The Maltese Life's Guide for Foreigners
There are so many countries in the world where people can live, and every single one has its bright and dark sides. I am going to consider how´s living in Malta and what you may like and what you may not. I lived there for eight months what is not such a long time, but it showed me quite a lot about the Maltese lifestyle. I am going to create a few topics and facts which are mainly eminent for living in Malta and consider them it by both, positive and negative way.
1. Country size
Malta is with its wideness 316 km2 one of the smallest countries in the world. The length of the island from the north to south is 27,3 km and from west to east only 14,5 km so I can unequivocally say that you can get from one place to another very quickly whenever you want, but anyway, it´s not so easy as it seems, let´s speak about this more in the point number 3- Traffic.
The fact that Malta is such a small island leads to the two other effects. First, you can explore almost the whole country in one week and after, there´s nothing new anymore. Second, the small shape of the island brings some strange kind of community and familiar feeling. During the high summer season, there are plenty of tourists, but anyway, if you live there, you always know who is local. Malta is so small that you become to know many people soon and because of its size, you can feel quite familiar soon, even that you are a foreigner there.
Above Malta, there are other two little Islands- Comino and Gozo. Comino, mostly famous for its Blue Lagoon, is only a touristic place. It´s so small that you can find just the lagoon and few kiosks there, not more. In 10 minutes you can walk around the whole island.
Above the Comino island there is Gozo, which is bigger and mostly the Maltese families live there. It´s also typical for Maltese people going on holidays there to relax and enjoy the silence, as it´s not such a touristic place as Malta is. Due to that fact, there are not so many job opportunities as in Malta; I would recommend going to this island only for holidays.
Let´s continue with speaking about the people in Malta. For the year 2018, it was counted 432 350 inhabitants in Malta, but this number can´t be relevant in real. The truth is that the number of people living in Malta is changing during the whole year. From spring to autumn, many foreigners are coming to work, study or for holidays. With all those people coming, I think you can imagine how the number of people increases and how crowded it is! There is still the same number of registered inhabitants, but the reality is entirely different. During the whole year there usually stay only the original Maltese people and those foreigners who remain in Malta permanently, so after the primary season it seems a bit that Malta is „dead.“
Maltese people are generally friendly and kind, especially in small countryside villages. They offer you everything they have at home or give you a ride even you didn´t ask; they also like asking many questions because they are curious about other countries (the paradox is that so many of them never left their country). On the other side, I can´t run away from that feeling that they are sometimes a bit fake. When it´s coming to business or accommodation, they seem just like they would take the last euro from you or not give you even one euro more, just because you are a foreigner. It´s almost standard that Maltese people can earn even twice more than foreigners for the same job position. On the other side, you can also find very friendly places, especially in hospitality, where the bosses usually prefer to hire foreigners. But who knows if it´s not only because of the cheap workforce possibility, but they act friendly, and there are no problems usually. You should make a contract with them to be sure that you´ll get your money, but if you like to risk a bit, you can also find many places where no one needs anything, and you can get more money.
Next, to the Maltese people, you can meet many foreigners working in Malta. As it is a bridge between Europe and Africa, there is a vast cultural mix what you can take as a pro or not, depends if you are open for cultural combinations, for me it was a pleasant and exciting experience. You can meet people from Italy, Serbia, Czech Republic, Bosnia, France, Slovak, Spain, and North Africa, so you can imagine, how vast the differences could be.
There are two official languages in Malta- Maltese and English. However, everyone can speak English there. That´s also one of the main reasons, why are so many foreigner people coming there to work or study. It´s a sunny place with sea around, where everyone can speak English.
There is also a widely- spread trend to go to one of the Maltese language schools as Malta is full of them! Especially during the summer, plenty of international students are coming to improve their language skills. That is a cool thing in Malta because, after the school lessons, the students can hang out, go swimming or to the local bars, but due to the facts they are from different countries and in English- speaking country, they practice English for the whole time.
Tough question about Malta. The traffic is very wild there. Through the whole island, there are only straightways from one place to another; it´s almost impossible to make any shortcut. It means that all the people use the one way which leads to massive traffic jams and time you can spend on the road even if you are not going far away. And to be honest, Maltese people are not the best drivers, so the accidents are not a rare thing there.
A good solution could be a motorbike or bicycle, but to be honest, it is a bit dangerous with the style of Maltese car drivers. They are not friendly with bikers, so if you decide like this, I advise you to be very very careful and don´t forget your helmet!
Another story is the Maltese public buses. That´s even more horrible than by car. They come when they want, stop just when they want, and they use the same ways as the cars, so you stuck in the traffic anyway. Another problem is that you can´t always be sure that there will be a place on the bus for you or that the bus driver will stop even when you wave on him. Especially during the summer, that´s pretty normal. Maltese traffic as it is is a huge con; I could compare it to the jungle.
