you will feel it in your bones, unless you get a gas heater (safety risk) or electric heater (see info about bills above). It will never be as cosy as it is with central heating as all the apartments are build to keep the heat out. That includes winter. In winter it's usually warmer outside than inside. I frequently have 12C inside when it's 17C outside.

- rain, when it rain it pours and the streets will be flooded. A lot has improved with canals and such, but still be prepared to drive trough puddles as deep as 1/2m

- customer service. Again, a lot has improved and I'm embarrassed to admit, it's probably in part due to all the non-maltese staff most supermarkets has hired. It's still far from what most people will be used to from central Europe, UK or USA. The incapability to consider those around you that causes a lot of traffic jams also translates in the way shopping carts are being used. Cashiers usually don't know what do do with the change if you give them 10:37 for a 7:37 bill and it happens quite often that you first get 2:63 and then your 37cent back instead if 3eur. Service is also very slow and usually not that customer centric. No one will rush to help you or show a lot of interest in your questions. It mostly borders being rude 'call again, come back again,..'. If you send an email, don't be surprised to only get a 'call me' or no answer at all.

- receiving packages. If you're lucky you live near a post office that opens more than one counter. They will still make 2 delivery attempts first, so it can drag on until you receive your parcels. Pro tip: order it to work and save yourself A LOT OF hassle, because going to the post office can take a lot of time. Especially older Maltese are paying all their bills in cash. It usually takes me 40min to queue up at the post office. Cash and cheques are still big here.

- entertainment: this is where it depends on what you are into. If you're into EDM, Ibiza DJ club stuff you'll probably be happy here. If you're into anything else you might get 'cabin fever'. I know a lot of people including myself who have to get out at least once a month. It is a small island with a very limited choice of entertainment, non of which is 'urban'. If you come here to retire: all good. There is nothing going on here. It's perfect for you.

- noise. The locals are loud. VERY loud. They talk loud and they are incapable of whispering, which is a lot of fun (sarcasm) if you go to the cinema here (fun fact: there is an intermission after 1h to get more pastizzi). Apart from that there are the festas... Malta will sound like a war zone, basically all summer long. From 8am onwards until midnight expect fireworks (during day time) and ear deafening explosions . Another side effect is that they block the streets for that. Ever so often it's the main streets causing a lot of chaos.

- hunters. whenever there are no fireworks or explosions from festas you probably hear gun shots because in the name of tradition they shot everything they can find and if you go for a walk in the countryside don't be surprise to find the floor littered with empty shells. if you're lucky you might also have the nice experience of meeting a redneck with a shotgun in his hand yelling at you for whatever reason. There's a lot of back and forth between hunters and..basically 'sane people'. Not a week passes in which they are not violating EU regulations and shoot endangered birds openly opposing the government. Why you ask..that's part of the next point:

- nepotism. A lot of people are related and/or politely involved making it impossible for Malta to function properly. If you know the right people you can get away with everything. Not going into details but lets say I can speak from first hand experience with a politician. In the wake of the Daphne incident the following statement made by a Maltese co-worker leaves a bitter aftertaste: 'forget the police, they can't do nothing. In Malta you have to take justice in your own hands'.

- construction. Malta is now making the same mistakes Italy and Spain did 20 years ago and learned from it. The bubble will burst at some point.

- - -
That sounds all very negative but it's just a warning. There are a lot of positive things as well of course, such as the weather which is usually nice. The locals are generally very friendly and helpful and it's still fairly cheap.
One last thing. The Maltese have basically a 2 class system. The educated elite and the less educated blue collar class. It's usually very evident by the way they talk or dress. I don't wanna go into detail but think of it as a culture clash between yuppies in suits and red necks in pick ups.

Winters here are not cold and wet compared to other countries, even in winter we do not wear thick coats, hats and scarves and as for drying washing mine dries perfectly in winter. 
The bus service here on Gozo is very good and reliable and the app usually works.
When we first moved here we did think the locals were having arguments and not a conversation,although Gozitons are quieter then the Maltese generally.

GozoMo :

Winters here are not cold and wet compared to other countries, even in winter we do not wear thick coats, hats and scarves and as for drying washing mine dries perfectly in winter. 
The bus service here on Gozo is very good and reliable and the app usually works.
When we first moved here we did think the locals were having arguments and not a conversation,although Gozitons are quieter then the Maltese generally.

I must confess that I do need a jacket and scarf indoors sometimes during the winter ( no AC in all rooms  :D ).

Our yard is not blessed with a good airflow so glad we have a tumble dryer, costs a bit to run though.
The apartment does however have a good airflow due to poor fitting / quality windows and doors.  Not good in  the winter.

I would agree on the buses, better condition than Malta ones and usually on time. I do use the app but anything that requires a GPS hasn't worked on any phone I've had + the service updates are poor, there's no need to show route changes for dates that are past. Maybe I'm being picky.

The OP does make a lot of valid points which I'm sure that given enough time they will be addressed.

Scareglow is right on all counts except for the proportion of unlicensed drivers, which he is drastically overestimating.

I agree with most of what's been said above.

A few comments I'd like to add:

I personally don't find driving in Malta that bad - I mean, there are lots of bad drivers, but it's not war... I'd say it's the same as in southern Italy.

