Malta Inside Out


Retire to Malta: Expat insights


From the 1960s onwards, Malta has attracted retirees – British mostly but some other northern Europeans too – on account of its enticing combination of sun, proximity to ‘back home’, and its dual official language, English. Now, far fewer British retirees here have old army, navy, air force service links to the Islands, but Malta is still on the A list of expat destinations; something that’s been internationally recognised. We catch up with one retiree who’s been here just over five years, to find out whether the islands live up to expectations about social life, living costs and more.

Retired expat senior walking the Sliema front

Reflecting on the retirement move to Malta?

Q. What factors were uppermost in your mind when choosing a country to retire to and did Malta check the boxes?

First and foremost, we wanted a country that had warm winters and an abundance of sunshine. It also had to be within a few hours’ flying time from the UK as we have family there and do not want to be too far away from them. Also, at the time, the cost of living was lower; sadly now it has virtually caught up with Britain.

On the practical side we considered, but didn’t look into too deeply – France, (where we’d previously had a little holiday home), Cyprus, Madeira and Gibraltar, but not Spain (too many Brits!). At the time, most of those places were more expensive I think.

Q. Did you know much about Malta beforehand?

We came twice before, the first time accidentally in a way, having been booked to go to a country that then had political upheaval, so came to Malta instead. We returned for another holiday and then once more to seriously look for a place to settle in.

Q. Was the move hassle free? Did you face any specific problems in your early days here?

The move was relatively hassle free; we drove our car down and had our belongings shipped over. However, to be domociled here we obviously had to sort out relevant paperwork and were sent from pillar to post for that. We were also told incorrectly that UK TVs do not work here, when they obviously do and no one mentioned the astronomical car registration tax levied at that time, when importing one’s own vehicle.

Q. As a British couple, people would expect you to have few cultural issues moving here (language not being a barrier and so on), but did you feel that there was a culture shock all the same?

We didn’t experience too much of a culture shock apart from the island looking like one big building site at times, but there were certain “annoyances” i.e. many abrupt unsmiling shop assistants who really don’t seem to care about serving you, appalling quality of driving and very little courtesy on the pavements – you have to risk life and limb in the road to get by, that is if you haven’t tripped up on the uneven paving slabs first! There is also the constant beeping of horns and petards on festa days – but that’s another story!

Q. What’s the social scene like for expat retirees? What are your top leisure and lifestyle interests here?

We joined the British Residents’ Association. It has monthly coffee mornings with a guest speaker, as well as luncheons and outings for anyone who wants to participate. We also like to walk in the countryside as often as we can. The wildflowers in spring are a joy to see. We like to meet up with friends from time to time in the cafes too.

Q. Do you have Maltese friends or do you tend to spend more time with fellow expats?

We don’t spend much time with fellow expats and probably have a few more Maltese friends than English, but it is a mix of both really.

Q. Looking back, do you feel satisfied with your move here? Has it worked out as you expected?

We’ve been here five and a half years now and it is generally as expected. My husband was in his late fifties and I was in my early sixties when we moved here. We came from Dorset, near the New Forest,a very pretty part of the UK. Malta is very untidy with rubbish everywhere, it’s true, but after 17 years in Dorset we got itchy feet! We have occasionally thought of moving elsewhere but are still here….at least for now!

Q. What advice would you give prospective expat retirees considering Malta?

Don’t rush into it and preferably rent a place for the first six months till you find where you want to settle. No country is perfect and on the whole we would recommend Malta. It is still relatively safe and more laid back than Britain and because of the better weather people lead a more outdoor life.

Q. How do you find Malta’s health care?
We were rather surprised that the doctors seem to have a very small consulting room attached to a pharmacy, but on the plus side our doctor gives us a lot more time than the conveyor belt mentality they seem to have now in English surgeries, but we may just be lucky with our GP on that score.

An appointment to see a consultant at Mater Dei was 17 months away, which forces one to pay to go privately. I also developed asthma after coming to Malta, which may have been coming before but certainly wasn’t helped by the building dust and constant exhaust fumes from the far too many cars on this small island.

Q. And what about Malta’s famed climate?

We do find the winters chilly especially in the old houses which get very cold and damp not having central heating, and July and August are too hot and humid. We may find it gets too much as we get older. We try and escape at least one of those summer months and go back to the UK for a while. And we do try to take a holiday somewhere else in the world once a year too.

Editor’s note: we didn’t give the interviewee’s name to respect her wishes for privacy.
Photo: Courtesy Gege Gatt

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67 Comments about “Retire to Malta: Expat insights”

  1. Thanks for this article, it has definitely enlightened a few issues! I was actually considering moving there but mhhh, I’d rather be in a cold central european country with cleaner streets and friendlier shop keepers!

  2. I really don’t believe most of what I have read! Yes the pavements are a bit dodgy and car horns blowing etc. BUT THIS ISN’T THE NEW FOREST! Unless one is prepared to integrate unto a new society then DON’T COME! We have been here 12 months now and love every minute – yes its different – but we weren’t going from the UK to land in the UK! The Maltese people have given us so much love and consideration it humbles me because I was never offered that in the country of my birth! AND its not filthy at all! I don’t know where this woman is living but it certainly isn’t near me with street cleaners coming around all the time, rubbish collected etc. etcl etcl Its a shame that someone would decry this country so much – if you don’t like it Missis you know what to do!!!!!! I will NOT have anyone moan about this beautiful place AT ALL!!!!

