Researching the cost of living in Malta is a great idea, especially if you are planning to move to this tiny island under the hot Mediterranean sun. We wish we knew more before moving here. We’ve heard things about cheap rent, warm climate all year round and well-paid jobs. Was it all true when we moved here?
At a glance, this picture-perfect rocky island is a comfortable and relatively hassle-free spot to work, live and explore. But not without its flaws.
The upside is that life in Malta is pretty easy going. With English being the second official language of the country and Malta generally being a friendly and sociable nation, it’s pretty easy to slip into the laid-back lifestyle of the Mediterranean culture.
But due to the growing iGaming and financial services industry, the demand for housing has increased rapidly resulting in never-ending construction works, increased rent and noise surrounding many residential areas. However, living so close to the sea adds to the overall experience. Being able to drop into the sea pretty much at any point is great and it’s free!
So here is all you need to know about living in Malta as an expat, digital nomad or a casual slow traveller.
Cost of Living in Malta – Rent and Rates
Before you start looking for your next European base, have a good think of where on the island you want to live so that the area meets your expectations. There are a few key factors to take into consideration such as location, vibe, and price.
*All prices quoted here for rents are based on 6 to 12-month rentals and shown as per calendar month rates.
- Sliema – Prices range from €750 (that is if you rent directly) in the north to €1,500 in this buzzing centre of the island.
- St Julian’s or Valletta – If you want your home to be right in the centre of the action, you might want to consider areas like St Julian’s or even the capital of Valletta. These sit right on the coast but are higher in price than the inland villages and towns.
- Swieqi – A town bordering St Julians can offer a two-bedroom apartment with a terrace at €1,100 including bills.
- Naxxar – For foodies and/or a quieter life we recommend Naxxar. A little way away inland from the coast, but you will love the food scene here. Also, in terms of accommodation, you are more likely to get a better deal. And if you search hard enough, you might even land a place with a pool! How about that for a new home or a digital nomad base, ha? This luxury will cost you around €1,000 which is not bad, all things considered.
- Most/Rabat/Three Villages – Interested in a more local residential area? Try Mosta or Rabat or maybe the beautiful Three Villages – Balzan, Attard, and Lija? The latter villages are considered the upper-class neighbourhoods so expect the cost of living in Malta to be slightly higher if you choose to live here.
- Msida – It’s very residential, within a walking distance from Sliema (20 min) and Valletta (40 min) it could be a good spot for a new home. We lived here for a couple of months and enjoyed local pubs in the area. Here you can get a decent 2 bedroom apartment for around €850.
- Bugibba – A large expat community is based in the northern part of the island, Bugibba. This is also a cheaper spot to make Malta your new home. Here you can get a decent place for around €700 if you are renting directly with the landlord. But if you find a job anywhere near Sliema or Valetta the commute will be excruciating.
Renting an Apartment + Ghastly Estate Agent Fees
Renting a Long-Term Property in Malta
Renting a long-term property while living in Malta is straightforward except for the annoying fees if you are using estate agents. They take 50% off your first month’s rent in fees. So if your rent is €1,000 per month, be ready to cash out €500 for the agent upfront.
Unless you are lucky enough to sign a contract directly with the landlord.
One of the ways to find a flat is by joining a local expat or rental Facebook group. However, you will find that most of the advertisers in this group are also estate agents.
We used Ben Estates based in St Julians to find us a property. We told the agent what we were looking for and he did the job in no time. It was quick and painless, except for the high fee.
Typically, you will need to sign a contract for one year. Maltese landlords don’t like direct debits, so most likely, to pay for your accommodation, you’ll have to withdraw cash each month. Having said that, our landlords were happy for us to pay them via bank transfer.
Bills are usually paid upfront and vary between €60-100 per month which all adds to the cost of living in Malta. It’s usually determined by the landlord how much you’ll have to pay so don’t forget to ask when signing a contract.
Renting a Short-Term Property in Mata
If you are coming to Malta for a short period of time, Airbnb could be a great option but the fees can be high over several weeks. On our first week in Malta, we rented an apartment for a week close to Balluta Bay in St Julians for €27 per night.
