Malta has recently been voted the Number 1 retirement destination by Yahoo Finance, surpassing competing countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US and so on. So what does Malta, a little island in the Mediterranean, offer expats in terms of lifestyle? I would not attempt to pinpoint a single defining factor as I believe Malta is a melting pot of various ingredients which together result in something special!
Firstly, we have great weather. Our winters are mild and we have around 300 sunny days throughout the year. Malta is surrounded by gorgeous clear seas. We have a number of great beaches and the clarity of the water makes Malta an excellent diving location. The yachting scene is extremely active and the demand for berths is understandably very high. Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta offers easy access to all European and North African destinations with several daily flights to most major airports.
Malta has been an EU country for a number of years now and uses the Euro currency. We have weathered the global economic crisis extremely well and I believe Malta’s size and ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances has contributed to this in a big way. We have not had any defaulting banks as most other European countries. The economy is generally very stable.
English is one of the two official languages spoken by all, Maltese being the other one. The Maltese people are renowned for being friendly, happy people and for welcoming foreigners to our shores. Anyone choosing to settle in Malta is made to feel at home and integrates very well within the local community. There are a number of organized expat groups, but generally everyone mingles together and there aren't any locations that are purely dedicated to expats. This also protects the local property market as sales never depend on any one nationality.
Real estate prices have historically appreciated at around 8% per annum. Since the economic crisis in 2008, prices have stabilized but we have not seen any great drops in property values as was experienced elsewhere. The choice of good quality homes is excellent and one can choose from quality seafront apartment developments, detached villas with pools or lovely old converted farmhouses.
The healthcare system in Malta is state-of-the-art and was voted to be one of the best in the world. The new hospital is equipped with the latest medical facilities and the hospital staff are renowned for their dedication and service. The Islands are extremely safe and crime is very low. It is safe to walk around alone at night, a refreshing change from most other cosmopolitan cities. Unemployment levels are very low and the cost of living is reasonable. The Island’s history is impressive and the effect this has had on local culture is very evident.
Another of Malta’s attractions is the very favourable taxation conditions offered to expats.
The list goes on, but combining all of the above makes Malta a great place to live in and a great place to purchase a retirement home!