  3. @ladysteph,
    Actually, I know the author and she enjoys Malta and has a good lifestyle here. She is the last person to complain; in fact, I thought her article very measured and positive to Malta; one can have the odd gripe about the place, let’s be fair. I am an expat myself and have been here 17 years – well beyond the period when I am ever likely to compare Malta to my original homeland. But, when one lives here, pays for services, tries to get things done etc, one should expect to get value for money, service for money and so on. I am glad that so far, you’ve always come across the very best of both and had an amazing reception. But it’s not the case for everyone, nor everyone all the time. Living permanently in a new country, rather than being on holiday in it, always brings a learning curve. Each will have his own experience. Since I’ve been out of the UK so long now, perhaps I might suggest it’s not that Malta has become outstanding all round in its service or cleanliness (though it’s definitely improved a great deal in my 17 years here), but Britain which has got worse. Hence your comparison will be different from more longer time expats. I am old enough now to realise there’s no promised land, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expect to be able to push for improvements in Malta – especially as a tax payer. The same would go for any country I’d live and work in. It’s your opinion not to ‘moan’ about Malta, but then in time, you might. A lot of expats however ‘in love’ with Malta do get ‘island fever‘ and yearn for larger spaces and variety, choice and anonymity, or whatever. It’s all relative.

  4. I am dual national (UK, Maltese) My husband & I have owned a house in Rabat for a number of years. My husband wants us to retire there but for me no way. I have been going to Malta since a child and have always seen animal cruelty. Please don’t come back with, well it goes on in the UK to. A well known English magazine called, Horse and Hound, covered a story regarding the Malta horses. They high lighted how badly they are treated. I see it every time I go, they are left standing in the hot sun for many hours without food or water. They are forced to clip clop for tourist that want a ride on slippery hot roads in really hot temperatures. On my last stay, I saw an owner whipping his horse to make it stand where he wanted it too. The horse was clearly in pain and was frightened. I told the owner what I thought of him and flagged down the Police. They expressed they cause problems all the time with the horses.
    These are often old horses that shouldn’t be working in these conditions. Once these owners have no further use they end up as horse meat, yuck. Whilst there this time, I saw another tourist write an article at how upset she was at the conditions of these horses. She expressed she will not return to Malta and hope things change. I saw a trotter being run so much that it nearly collapsed whilst many Maltese past by with out a care in the world. I saw a pig going to slaughter fall of the back of the lorry and left in the road to be hit by motorist. I then saw it being dragged by it’s disabled leg from the fall over a sharp wall. I called to have it put down it took 8 hours for the vet to turn up whilst this animal was suffering. I rescued a dog from Malta because it was thrown out and was being ill treated and was under threat of poisoning. My Neighbour keeps a dog in his yard. His ears are matted, he greets his owner with no love returned, just the door being shut in his face. He walks the yard never taken on a walk, showing clear signs of neglect with his repeated movements. The list is endless, do I want to be apart of that NO NO NO!!!!!! Instead of banging on how lovely Malta is, open your eyes to things that really matter.

  5. Angela, I can understand where you’re coming from here. I’ve lived here 17+ years and these issues are ones that resurface with depressing regularity – treatment of horses is one the most visible ills here, but then there’s that huge public outcry of the shot and buried alive dog, Pearl. A single case that highlighted some, just some, of what goes on behind the glossy scenes far from the lens of the holidaymaker. We’ve had comments from people who won’t holiday here because of the irresponsible and illegal bird hunting that is still rife. Of course, as you note, there are those who say it happens in the UK (I recently read of a case in Wales where a couple was prosecuted for keeping a menagerie of animals, pony included, in complete dark in a farmhouse basement in atrocious conditions. Sadly, animal cruelty abounds worldwide. But some countries are more able and equipped to seek it out and prosecute.

    I wouldn’t say that you’d be condoning it by living here; on the contrary, one could argue that by living here you could join forces with the activists drawing attention to the issues – be part of the vociferous campaign and work that goes on to try and stamp animal cruelty out. That might be one way to see it. I can understand that you might also feel that it’s just a simple case of going against your conscience to live here though because of your views. There is no promised land. But if you live here, I still think voices like yours could be a force for good and reason, rather than, as you say, being ‘ part of it’. Believe me, there is a large number of people here who feel as you do, but hope to work on the issues from within society. It’s not an easy choice, I know, to draw a line and take a stand, live here or not… over to you… on that one.

  6. […] has changed dramatically in recent years.  While it’s still the case that a good number of expats are retirees, coming for a warmer climate in their seasoned years, the Islands are seeing younger expats arrive, […]

  7. […] main concern for those not overly cash rich or thinking of just retiring here is the availability of jobs. It’s a concern too for locals who wish to specialise in certain […]

  8. Im dual Maltese/UK citizenship. And being Maltese i would say that Matlta is a good place to visit but its not a very good place to live. Here are the reasons.
    Jobs- Malta is limited
    Healthcare- Its alright,but a bit lacklustre compared to the NHS
    Roads- Awful roads in Malta
    Entertainment- A bit faded in Malta
    Cleaniless- Yeah Malta is filthy,compared to where i am (Shanklin in the Isle of Wight) its filthy

  9. Hi,
    Could i just ask for some honest advice please?
    I am a regular visitor to Malta for the past 7 years, often visiting 2-3 times a year and i have my heart set on relocating there, hopefully in the next 12-18 months. I would be relocating alone (well, with my labrador dog )
    I would need to look for work that pays enough for me to rent a half decent property (and will also allow for my dog). I currently manage 2 designer clothes shops and have over 25 years retail experience (the last 10 on a managerial level)
    i just want to know how realistic i am being on this actually happening for me? Although i will have family and friends visiting me quite often, and i do have 2 or 3 maltese friends on the island, i do worry how easy it will be to make other friends?
    I would like to buy a small car when im there also, is it expensive to buy a decent small second hand one?
    I would be very grateful for any advice any of you can give me, thank you!

