If you are a digital nomad in Europe looking for a base to catch up on all your online work, the tiny island of Malta under the hot Mediterranean sun could be just what you are looking for.
We’ve made Malta our new home over the past 9 months and plan to stay for a little while longer. For us this island is a comfortable and mostly hassle free spot to work, live and explore.
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.
Life in Malta is pretty easy going, aside from it being the loudest place we’ve ever lived. But the lack of quietness is quickly compensated with the all-year-round sunshine, and vitamin D soaking into our pores, which we love.
Living so close to the sea adds enormously to the quality of life in Malta. Being able to drop into the sea pretty much at any point is great and it’s free! Also, making new friends becomes much easier too since everyone is enjoying being outdoors.
So here is all you need to know about living in Malta as a digital nomad based directly on our experience of the islands.
Choosing Your Digital Nomad Base
Before you start looking for your next digital nomad 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.
Prices range from €750 (that is if you rent directly) in the north, to €1,500 in Sliema, the buzzing centre of the island.
If you want your digital nomad home to be right in the centre of action, you might want to consider areas like Sliema, 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.
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 your digital nomad base, ha? This luxury will cost you around €1,000 which is not bad all things considered.
Interested in a more local residential area? Try Mosta or Rabat or maybe the beautiful Three Villages – Balzan, Attard and Lija?
We based ourselves in Swieqi, a town bordering the St Julian’s area. While it’s nice and residential and we have a wonderful terrace, it can be fairly noisy being located so close to Paceville, the Maltese version of Magaluf. So choose your location carefully.
For our two bedroom beautiful apartment with a large terrace we pay €1,100 including bills.
Msida is 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 locals pubs in the area. Here you can get a decent 2 bedroom apartment for around €850.
A large expat community is based in the northern part of the island, Buggiba. This is also a cheaper spot to make Malta your digital nomad base. Here you can get a decent place for around €700 if you are renting directly with a landlord.
Rent prices are higher during the high season (May – September). So if you are considering settling in Malta for a while, plan your move outside the high season.
Renting Your Digital Nomad Base in Malta
Renting a long term property in Malta is straight forward except for the annoying fees if you are using estate agents. They take 50% of your first months rent in fees. So if your rent is €1,000 per month, be ready to cash out €500 for the agent up front. They are totally taking a liberty here, in our opinion as they don’t do much work!
But that’s the way it works here, 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 on this group are also estate agents.
We used Ben Estates based in St Julian’s 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 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 digital nomad base, you’ll have to withdraw some 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. It’s usually determined by the landlord how much you’ll have to pay so don’t forget to ask when signing a contract.
If you are coming to Malta for a short period of time, Airbnb is 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 Julian’s for €27 per night. The host mentioned that if we wanted, he could rent the place to us for €700 per month.
As we all know, a digital nomad base is not a digital base if there’s no good connectivity. We struggled a lot in Luang Prabang, Laos with the lack of internet and it was frustrating. Luckily Malta has a speedy enough connection.
There are 3 major internet providers in Malta, Go, Vodafone and the fibre powered fastest 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.
At our base we have the Rapid plan with Go since it was already installed in our flat. To us, the download speed is more than enough to work on our travel blog and stay connected with friends and family. As an example of what you get for your money, check out the 3 different plans below:
When looking for your ideal digital nomad base, always check whether the broadband is already installed. If not, you’ll have to get a deal and sign a minimum 2 year contract.
But remember that charges up to or above €100 apply for cancelling the contract before its expiration date. Therefore, it’s always best to get the landlord to deal with this so you can leave the apartment without extra charges.
To stay connected outside our house we are currently with Go mobile network. We have the Go Data plan and it seems to be working fine for us.
Vodafone, the 4G network provider for mobile phones seems to be the most popular on the island. We didn’t get along with the network though. It seemed like the data was disappearing even when we didn’t use our phones outside of Wifi zones.
There’s not a massive choice when it comes to dedicated co working spaces in Malta but here are the options we’ve found useful.
We can 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.
There’s also the funky ‘Hub’ workspace in San Gwann with hotdesking from €15 per day.
Other places include Oasis Offices and the recently opened Regus space in St Julian’s.
Otherwise, working from a cafe is a good option. Most of cafes have free WiFi and some of them great sea views too!
A couple of days per week you will find me working from Caffe Pascucci in St Julian’s. It’s a great option for me as it’s within walking distance from home. It’s well air conditioned in summer months and has large floor to ceiling windows making it nice and airy to work from. Plus, they serve nice organic coffee.
Food in Malta
We like food in Malta. Largely influenced by the Italian culture, the cuisine here consists of pizzas, pastas, lovely sweet treats and creamy gelato.
The local Maltese cuisine is great too, especially the Maltese Ftira, a tasty light and airy bread usually stuffed with tuna or other fillings. The national dish is 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 or woody, Charlie’s favourite. 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, and that’s another reason to make it a digital nomad base.
Alongside tasty Italian delicacies, you can enjoy Indian, Turkish, Vietnamese or even Bulgarian cuisine. Burgers are very popular in Malta 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.
Supermarkets are also quite diverse. Fresh meat and imported items are slightly pricier, but overall prices are quite reasonable.
We like shopping at our local tiny stores who seem to have everything you could possibly need. We also like the friendly local shop keepers!