Checking with the owner to see if they are willing to rent it long-term is always an option. Our host mentioned that if we wanted to stay, he could rent the Airbnb place to us for €700 per month.
Alternatively, you can use Short Lets Malta website for good deals. Or check out the Booking.com site.
Internet Connection + Monthly Bills
There are 3 major internet providers in Malta, Go, Vodafone and the fastest fibre-powered broadband on the island, Melita, offering download speeds of up to 250 Megabits per second.
The average download speed in Malta is around 24 Mbps with the monthly bills for the internet at around €35 for higher speeds. But if you choose to live in Valletta, Sliema or St Julians, you could benefit from up to 1 Gbps at a cost of nearly €50 as shown in the below example.
Cost of Living in Malta – Food and Groceries
Largely influenced by the Italian culture, the cuisine here consists of pizzas, pasta, lovely sweet treats, and creamy gelato.
The local Maltese cuisine wasn’t our favourite, but we loved the Maltese Ftira, a tasty light and airy bread usually stuffed with tuna or other fillings. The national dish is the rabbit, typically served with pasta or as a stew in a very rich gravy sauce.
For a cheap bite on the go, there’s always a pastizzi. Pastizzi is a miniature version of a Cornish pasty, made from flaky pastry stuffed with either mushy peas or ricotta. For as little as €0.30 per piece it’s quite fatty, but a delicious snack.
Malta is a multicultural island which brings great diversity in food. Alongside tasty Italian delicacies, you can enjoy Indian, Turkish, Thai, and Vietnamese. Burgers are very popular in Malta too and there are more than a couple of good places to indulge.
Fish and seafood is a big catch in Malta and should be enjoyed across the island, especially in Marsaxlokk, a small picturesque fishing village on the south side. But it can come with a hefty price tag.
Read more: Top Food Spots in Malta
Food Costs in Malta
Supermarkets here are quite diverse. Fresh meat and imported items are slightly pricier, but overall prices aren’t too bad.
Local “off-license” stores here seem to have everything you could possibly need. The best thing about these shops is that they always have a nice selection of seasonal fruit and veg on offer. We like seeing the strawberries being replaced by peaches, melons and then cherries rather than having it all available in supermarkets all year round.
Here’s Our Typical Shopping List With Prices:
- PG Tips Black Tea (240 bags) – €8.12
- Lavazza Coffee (500g double saver pack) – €5.02
- Spaghetti Pasta (500g) – €0.83
- Rice (1 kg) – €2.89
- Freshly roasted chicken – €5.98
- Fresh chicken breast (618g) – €4.39
- Pesto (200g) – €1.95
- Butter – (250g) – €1.99
- Cream Cheese (250g) – €1.99
- Eggs x 6 – €1
- Porridge (500g) – €1.09
- Honey (500g) – €4.50
- Custard Creams (Charlie’s essentials) – €0.92
- Shower Gel (700ml, special offer) – €1.99
Food Prices in a Local Shop
Shopping at the local shops can be slightly cheaper but in general, prices are similar. When we can we always try contributing to the local community.
Wraps (packet of 6) – €1.59; eggs – €1.20; tomatoes (1kg) – €1.20; onions (1kg) – €0.80; kefir – €1.59; watermelon (1kg) – €0.60; seasonal strawberries – €2-3 per box; ready to eat avocados – €1.20; water* (pack of 6 2l bottles) – €1.80
*Tap water, in general, is safe to drink in Malta but it has an unpleasant minerally taste. While using tap water for cooking is perfectly fine, buying bottled water for drinking, is common in Malta.
Eating Out in Malta
Portions at most of the regular Maltese restaurants can be very large so it’s always a good idea to share a meal or order a starter sized portion. Especially if you are ordering a pasta dish.
Here’s a quick guide to street food prices and meals at restaurants:
- Regular Restaurants – A typical meal out in a regular restaurant will cost from €8-10 for the main course.
- Mid-Range Restaurants – On average, in a mid-range restaurant, you are looking to spend €20-30 per person including a drink.
- High-End Restaurants – For dinner at a high-end restaurant you are looking at €100 and up for two.
- Meat & Fish – Steaks and catch of the day start from €18 per portion and go up in price at higher class restaurants. Burgers can cost from 8- €15
- Salad – A generous plate of crunchy salad with grilled chicken starts from €8.50.