  10. I am new to Malta and presently renting as the apartment I have bought is yet to be completed despite the origibal completion date being 30 September. I am finding the delay – completion set for 30 November hopefully – very difficult as coming from Southern Africa it is not financially feasible to just say “oh well’ tough luck” and go home again so i must sit and wait in rented accomodation. The island for me is incredibly beautiful – the beach front promenade all the way to Valletta is mind-blowing. For me swimming in the clear Med is a privilege – just blows me away to be honest and whilst I know it’s going to be a very frustrating few months ahead of me waiting for completion and furnishing the apartment and dealing with the notorious Malta red-tape at Municipal level I still feel very grateful to be here. Just one ‘serious moan’ though is the disgusting state of the pavements – paricularly in St Julian and even in stretches along the sea front in Sliema. It is simply revolting the amount of discarded rubbish left lying in the streets and on the pavements. Is there nobody checking on the so-called street cleaners here in Malta? I watched one guy the other morning at about 5.30 am as i was walking to the Hilton Hotel and he would brush a piece of rubbish into his ‘bin’ and then completely ignore a whole pile of rubbish in the gutter a metre away and just walk on. He had a face like thunder too so I was not going to confront him, but if he hates his job so much then give it up and let someone else have it. It really is disgusting though to have this disgusting filth all over the sidewalks and gutters – especially so in the heat. Revolting!

  11. With all due respect , this article might have some truth in it, but if you are looking for a place to retire you dont go live in a city (Malta) but instead go live in the sister island of Gozo , where it is much cleaner, more tranquil, less mixed people coming from different cultures and as thus more friendly. Keep in mind that the Maltese Islands were part of the british colony up to the 70’s and the british presence is still very much alive here. We have the same laws, we drive on the right, everyone is fluent in english and it is compulsory for kids to learn english etc… If you want to move away from the busy life don’t move to another city with drunk teenagers all over st.julians, but instead move to gozo and enjoy the scenery

  12. Lisa,
    Like you we have been coming here for a number years spending roughly 6 months a year in Malta. The Maltese are very friendly and making friends is easy providing you are prepared to give and take. The problem I think that you will have however is finding a job which will pay you enough to afford a half decent apartment. Pay rates in Malta are poor compared to the UK and many jobs require fluency in both Maltese and English. For example most of our Maltese friends can get by in 3 languages or more. Hence I suggest that you check out job requirements and if possible get a job before committing to move. Cars are very expensive in Malta due to the registration tax that has to be paid and it might be better to buy a car in the UK and then import it to Malta when and if you come over. But I suggest that you check the registration tax rates at the time before you commit to bringing a car over.

    Good luck


  13. Thanks Pete for such a helpful reply.

  14. Peter,
    Thank you for your reply it was very helpful, I am planning on first finding work before i would give up everything here and make the move to Malta. I will be back in Malta after xmas and will keep visiting regarding work until i can find something suitable. A friend has approached me who would also like to make the move with me so hopefully if it works out we could share a property. Fingers crossed my plans work out!!!

  15. Hi everyone,

    If anyone of you is interested and want to find a long let property to move or retire to I have my own property available for long let. For more information visit: .

    Hope you find it of interest and don’t hesitate to contact me if you want further information.

    Thanks for viewing.

    Chris Mamo.

  16. Hi all, I am a Maltese American living in the USA. From my experience, the Maltese are very friendly, but can get grouchy for lack of a better word. They love to celebrate at fiestas, so for all of you who can’t seem to meet Maltese friends, I suggest you go to some of the literally hundreds of cultural events, my personal favorite being Ghanafest in June. If you smile at them and show some love, you will get the same in return. But if you are a demanding ass, don’t expect them to kiss you. Re animals, there is good husbandry of animals in Malta, but far too often what we see is the bad. To all my expat friends, I personally can’t wait to retire and spend more than just a few weeks in Malta. On my next trip, I think I will join the Bird protection group and some of the environmental groups on Malta. With respect to some places having a lot of rubbish strewn about it is true, but don’t forget that with the large number of fiestas and the influx of tourists, that is to be expected. I would imagine that there should be lots of jobs available cleaning up beautiful Malta. Instead of giving out free money as part of their great social welfare programs, jobs should be provided to clean and maintain Malta. All on all I think the Maltese can be some of the friendliest people on earth. I tend to think the occasional rudeness is actually more of an impatience mixed with a lack of sophistication – nothing a loving smile and hearty hello can’t fix. May all your days in Malta fill your heart with a honey colored glow.

  17. @JomammaWow, thanks for your comment which is a very balanced view. The good, the bad and ugly put in perspective!

  18. I totally agree with a previous writer who suggested that you move out of the city. Cities are mostly alike in the sense that they are dirty and noisy. I am Maltese, but have lived in three different countries, mostly in California. I do not understand all the talk about dirty streets in Malta. Yes, places like Paceville are dirty because a lot of young drunks inhabit the place. Sliema, St. Julian’s and other touristy places tends to be messy.. Let’s face it, tourists do not care about what they do when they are here. That goes to infrequent bathing as well. I live in Marsaskala and it very clean over here. The comment that really got to me was the one about animal cruelty. Oh my God, if I ever see something like that I will make sure that the abuser will pay for it big time. It is true about too many cars and the “no rules” driving. There will be streets and freeways full of dead bodies if they drove like that in California. All in all Malta is safe and the people very friendly. Stop comparing and give Malta a fair chance.

  19. Hi folks
    We have spent endless holidays in the summer for the last 25 years, it has to be said Malta is the finest, unique and safest country in Europe.
    We have spent most of our times in the South the people are friendly they do not suffer fools, rudeness or abusive people, enough said.
    They are hardworking people who love the outdoors, their families and value their friendships.
    Let me start by telling all of you with the negative opinions about the island all the things to celebrate and enjoy.
    Maltese bread the finest in the world, Cisk and Hop leaf perfect for a hot summers evening refreshment.
    The food is great the Pizza,s the various Rabbit dishes, Ice cream, Fresh fish dishes the list goes on yummy.
    Then there’s the most beautiful waters for diving and swimming snorkeling, amazing and mind blowing come’s to mind.
    Then the vast array of festa’s and free firework displays throughout some of the finest ancient cities in the world.
    I could go on and on and on I just hope by now you are getting my point forget Blighty and take off one’s blinkered specs and start living the island way.
    Malta is the finest place on the planet.

