The cost of living in Malta is relatively affordable, compared to other European countries, although Malta's average wage is also comparatively lower.
Basic grocery costs include:
Meals out vary in price range, from €10 for two people at a local pub, to €100 for two people at a fine dining restaurant. For a full meal, with wine, at a family-style restaurant expect to pay €20-€40 per person.
Admission at the cinema costs roughly €5-€10 in Malta. Bars generally do not charge cover fees in Malta. Drink prices at bars range from €1-€10; cocktails are generally €5, wines by the glass €4-€6, wines by the bottle €12+, and beer €2-€4 per pint.
Bus rates are different for residents and non-residents of Malta (you are considered a resident once you obtain your residence permit). Non-residents pay €2.60/day or €2.20 for a two hour pass, while residents pay €1.50/day or €1.20 for a 2 hour pass. Saver cards are also available to students, and cost €21 to top up for 30 days, or €60 for 90 days.
Clothing costs in Malta are relative depending on where you currently live and what price range you normally shop in. There are few discount chains in Malta, with the majority of clothing shops being local businesses or upper range chains (e.g. Zara, Guess, Paul & Shark, Calvin Klein, Diesel, etc.) There are also several high-end boutiques. Essentially, there is clothing to fit every price range in Malta. However, finding good quality clothing for an affordable price can be challenging.
Utilities in Malta are costly, especially for non-residents. Gasoil for heating costs €1.05/L, while kerosene costs €1.38/L. Gas - used in heaters and cookers – is €1.70-€1.80 per kilogram, or €23 for a 15kg cylinder.
Electricity rates in Malta are based on residency status and usage rates (i.e. electricity tariffs rise relative to the more electricity you consume). Tariffs for non-residents range from €0.20 for up to 2,000 units of electricity, and top out at €0.70 for 20,001+ units. Tariffs for residents range from €0.16 for up to 2,000 units of electricity, and top out at €0.62 for 20,001+ units. In a flat-share situation (at a residential rate), electricity costs are generally €50-€90 per month.
Water rates in Malta are based on the registered occupancy of a housing unit. For dwellings with zero (0) residents registered, water tariffs are €2.30/m3 for up to 33 m3, and €5.41/m3 thereafter. For dwellings with one or more residents registered, water tariffs are €1.47/m3 for up to 33 m3, and €5.41/m3 thereafter.
Gas or petrol prices in Malta are costly compared to North America, but comparative to the rest of Europe. As of yearend 2012, in Malta unleaded petrol cost €1.50/L, and diesel cost €1.38/L.
Malta is a densely populated country, but each Maltese village has its own character and flavor, and its pros and cons. While preparing for your housing search, you should consider which village suits your lifestyle. Important factors to consider are whether or not you will purchase a car, whether you want to be close to the nightlife, how close you wish to live to a grocery store, schools, workplace, etc. You should be aware that most rental properties in Malta come furnished, and utilities are generally not included in rental fees.
Some villages are better serviced than others by public transport – generally, the farther you get from Malta's east-central region, the less frequent the bus service. Further, some villages are more conducive to a car and bus-free lifestyle: most amenities in Sliema and St. Julian's are generally within walking distance.
You must also consider whether you wish to be close to bars, restaurants, and other sources of entertainment. Some villages are more family centric – such as Birkirkara, Balzan, and Lija – while Sliema, St. Julian's, and Paceville are more suited to those seeking a highly social, urban lifestyle. For a slower pace of life, the villages on northern shores are popular with holiday makers, retirees and expats, while lower costs of living can be found in the south of the island.
Malta's main university campus is located in Msida, so many students decide to live there or in its surrounding villages (Gzira, San Gwann, Sliema, Ta' Xbiex).
While many government offices and businesses are located in Valletta, the population of Malta's capital city is only 6,000 (compared to +15,000 in Sliema, and +20,000 in Birkirkara, two of Malta's largest cities).
The most popular area for expats to settle in Malta – at least initially – is Sliema and St. Julian's, where a seaside lifestyle, beaches, and an abundance of shops and restaurants facilitate networking and meeting new people.
Before searching for housing, you should also familiarize yourself with the housing options in Malta, which may differ from where you currently live. A quick search on a local real estate web site will provide you with options: flats or apartments, townhouses, and villas. Each property type has its pros and cons, and are suited to different lifestyles. Traditional Maltese townhouses are beautiful, but many are outdated in their furnishings and style, and present some problems in terms of heating and dampness in the winter. Flats or apartments are a great option, but can be small and expensive, depending on their location. Villas are the most expensive option, but offer rare gardens and space on this small island.
Be aware that the listings on local real estate web sites are not updated frequently, so it should not be taken for granted that properties listed are available to rent.
Flatsharing is a very affordable accommodation option in Malta. Most flats in Malta are 1-3 bedrooms, and are fully furnished. This means they include all furniture and accessories for the kitchen and bathroom, including linens, pots and pans, etc.
Typical rental fees for multi-bedroom flats vary widely from village to village. In Sliema and St. Julian's, the most popular areas among expats, 2-3 bedroom flats cost €600+ per month: modern seafront flats may cost €1,000+, while older multi-level townhouses may cost less than €700.
In a flatshare situation utilities are normally split between flat mates. In Malta, the typical utility arrangement is to pay your landlord €50 per month towards electricity and water costs, and to settle the difference in utilities fees upon termination of your letting agreement. Internet and television services typically cost €50-€100 per month, and are the responsibility of the tenant(s).
To find flatmates, you can inquire on EasyExpat's Malta forums http://www.easyexpat.com/forums/malta.html. Alternately, you may wish to consult newspaper classifieds, such as the Times of Malta. You may also search on local classified web sites, such as di-ve, Malta Park, izejd, okMalta, or Free Ads Malta. Further, it is possible to find prospective roommates via social media, such as Facebook. No matter what avenue you use, remember to exercise caution and ask for references.
Another common method of finding flatmates in Malta is to arrive in Malta and seek a temporary accommodation situation in a hotel or flat. Once you settle in at your job, or make friends outside the office, you will have gained valuable connections who may wish to enter into a flatshare situation with you, or who may know someone who does.
Due to Malta's relatively small size and population, there are fewer than a dozen hostels on the island. They are primarily located in Sliema and St. Julian's, with some in Valletta and Gozo. The average hostel price per night in Malta is €10-€15.
More common in Malta are budget hotels, with prices starting from €12 for a double room in low season. There are over 50 hotels on the island with rates of less than €50 per night.
Looking for cheap accommodation in Valletta isn’t easy and can be time consuming. Fortunately the times of browsing innumerable adverts, making hundreds of phone calls and visiting dozen of houses belong to the past: with Uniplaces now you can look for your room comfortably sitting at home. You can pick a room in a shared home with other expats, a studio flat if you want more privacy, or you can team up with other friends and rent an entire apartment just for yourselves.
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