- Pizza – Pizzas and pasta typically start from €7 and go up to €12 for a plate of seafood pasta in a fancier restaurant.
- Street Food – Local street food snacks pastizzi stuffed with peas or ricotta cost as low as €0.30 per pastry. A Cornish pasty-like mushroom & chicken pie costs €1.50 each. These are not very healthy to live on, but perfect as a quick snack.
Read More: The Famous Sunday Market in Malta
Drinks in Malta
Local lager, Cisk, is very cheap and in some local bars. However, the fancier the bar the higher the price, that’s why it’s best to keep it local. Imported beers, of course, are more expensive than the local booze.
- A pack of 4 cans from a shop cost €6.
- In a local pub a can of local brew can cost you as little as €1, but in a fancier bar, it can go up to €5 per pint.
- Typically a draft pint should cost around €3.
- Craft beers are more expensive at around €3.50 per bottle in shops.
- Imported beer can cost up to €4 per bottle in a supermarket.
Maltese wine was a tasty surprise. At under €4 per bottle at a supermarket, it’s a rather cheap drink to enjoy by the sea or at home.
So that’s a bonus cost of living in Malta. But we never said it tasted nice!
In restaurants, local wine is also significantly cheaper than imported. For example, the local La Torre Chardonnay or La Torre Merlot costs as little as €13.
Coffee in Malta
Coffee culture in Malta is very much alive and Italian blend is widely available. Prices vary from place to place starting from €1.50 – €2 for a large Americano and €2.60 for Cappuccino. Fancier coffees topped with cream or caramel start at €2.80.
- Coffee Circus – One of the better coffee brands in Malta is Coffee Circus. They have a coffee shop in Mosta and Marsaskala but also drive a cute coffee minivan around the island.
- Dolce Sicilia – Another chain to get a half-decent cappuccino is Dolce Sicilia. They also sell some of the best custard cream pastries to go along with your coffee.
- Caffe Pascucci – The self-proclaimed best coffee in town, the Italian chain Caffe Pascucci serves organic drinks. You’ll find them in St Venera, Tigne Point (Sliema), Paceville (St Julian’s), Bay Street (Paceville), Cospicua (one of the Three Cities) and Valletta.
- Crème Café at Yorkdale – A cute cafe in Naxxar. Their USP is that they are based in a bookstore. A book and coffee sound like a good combination. My lovely American friend, expat writer Amanda informs me that the tables at Crème Café at Yorkdale are too small for co-working, but it’s worth popping in if you are in the area. Good lunch options here too.
- Cafe Berry – Hiding in Sliema (San Duminku) it’s a “hole in a wall” kind of cafe; very tiny, but makes lovely coffee.
Costs of Living in Malta -Transport
Buses are the main local transport on Malta and Gozo. While catching a bus is pretty straightforward and they are fairly regular, a distance as small as 6 miles can turn into a one-hour journey due to winding roads and many stops along the way. Local transport could also be unreliable.
Bus fare is €1.50 (€2 in high season), but if you get the brilliant Tallinja card then you’ll pay €0.75 per journey.
You can buy a prepaid card at the bus station or most of the corner shops and book/paper stores. These cost €21 per adult for unlimited 7-day bus travel.
But if living in Malta is your long-term plan, order a personalised card on Malta’s Public Transport website to save on transport costs. It could take you up to 2-4 weeks for the card to arrive in the post, there’s no clear indication when it will be ready. They also have a handy Tallinja Smartphone app to help you navigate the island.
There are three main taxi companies in Malta: eCabs, white cabs, and Taxify.
We highly recommend downloading the Taxify app in case you get stuck. It works the same way as Uber and you can get picked up from just about anywhere on the island. These are especially handy at the airport.
eCabs are pretty decent and professional. You can either download their app, book online or simply call them on 21383838.
Typical taxi prices in Malta:
- St Julians – Sliema – €9
- St Julians – Valletta – €12
- St Julians – Naxxar – €11
- St Julians – Malta airport – €18-€20
Car Rentals in Malta
Renting a car for a couple of days if you want to explore the island or hop to Gozo for a day out is pretty easy. There is a number of car hire companies to choose from, but whatever you chose, try to avoid the Gold Car company.