The best thing about these tiny 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.
And lets not forget the glorious BBQ on a terrace or on the beach. Always a great way to unwind and socialise.
Here’s the list of
our favourite food spots in Malta (coming out soon on the blog). This post will be updated continuously as and when we find more tasty grub on the island.
Boozing in Malta
Malta has some pretty cool places to go for a pint. We especially like the little local bars where we get to chat to the local Maltese chaps. They all seem to have had a wild youth in London and then, later in life, settled in their motherland to run a bar or a restaurant.
Local lager, Cisk, is very cheap and in some local bars you’ll get it for as little as €1 per can. However, the fancier the bar the higher the price, that’s why we like keeping it local. Imported beers, of course are more expensive than the local booze.
Maltese wine was a lovely surprise. At under €4 per bottle at a supermarket it’s a tasty and rather cheap drink to enjoy by the sea or at home. The local Maltese wine is also much cheaper in restaurants compared to the imported counterparts.
We all know how digital nomads love their coffee (except Charlie, he loves his tea!) and how important it is to have a good cup of joe while cranking all those post out!
Ok, Malta is no coffee mecca, but to me this island is as close as it gets to Italy for a digital nomad base. The cafe culture is widely spread on this tiny rock with some really good Italian coffee chains and independent coffee shops.
Some of the best coffee I tried in Malta was at Coffee Circus. They have a coffee shop in Mosta and Marsaskala, but also drive a cute coffee minivan around the island so be sure to check it out.
Another great place to get a lovely smooth cappuccino is Dolce Sicilia if you are around St Julian’s area. They also sell some of the best custard cream pastries to go along with your coffee.
The self proclaimed best coffee in town, the Italian chain mentioned above, Caffe Pascucci serves organic drinks. You’ll find them in St Venera, Tigne Point (Sliema), Paceville (St Julian’s), Bay Street (Paceville) and Cospicua (one of the Three Cities).
There’s a cute cafe in Naxxar. Their USP, at least to me, is that they are based in a bookstore and who doesn’t love books and coffee! 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.
Nitro Coffee is the newest addition to coffee scene in Malta and offers a US based invention ice coffee on tap! You can try it at Fresco’s bar in Sliema or in Paceville near Eat Me I’m Famous!
Transport in Malta
Malta is a tiny island and getting from A to B is never too far, but sometimes it can take a long time. Sadly for Charlie, there aren’t any trains here, but busses are available throughout the island.
A 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. It’s easy to order your personalised card on Malta’s Public Transport website. Plus you can easily top up your card online.
Busses are pretty regular on the island and also provide night service, but if you are really stuck, you can always grab a cab.
There are plenty of Taxis available. We suggest using the eCABS, we found them reliable and efficient. Also, download Taxify app on your smart phone. It’s basically the local version of Uber.
Renting a car for a couple days if you want to explore the island or hop to Gozo is pretty easy.
When we had a family visiting we rented a car from the airport for 2 weeks. It was a pretty easy process. There is a number of companies to choose from, but what ever you chose, try to avoid Gold cars.
As always, we did an extensive research on MoneySavingExpert.com, our go-to resource for any money related maters to make sure we are getting the best value.
Otherwise there are plenty of local car rentals that you can check if you do not fancy making a trip to the airport.
However, the cars might not be up to scratch here. 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.
The Mediterranean Climate
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 raising to +46 further inland. Yep, hot and sweaty!
We are a tad sceptical about Maltese winters though. When we settled into our new digital nomad base in November 2016, the winter seemed long and rather cold.
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.
However, we are told by the locals, that the 2016 winter was unusually cold so we wait and see what happens in the 2017, as we are planning to stay here until the summer, then we can tell you all about it!
But all in all, the climate here is pretty awesome with the Mediterranean Sea at your feet making Malta a good home for digital nomads.
It can’t get any easier settling into your new digital base than in Malta. English is the second official language on the island making it super easy to get around and familiarise with the new home.
Also, if you want to polish your Italiano, you are in the right place. There seems to be a large community of Italians on the island and you can hear lingua Italiana everyday.
With the gorgeous Mediterranean sea at the doorstep, you will have tons of exciting things to do in your new digital nomad home from swimming in the cleanest waters in Europe to sailing or self driving a boat. There’s also paragliding, parasailing, rock climbing, kayaking, cliff jumping, jeep safaris, need we say more?
Malta is a top spot for diving and snorkeling in the pristine Mediterranean waters. Gozo is known widely for some of the best diving conditions in Europe attracting many deep water enthusiasts from all over the world.
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.
Safety on the Island
In general, Malta is a safe country to live if you use your common sense. 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 weary when partying in Paceville, it can get a little rough during the high season.
A nudge for solo female travellers here. While we used white cabs on more than a couple of occasions and found them fine in general, we would like to advise females in particular to stay away from them if travelling solo late from a night out.
No serious offences have been reported, but we’ve heard stories from trusted sources that some of the drivers can get a little touchy-feely.
Instead, download the Taxify app mentioned above or book via eCabs.
Another huge concern is drunk driving. It seems widely acceptable on the island so be extra careful on the road especially at night.
Enjoyed this post? Check out our Malta Guide to Travelling and Living on the Island