The Maltese Islands are fast becoming a top location for foreign buyers keen to enjoy the idyllic weather that the islands enjoy for the majority of the year. It is also ideal for those wanting to take advantage of its excellent investment opportunities which include new developments as well as ‘houses of character’.
The fact that English is spoken by most of the population is a definite plus for foreigners and this, coupled with the overall easy lifestyle on the island, is a strong pull factor to those wishing to settle on new soil.
Of course, both Malta and Gozo have their pros and cons. Both equally have beautiful spots to explore, to swim in and on which to discover rich historical sites. Life on Gozo is admittedly slower than that in Malta, for a number of reasons, including the obvious fact that the island is smaller and does not have as big a population as Malta. The majority of big businesses are based in Malta. Malta has also developed as a business hub - especially for financial services, iGaming, software development and even cosmetic surgery - helped by tax breaks for high-net-worth individuals. In fact, a lot of Gozitans commute to Malta for work on a daily basis.
If you are undecided about which island to settle down on, why not spend some time on both to see for yourself where you feel most comfortable? Either way, the two islands are easily reached from one another through a frequent ferry service that even runs on a shuttle system during busier times like summer, Carnival and Easter. There is talk of building a connecting underground tunnel between the two islands but, so far, this hotly debated issue is still at discussion stage.
To help you decide where to live, here’s some information about Malta and Gozo:
Life in Malta
“Malta is the best place to live for expatriates.” This is what International Living Magazine reports, based on the quality of life thanks its climate, level of safety, flat 15% tax rate, excellent healthcare and sea views.
Whether you are looking to live in a quiet village by the sea or whether you enjoy being close to the shops in the hub of activity, Malta is an ideal place for someone keen to enjoy good weather, good food and a pretty relaxed life.
Because the country is so small, you are never too far from anywhere. Locals often joke that everything is a maximum of 20 minutes away.
The Maltese are renowned for being a warm and friendly people and will often go out of their way to help you if they can. Malta is also very child-friendly and people of all age groups find it easy to form a healthy social life.
Malta also has a very high standard of education. Education is free in Malta and this attracts many students from the world over.
Property Hot Spots
Sliema is a popular location among tourists and residents who like to be in the heart of things. This busy town boasts a huge variety of restaurants, cafés, pubs, clubs and hotels. It is also probably the top location for clothes shopping and you will never be very far away from a supermarket, greengrocer or grocer.
There are popular developments in the Sliema area, where you will be looking to spend some €150,000 on a one-bedroom apartment. A bit southeast is Zabbar where you can find elegant town houses for under €150,000.
Just a mile away are the seaside towns of Marsascala and Marsaxlokk with beautiful views of the sea. Marsaxlokk is known for its fish market and it goes without saying that it boasts some of the best seafood restaurants on the island.
Other popular choices include Mellieha in the north, which has pretty sandy and rocky beaches, and also towns on the central north-eastern coast of the island that goes from low property budget areas like the Cottonera region around Kalkara, through Naxxar and Mosta and up to Bugibba and St Paul’s Bay.
The Maltese like their entertainment so you are always likely to find something that tickles you fancy. The list of events is endless but highlights of the local entertainment scene include the ‘festa’s (feasts) which start from the first Sunday after Easter and run all the way through the summer.
Paceville is Malta’s club and bar haven and the go-to place for those looking to headbang the night away or to dance into the small hours of the day. The Isle of MTV has also become a popular annual event and has seen stars such as Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and The Scissor Sisters perform on this tiny rock.
For those looking for a more chilled night out, there is a wide variety of wine bars in various locations around the island, notably Valletta, Birgu and Sliema as well as a number of gorgeous seaside cafes and restaurants in areas like Ghajn Tuffieha and Mellieha.
The country has a thriving theatre scene and the national Manoel Theatre has a varied programme that includes stellar shows from both local and international performers.
Street festivals are big in Malta and thousands flock to the capital city for events such as Notte Bianca, Science in the City and the Malta Arts Festival. Other popular outdoor festivals include Qormi’s bread festival, Zebbug’s olive fest and the strawberry festival in Mgarr.
Life in Gozo
Gozo is the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago. With an area of 67km2 it has a population of around 31,000 and is thus less developed and less densely populated than its sister island. Compared to Malta, it is more rural and is renowned for its scenic hills, which feature in local poetry, literature and even on the island’s coat of arms.
For those who love the countryside, there are plenty of lovely walks with good views available in all parts of the island. And, depending on your preferences, you can opt for an easy walk or a hiking terrain.
Gozo is a popular choice for weekend breaks – there are many idyllic farmhouses available for short lets and a good variety of hotels to choose from. It is also popular for retirement and even, for those who can afford it, as a location for second homes and holiday homes.
Some people will say that, because it is just nine by five miles, then everyone must know everyone else and that this can become claustrophobic. However the good thing about living in Gozo is that you can choose whether you want to have a busy social life or keep to yourself. If you choose to be solitary then people do respect your need for privacy.
Property Hot Spots
Three of the most popular locations in Gozo are Marsalforn, Xlendi and its capital Victoria. As in Malta, property-seekers will find a choice of homes and can opt for restored farmhouses tucked away in the quieter corners of the island or can choose from a number of new, modern properties finely furnished and which look on to some of the island’s breathtaking scenery.
Of course, although life on Gozo may be slower and more relaxed, it is far from boring and there are often art exhibitions, classical concerts and music gigs held in various locations around the island. And speaking of music, Gozo is synonymous with opera. The island has two opera houses – situated practically opposite each other – which have become renowned for their annual grand operatic concerts and which have featured big stars, including the Maltese Islands’ very own internationally renowned tenor Joseph Calleja.
For the more adventurous, Gozo is fast becoming a popular location for diving and water sports enthusiasts. Indeed both Malta and Gozo are regularly ranked highly for dives.
There are eight diving schools in Gozo alone and divers will love to experience the underwater attractions such as caves, rock formations and wrecks.
There are dives for people of all kinds of experience levels, from first timers to professional divers