Malta: country profile
Location. Malta is an island country located in the centre of the Mediterranean sea. Its closest neighbours are the Italian island of Sicily, Libya, and Tunisia on the North African coast.
Malta is nestled on an archipelago, and the three largest islands of it are inhabited. These are the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Weather. Malta has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild, almost snowless winters. Spring is usually rainy there. The hottest months of the year are July and August, when the temperature reaches 30ºC, and the coldest ones are January and February, with the average temperature around 13ºC.
The average temperature of the sea in Malta is 20ºC. The highest it is in August, when it reaches 26ºC. From January to April, the sea temperature drops to 15—16ºC.
Language. Maltese and English are the two official languages of Malta. Maltese is a Semitic language derived from a dialect of Arabic. It’s written in Latin script.
Expats don’t have to learn Maltese to live in Malta comfortably because most of the population speaks English.
Population. The total population of Malta is around 520 thousand people. Around 80% are Maltese; the rest are immigrants from other countries.
Malta provides foreign nationals with an opportunity to obtain residency by investment or become a citizen by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
Political system. Currently, Malta is a unitary multiparty republic. The Maltese parliament is the House of Representatives, and the president is elected by it every five years. Executional power is exercised by the Government headed by the Prime Minister.
Religion. Roman Catholicism is the state religion in Malta. There are Protestant and Muslim communities.
Cities and towns of Malta
The capital of Malta is the city of Valletta on the east coast of Malta island. The city has a population of around 5.1 thousand residents. Valletta takes up only 0.61 km2 – that’s about the size of Disneyland park in California. It’s the smallest capital city in Europe.
The largest cities by population are Birkiraka and Saint Paul’s Bay, with 29 and 25 thousand residents, respectively.
The zones of Qawra and Bugibba form a large seaside promenade within Saint Paul’s Bay. Tourists love this place for its historical attractions, great restaurants, vibrant nightclubs, beautiful panoramic views of the sea and the rocky coastline with small inlets to access clear water.
The town of Mdina, with a population of just a few hundred people, is the former capital of the country. Now it’s the centre of Maltese nobility and religious authorities.
Saint Julian’s and Sliema on the east coast of the island of Malta are the popular resort towns with all the necessary infrastructure. They are a 10-minute ride away from Valletta.
Mellieha is a popular tourist place in the north of Malta island, along with Qawra and Bugibba. It’s a calm village with sandy beaches and picturesque scenery. For its laid‑back setting, locals and foreign tourists often choose it for family leisure.
Marsaskala, a town on the southwestern part of the island, takes the place of the most popular resorts. Locals tend to come there for fishing. Tourists, on the other hand, enjoy fresh seafood at restaurants.
Brief history of Malta
Maltese islands were first inhabited around 5900 BC. Because of their location at the crossroads of the trade routes between Europe and Africa, these lands were attractive to rulers of different countries and empires.
Over the centuries, Malta was under the rule of the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, and the Normans. All these cultures had left their traces on the islands.
In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took over the islands, but shortly after that, Malta went under British rule. It remained a part of the British Empire until gaining independence in 1964.
The country retained Elizabeth II as the Queen of Malta for ten years after becoming an independent state. In 1974, Malta became a Republic. In May 2004, the state joined the European Union.
Quality of life in Malta
Salaries and pensions. According to the National statistics office of Malta, the average wage in the country in 2022 is around €20,500 yearly or €1,700 per month. The minimum wage is €792. Per Eurostat, residents of Malta earn more than those in Greece or Portugal.
Retirees in Malta get two-thirds of their former salaries as a pension, but not more than €22,138 yearly. Maltese citizens can retire at the age of 61 or 65. Those who agree to start receiving pension later can increase their income by 5—6.5%.
Taxes. The income tax for individuals in Malta is from 0% to 35%, depending on the person’s income and marital status. For instance, a non-married person who earns €9,100 a year or less will pay 0% of income tax. And those who earn more than €60,000 per year have to pay the tax at the highest rate — 35%.
For businesses, the main taxes are a flat income tax of 35% and VAT at a base rate of 18%. The total amount paid in taxes can be reduced through refunds and other benefits.
