After not going on any holidays as a family for three years, we threw in the towel on frugality and decided to embrace life and travel around Europe. One of the destinations that caught our interest was Malta.
I was skeptical about visiting Malta at first as it is a very small country (city-state), and I am a big lover of green areas and nature. But I couldn’t help but give in to the pressure from friends and family.
Located in the south Mediterranean, Malta has hot summers and cool humid winters. It is surrounded by coastline, has English and Maltese as the official languages, and Valletta as its capital city.
Having spent a day in Valletta my family went North and spent another four days in Mellieha and driving around the island. My impressions were as follows:
1. Stunning beaches. The shallow waters make them warm enough to swim in even in April.
2. Very bright saturated colours inevitably contribute to a sense of well-being.
3. Plenty of hiking trails to keep you fit and interested. Many secluded little spots and picnic areas.
4. Low unemployment rate compared to the rest of Europe. Finding a job here isn’t just a dream from yesteryear.
5. Valletta is a beautiful city with lots to offer in the form of entertainment, history and meeting other people.
6. Free childcare for working parents. Yes, really! Completely free including the time your commute will take.
7. Free schools. Though you may have to go private if you find the classroom sizes too large in the public schools.
8. The playgrounds can be found all around the island making it very child friendly.
9. Low rents. Higher in the city than in the towns. You can find a beautiful modern two bedroom condo outside Valetta for 350-500 euros a month.
10. Proximity to Italy and the rest of Europe allows you to enjoy holidays in Sicily, Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice anytime you want. Hence there is little need to feel claustrophobic about being on a small island.
11. Good Healthcare. free for citizens of Malta and some citizens of Great Britain. Affordable for citizens of the EU employed in Malta.
1. Low salaries. Near full employment comes at a price, with the minimum salary being just over 4 euros an hour.
2. Humidity. Though lovely during the summer, many locals complain about how cold it gets in the winters due to humidity.
3. Bad drivers. People seem to make the rules as they go when they are in a car.
4. Expensive food. Pastizzi and Pizza aside, even the Lidl supermarkets in Malta are about 15% more expensive than those on the mainland. If you live in a small town and can’t drive to a Lidl, you could end up paying up to 40% more for food than you would in Spain or 30% more than you would in Ireland.
5. The poor areas. Even in Valetta there are residential neighbourhoods which are, for lack of a better word, eyesores.
Malta is a beautiful place that offers a wonderful quality of life. Whether you embrace this quality of life or not depends entirely on your budget, habits and personal situation.