Malta is a small nation off the southern coast of Sicily, comprised of five islands – only two of which (Island of Malta and Gozo) are really inhabited year-round. Malta is growing increasingly popular as an expat destination because of the friendliness of the people, the proximity to other EU nations, and the beauty of the natural landscape and climate.
Climate in Malta:
The climate in Malta is considered Mediterranean, characterized by very mild winters and warm/hot summers (some say it’s the best climate in the world). Average yearly temperatures hover around 73°F, with average winter temperatures around 64°F and average summer temperatures around 82°F.
Pair paradise climate with the fact that Malta is one of the most multilingual nations in the world, and you can see why it is so popular among expats. Recent polls conclude that nearly 100% of the population in Malta speak Maltese, 88% speak English, 66% speak Italian, and 17% speak French. English and Maltese were also cited as the most preferred languages by the local population, so the culture shock of moving abroad to Malta will be less severe. At present, both English and Maltese are listed as official national languages.
While Malta’s proximity to north Africa could pose a concern for expats looking to move abroad, there have yet to be any record of terrorist attacks on Maltese soil. The country is generally peaceful and non-confrontational on a global level, so while threats due to proximity can’t be ruled out, the country is incredibly safe compared to other countries in the region.
Domestically, Malta is similarly safe for foreigners. As with any location, there are certain areas to be avoided at night, but crime against tourists is generally rare. Violent personal attacks are even rarer, and the primary form of crime against foreigners involves petty theft, pick pocketing, theft from parked cars, etc.
In order to move abroad to Malta long-term, future expats will need to obtain a certain form of residency permit (link to Live in Malta). There are two primary types to choose from, depending on your intentions:
Ordinary Residency in Malta
The ordinary form of residency abroad in Malta is meant for those who wish to work while residing in the country and register a tax residence in Malta to capitalize on the country’s low tax jurisdiction. Once you have found a job and applied (and been approved) for a Maltese work permit (link to Work in Malta article), you are immediately given residency in the country. This is valid for you and your spouse to legally live abroad in Malta long-term, though your spouse will have to apply separately for a work permit to hold a job.
Permanent Residency in Malta
Permanent residency is similar to ordinary residency in Malta in that it lets you live indefinitely in the country. It does not, however, allow you to work abroad in Malta. This option may be best for those looking to retire abroad in Europe. Requirements include an interview process, having a net worth of €349,000 or an annual income of €23,000, and providing a clean criminal record.
Retirement and Investment
To retire abroad in Malta, U.S. and Canadian expats will need to opt for the Permanent Residency permit or, for higher net worth individuals, the Golden Visa or Citizenship Through Investment options (link to Invest in Malta).
Introduced in 2015, the MRVP (Malta Residence and Visa Programme) allows for expats from outside of the EU and EEA to receive quick and streamlined residence in Europe through overseas investment. This permit allows you and your family (spouse and child dependents) to live in Malta and travel freely throughout the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland with a single investment.
To qualify for the Malta investment visa, potential expats will need to make a monetary contribution to the government of €30,000 (plus €5,500 for processing). You will need to be at least 18 years old, be able to prove an annual income of €100,000 from outside of Malta (or €500,000 in capital), and must have a clean criminal record.
To qualify for the MRVP through real estate investment overseas, applicants will need to purchase a property of at least €320,000 (€270,000 if in Gozo or the south of Malta). If not purchasing a property outright, another option is leasing a property of at least €12,000 per year (€12,000 if in Gozo or the south of Malta). You will need to commit to maintaining these conditions for a minimum of five years in Malta.
It’s important to keep in mind that pension payments from foreign sources are taxed in Malta if they are remitted to the country. Due to favorable agreements with many nations around the world, you will likely not be subjected to double taxation, being taxed only on pension benefits in the country of residence.
Cost of Living
While the use of the euro currency makes Malta less attractive as a landing spot than, say, Central America, the country can still be a financially worthwhile expat destination.
Average Prices in Malta (USD):
- Meal for two in a mid-level restaurant: $60
- 1 liter of milk: $1.05
- Loaf of bread: $1.11
- Dozen eggs: $2.53
- Apartment Rent (one-bedroom in city center): $824/month
- Apartment Rent (one-bedroom outside city center): $624/month
- Price per square meter (city center): $3,197
- Price per square meter (outside city center): $2,107
- GDP: $11.22 billion
- GDP by sector: Services (87.2%), Industry (11.4%), Agriculture (1.4%)
- Labor Force: 190,400 (2013)
- Average Monthly Net Salary: $1,346
- Unemployment: 5.9%
- Main Industries: tourism, electronics, ship building, construction, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, clothing, tobacco, financial services, IT
- Ease of doing business rank: 76th, globally
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