Safety and security. Malta is a safe place to live and raise children. Crime rates are relatively low. According to a study by Eurostat in 2020, in Malta, there are only 25 police-reported crimes per 100 thousand residents: it’s less than in the Netherlands, Ireland or Denmark.
Aside from that, Malta is considered to be the safest country in Europe and the second-safest in the world when it comes to the safety of women. The Global Wealth Migration Review authors studied the number of assault reports made by women in 195 countries, considering the reliability of crime statistics and the freedom of women to make reports to the police.
Healthcare. Malta’s healthcare system provides both state and private hospitals and clinics. Most of the residents, about 80%, take advantage of the state facilities.
According to Statista, Malta is in the top 15 countries in the world by the health index score. The health index measures the extent to which people are healthy and have access to healthcare facilities in the country, as well as mortality rates, illness and risk factors and health outcomes.
Education. Maltese children start studying in schools at five years old. There are three types of schools — public, private and church schools. Aside from that, there are international schools with education in English.
After graduating from secondary school at 18 years old, Maltese can continue their education in one of the universities.
The Maltese higher education system adheres to the principles of the European Bologna system. This means there are three types of programs — bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD. A year of bachelor’s degree costs from €3,000 to €10,000, depending on the program.
For instance, at the University of Malta, one of the oldest universities in Europe, prices for undergraduate programs start at €8,500.
Cost of living in Malta
Property prices for rent and purchase. Rent in Valletta costs around €890 for a one‑bedroom apartment and €1,200 for a two‑bedroom one, per Eurostat.
Real estate for sale costs around €1,986 per square metre in Valletta and around €2,322 on the northern part of the island of Malta, according to a report by Djar analytic platform. The cheapest real estate is on the island of Gozo — €1,449 per square metre.
Renting or purchasing real estate in Malta is one of the conditions for obtaining a residence or permanent residence permit by investment in the country. Moreover, foreigners who buy or rent housing in Malta can obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
Everyday expenses. Because of Malta’s location, imported goods can be relatively expensive there. This increases the cost of living on the islands.
According to the Numbeo database, a single person needs around €755 per month for their everyday expenses without rent. That’s more than in Spain or Portugal but less than in the Netherlands and Austria.
Costs for everyday expenses in Malta
|Loaf of fresh bread||€1,2 per item|
|Eggs||€2,5 per pack of 12|
|Local cheese||€9 per kg|
|Chicken fillets||€8 per kg|
|Apples||€2,5 per kg|
|Tomatoes||€3 per kg|
|Cappuccino||€2,5 per item|
|Electricity, heating, water, and garbage services for a one-bedroom apartment||€95 per month|
|Prepaid mobile plan, including minutes, SMS and internet||From €15 per month|
|Internet for home||€35 per month|
|Bus||€2 per ride|
|Ferry||From €1.50 per ride|
|Taxi||€2 per km|
|Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two||€65 per cheque|
|Fitness club||€63 per month|
|Cinema, international release||€10 per ticket|
Malta for expats: important things to know
20% of Malta’s population are foreign nationals. This is not a new trend — immigrants from different countries have been choosing Malta for decades now. Back in the 90-s, people from Eastern and Southern Europe were coming there to work and study.
Even before that, as a result of British rule, a lot of people from the UK moved to the islands to live, work and retire.
Most expats choose Sliema and St Paul’s Bay regions. In these areas, around one-third of the population are foreign residents, according to the National statistics office of Malta.
Investors can obtain residency and citizenship by naturalisation. One of the ways foreign nationals can obtain residency in Malta is to participate in its residency‑by‑investment program. The conditions include purchasing or renting a high-value property in the country, paying administrative and government fees, and, in some cases, making a non-refundable charitable contribution to a local non-government organisation.
Malta citizenship is possible to obtain by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. The minimum investment, in this case, is €690,000. Before getting a passport, an applicant must retain a residency status for 1 or 3 years.
Tax residency. Investors and other naturalised citizens of Malta don’t get any tax benefits in Malta. But the country’s tax system itself can be beneficial in comparison to their country of origin.
For instance, Malta does not have an annual property tax. Aside from that, the taxation for businesses is quite favourable — shareholders of Maltese companies can return up to 100% of the paid corporate tax as a refund.
