If you are contemplating relocating abroad, Malta should be on your list.
Malta may be the smallest nation in Europe; this may even be the first time you hear about it. What it lacks in size, it makes up for by having one of the strongest economies, the lowest unemployment rates and one of the world’s best climates. Not to mention excellent schooling, superior healthcare and one of the safest environments in the world!
A few facts about Malta
It has been a republic since 1974;
The Mediterranean island has formed part of the EU since 2004;
Malta has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007; and
Malta is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, having formed part of the British colony.
Location of the Maltese Islands
Even centuries ago, Malta was a treasured part of many empires based on its geographical location. Malta has played a significant role in various sieges and wars throughout the ages. Situated in the heart of the mediterranean sea, just south of Sicily and north of the African coast, Malta is in an advantageous position. The Maltese archipelago is made up of three islands; the mainland Malta and small islands Gozo and Comino.
What is it like to live in Malta?
The great thing about Malta is that it appeals to most people; whether you are a history and culture buff, sun and sea worshipper, or a frequent party-goer. There is something for everyone.
The small island has a rich and diverse history dating back over 7,000 years. In fact, you can see evidence of different civilisations scattered around the island, adding to its fusion of architecture.
The scenes around Malta are equally as distinct. On one island you will find harbours, sandy beaches, rocky bays, coves, cliffs, green hills, juxtaposed with cosmopolitan cities and rural villages. A benefit of living on a small island is the proximity to everything, gone are the long commutes to work.
Averaging more than 300 days a year of sunshine, Malta sounds like an idyllic place to relocate. Besides the pleasant climate, the Maltese are amiable and hospitable, and it’s relatively easy to settle and socialise. Since English is one of the national languages, the majority of the locals are very fluent in it.
Malta is considered to have a high-quality of life, and this can be seen in the level of free healthcare which is offered to residents. The system has been ranked in the top 5 in the world by the World Health Organisation. Malta also ranked as the second safest country in the world according to the World Risk Report published this year- the island has one of the lowest crime rates across the globe.
Cost of Living in Malta
When compared to other European nations, Malta offers a comfortable standard of living at an affordable price.
You can live comfortably and maintain an active social life on a budget of €1,800-2,000 per month. You can get by on less, of course, it all depends on your lifestyle.
Fresh local produce is on the cheaper side, and you can also find fresh meat, fish and dairy for reasonable prices. Foods which are imported are on the more pricey side. On average you will spend an additional €400 euros per month on food and drinks.
If you enjoy going out to restaurants, there are plenty across the island that caters to any budget. The local eateries will cost you €10-15 per person; the moderate bistros might add up to €25-30 per person and higher-end gourmet style meals that can range from €60-80 per person.
Besides rent and food, another cost which you need to consider in your budget is utilities. You can expect to spend between €100-150 per month on electricity, water, internet and mobile tariffs. This being said, in Malta, you are not obliged to pay any property taxes for things like infrastructure or sewer maintenance etc.
The transportation costs on the island are quite cheap and cover the whole country. A one-way ticket costs €1.50 and monthly pass costs around €26. Taxis are also on the cheaper side, with a base rate starting at €9, then adding around €2 per kilometre.
The most significant variable in your budget will be the renting of a property. If you are interested in staying in one of the more desired locations such as Valletta, Sliema or St.Julians, you can expect to pay about €1000-1200 per month. This budget will allow you to live in a comfortable, mid-range apartment. Other areas of Malta and Gozo offer lower rental prices.
If you are residing in Malta under a residency permit or a work permit, or if you are self-employed, you will be obliged to obtain private health insurance. Health insurance could cost anywhere between €60-100 per month, depending on whether it is for one individual or a family.
For prices for all the essentials to live in Malta, read the detailed list here.
Education in Malta
If you are relocating to a new country with your family, the change might prove to be a challenging one, especially when it concerns your children. The right school can ease the process of settling down, which is why it is essential to be aware of all the options available to you.
The Maltese educational system has garnered an excellent reputation and follows the British curriculum. A vast array of subjects are available to the students to choose from, and attendance is mandatory until the age of 16.