Winters are not that bad, either. If you use a dehumidifier you'll feel less cold inside. I used to live in a poorly insulated home without central heating in Austria and trust me, when it's -10  outside it really gets cold... A dehumidifier also solves the problem of drying your washing. And an electric blanket to warm the bed before you go to sleep is nice, too :)

Oh, and one more thing: I've heard quite a few people complain about how expensive it is to heat your place in Malta, without central heating... In our place here in Austria we do have central heating, but we actually pay more than € 60 for it EVERY MONTH (also in summer, when the heating is switched off), that is more than € 700 / year! And that's since our place was insulated a few years ago - before that our annual bill for central heating was more than € 1200. Considering that there are max 3 really cold months in Malta, and even then it's not that cold, I believe heating is not such a big issue (financially)...

My house is fully double glazed and all that but it is a HOC and airy etc. Underfloor heating for kitchen and lounge can run to 1k for 3 months.

So yeah it’s expensive - I did though pay more on gas in the UK in winter. Doesn’t help that I work from home so we don’t have the luxury of running these things half day only.

Still though compared to the UK:

- no council tax (200/month)
- less tax in general - esp if you are a business owner etc
- less driving so less petrol
- cheaper insurance
- cheaper parking (street parking in London cost me 500/year)
- cheaper parking (12/day at the station, 50/night in London to go out)
- free day care for the kid (1200 / month in London)
- freeish schools
- free university (they pay you to go even)
- cheaper eating out than London
- cheaper entertainment in general
- cheap private schools. Even the most expensive is a steal compared to London
- cheaper business services. Accountants etc
- cheaper rent by a lot
- cheaper to buy a house
- cheaper cleaners, nannies, builders, etc
- free rubbish removal
- cheaper to be at a office as lunches are less and commuting cheaper - London to just be at a office can easily cost > 500 a month.

You can go on for a very long time and list the savings - different for everyone but for me who kept the exact same income here as in the UK (100% remote self employed) and with a more lavish lifestyle here we still manage to spend 4K less a month than we did in the UK and there we didn’t even have a kid yet.

So bash it all you want but know it’s not all negative.

And yes it’s by no means perfect and many of the complaints are totally legit. I have been a long term expat and have spent significant amount of time in many countries - months each in 15+ - and on average here is as anywhere.

Being an expat in the UK is no different from here. Integration is tough, people - now - are incredibly xenophobic, they treat foreigners as 2nd class people (who does all the dirty cheap terrible manual labour there?) etc. It’s no walk in the park. It’s a good life and all and I naturalised and became British but for expats it’s jot a good place anymore. Many are leaving of my friends because of this.

So when you look at countries if you have an option to go back to your home country - and the implied family support structure etc - it’s oncredibly hard to be positive about anywhere. Committed long term expats though see things very differently. We do not have a home country as such and our attitudes are much more toward making the best of a place.

People seem to think nothing can be done about the issues - lots can be done for yourself though: gtf out of sliema/st Julian’s/gzira/mosta/little England up north and live somewhere quieter with fields around, enjoy better air and better people and less building, less noise, more nature and much nicer locals.

volcane :

My house is fully double glazed and all that but it is a HOC and airy etc. Underfloor heating for kitchen and lounge can run to 1k for 3 months.

You can go on for a very long time and list the savings - different for everyone but for me who kept the exact same income here as in the UK (100% remote self employed) and with a more lavish lifestyle here we still manage to spend 4K less a month than we did in the UK and there we didn’t even have a kid yet.



So bash it all you want but know it’s not all negative.

snipped a lot.

People seem to think nothing can be done about the issues - lots can be done for yourself though: gtf out of sliema/st Julian’s/gzira/mosta/little England up north and live somewhere quieter with fields around, enjoy better air and better people and less building, less noise, more nature and much nicer locals.

Just for comparison at the other end of the financial spectrum.

UK  / Gozo per month
rent         0 / 400   * state paid rent.
elec water        0 / 50    * inc in rent
Council tax    0 / 0    * paid by state
car insurance    150 /226
car tax        0 / 282
parking        0 / 0
eating out        0 / 0
Buses        0 / 2    * free pass
income        £920 / €1200 but depends on exch rate.

Lived in Dartmoor national park. no quieter place.

Why did I move here?  I don't know....
maybe weather?

That was well written and I agree on all points.

Hi scareglow,

I read your very negative  posting... completely unnecessary. If you don’t have anything nice to say about Malta, then don’t...
if things were so much better in your home country , then why are you still here?

andrew_zzzzz :

Hi scareglow,

I read your very negative  posting... completely unnecessary. If you don’t have anything nice to say about Malta, then don’t...
if things were so much better in your home country , then why are you still here?

the above post - I trust we all heard this in one variant or another
personal favorite - "you foreigners are cause for everything bad here, go home"

luckily people who are "sending" us home are in minority

on a personal note - all my local friends are great people

andrew_zzzzz :

Hi scareglow,
If you don’t have anything nice to say about Malta, then don’t...

so much for you reading posting:

scareglow :

There are a lot of positive things as well of course, such as the weather which is usually nice. The locals are generally very friendly and helpful and it's still fairly cheap.

why don't you write constructive post and explain which part of his negative things you don't agree and why, I personally agree with most of the stuff he wrote

New topic