  20. Simon,
    Thanks for your comments – so uplifting and positive. Yes, we should learn to live with our cups half full, rather than dwell on negatives. Nowhere is perfect, but it’s what you make of it. That’s the gritty truth about life, and living in Malta. No one will have the self-same view, but then again, we don’t want Malta to be a bland place. It’s astonishing just how diverse Malta is for its small size.

  21. I was born in Malta, I fled when I was 16 and went to England, where I lived for several years and there are miserable people everywhere (I’m most likely one of them) and the British drivers are pretty bad too so are the Canadians but I was petrified out of my wits even walking in Malta (on my last visit 8 years ago), I now live in Canada (35 years) and have been away from “home” for over 50 years. Would I retire there? I’d rather go to hell. My family have been trying to lure me back but since as my mother told me several times when I passed this remark…you couldn’t pay me to return, “nobody is going to pay you to return” In that case I won’t. Yuck!!! They can have it and good luck and good riddance.

  22. Hello everyone,
    It was interesting to hear your opinions about Malta. I have never been but am interested in spending the UK winters AWAY in MALTA. Now I have lived abroad before in India and in California and like the idea of living in Malta during the UK Winters. I am making a visit in April to see what it is like. I am 55 and an artist. I nurse in UK in hospitals and am hoping to see if it is possible to find part-time work in Malta during the months of January, February and March. I would appreciate any feed back

    Thank you Francesca

  23. @Francesca,
    The lady who wrote the article grew up in India as it happens, and has been widely travelled, like yourself. Malta is of course quite cold inside houses and flats in the winter months post Xmas, so do be warned – important to assess heating options when you hunt for accommodation here. See our post on heating a house in Malta in winter. Regarding employment in nursing, I am sure that might be possible but you’d need to contact the Malta Union of Nurses which should be able to guide you. There may also be private nursing options. And you could contact the major private hospitals St James and St Philips as well as the state hospital Mater Dei.

  24. I am looking to retire to malta or one of the other islands if you could tell me were would be best I am 57 I like to go to the gym snorkeling and walking if you have any idears thank you

  25. Roy,
    Well, all the activities you mention can be done from wherever you live in the Maltese Islands. Gozo is generally quieter, and a lot of people do retire there, but you’d need to factor the number of trips you might need to make over to Malta to deal with admin, have a change of scene, join in clubs, visit Valletta for cultural actvities etc. Gyms abound anywhere – all main hotels have gyms offering access to non-residents for a membership fee. Really, it’s hard to say where’s best. I think you’d need to come to the islands and get a feel for the various areas and decide if a seafront resort town apartment, a town house or a house of character in a village suit you best. Note our post on heating a house in Malta

  26. i am looking at spending a few winter months in Malta. renting or hotel any comment ,pitfalls wecome

  27. hi Michael,
    Thanks for commenting. Many people do stay long periods at very reasonable rates per week. I’ll scout around and see if I can find a going rate for you. My husband just flew back from Manchester to Malta and sat next to a couple who were coming here to spend a good 2-3 months; I have a feeling they were at some hotel in Bugibba-Qawra area and were paying something ridiculous like Euro 12 a day (not sure it that was each, may be) for half board. If you go to the site, the official tourism site for Malta, it has a list of all hotels. I suggest you pick some where you wish to stay (I assume you know Malta a little), and contact them for a going rate for long stays. This will be for next year of course, but you’ll get a good idea from that. I’ll add more here if I come across something specific of further help.

  28. .thanks for your help,Elizabeth,A longer stay ,half board sounds just about right. Sorry to admitt but I am a novice at this.i havent yet been to Malta ,the comments on this site ,even the negative cantankerous ones are a great help ,an education even.It highlight the pitfalls,and hopefully i can avoid most of them.Regards mp

  29. I’d like to share my personal experience living in Malta for the past 25 years (as a Maltese).

    Overall Malta is a nice place to live in. Many things to do – restaurants, cafes, sea etc. and the weather is not all that bad (but I must admit that below 15 degrees Celsius is very cold for me).

    Salaries are not that bad when compared to cost-of-living (speaking as a post-graduate qualified person earning over EUR 30k before tax), most people get by comfortably with 18k-20k before tax per annum.

    If you’re not a wasteful person, you will not spend more than EUR 60 – 80 on water & electricity each month (and I’m being very conservative with these figures …. I know couples who get by EUR 100 per quarter).

    Fuel and cars are expensive, but the distances compensate for that, if using your car moderately, you’ll get by comfortably with EUR 20 per week … of course if you’re car is a 3.2L petrol turbo engine …. I’m sure you afford to pay it’s fuel!!

    Food is on the medium scale … with EUR 200-250 per month per person you’ll eat quality balanced food (meat, fish pasta, vegetables).

    Property is one of the very few expensive things in Malta – For a seafront penthouse you’re looking at EUR 320k+ in the northern part of Malta. The southern part is much cheaper to live in, but with more population density and traffic congestion. Gozo is the cheapest to live in … but that’s too quite and secluded for me 🙂 ….. you’ll find decent apartments for EUR 140k if not looking for seafront ones. Various banks in Malta can provide mortgages at roughly 3.3% per annum interest rate. I’ve never fancied renting, because a bank loan is equivalent to the letting rate.

    Lifestyle is pretty decent for me, I go out twice or thrice a week for drinks or meals, travel three times a year for week long or bi-week long holidays. Most people are friendly especially over drinks!!

    If you like a chilled place to stay in, yet have all necessities I’d recommend Malta. I have been to many countries, and although Malta is not the best in every aspect, overall I think it is one of the best places to live in.

    If you’d like more info, leave a message here / leave your email here and I’ll get back to you asap!