Typically, to become a Malta tax resident, one must live in the country for 183+ days a year.
How to become a resident or citizen of Malta
Malta’s citizens and residents gain many benefits when obtaining their statuses.
Citizens of the country can visit over 180 countries visa-free, get the right to reside and work in Malta or any other EU country, and take advantage of local healthcare and education.
Residents of Malta can live in the country indefinitely, travel to the states of the Schengen area for 90 days every 180-day period, as well as study at local universities and take treatment in Maltese healthcare facilities.
To their applications for citizenship and residency, investors can add their close family members:
- spouses or registered partners;
- children up to 18 years old;
- principally dependent children over 18 years old with no age limit for permanent residency and with an age limit of 29 for citizenship;
- parents of the investor and their spouse;
- grandparents of the investors and their spouses.
Citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. Before obtaining their passports, investors must first retain residency status for 1 or 3 years.
The total investment amount includes the purchase or rent of real estate, a non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), a donation to a Maltese non-governmental organisation, and administrative fees.
If an investor decides to purchase real estate, the minimal price for it should be €700,000 or more. In the case of rent, the property should cost at least €16,000 per year.
The applicant is obliged to stay in ownership of the real estate for five years after obtaining citizenship. After five years have passed, it can be sold. Same with rent — the lease agreement should be for at least five years.
The contribution to NDSF is €600,000 for citizenship in three years and €750,000 for citizenship in one year. For each family member in the application, the investor needs to add €50,000. Aside from that, investors need to make a €10,000 donation to a Maltese NGO.
Together with the investments, the applicant also pays a €15,000 Eligibility test fee, €3,000 administrative fees, and a €5,000 residence permit card issuance fee.
Malta permanent residence program. To become permanent residents of Malta, applicants need to fulfil several investment conditions. This includes renting or purchasing real estate, paying the government, contribution and administrative fees, and making a donation to a local non-governmental organisation.
The price of a rental estate depends on the region the investor chooses. For properties in the south of the island of Malta or the island of Gozo, the minimal price is €10,000 per year. For the north or centre of Malta, it’s €12,000 per year.
If the applicant decides to purchase real estate, the minimal price is €300,000 for the south of Malta or the island of Gozo and €350,000 for the north or centre of Malta.
The contribution fee is €58,000 in the case of rent of real estate and €28,000 in the case of purchase. If grandparents are included in the application, the fee increases by €7,500 for each grandparent.
The administrative fee is €40,000, and the charitable donation is €2,000 regardless of renting or buying real estate.
Aside from the expenses above, the applicant must provide evidence of at least €500,000 in available assets, including a minimum of €150,000 of liquid financial assets.
Malta residence permit. Investors seeking a residence permit in Malta must buy or rent a property in the country and pay an administration fee. Aside from that, the applicant will spend at least €15,000 per year in taxes.
The minimal price of the property depends on the location. In the case of rent, it’s €8,750 for housing in the south of Malta or on the island of Gozo and €9,600 for the north or centre of Malta. Aside from that, the investor needs to pay an administration fee of €6,000.
If the investor wants to purchase real estate, the minimal price is €220,000 for properties in the south of Malta and the island of Gozo. In this case, the administration fee is €5,500.
For properties in the north and centre of Malta, the minimal cost is €275,000, and the administration fee is €6,000.
Pros of living in Malta
Laid-back lifestyle. Malta doesn’t have vast and busy megapolises. The largest cities have a population of under 30 thousand people and resemble tranquil towns and villages.
People in Malta prefer a slow stress-free life. Usually, they are not used to staying late at work or sacrificing their weekends for it. Instead, they enjoy their leisure time at family picnics and weekend escapes with friends.
Mild climate. Great weather almost all year round is another attractive side of Malta. The swimming season there lasts six months — from May to October. And winters are snowless and very mild.
Expat-friendly. With every fifth resident of Malta being an expat, there is a big community of foreign residents. There are international private schools with lessons in English for children and a lot of language schools for adults.
Foreigners don’t have to learn the Maltese language to live comfortably there because nearly everyone speaks English. All the websites of state institutions, communal services, and universities are translated into English.