There are 3 categories in which schools are divided. These include:
The educational follows this structure:
Pre-primary (ages 3-5)
Primary (ages 5-11)
Secondary (ages 11-18)
Tertiary (ages 18 and over)
State Schools in Malta
In Malta, all children between the ages of 5 and 16 have the right to free education. The state schools in Malta are free of cost, furthermore all school materials, books and transport are free of charge too. The only thing parents are required to take care of is the purchase of the school uniform.
Citizens of non-EU countries are obliged to pay fees for all State Educational Institutions and need to register for all levels of schooling at the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) located in Floriana.
Church Schools in Malta
Although they are separate from State schools, they are still regulated by the Ministry of Education and provide schooling from pre-primary to upper secondary level.
Church schools in Malta form part of the Catholic Church and therefore do not charge any fees for attending. Parents, however, are asked to put forward a donation to help the school cover its costs. Also, all school supplies and uniforms are to be purchased by the parents.
International and Private Schools in Malta
Similar to the other types of schooling, the Education Ministry also manages independent schools. There are several international and private schools which cater specifically to the needs of expats and make it a smoother transition for the child. All costs, which include school supplies, uniform, transportation and school fees, are to be entirely subsidised by the parents.
For a list of all the independent schools in Malta, click here.
Specialist Schools in Malta
Malta also offers the option of schools for children with special needs. These specialist schools are fully equipped with all the resources a specially-abled child would need to advance and learn. Such schools employ teachers who are specially trained to aid children with special needs.
Exemptions from Fees at State Educational Institutions
If you are a citizen of a non-EU country, then you are eligible to apply for exemptions, which are available through an application process. This exemption policy applies to fees payable at several educational institutions.
To be eligible;
The applicant is a third-country national who has obtained a long-term residence permit or EU Blue Card;
The applicant is a ‘family member’ of a third-country national who has obtained a long-term residence permit or EU Blue Card and is entitled to equal access to education as Maltese nationals under the Family Reunification Regulations (LN 150 of 2007).
Healthcare System in Malta
Malta is renowned for its healthcare services. The island’s healthcare system is continually ranked among the top 5 in the world by the World Health Organisation.
Both public and private hospitals are of the highest standards, fully equipped with the latest technology and supported by a network of health centres all over the islands.
Public and Private Healthcare System in Malta
Malta is home to one of the largest medical sites in Europe, Mater Dei Hospital. The hospital is managed and run by the Government of Malta and is the main hospital on the islands. The services offered covers both standard and specialised procedures and are free of charge via a doctor’s referral note or through the emergency departments.
St.Luke is the second hospital in Malta, supplying a full range of treatments including transplants, open heart operation and psychiatric therapy where needed. Other public hospitals on the island include Paul Boffa Hospital, St.Vincent de Paule Hospital and the Gozo General Hospital.
The Maltese public healthcare, which includes all kinds of treatments, ranging from surgery and rehabilitation to pregnancy and childbirth, is funded through taxation. The network of health centres spread across Malta provides primary healthcare services to the Maltese. These health care centres combine an array of practices which are available to the public. Some of which include; gynaecology, diabetes, ophthalmology, psychiatry, podiatry, speech therapy, antenatal and postnatal clinics.
Maltese Healthcare for Foreigners Moving to Malta
All residents, whether Maltese or foreign, are required to contribute to National Insurance (NI) towards the Social Security Fund. NI amounts to about 10% of your gross salary, both for employed and self-employed individuals.
Any person who is travelling to Malta as an EU citizen is entitled to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC gives them access to medical attention from public clinics and hospitals free of charge.
In the case of non-EU nationals travelling to Malta, they are required to obtain insurance that covers medical treatments oversea. It is vital to ensure that it also covers medical evacuations. Sufficient international insurance will protect you against:
Medical costs in the home country;
Medical expenses in Malta; and
Medical Evacuation costs.
It is always wise to acquire the proper insurance, even as a preventative measure, to avoid paying thousands of euros.
If you are interested in living in Europe, Malta is an island full of opportunity. Some of the benefits we’ve outlined in this article, such as access to excellent healthcare and education, freedom to travel, and sunshine to name a few, merely scratch the surface.
Over the years, Malta has attracted a lot of international investment through its tax-efficient system and has proven to be popular, especially among the Northern Europeans.
The lower costs of living and a higher quality of life are two factors which draw more and more people to live in Malta.