  30. IHi, l have read all the comments with great interest, l am 59 and thinking of retiring to Malta with my wife who is disabled with ostio arthritis & is also diabetic. We need a country like Malta for warmer winters & less humidity in summer. We don’t speak a second language so need to go somewhere that is mainly English speaking.
    Having lived in the UK all our lives you see a lot of the things mentioned in this country as well . Things like animal cruelty happen here too but l think they will be more noticeable in a country the size of Malta. Litter !! Well if you walk through the streets of any UK city (take your pick ) and you will probably see the same
    I am concerned about life in Malta with regard to medical help & drug prescriptions. We need a lot of drugs daily to survive.

  31. Tthanks for the helpful information…..Malta and Gozo both sound appealing but initially Malta may be more practical as a base. Wish to avoid being somewhere too isolated,or too noisy .not sure whether to go for a resort,promanade lots happening,or Valetta.. … any suggestions…….. Have concidered hiring a car,but bit put off by comments re dangerous drivers .Is it really that bad? thanks again .mp

  32. Michael,
    Thanks for the vote of thanks re the post and to all the others who’ve commented here. Re. your specific points, I think if you are thinking of a permanent, or semi-permanent move to Malta for retirement, then a car would be helpful. Imagine being invited to dinner one winter’s night and having to somehow get to the place on the bus. Get a car, or hire one long term ( can be cheaper than you think) after you’ve been in Malta a while and get your bearings.

    Valletta, errm, well, it’s the capital but accommodation can vary, and you might feel a bit cramped in the city. Depends how much space you are leaving behind you in the UK. You will have to contend with summer heat there, and some flats might not be well situated re view / air / space / or too close to comfort to neighbours (daily lives / noise). It really depends on what type of retirement or longer stay you are seeking. Nowhere in Malta would feel isolated, in relative terms to the UK. Again, if you decide on a village somewhere, then you can still find yourself a mere 15 mins from Valletta or Sliema, if you opt for a central or southern village. Noise is a relative thing in Malta as even villages have their ‘noise’ and don’t forget festa season! Malta may seem noisier than the UK for a variety of reasons; again, it depends on what annoys you noise wise. I recommend a reccy visit to Malta if you are not familiar with the islands. Only that way can you get a feel for the types of accommodation / location on offer. Driving is tough, at first, but if you are confident about where you’re going, then you’re less likely to lose your nerve. Quite frankly, it’s OK these days and a lot less worse than it was 20 yrs ago. Nothing like driving in some Italian towns or cities or France for that matter!

  33. Nigel, medical services are excellent in Malta and the islands have an long-standing reputation (through history from the Knights) for being at the forefront on medical matters. I don’t think you need worry unduly. You will need to check that the prescription drugs you require are readily available here, and at what price. I assume, as long-time prescription users with acute medical issues, you receive free prescriptions in the UK. This may not be the case in Malta, where you may be required to pay. I can’t be 100 per cent sure on these issues so perhaps first check in the UK about any transference of your benefits / free prescription status within the EU (freedom of movement). I would assume though that the drug cost may be a sticking point and one you will need to look into before considering a move here. Try this link on the official government site for a start in finding out about any reciprocal benefits re. prescriptions. There seem to be a lot of useful links here to work through:

  34. Jacques,
    I can’t thank you enough for chipping in and giving such invaluable advice and insights here on the comment thread. I tend to agree with your take on life here; nowhere is an idyll but balanced out, most things tend to make sense in Malta for anyone considering an English-speaking, relatively manageable cost base to retire to. Thanks for your help to Malta Inside Out users; much appreciated.

  35. My husband ‘s deceased parents were born in Malta; would we qualify for citizenship? We are considering Malta for our retirement. Also, would we qualify for their national medical program?

  36. Darlene,
    I would think that your husband could apply for citizenship given that both his parents were Maltese. Try this link to the Dept of Citizenship & Expatriate Affairs for various forms, info and other links that might help.

    Regarding entitlement to health benefits when in legally resident in Malta (I am assuming you are somewhere like Australia at present, not the EU), you may need to check this link to the Health Ministry:

    I couldn’t find precise info on health entitlements for expats / overseas national in Malta, but suggest you contact them directly to ask. I would think that you would need to have some kind of private healthcare insurance though. If you are EU nationals, then you will be entitled to emergency medical cover for free while in Malta, but other health benefits and care might be related to your tax status in Malta. I can’t be 100 per cent sure so do contact the ministry. Hope this helps a little.

  37. Thanks for your comment Elizabeth.cant beat local knowledge.Yes buses are great , but on any longer term basis ,would miss independence of a car. Just needed to be reminded of the obvious…….Not a nervous driver but perhaps I will soon learn!……..looking at Mellieha and Qawra 4 star hotel half board probably November to find way around. Put off from renting ,when there are hotel deals for longer stays..Any local insight as to the advantages of .Mellieha as opposed to Qawra would be helpfull.regards Michael

  38. could you please tell me if my wife and i could survive on £300 uk pounds a week on our uk state pension together
    thats renting accomodation and basic living cost food /elec/water/rent
    thank you david allen

  39. David,
    short answer, yes, you probably could. The house next to me (3 -double-bedrooms) is rented out per month for Euros 850 (in a village, central Malta) including utility bills (owners refunds any shortfall on those bills, end of 6-month tenacy). So, no doubt you’d need less space as a couple. Food, I’d reckon on Euro 80 – 100 per week (I spend around Euro 125 to feed 3 people a week). It depends on your lifestyle (eating out, entertainment, car hire or purchase, petrol etc) how much more you’d need to spend. I’d reckon Euro 25-30 a week petrol if you’re out on errands each day. I need to update our grocery basket costs but the ballpark above should be a good indicator. Hope this helps. And do feel free to post your query on our Facebook page as others might have more insights to share.

  40. Hi Nigel

    I saw your query: We need a country like Malta for warmer winters & less humidity in summer. We don’t speak a second language so need to go somewhere that is mainly English speaking.

