Being Maltese myself I’ve been living in Malta for the past 33 years of my life. Overall I feel that Malta is not the same Island as it used to be in the past. Although Malta offers a good work/life balance, and is also a place where you can meet loads of people from all over the world, the island has become increasingly chaotic, over constructed and filled with greedy landlords.
A brief history on Malta: in the recent years Malta has experienced an economic boom, although this in financial terms is great for the country’s GDP, this boom was of little or no benefit to the Maltese worker and repercussions can be felt on the Maltese population with increasing food prices and rents.
The Maltese government with the set up of the passport scheme, designed to attract investment and business from abroad (by attracting executives from abroad) although is a great way of creating investment for the country, has also lead to the escalation of prices of the Maltese real estate, and contributed the construction boom. The increased prices due to the increased demand in properties (especially from foreign investors) has made it nearly impossible for locals to consider buying a house or even a flat, resulting in most Maltese not being able to afford to buy their own property unless they are being paid very high salaries.
Are Maltese salaries good?
With regards to salaries, Malta is marketed in countries like India and the Philippines as being a great place to work in, however the reality is far from the truth. After having studied and university twice, both Pharmacy and Medicine professionals are paid a mediocre 24,000 euros per year (Yes Maltese salaries are low so low that most can’t keep up with the cost of living). In fact the annual gross salary before tax deductions in Malta is that of 20,000 euros with a gender difference of 3000 euros between men and women.
These salaries although may be good for a single person living on the island are surely not enough to sustain a family long term. Hence Malta unfortunately seems to be attracting cheap labor that work in one of the Islands main sectors being construction, catering and tourism. Most expats working currently in food delivery companies and taxi companies are recruited with promises of big buck and large pack checks, however the reality is shockingly different once they reach the island.
most basic jobs being paid around 750 – 900 euros per month or even less.
Low tax for companies
Is one of the reasons why online gambling companies set up base in Malta, hence the reason for Malta being classified as a tax haven is the lower tax rates. On the positive side Malta is also one of the countries that have managed to regulate gaming and also have set up a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency and blockchain mining, making Malta the “Blockchain Island”.
Personally online gambling is not something that interests me and in general, I don’t like the vibe that they have about them. I’m sure many Maltese would tend to disagree with me on this, but this is my view on the topic.
on a positive note, the gambling companies pay very well (approximately 26K + bonus for CS positions) and plus that they usually provide attractive offices and perks to their employees. This has also lead to the property prices in the Sliema and St Julian’s area to having risen to incredible levels. in addition to this a whole financial services sector has developed around these companies.
The problem here is that the island has become highly centered and dependent on these Igaming companies, while industries like Medicine, Biomedical industry and Pharmacy have become neglected.
The problem with this is that, if other countries were to offer better regulations and tax incentives, it is likely that many of these companies would leave the island seeking green pastures else where such as in Asia, due to the nature that these are highly volatile industries. The eventuality of them leaving would result in serious repercussions on property prices and the financial services industry and job sector as a whole.
Car Based Obsession of The Island
Other major problems with the country include the infrastructure (Roads, the way buildings are build, quality of the buildings), The traffic, the lack of green open spaces and the size. Malta being a small 30km long island including Gozo is a very small land mass that is surrounded by sea, this resulting in a limited space for development and expansion with obvious consequences.
The roads and traffic in Malta are a major issue where it becomes a significant challenge getting up and going to work as gridlocks happen on a daily basis. The problem with the island is that its very heavily car-centric with infrastructural projects although designed to ease traffic, actually promote increased usage of cars. other solutions such as a ferry and public transport are improving the system, but still needs better overall function and structure in order to ease the traffic congestion and pollution on the roads.
The excessive use of cars and motorbikes is resulting in a increase in pollution and respiratory disease and this is concerning with an ever growing aging population.
What are The Positives of Living in Malta?
Being a Pharmacist and a doctor myself I can state that Malta has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. With doctors being trained in the UK and having an affiliated training system to the UK, Maltese doctors and healthcare workers are open to the best source of guidelines and knowledge base.
Medical education is also offered free from EU/UK students at the University of Malta. With the opening of a new medical school in Gozo (the sister island of Malta) Queen’s Mary’s Barts Medical School which offers a British medical degree in the heart of the Mediterranean sea.
Malta is still a very good place for digital nomads to set up base in, especially with the creation of a Digital Nomad Visa. In comparison to other cities in Europe, Malta is affordable and has lower tax rates (however this depends on the area you rent in).
Co-working hubs such as the COCO HUB Malta provides an optimal space for digital nomads who opt for co-working. Malta has probably the best weather in Europe and allows one to enjoy an active lifestyle allowing outdoor activities like diving, kayaking or other forms of sports, or enjoying the odd glass of wine over some oven baked pizza by the sea at one of the great many restaurants it has to offer around the Harbour area, Marsaxlokk or Qawra and Bugibba.
Maltese people are usually friendly and accommodating and its not hard to make really good friends, Although sometimes they might be not as welcoming as expected, the one-off individual will always be found in any country you move to.
Being a Mediterranean island the food is similar to Greece, Italy and Spain, where the typical Maltese diet revolves around pizza, pasta, salads, and fish. However currently the cost of eating out at a restaurant has increased tremendously, and I personally being plant-based prefer home made meals to eating out, as the quality at times is just appallingly low.
Other Negatives of Living in Malta
As I have stated before Malta has changed dramatically, although economically it has grown, in my personal opinion it has grown in just a few industries, these being construction, Igaming and tourism sectors. Although these sectors are the main focus and are being backed for growth, other areas have been neglected such as the pharmaceutical or medical industries.
One of the major drawbacks of living on a small Island is the Size. Lets face it Malta is small, the land is limited and the competition for land is huge. This tends to over-inflate housing process, food prices and over all reduce the quality of life. Living within a small space can also make you feel isolated from Europe (unless you can afford to travel out every few weeks/months).
The population currently stands at 500,000, with the majority of the population estimated as aging. The youth education levels are not up to European standards, even if the education and University are free.
If you are single and ready to mingle, male or female, dating here can be a daunting task. Social media is not widely used by the locals (who are more traditional and tight nit in their family units) plus as the population is small and everyone seems to know each other its hard to actually find a date. With a strong construction Industry the majority of workers on the island are Men. So cat calling and harassment are not rare on the island.
Wages tend to be quite low, compared to other European cities. Ok If your coming here just to travel and work in catering, Igaming that’s fine. However professional struggle to find a decent paying job (If you have a PhD, MD, Lawyer ect..) and usually just leave the island once training is over to have a better income and quality of life.
Lets face it although Malta is marketed as being this idyllic island paradise, the harsh reality its not. Wages are not that great, it can be really crowded in summer, the prices have risen exponentially and the entertainment consists mainly of parties and restaurants.
Again this depends on what you are looking for, parties and sun for a few years with a low wage in a densely populated tiny island or a more open city, with more opportunities.
Whatever the choice is there is always going to be an opportunity cost.