Malta is the EU’s smallest member state, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean. The nation’s history, and culture, have been uniquely enriched by successive foreign occupiers. The official languages in Malta are English, and Maltese. The island’s thriving expat scene is a result of its attractive career prospects, and inimitable way of life. Malta’s storied past is testament to its enduring position as a multicultural stronghold. In essence, Malta is the ideal cosmopolitan village.
Malta is a historical goldmine, owing to its location at the intersection of various regional powers. Its history dates back seven millennia; much of it still existent, most notably, the Megalithic Temples, which are the world’s oldest free-standing structures, the Mediaeval city of Mdina, and the nation’s capital, Valletta. All three have garnered UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Malta’s history, like its culture, is a fine tapestry, thousands of years in the making.
Building on already firm foundations including tourism, iGaming, manufacturing and financial services, Malta’s economy is diversifying into AI, Big Data, IoT, and DLTs, niche sectors in which Malta could position itself as a world leader. The aviation industry is taking off; apart from the established MRO and engineering niches, the UAV industry is also shaping into a new exciting sector. Malta is also targeting the budding Medical Cannabis sector while its sunny climate has also cemented itself as a favourite for the now expanding digital games and digital creativity markets.
The World's Best Climate
It’s official; ‘International Living’ magazine has placed Malta no. 1 on its World’s Best Climate rankings. Malta’s year-round temperate climate and over 300 days of sunshine per annum have earned it this desirable accolade. Expats can bask in the sun whatever the season; the country boasts 12 hours of daylight in the summer, and a respectable 5-6 hours during the winter months.
A Home in the Sun
The ongoing building boom means that accommodation is not in short supply. Properties of every kind abound, and the process for finding one to match your budget is facilitated by real estate firms, of which there are many, both local and international. Locating a property close to amenities is relatively hassle-free, so it should not pose an issue.
Malta’s focus on family values translates into most employees enjoying a solid work-life balance, and spending quality time with their families. This has not escaped the notice of expats, who have remarked on Malta’s fair work-life balance, despite the number of hours not differing markedly from foreign norms. Over-time is not commonplace, and down-time, over evenings, and weekends, is generally a given. To top it off, entertainment is just a short car ride away.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Malta, albeit rising, sits at the lower end in Europe, and near the middle on a global scale. This means that most necessary items can be obtained for a third of the going rate, compared to the world’s most expensive cities. Groceries cost more here than in Eastern Europe, but less than in many Western countries, and global business centres.
Malta’s clement weather provides for the year-round enjoyment of outdoor activities, such as water sports, hiking, fishing, and horse riding, to mention a few. Malta is well known for its beautiful scuba diving sites, which are always an option for prospective divers; the sea temperature never drops below 13°C (55°F). Gyms, and both football, and water polo clubs, are plenteous. Malta has a single golf course, the Royal Malta Golf Club.
Active in Malta
Recreational activities are always close at hand in Malta; the nightlife scene is strong, the sea is never far from sight, cafes and eateries dot the island. Cinemas, theatres, fitness clubs are to be found with ease. Culture seekers can expect frequent art, and culture, festivals, and will be drawn into the atmosphere surrounding many feasts celebrating patron saints, a tradition inherited from the Knights. The high-street shops, and local markets, will satisfy diehard shopaholics.
Housing in Malta, whether urban or provincial, is typically affordable. Luxury accommodation is an option, at a price; apartments at Portomaso and Tigné Point are among the most expensive, and are appropriately surrounded by a suite of commercial amenities. Rent -which is paid monthly, in advance- is understandably high for such properties, but is reasonable elsewhere. Utility costs are not covered by rent, but are charged based on usage. Malta’s small; expect short commutes.
Businesses in Malta operate under a number of structures. Most entrepreneurs choose LLC. It is mandatory for every company registered in Malta to have a registered office in Malta, while also being required to submit a valid Memorandum, and Articles of Association. Companies, and partnerships, are registered with the Registry of Companies, at the MFSA. Malta Enterprise, and Business First, are here to assist start-ups in navigating through both the legal, and the banking system.
Malta Enterprise Support Services
Malta Enterprise’s support services will mentor start-ups through their inception, scale-up, and further growth. Each start-up is assigned a relationship manager, who will direct their attention to the various support schemes that they qualify for. Malta Enterprise can introduce start-ups to other Government bodies, and can facilitate contact with the finance, and education sectors, as well as Corporate Service Providers, Offices and Industrial space.
Malta Life Sciences Park & Kordin Business
Malta Enterprise, in its mission, to support SME formation, and growth, manages 2 facilities:
The Malta Life Sciences Park, which is made up of two buildings, the Malta Life Sciences Centre and the Malta Digital Hub. It is backed by noteworthy local stakeholders and houses many tenants operating in the multifaceted life sciences sector.
KBIC (Kordin Business Incubation Centre), targets both tech companies but also others that would need a more industrial landing facility, granting them up to three years’ use of the premises. Meanwhile the Maltese Government also runs the
Gozo Innovation Hub, located on the neighbouring island of Gozo, accommodates start-ups operating in the knowledge-based economy, as well as the digital innovation sectors.
In 2000, the WHO ranked Malta’s health system’s performance as World no. 5 (The World Health Report 2000 Health Systems: Improving Performance, pg. 200). A survey by Eurofound determined that Malta’s inhabitants hold the health system in high regard, and are very optimistic about their future. Most health services are provided by the Government, free-of-charge, and are available to Maltese citizens, and expats paying National Insurance. Private healthcare is also available.
Education in Malta is primarily provided by the Government, and is based upon the British system. A number of private institutions, and international schools, exist, and are suitable for expat children, the language of instruction being English. Baccalaureate tuition runs parallel to the local syllabus, and is the way forward for expatriate children who plan on pursuing further education, and employment opportunities, abroad. The University of Malta provides tertiary education, in line with the Bologna Process.
Welcoming your Family
Malta is safe and family-centric, good news for expats relocating to Malta along with their family. The island has attracted an ever-expanding expat community; 25% of Malta’s workforce consists of expats. It is very easy to integrate due to the sheer volume of expats, plus, the number relocating to Malta, all-year-round, should make you feel right at home. Various expat groups have been formed on social media, with the aim of helping, and connecting, fellow expats.
Salaries and Wages
The salaries and wages in Malta (€15/h) are lower than most EU countries (EU27 - €27.7/h, EA19 - €31.4/h), and the increase in the wage rate from 2018 to 2019 (1.0%) is also lower than its counterparts (EU27 – 2.9%, EA19 – 2.5%), according to a 2020 study. It is also worth noting that hourly labour costs in Malta are roughly half those in the EU27 and EA19.
National Insurance contributions are set to 10% of the gross salary, capped at €2,500 for both employer and employee. The only employment taxes in Malta are NI, and personal income tax.
Taxation: Corporate & Personal
Malta’s corporate tax rate is 35%, which can decrease to 5% for non-resident shareholders, due to Malta’s imputation tax system. The EU, and the OCED, fully approve of Malta’s tax system.
Malta Enterprise runs the Qualifying Employment in Innovation and Creativity scheme, which offers qualifying highly skilled expats a flat tax rate of 15%. There are other similar schemes run by different entities.
The personal income tax rate for individuals in Malta is attractive, even when set against international standards.
Malta is home to many talented individuals, with a high level of dexterity. Local talent, in addition to the pool of global talent, can be relied upon to provide skills to match any prospective venture. According to 2020’s Global Competitiveness Talent Report, Malta scores 23rd out of the 132 nations on its index. Malta has a good track record for attracting, and retaining, talent, scoring 20th and 14th, respectively.