    Malta has great weather for most of the year, although the middle of summer and the middle of winter is very humid, the middle of summer has very high humidity and some of the Maltese people that I speak to say they still haven’t got used to it. I haven’t read the whole post so perhaps someone has already mentioned this.
    I have asthma and unfortunately it has got worse this year and I put that down to the wind causing more dust to be blown around. The jet stream changed pattern and Malta has been incredibly windy for most of this year so far – I can’t ever remember it being quite like that before, or perhaps I never really noticed. But it’s warmer than the UK. I do miss the central heating in winter though.
    But it’s great that there’s hardly any crime, and where we live the pavements are clean, and you can’t beat swimming in the sea here.
    Taking into account your health, the state hospital is very good (although you have to wait many hours to get to see someone), but you get excellent medical help.

  41. Susie,
    Thanks for your kind input to this thread. I concur with all you say about heat and humidity; while Malta’s weather is more benign generally, there are aspects such as searing summer temps and endless damp in winter (often dependent on type of house and adequacy of heating / ventilation / sunlight) that need factoring in. Wannabe expats perhaps think of Malta in terms of the climate they had on holiday here. Your insights very valid; thanks.

  42. Hi again Nigel, I forgot to add that the winter is much much warmer than the UK, in fact you can get quite hot walking around outside especially in the sun. But inside the house it can feel cold and sometimes damp as it’s humid in the middle of winter. Saying that, last winter didn’t feel like that as it was much warmer than the previous year. People we know have de-humidifyers going (in the middle of summer and winter) and you could always have a bathroom heater installed if necessary for winter. If the cold will affect you then I’d say you should try and find a place that faces the sun in winter, but it might be an idea to rent first and see this for yourself.
    In the hot months people have airconditioners going to keep cool as well.

  43. Hi everyone

    Thanks for all the comments…they’re all very insightful!

    My situation is quite different, as we’re looking to relocate to Malta with 2 young children (aged 10 and 5).

    Our cousin was living in Malta for a few years and had convinced us to join him, as he knew we were looking to leave South Africa for a better/safer life for the children. We all have EU passports as well.

    Unfortunately, in all this decision-making, our cousin was transferred. We are still hoping to move to Malta but obviously it’s a little more daunting now, to not have anyone to touch base with when moving over. I know that you may think it’s crazy to move to a country that you have never been to, but I do trust our cousin.

    Has anyone here moved to Malta with children? What was the transition like? Our boys are almost like prisoners in their own home now. Cannot ride their bikes outside, always scared of being hi-jacked when pulling into the drive-way etc. It is really awful and they deserve so much more – a childhood!

    We would obviously only move once we had employment, but I just wanted to get some feedback from others who have done similar. Was the transition a huge one? Did the children cope well? What about English in schools etc?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanking you in advance, Nicole

  44. Dear Elizabeth and all other readers,
    Should you be interested, I have conducted research for my B.A. Hons degree in Geography, specifically on old age retirement migration. Whilst I understand that the sample size was limited (due to the intensive interviews), I consider the research conducted as a valid insight into the perceptions of foreign retirees relocating in Malta. Should you wish to give it a look a copy of the study is found in the University of Malta Library, entitled “New Beginnings” : A case study of the Socio-Economic aspects of retirement migration in Malta. I hope this is helpful

  45. Claudio,
    Thanks for letting us know about your research which I am sure has valid and interesting insights of use to our site users. If you’d like to write a short article summarising some of the most useful points – ones that can help would-be retirees thinking of moving here – we’d welcome your input. Just let us know. Thanks again.

  46. What this lady days is completely untrue. Rubbish is collected every day of the week here, and IT IS COLLECTED FREE OF CHARGE, unlike the UK where one has to pay through his nose in rates.

    Malta is a beautiful gem at the heart of the Mediterranean.

  47. Patrie, I don’t think the author was talking of rubbish put out deliberately by householders for collection or non collection. The countryside here still bears witness to a lot of illegal and senseless dumping of rubbish – ranging from animal entrails to fridges and everything in between. Malta does, as you say, have free and near daily doorstep refuse collection, which is far far better than in most EU countries! And bulky rubbish collection is free on demand, in most areas I believe. Of course, not all use these free services: some farmers seem to gather rubbish – rusting items, old sinks etc in the parts of countryside near where I live and fridges get left by waysides. I think the same can be said of many countries in Europe though, you’re right there, only with Malta so small, one gets to see the best and worst cheek by jowl. Every expat and local for that matter will see the issue of ‘gem of islands at the heart of the Mediterranean’ in a different light. Illegal hunting is one issue that somewhat dampens an idyllic description of Malta, at least in my mind. There will be issues that annoy all of us about where we live, wherever we live. Life is always a trade off, though most of us in Malta do live in relative security with a lot that’s good, on offer right outside our door. But that doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to the things that can and should be improved for the benefit of us all.

  48. I am tired of the UK. It has lost it’s identity and the climate ain’t for me!

    I have lived most of my adult life in South Africa and latterly Spain. Still have property in Spain. I wish that I had got to know Malta earlier, because after 2 holidays there, I have decided to try and relocate for my old age.

    I am 67 years old and would like to know the following:
    a) What is the tax situation for someone like me? currently I pay no tax on my pension due to being slightly below the threshold. b) Is my pension (s) (I have a couple of pots) guaranteed? How quiet is Gozo really? I want to be as close to the sea as possible, so whatrents for a decent apartment? Is it complicated and difficult for someone like me to get residency? what are the qualifications?

  49. @John,
    Thanks for your questions which I am sure are relevant to many of our site users. I’ve asked a newly-retired couple to Malta to see if they can chip in with up-to-date info for you. So keep popping back here for updates.

