Moving to Malta is a dream for many. Aside from the friendly people, the climate, weather, amazing scenery and heritage, Malta also offers many other financial, practical and lifestyle benefits.
Over the next few pages we outline some of the things that you need to consider when retiring to Malta.
Malta benefits from a warm, friendly Mediterranean climate with an abundance of sunshine. The hottest time of the year is between June and September with temperatures regularly averaging 30C.
The long summer season begins with the temperature building up from April and runs through October. The winter months are usually from December to March, and temperatures can drop to 10C to 15C.
Whilst notably colder than the summer months, the weather is still seen as mild compared to more northern European countries. There is normally more rain in these months, however there are still days of sunshine to allow you to enjoy outdoor activities.
According to Eurostat figures in 2019, around 67,000 of the population living in Malta are non-Maltese. This equals around 14% of the population. Just under 40,000 of expats living in Malta were from other EU member states with 27,000 coming from non-EU countries.
The main contributors to the expat community historically have been nationals from the UK which has historic ties with Malta, Scandinavian nationals who seek warmer climates, and German nationals.
With social media having many expat communities for people living in Malta, it is easy to make friends, ask for assistance, find social events and form relationships with fellow retirees.
Malta is an incredibly safe place. Whilst not completely immune to crime events, it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the EU.
Crime against tourists or expats living in Malta is rare but as with all places, people should be vigilant, use common sense and not put themselves in situations that may present opportunities.
Malta, in general, is not a country where you will be constantly looking over your shoulder. Senior expat citizens often comment at how safe they feel compared to their home countries.
Malta is rich in history and culture and offers a wide variety of things to do and see. The country has something for everyone to enjoy and explore. Despite its small size, Malta has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the capital Valletta, the Megalithic Temples, and Mdina, known as the Silent City. The country also offers numerous beaches (rocky and sandy) for a day at the beach, and the beautiful Mediterranean sea is clean and warm for most of the year to swim. Malta is also well known as a diving centre of excellence and has many natural caves or diving wrecks to explore.
The island has many small towns to explore, two islands to visit with very different personalities, and lots of walks to keep a retiree busy.
Eating out in Malta is generally affordable with a variety of food offerings reflecting both the historical influence and also the countries locations between Europe and Africa. Being an island, Malta has an abundance of seafood offerings, and this is a popular cuisine.
Despite the islands small size, the healthcare in Malta has been rated as one of the best in the world. The World Health Organisation recently gave Malta a 5th place ranking out of a survey carried out on 100 countries worldwide for overall health care services.
The public health care system provides free services to all Maltese citizens and European Union residents with a European Health Insurance Card (more commonly known as EHIC).
Malta has a main general public hospital on the island of Malta (Mater Dei) and one also on the sister island of Gozo (Gozo General Hospital). Malta also has a number of health clinics and pharmacies which offer a number of healthcare services.
Malta is relatively small in size, so the hospital, health clinic or pharmacy is never too far away. Malta also benefits from a number of private hospitals that offer a wide range of healthcare services. St James Hospital Group owns several state of the art clinics and one private hospital.
Another Da Vinci Health has several clinics covering health care services such as breast care clinics, dentistry and specialisms in orthopaedic care.
Non-EU Citizens living in Malta must obtain private healthcare insurance. Increasingly, Maltese and EU citizens are also taking out private insurance.
Whilst the public health care systems is generally well developed, some prefer to take out additional insurance coverage which can allow for shorter waiting times for certain health care services.
Most insurance companies in Malta offer a health insurance option. LaFerla, BUPA and Atlas are just some of the more well known providers.
There are also several differing plans to suit different individual or family needs.
Medial costs and medicines are relatively affordable in comparison to other EU Member States and the US. A visit to a general doctor in Malta is approximately 20 Euros, which a visit to a specialist can cost around 50 to 75 Euros depending on the specialism.
Deciding where to live in Malta is one of the most difficult tasks you’ll face with so many ideal locations to choose from.
In fact, Malta offers the perfect blend, from locations that are perfect for those who want a slower pace of life to those that offer more lively activities.
Rest assured, wherever you choose to live, you are never too far away from anything that the Island has to offer.
In Malta, there are quite a few locations that expats are choosing as their home in retirement. St Julian’s and Sliema have historically been popular as there is plenty to do and lots of cafes and restaurants.
Both towns also have a pleasant promenade to walk in the evening and to meet up with friends. Both towns are frequented by regular bus services that connect you to the rest of the island. Sliema also has a regular ferry service to Valletta.