Good medicine. Malta provides one of the world’s best healthcare systems to its citizens and residents. According to Lancet’s Healthcare Access and Quality Index, Malta is among the top 30 countries with high-quality medical care available to its residents.
Maltese citizens get free treatment at state clinics and hospitals. Foreigners with residency can access the country’s healthcare with medical insurance, which is, in most cases, required to obtain a residence permit.
European education. Citizens of Malta can take advantage of universities all over the European Union and study there with low or no tuition fees. For instance, children of Maltese citizens can study at Portuguese, Austrian and German universities for free.
Relatively low cost of living. While Malta is not the cheapest country to live in, everyday life there is still a lot more affordable than in the countries of Western and Northern Europe.
Rental prices in Valletta, for example, are lower than in Munich, Paris or Stockholm. In their everyday life in Malta, people spend less than residents of Belgium, France and Austria.
Beautiful setting. Malta boasts both dramatic natural attractions and cultural monuments from ancient times. Although the country is relatively small — it’s five times smaller than London — there are always places to go and wonders to see.
Cons of living in Malta
Limited cultural activities and party life. There are not so many activities in Malta aside from sightseeing and resting at the seaside. Those who love attending musicals every week and dancing at parties until 5 AM might find life in Malta slightly boring.
Construction everywhere. The landscape of Malta’s cities and towns is rapidly changing — new residential complexes and hotels are constantly being built. Locals complain that construction sites are everywhere — it ruins the view and can be quite noisy for those who live nearby.
Bureaucracy. New residents of Malta will have to get used to huge amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy. The processes in local administration offices sometimes could be more agile and user-friendly; some services cannot be obtained online and require a personal submission of documents.
Investors avoid doing all the paperwork by themselves when it comes to residency‑by‑investment programmes and citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services. They can only apply with a legal intermediary and must do it through a licenced agent, like Immigrant Invest.
No central heating. Most of the year, this is not a problem. But there are a couple of winter months when the temperature drops to 10ºC, and it would be nice to have central heating. The problem, however, can be solved with a simple portable electric heater.
Crowded beaches. Malta boasts several Blue Flag beaches — they look heavenly in the pictures, but during the peak season can be very crowded. Fortunately, in mid‑September, most tourists depart from the islands, leaving residents around two months to enjoy the white sand beaches and warm sea.
Frequently Asked Questions
The island of Malta is located in the centre of the Mediterranean sea. Its closest neighbours are Sicily to the north and Libya and Tunisia to the south and southwest.
The capital of Malta is the city of Valletta. It’s located on the east coast of the island of Malta and has a population of around 7 thousand residents.
Malta covers an area of 316 km². This includes the inhabited islands of Malta, Gozo and Camino, as well as several small uninhabited islands.
There are two official languages in Malta — Maltese and English. Most of the population speaks both of them.
Maltese is a Semitic language derived from a northern dialect of Arabic.
Malta has a population of around 520 thousand residents.
Many foreigners choose Malta to move to for its mild climate, relatively inexpensive cost of living, Blue Flag beaches and expat-friendly environment. However, there are some cons to life in Malta, such as limited cultural life and bureaucracy. Overall, there are many more pros to living in Malta than cons.
A single person needs around €755 per month for their everyday expenses without rent. That is more than in Spain or Portugal but less than in the Netherlands and Austria. Rent in Valletta costs as much as in Lisbon or Vienna.
Non-Maltese beneficiaries receiving a pension from the United Nations fund can participate in the United Nations Pension program. There are several requirements for the applicants, including not being employed and owning a property in Malta.
Aside from that, other ways to obtain residency in Malta might be more convenient. Investors from non-EU countries can obtain residency by investment or become citizens by naturalisation for exceptional services.
To apply for permanent residency by investment, applicants need to rent or buy real estate, pay government and administrative fees and make a charitable donation. Aside from that, they will have to pass an Eligibility test and prove that they have assets of €500,000 in the disposal.
To become citizens by naturalisation for exceptional services, investors must first retain a residence permit for 1 or 3 years. The conditions include buying or renting real estate, paying contribution and administrative fees, and making a charitable donation to a local NGO.
Most expats in Malta choose the cities of St Paul’s Bay and Sliema to live in. Another popular location is the town of Birzebbuga in the south of Malta.