  50. Hi John, We lived in SA for approx. 54 years and then relocated to London and worked there for 12 years until retirement age. Retiring in the cold UK was not on the agenda and as you know SA is not a good place to be in your retirement years. We had visited Malta many times on holiday while still in the UK and made the decision to retire here 6 months ago – a decision that we have not regretted for a moment! We do not pay tax on our pension as we are also below the threshold. We do not have a bank account here, we use a UK credit card through a company that has excellent exchange rates and no transaction fees -and is topped up via our UK bank account. Gozo is very quiet, if you are used to rural UK then you might be ok but not if you are used to town and city life – we consider it too cut off from the mainland of Malta.
    If you are looking for a furnished place to rent near the sea in the south of the island (of reasonable standard) you would pay approx €500 plus utilities of about €100 per month for a 2 bedroomed flat. In the more touristy areas around Sliema. St Julians etc about €1,200 and in the north, Mellieha, St Pauls Bay about €800. These prices are a broad average and depends on views etc. The middle of the island, about 15 minutes away from most shores except for the north will cost you in the vicinity of €350 to €400.
    Do you have a British passport?

  51. Hi, cannot remember if that was the email I used before, I have 3 accounts. 🙂 I had been waiting for an email to alert me to a message on here, so I suppose this site doesn’t link to email.

    Elizabeth, many thanks!

    Pat, thanks too!

    Well, I am not too fussed about a bit of quiet, not sure the main land would suit me permanently because it would probably be too noisy. So its Gozo for me. Also cost is an issue of course. I am an ex pro musician (drummer) but these days I love my folk club. I am a social animal, so would like to belong to live where some social activity exists. Also albeit not the best example, I am a God fearing guy, I love church music, but I am not catholic. I know that 98% of christian folk in Malta are catholic, maybe I have to change my allegiance.

    So I am looking for somewhere economically close to the sea, you already covered that. Somewhere with some form of club life. I play bowls too, but that is not a necessity. I would need an outlet socially (repeating myself) and maybe play in a pub or club too, I do the occasional gigs here. Health is an issue, I have a minor heart condition, (stents fitted) but since 2002 have not had a problem, just back from a 5 mile hike now. However I require prescription drugs permanently so health cover is a major issue.

    So summarising: Health, rent, clubs and pubs, music, church etc. What can you make of all that? The other thing I have considered is coming over for the winter on a fact finding mission. Pat, where are you based?

    To Elizabeth and Pat, feel free to use my email if you wish.

    Thanks for help thus far.


  52. oops! meant to add YES I have a brit passport.

  53. John,
    I think a reccy trip here in winter (after Christmas when the weather is at its worst and houses, and sometimes hotels too, are at their coldest) might be a good idea. You will then find out just how quiet Gozo is too at certain times of year. If you are club and pub music kinda guy, I wouldn’t think that Gozo would have much going on in your line. Not all parts of Malta are necessarily busy; you can opt for rentals inland in villages like Qrendi, Mqabba, Siggiewi and find yourself quite ‘isolated’ as village cores are traditional quiet places, festa time aside. And yet those villages and others are not far from the sea (Ghar Lapsi a particular favourite bathing spot for locals and very picturesque, and accessible in 5-10 mins from the villages I list above). If you really want a sea view, then you are going to be generally somewhere busier whether Malta or Gozo; the latter gets a lot of traffic and footfall from Maltese hoofing over for summer nights and holidays. That said, if you aimed for Marsaxlokk or Marsascala in Malta, most of the year you’d have relative quiet (in some streets) and good views too. Mellieha, the old town, is another view-mediumly quiet option. Malta is urban – some call it a city even – so don’t expect too much quiet. I’d liken Gozo to somewhere in N.Wales or Cornwall out of peak season. You will need to factor into your budget paying for trips abroad at least 2-3 times a year whichever island you opt for.

    Healthcare, I believe you’d need to have that privately covered especially if you need long-term prescription drugs. I can’t see the Maltese state covering that unless there’s a reciprocal arrangement in place. Best to ask at your UK surgery or NHS online somewhere to check out that. Generally, the state here will cover emergency treatments if one’s on holiday and has the EU card. I can’t seem to get into the Malta government portal at the moment, but try and look for health under Life Events menu and you’ll find some contact details of the ministry there.

    Re. religion, there is an active Anglican community and several Anglican churches, as well as other denominations represented on the islands. The Anglican Cathedral in Valletta has a strong choir as well. Re folk music, you could try contacting Keltika, a Malta-based Celtic choir which is very pro; their leader might be able to guide you on the scene here even if their style isn’t what you are looking for.

  54. Many thanks Elizabeth! you are very helpful. I have a few things to latch on to now. Excuse my naivety, but when you refer to factoring in travel costs abroad, is this in relation to overcoming Island “isolation” as such?

  55. P.S. My pubs and clubs statement may have been misleading, e.g. normally most folk clubs operate in a room adjoined to a pub, and clubs is meant in the context rather as in Folk Clubs as opposed to night clubs, which to be honest the latter isn’t my thing.

  56. John, re Health care. If you (or your wife) have been contributing to NI in the UK, both of you are eligible for health care in Malta if either one of you are 65 years of age (the younger one would be their dependent.) Firstly you have to request S1 documents from NHS Newcastle UK (this can be done while still resident in the UK) which are then taken to the Health authorities in Malta when you arrive. This S1 is exchanged for a Malta Health Entitlement certificate for each of you (takes a few weeks to finalise) This entitles you to free poly clinic and hospital treatment. You can only remain in Malta for 90 days as a tourist and then you are compelled to apply for ‘Ordinary Residence’ cards. On applying for these cards you have to have proof of income above the Maltese minimum income threshold as well as medical cover – the Malta Entitlement document covers this. As far as chronic prescriptions are concerned, once you acquire your Residency ID card (which is now in electronic format and is called an EID card) you can then apply for chronic prescription assistance. You will first be assessed by a medical consultant – who on confirming your condition will forward your application to the Health Authorities for what is called a yellow chronic medicine card that will give you free Schedule 5 medicines. I must point out though that the process for obtaining the EID card takes at least three months, the health assessment and yellow card application about another month – so you would have to apply for 3 months supply of medicines from the UK to bring with you (I think that’s all the UK will give you) As a result there will be a period of time when you will have to pay for your Schedule 5 purchased from a Maltese pharmacy (using your UK prescription or a new one given to you by a doctor at a poly clinic) until you receive your yellow card. Medicines such as anti-inflammatories and analgesics etc are not covered by the yellow card.
    Re general questions about pub life etc – best to visit Malta and spend at least 10 days to get some idea of the social life of expats (that would be your target market) Also visit again in July’August to see whether you can handle the heat and humidity. SA is hot, but not humid, the two together are really rough, those couple of trips abroad that Liz is talking about – one would definitely be over that time period!