To make sure you are getting the best value, use the trusted MoneySavingExpert.com, our go-to resource for any money-related matters.
Otherwise, there are plenty of local car rentals that you can check if you do not fancy making a trip to the airport. If you are visiting Gozo, make sure to rent a car that has a little bit of power in it as the narrow roads on the island get pretty steep in places.
Cycling in Malta
You might think that Malta is great for cycling, but sadly, even though the new road from St. Julians to Buggiba has a cycling lane, cycling culture in Malta is still practically non-existent.
On a positive side, over 1,000km of new cycling routes have been developed in Malta and Gozo (and Sicily) thanks to the project SIBIT, funded by the EU so hopefully, the situation will change in the future.
There is the NextBike scheme being rolled out across the island. For a small fee, you can grab a bike from one of the numerous docking stations and drop it at another. It works via an app, full details and prices can be found on the NextBike site.
Ferries in Malta
Ferries in Malta run a good service between Sliema and Valletta and Malta and Gozo.
A nice way to get to Valletta, the capital of Malta is to take a ferry from Sliema. It only takes 5 minutes to cross between the two places, but it’s a nice and quick journey if you don’t fancy a bus ride.
Sliema to Valletta
To get to Valletta, go to the Sliema Terminal just across the road from the main shopping street. Ferry boats run every 15 minutes and cost €1.50 for a single and €2.80 for a return journey. For more information, you can check the official Valletta Ferry Services website.
The same Valletta Ferry service also operates between Valletta and Birgu (one of the Three Cities). The ferry terminal is right below the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Boat frequency and prices are the same.
Malta to Gozo
To get to Gozo by boat, the smaller sister island of Malta, take the passenger and car ferry Gozo Channel Line in Cirkewwa on the north end of the island. The journey takes around 20 minutes and is quite pleasant.
Don’t forget to look out for the island of Comino with its iconic Blue Lagoon as you pass by. On a clear day, you can just about see it from the ferry.
Standard fare per car+driver is €15.50 plus €4.65 per extra passenger in the car. Standard passenger tickets can be simply bought at the terminal prior to boarding. Car drivers pay the fair upon leaving Gozo.
Read More: A Day Out in the Mediterranean Sea
What’s the Climate like in Malta?
The easy living in Malta is mostly down to the superb Mediterranean climate resulting in endless hours of sunshine all year round. However, come summer and you will be wishing it away already with the temperatures rising to +46 further inland. Yep, hot and sweaty!
We are a tad sceptical about Maltese winters though. Colder weather usually kicks in in January and lasts till around April and sometimes May. So if you are thinking that living in Malta is going to be like living in tropics, it’s not.
The main problem is the uninsulated houses, single glazed windows and lack of heating. Even the new build, modern houses have the same issues. Due to high humidity winters here can feel pretty rough and damp.
Read More: 25 Beautiful Photos of Malta
Activities in Malta
With the gorgeous Mediterranean sea at the doorstep, you will have tons of various things to do here. From swimming to self-driven boats, summertime here can be really fun. There’s also paragliding, parasailing, rock climbing, kayaking, cliff jumping, jeep safaris, and all-day boat excursions.
Malta is a top spot for diving and snorkelling in the pristine Mediterranean waters. Gozo is known widely for some of the best diving conditions in Europe attracting many deepwater enthusiasts from all over the world.
Read more: Great Things to Do in Malta
During cooler months, there is a number of great trekking paths in Malta to explore or off-road biking activities to try. Otherwise, there are cinemas, theatres and lots of historic places to check out before the blistering hot Mediterranean summer kicks in.
Weekends Breaks From Malta
Living in Malta for a long time can make you feel a little claustrophobic because it’s so small. But escaping the rock is quite easy since Ryanair and Air Malta operate affordable flights to quite a few destinations like London, Budapest, Barcelona, Prague, and Istanbul.
A flight to Catania in Sicily with Air Malta, for example, takes max 40 mins and can cost as little as €30 per person one way. And they keep adding new destinations to the list, which is great.