Further up the coast, Qawra has become popular as a location for retirement and property is generally more affordable in comparison to Sliema and St Julian’s. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants and a long promenade for those evening walks.
Further North still, the towns of Mellieha and St. Pauls are popular with expats as they are closer to the sandy beaches. The towns are also closer to the Gozo Ferry port.
The sister island of Gozo is popular with expats and retirees as it is less populated than Malta, offers a slower pace of life and has many traditional farmhouses available for rent or even purchase.
Gozo is popular for retirees as they do not have to worry about the daily commute to work.
Buying a property in Malta is a relatively straight forward process. Once a property purchase has been decided on and a price agreed, a promise of sale or preliminary agreement is drawn up and signed by the vendor and the purchaser.
On signing a promise of sale, it is usual practice that a minimum deposit of 10% of the property price is paid to a notary.
The deposit will be forfeited to the vendor in the eventuality that the property purchase does not go through for any valid legal reason.
The agreement binds both parties under the terms and conditions agreed within the document.
The signing of the final deed is subject to clear title and on the issue of the relevant permits to purchase. Non EU Nationals wishing to purchase property in Malta must obtain an Acquisition of Immovable Property Permit (AIP) which your Notary will be able to assist with and is a fairly straight forward process but as a Non EU national you will have certain conditions with regards the value of the property that can be purchased and should one wish to purchase more than one property they would have to acquire in special designated areas.
The Final Deed and completion of the contracts is usually around 3 to 4 months but can be agreed over a longer period such as six months or 1 year.
When purchasing a property in Malta you should allow for the following associated expenses:
The above costs are the liability of the purchaser whereas agency fees will be borne by the vendor.
One should always take professional advice when considering moving to a new country so as to understand your position fully.
Malta taxes on an income basis for items such as salary, pension income, other forms of income and also has rules in place on capital gains arising from the disposal of assets such as investments, property, shares to name a few.
Whether the income or capital gain is subject to tax is usually determined by your domicile and your resident status.
It is possible to be exempt from tax on certain transactions if it takes place outside of Malta and likewise it could be possibly that an individual is deemed resident in more than one country and potentially taxable in both countries.
A good accountant or tax adviser will usually be able to break this down and to explain clearly to you your tax position before you arrive in Malta.
Special tax programmes like the Malta Retirement Programme or the Global Residence programme make clear what will be taxed in Malta and usually offer a flat rate of taxation of 15% for any income remitted to Malta subject to a minimum tax payment per tax year.
For an American retiring in Malta, you will more than likely have to file taxes within the US on an annual basis. You may have to report any foreign bank accounts you have had open and funded in that particular tax year. If you open a Maltese bank account, it is likely you will have to report this. However, if you have earnt money in Malta you may be able to claim a deduction on your taxes. You may also be able to claim a number of tax credits or exemptions. It is best to speak to an accountant or tax advisor for professional advice in this area to avoid costly errors.
An important element to consider when moving to a new country is the costs of living in that country. When it comes to living in Europe, Malta is generally a more affordable country to base yourself in comparison with a lot of other EU countries. Cost of Living is naturally dependent on where you want to live and the lifestyle you choose to live.
Getting around the island is relatively cheap with bus tickets from €1.5 and 12-Day Tickets costing €15.
Groceries in Malta are on a par with most EU destinations. People choose to drink bottled water in Malta, mainly because of the taste as the water from the tap is drinkable with 6 x 2 litre bottles of water costing from €2.50.
For those that like to eat out, a dinner for two at a mid range restaurant with a glass of wine will set you back around €50 – €60.
Property prices in Malta vary considerably depending on the location, how close to the sea the property is and also if you have land.
Expats who move to Malta who are at retirement age and where receiving a pension from their home country may still be able to continue receiving their pension while living in Malta.
Malta has several special residency programmes including the Malta Retirement Programme which offers a special tax status for retirees to reside in Malta during their retirement years. The programme offers a 15% flat rate of taxation on any foreign pension income that is received in Malta subject to a minimum tax liability of €7,500 per tax year. The Malta Retirement Programme is available to EU Citizens and Non-Citizens subject to satisfying several qualifying conditions such as :
The Malta Retirement Programme is available through an authorized mandatory who is licensed by the Maltese Government to carry out the application process.
However, some individuals when choosing a residence programme may feel that the conditions outlined in the The Residence Programme or The Global Residence Programme give them and their families more flexibility with regards the income that they remit to Malta.
If you’re considering a move to Malta and would like more help and advice about residency requirements, the application process or would just like some more information about the benefits of moving to Malta, we offer a FREE consultation. Simply complete the form below, let us know the best time for you and we’ll do the rest.