  57. Yes John, precisely that! You will need to escape as there will be bouts of island fever. And although you are used to South African heat, it is very humid here so more draining in summer months, particularly late summer into autumn. At these times of year, you might find you need to get away.

  58. There are some pubs which have a music scene. The ones I know are in Malta but I am sure there’d be some in Gozo too. I didn’t think you meant night clubs anyway!

  59. Pat,
    Thanks for your invaluable insights and advice to John. The ins and outs of the healthcare cards is particularly useful to retirees, and I am sure many like John are on repeat prescriptions and need to know the time lags involved before they move.

    As you wisely said, a trip here during some of the more uncomfortable times of year – peak and late summer into humid autumn, and also late Jan into Feb, when it’s cold and humid (inside houses in particular), are recommended for any wannabe expat here. Holidaying in the more temperate months of spring won’t necessarily give a prospective expat the right idea of what to expect. Thanks Pat again for your comments to this thread.

  60. Thank you both, very helpful stuff. Just one small thing Pat, you couldn’t have lived in Durban is all I can say. It is uncomfortably humid Dec through to February/ March, January being extremely uncomfortable, and its a case of having a shower, towelling off and being wet again in seconds. I am not fussed about that, as I lived with it for over 31 years.;_ylt=A0PDodp1gFZSHDsA2qRNBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTFxN2ZtbzVqBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZANjZjc5YmVhNGYxYWJmM2Y2NGE4NTRhYjFjMjJhYTIwMARncG9zAzI-?

    Thanks again!

  61. Apologies in advance, I may have messed up trying to send a link with Durban weather charts. Looks messy, sorry.

  62. Hi John, you are right, I lived in Jhb – hot and dry as h..ll – but high up and away from humidity. We used to holiday regularly in Durban and on the Natal coast but stayed away from it in January and February – we managed to cope with December & March! The Cape doesn’t have the humidity problem either. All sounds as though you will be OK.

  63. Malta is a nice place to live ,put since they had the council nothing getting done because they blame the others side which they should keep place clean ,they having lots of tourist in marsaxlokk and it a shame where the coaches drop them very rough and easy to fall and swist your leg ,we living in marsaxlokk and the rubbish we have in from of us is disgrace ,we going to see the council to see what they have to say ,because i already spoke to someone and they said see the council.

  64. Dear Anyone thinking of relocating to or spending time Malta,

    I have just been reading about Gozo and Malta and came across this website.

    I have some friends who have a wonderful place overlooking the spectacular Grand Harbour to rent/buy. If anyone is interested in property in that regard I could ask them for details to send on.


  65. My husband and I have just retired. We had a holiday in Malta several years ago and enjoyed it. We do not have any children and so can go where we want to retire to. However after reading the article on the horses and the pig in earlier contributions I could not contemplate moving to a country that treated its animals in this way, it would make my life intolerable. Thank you to the lady that highlighted this, it is one of my pre-requisites that a country is kind to its poor dumb creatures. As a matter of interest to anyone similarly minded we found Lanzarote very (particularly)dog friendly. They have three homes on the island which rehome dogs and cats. Glad for the info received, many thanks.

  66. Hi all,
    I am Maltese, married to an Englishman with two young boys and been living in the UK for the past 15 years. For various reasons, I’ve had enough of this country and would love to go back home but a few things keep us here: husband’s salary is phenomenal, i work in a school to match my sons’ days off school (we have no relatives to help out), we have a lovely home.

    The weather here is so so testing, the people are getting rougher by the minute, my social life is non existant. To leave here would compromise many things and I’m wondering if we’re better off in England or in Malta. Schooling is free and good here, whereas you need to get kids in private schooling for good education in Malta. I’m not fussed on NHS besides their excellent routine reminders for run of the mill checks.

    Where I live there’s no traffic or parking problems and its quite.

    So, what do we do? My husband isn’t a huge Malta fan but I’m sure he could make it work for him whereas the kids love it. Are we financially better off here? Emotionally?

  67. Mrs C,
    Difficult one to call this, but I think it boils down to waiting for your children to finish schooling and then decide. I am British, but live here and yearn for things the other way round. Do bear in mind that the salary issue will be the deciding point. And schooling is IMHO, so-so here in Malta – it depends what type of schooling you are looking for. It can be very traditional (and Maltese might be an issue if your children move here). Religion is an issue in my case. Perhaps buy a holiday home here and come over twice a year to catch up on Malta? It’s very crowded here these days and polluted in parts and I’ve been stuck in traffic 1.25 hrs to get from Mgarr to Sliema some mornings. Parking is a nightmare anywhere. I have nostalgic views of a UK that probably doesn’t exist now; you probably have nostalgic views of a Malta you left behind, and which doesn’t exist now. I think children’s education and your husband’s work are the clinchers and those are issues you as a family will need to think through carefully. By the way, it’s bucketing down here today and I am not looking forward to Jan-March in a chill, damp, stone house with inadequate heating! Not all is roses or bougainvillea around the door, wherever you live.

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