5. Job opportunities
You can find quite a lot of job opportunities in Malta, especially in the tourism area. If you work in hospitality, it´s almost 100% sure that you can find a job in maximum two weeks since you start searching. Malta is full of restaurants, bars, cafeterias and places for tourists. During the primary season, you can earn quite good money, but you have to be ready for a big rush.
Another favorite job in Malta is i- gaming as there is one of only two offices of gaming(the second one is Stockholm). You can earn way better money there, and the only thing you need is an English skill to be able to communicate and if you can speak more languages, even better then.
Typical Maltese food is a cooked rabbit; you can find this dish in typical Maltese restaurants. Honestly, I considered that there are not so many of them at all. The restaurants are usually more in the Italian style or just a mix of cuisines for everyone to find something. The truth is that most of the restaurants have Italian chefs.
Another typical Maltese dish is „Ftira“ which is bread in the shape of a ring, usually filled with tuna fish and salad, served with chips or french fries on the side. It´s tasty, but generally, it´s just a sandwich in a different type of bread. Anyways once you are in Malta, you should try it!
What you can find in Malta almost everywhere is the typical Maltese Pastizzi. The most famous ones are stuffed with ricotta, peas or chicken with mushrooms and „white sauce.“ It´s the famous Maltese street food which is very cheap and fatty, but all the Maltese people love it, doesn´t matter if they are poor or rich. Everyone loves pastizzi there!
I would consider the food is Malta as a pro but to be honest, not because of the typical Maltese dishes, but more because of many restaurants serving delicious food because Malta is a very touristic place, so it´s worth it for the restaurants to have a great chef. But actually, nothing that you wouldn´t be able to find anywhere else, in Italy for example.
This point I must, unfortunately, consider as a huge con. In Malta, it is adorable that the sea surrounds it, so for the sea lovers, it´s excellent! But if you are the nature lover, I have to warn you that you won´t find much of green color there. During the summer, Malta is usually completely dried because of the hot weather and no rain. It can get better during the autumn and winter time when more rain is coming but anyway it´s generally a „rocky Country“ type. You can find some greener places, but those are mostly for having trips, not for living there (usually around the beaches- Golden Bay, Riviera Bay, Paradise Bay, Blue Grotto, etc..). The Gozo island is a bit more green than Malta but also more calm for job opportunities and life.
Malta is a heat island. During the summer season, the temperatures are very high, during the hottest day can be even around 45°C. In the autumn, usually the rainy times come, and until March it´s typically windy with a lot of humidity. The lowest temperatures are around 15° C, but the humidity makes you feel much colder. The problem could be at home because Maltese flats are usually not furnished by heatings- and if they are, you will pay for the flat a lot. So you need to use the external heating or just put more clothes on as the electricity is also quite expensive there.
For me, the weather is pro as I am a summer person enjoying the heat waves. Also during the winter is not so terrible if I compare to other countries where can be even -10°C or lower during the coldest winter days. On the other hand, if you don´t like hot weather, you will melt in Malta, the summer heat can be incredible there.
That is a quite weak part of the Maltese life. During the season the island is so crowded, that there is not enough space for accommodation. This fact leads only to one thing- the rentals are overpriced a lot. It´s nothing surprising to live in an old, not the most beautiful apartment, and pay a lot of money for that. It´s very popular to share apartments with the Maltese people, who live there for the whole time, but for summer they are searching for flatmates through the agencies because they want to earn some extra money and foreigners haunt for the bedrooms.
A lot of Maltese people work for reality agencies, as it´s a massive business in Malta. But you should be careful, not all of them are serious. Never pay money to anyone before you see the flat and always také the recipes! Everything that was said should be written down in the contract. Just be a bit careful, Malta is full of little swindlers.
9. Free time
Malta is not a place with the broadest opportunities of what to do during your free time. During the summer it´s clear- there are the sea, beaches, and activities around. Scuba diving is very popular in Malta as well. During the colder seasons, it could be a bit problematic. It´s usually rainy and cold, but the island is not ready for that in my opinion. I heard from many people that they were a bit bored during these seasons. If you enjoy biking, you can make some trips around the island, but the truth is, that Malta is so small that you can get bored as well. Also in the streets full of water because the rain is not the best to ride a bike.
During the summer the nightlife is fantastic! Most of the restaurants are open at least until 1 am, bars even much longer of course. There are many events, shows, and parties. There is a nonstop party in the area of Paceville during the summer, and it´s crowded every weekday. Out of the primary season, it is emptier, but still alive. There are also clubs with gardens, pools, etc. Where you can chill out and enjoy a beautiful night. I´ll only give you one advise- be careful about your stuff when you go to Paceville; it´s better to leave your important documents at home. During the summer, it can be very crowded, and it´s better not to risk you´ll bump in some pickpocket. What I also realized, reggae parties are popular in Malta as well; there are many places with a very positive atmosphere in Malta!