Co-Working Space in Malta
If you are running an online business, blog or anything that doesn’t tie you to an office desk, there a few dedicated co-working spaces in Malta.
- Cocohub – For a friendly, cutting-edge co-working space in a beautiful location, check out the Cocohub.io. With good coffee, speedy WiFi and friendly staff, you are guaranteed to get stuff done in this colourful digital nomad house. For more information, rates and bookings, visit their website.
- Grand Central – For a co-working space in Valletta, check out Grand Central. They offer drop-in memberships and also have a fab roof terrace with views over the Grand Harbour.
- Prints of Wales – We can also recommend a spot in Sliema over at ‘Prints of Wales’, who sell ‘souvenirs that don’t suck’. It’s a funky little shop with a co-working space at the back for €12 per day.
- Hub – There’s also the funky ‘Hub’ workspace in San Gwann with hot-desking from €15 per day.
- Caffe Pascucci – Working in a cafe could sometimes be a good option. Caffe Pascucci in St Julian’s is a great option because it’s spacious with large floor-to-ceiling windows and relatively comfortable tables and chairs.
But if you are a digital nomad and prefer working from your base, check out these top digital nomad tools to stay well connected and organised.
Living and Working in Malta
Finding a job in Malta depends on your skillset and what you can actually do here to earn money.
Quite a few agencies operate on the island to help you find a job. While some of them are helpful, the majority – if we are brutally honest – are inadequate, especially when looking for a job in the iGaming sector. If you can, try to apply directly to the company via their website.
If you are a non-EU national, you will have to get a working permit which is usually organised by an employer. However, this might not always mean that once you get the permit, you can freely apply for other jobs with other companies in Malta. Sometimes a work permit is tied to the specific company only.
As we already mentioned earlier, iGaming and Finacial industry are booming on the island. How long it will carry on growing – who knows? But if you are looking for a job in online gambling, Malta is the place to be.
Examples of jobs are available for copywriters, developers (both front and end), UX, web designers, SEO, commercial and compliance specialists. So if you think you can nail one of these positions, don’t hesitate to apply. As opposed to the local Maltese businesses, gaming companies here often offer more perks, better pay, and flexibility.
Based on our personal experience, the worst time to look for a job in Malta is November – December, and August.
Salaries in Malta
Salaries in Malta vary depending on the company and your experience. It’s very rare for a company to disclose the salary publicly. You will have to negotiate it during your interview.
Gaming Companies – Some iGaming companies offer between €20-25k for entry-level depending on the position and your experience (not necessarily in the field), and how well you present yourself during the interview. Support agents are offered from €16k – €25K+ per year, depending on the company.
Higher positions start from €30k+ and SEO specialists can earn up to €50k per year depending on the skill set, experience, and company.
However, once you get your foot in the door, you have plenty of chances to grow and get promoted because of the high staff turnover. For many, especially younger people, Malta is a great pit stop for a couple of years before they either move back home to further their studies or get jobs elsewhere in Europe.
Local Companies – Contrary to the international gaming companies, local business offer less money, from €15-17k per year for any admin/marketing positions and no additional perks. This can also happen with international finance companies who are dodging tax.
Health Care in Malta
Healthcare in Malta is easily accessible. There are many private health care clinics that you can attend if needed. A general medical checkup or consultation costs around €12 up to €35 for a simple dental procedure.
Pharmacies are readily available in Malta and have the majority of medicines from painkillers to cough relievers and so on. The pharmacists we came across were very helpful and knowledgeable so don’t worry about bringing any general meds with you.
Is it Safe to Live in Malta?
In general, Living in Malta is safe. Just look out for those construction cranes above your heads, there’s not that much health and safety going on!
Also, the pavements here can be lethal. It’s something to do with the materials they use to construct the pedestrian walkways that are dangerously slippery so mind your feet! Sometimes it feels like walking on ice in +40 C!
Violent crime is not very common on the island, however, you should still be wary when partying in Paceville, it can get a little rough during the high season.
Another huge concern is drunk driving. It seems widely accepted on the island so be extra careful on the road especially at night or in the early hours of the morning.
Read more: Malta Itinerary: 3 Days on the Island
Are you living Malta already or just planning the move? Either way, leave us a comment below if you have any more questions…