Malta"s Quality of Life Attracts Expats in Droves

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If you live in Malta and are active networking on social media, you can expect a good few enquiries each week from would-be, wannabe expats.
A typical one dropped in my mail box today: "I'm fed up with London after eight years," says a German national.
"What is Malta like for someone with languages and an IT background?" Other queries run along these lines: can a professional American couple nearing retirement age live on $2,000 a month in Malta comfortably? Can they find work if they need to? Is childcare costly, asks a single mum from an eastern European country.
What about health care asks another would-be expat from the USA.
A South African couple living in London say they are definitely moving to Malta but are still working out whether to start a business on the islands or get a job initially.
The issues that each would-be expat to Malta hits upon vary and depend on what stage they are in life, their expectations, what it is they are keen to escape from back home and so on.
That Malta has a lot going for it for expats has been doing the rounds, quietly, in recent years.
In fact, according to some latest EU statistics, most of Malta's recent population growth is attributable to incoming foreigners.
Malta is historically a melting pot, but never more so than now.
Today, you are just as likely to hear Swedish, Russian or an Eastern European language on the streets as English or Maltese.
But what is the allure of Malta? In its annual Quality of Life survey, 2011, International Living magazine has tried benchmarking countries on indicators ranging from climate and health care to cost of living.
Malta is placed joint second, alongside New Zealand, to long-time front runner the USA, in the overall listing.
The islands place first with a score of 100/100 for climate and freedom, and near the top in categories labelled 'leisure & culture' and 'risk & safety'.
Malta plummets down the index however when it comes to infrastructure, economy and cost of living.
That said, the standard of living in Malta is probably better than that in the UK depending on your expectations.
There is a double-taxation agreement in place with most EU countries, and the US.
Expats who benefit most from living here are those who manage to retain some earnings from elsewhere that they then elect to get taxed in Malta, at a flat 15%.
There's no promised land and Malta also fits within that category.
Small here is both beautiful and its worst aspect.
But its tourist brochure upsides still hold true: it has a great climate; personal safety is less a worry here than most urban centres; it is close enough to the rest of Europe to escape when you want to; it's English speaking; and has excellent health-care.
The problem of assessing Malta as a would-be expat is how to marry personal insights of expats living here with the index findings.
As magazine's editorial on the index says, "...
statistics don't always reflect the reality in communities on the ground.
" The USA ranks first because it is simply the biggest economy.
But while statistics may show that bigger is better, individuals going about their daily life may have a different picture to paint of a country.
They may not care that Wi-Fi is nearly ubiquitous for example, or that there are more doctors than in other countries per capita if they can't afford them.
Sometimes, a little elsewhere can seem to go a lot further.
Let's say climate is high on your list, then you might opt for Malta as it ranks tops in magazine's index on that factor.
Alongside Zimbabwe, we might add.
But it ranks far less well for cost of living; electricity prices are exorbitant for instance.
Any such benchmarking index will always throw up a yin-yang scenario to weigh.
Your decision on where to move is likely to be driven by personal, emotive and practical issues such as schooling, language and whether you can move back home relatively stress free should you change your mind one year on in your new country.
Malta, for now though, seems a hot spot to head for!
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