The smallest country in the E.U., Malta is a small island country in Southern Europe. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the island is a scant 50 miles off of the southern coast of Italy. Currently, fewer than 450,000 people live on the island and most of the residents of Malta speak either Maltese or English. Historically, Malta was a naval base for armies varying from the British and French all the way back to the Moors and Romans. Today, Malta is a popular expat destination for people in search of mild weather, outstanding food, beautiful landscapes, and friendly neighbors.
The first thing you’ll need to do when you consider moving to Malta is to start the application process for a residence permit through the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs. This document is needed for any stay in Malta that exceeds three months. The list of needed documents and additional material will vary depending upon your unique situation and visa, so you’ll need to ensure that you have everything required for your particular application before you begin the process. Once you do start the process, you’ll need to submit your documentation in person. If all goes well and a residence card is issued, you’ll be notified via physical mail. At this point, you’ll need to go pick up your card and get on with your moving process. If you have any additional questions about applying for or receiving a residence card, consult the Malta Government website.
Once you’ve got your paperwork all squared away, you’ll want to get to work finding a property in Malta. While there are houses for sale on the island, most expats choose to rent due to factors like cost and availability. If you do decide to rent, you’ll need to keep these things in mind:
If you decide that you’d much rather purchase property in Malta, the process is slightly different, but not by much. As is true with the rental process, you’ll need to define your budget carefully to ensure you’re looking at properties in your price range. You’ll also need to start looking early since it can be difficult to find for-sale properties in Malta and the competition is fierce. If buying property in Malta is your dream, it’s important to enlist a qualified Malta real estate agent to guide you through the process and help educate you on things like neighborhoods and housing costs.
While there are many incredible places to live in Malta, these five top cities take the cake regarding quality of life, attractions, and beauty:
The capital city of Malta, Valletta has a population of just over 6,500 people. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta is named after the French Grandmaster, who organized Malta’s fight against the Ottoman Invasion back in the year 1565. Residents in Valletta will find plenty of things to love: in addition to stately Baroque architecture, Valletta also offers winding streets, peaceful gardens, and plenty of centuries-old attractions to stop and be awed by. The streets of this historic place are lined with cafes, bars, theaters, museums, and unique little shops. While real estate and rentals here are slightly more expensive than they are in other parts of the island. Valletta is a hub of commerce, industry, and creativity, so many expats choose to brave the prices and live in the midst of it all, anyway.
Located in the middle of Malta, Mdina is an ancient, fortified city that dates back to Medieval times. Surrounded by bastions and boasting ancient, narrow streets and historic architecture, Mdina is known as Malta’s “silent city,” thanks to the few cars on the road and the highly walkable alleys and walkways.
While only about 250 people are living within the walls of Mdina, the surrounding village of Rabat boasts roughly 11,000 residents who have come to the area for the relaxing, majestic feel it offers. First settled in the year 700 B.C.E., Mdina was home to the Phoenicians, who knew the area by the name “Maleth.” Located on the highest point of the island, Mdina is the ideal spot for expats who want a quiet pace of life, access to plenty of museums, world-class restaurants, and plenty of laid-back scenic beauty.
Located on the Northeastern coast of Malta, Sliema is one of the island’s busier cities. Known as a hub of commerce, shopping, art, and nightlife, Sliema is famous around the globe for its position on the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Although Sliema has historically been home to quiet and industrious fishing communities, today, it’s one of the most popular destinations on the island. Boasting breathtaking views, ample tourist attractions, ancient Victorian and Baroque architecture, and ample views of the blue sea, Sliema is a highly livable city with plenty to do. When they’re not shopping, dining, or dancing, residents of this glistening city love walking along the promenade or picnicking in the Independence Garden.
4. St. Julian’s
Known as San Giljan around the island, St. Julian’s is situated on the coast of Malta, just north a bit from the capital city of Valletta. One of the hippest, busiest cities on the island, St. Julian’s is where expats in pursuit of nightlife choose to set up shop. In addition to its buzzing nightlife, St. Julian’s also boasts some truly incredible architecture. Home to the single tallest building in all of Malta (The Portomasco Tower), St. Julian’s is home to roughly 8,000 people, although that population swells with tourists in the summer. Residents in this scenic little city enjoy taking long walks around the winding, narrow streets, dining al fresco at any of the picturesque cafes and swimming in the sea on warm, summer days. Real estate is relatively affordable here, and expats who are interested can easily find inexpensive apartments or villas to rent in this scenic area.
One of Malta’s most historic cities, Birgu was a critical player in the dramatic Siege of Malta, which took place in 1565. Today, pieces of this battle remain in the form of fortified walls that surround the city. A quiet town with plenty of picturesque cafes, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, Birgu has a long maritime heritage and is a fantastic place to live for expats who want to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Move here and you’ll find handsome villas, apartments, and plenty of homes to rent or buy. The perfect place for families, individuals, and professionals alike, Birgu promises a high quality of life and plenty of unique attractions.
One of the main draws of Malta is its sunshine. The island grosses approximately 300 sunny days each year and is right around 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout most of the year. While the weather may be cooler in the Northern parts of the country and warmer in the Southern areas, it stays relatively consistent and predictable throughout the year. In addition to its weather, Malta also offers a crisp blue sea that’s been hailed as the home to some of the Mediterranean’s best diving. Residents and visitors of the area can easily enjoy underwater views and sandy beaches all within the same day on this beautiful island.
One of the things that travelers and residents love so much about Malta is its food culture. Known around the world for its ample offering of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and delectable North African dishes, Malta has a rich and diverse food culture that sets it apart from other places in the E.U. Regardless of where you choose to set up shop on this island, it’s easy to find fresh dishes and beautiful, open-air cafes serving fresh catch-of-the-day dishes and a variety of seasonal offerings that mirror the availability of the island’s produce.
While there’s no doubt that Malta is a beautiful place with plenty to offer, it’s important to remember that there are pros and cons to the decision to live in this area. By knowing about each, you’re better equipped to make a wise decision and ensure that Malta is the place you actually want to be:
There are many things to love about Malta and residents who choose to make a new life on this beautiful island will enjoy a high quality of life, delicious food, beautiful scenery, ample outdoor attractions, historical treasures at every turn, and friendly communities. While Malta is the E.U.’s smallest country, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most robust and exciting. Regardless of whether you love to swim, sail, dine out, or view unique artwork, Malta has it all. Because of this, it’s one of the most popular destinations in all of Europe for expats from around the world. While putting everything to move to Malta may not be easy, it’s a rewarding process that can result in a lifetime of happiness, adventure, outdoor pursuits, beautiful locations, and close friends on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.