Malta From The Expats' Perspective

Jo Caruana - 16th September 2017

It’s always good to consider the positives and negatives of our country from the outside – and Malta’s many expats give us that valuable opportunity. Four professionals who’ve chosen to make our island their home share their thoughts.

OLGA LESKEVICA

Olga Leskevica has been living in Malta for seven years, and recently completed qualifications at the University of Malta. She has been employed in the real estate sector for five years, and now works with RE/MAX Specialist.

“Malta has changed a lot since I first moved here – the island looks completely different as there has been a lot of development. From the range of properties to the improved infrastructure, this development is attracting lots of foreign investors and tourists to the island, and the country is becoming more recognised from an international perspective.

“Malta is an attractive place to be for a number of reasons. First off, it’s a very safe island with a warm climate. Foreigners are also welcome here, and I have slotted in very well with Maltese society. The fact that I am an EU citizen has also provided key benefits, including free education at the university. Plus, as English is an official language, it is easy to communicate.

“When it comes to the challenges of living here, most of them come down to the fact this is a small island and territory is very small. I also think that Government needs to consider how the country is developing and should pay more attention to the south; there is still a big gap between the south and central areas.

“When it comes to the property sector, Malta has a lot to offer – it is in a good geographical location with favourable fiscal options. Setting up a business in Malta is relatively cheap compared to other EU countries, with good tax conditions and short delays when it comes to company registration procedures. The fact we’re English-speaking also makes it a great place for English-speaking investors.

“With all of that in mind, I definitely believe in a positive future for Malta and its economy. The real estate market is increasing every day, with lots of new projects that will improve the look of the Maltese Islands and attract more tourists. Malta is on the way to being recognised more and more for its attractive opportunities, not just in Europe but all over the world.”

 

BRIAN PRATT

Brian Pratt and his family moved to Malta in August 2010 for his work within the corporate office of Corinthia Hotels. His role involves generating revenue for all 15 of the Group’s hotels, and ensuring all new hotels opened are successful and positioned correctly in their respective markets.

“Malta is significantly busier now than in 2010.  The Arab Spring has negatively impacted many destinations that compete for the same customers we have here in Malta, so our hotels are fuller and restaurants busier, and all that comes with having a destination that is experiencing very high demand.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Maltese people are the best – they are hard-working, educated, friendly, dedicated and always willing to help, so this makes the work environment very positive. I’m extremely happy to be living here and very lucky, as my wife and kids all agree this is a great place to be. 

“The work my team performs is international so we are working and speaking with many nationalities. I travel often so I also consider Malta Airport to be a benefit to life here – I can arrive at the airport less than one hour before departure and never worry about the time it takes to clear security and make a flight. It’s the same for returning to Malta – I like being able to walk to the terminal and not having to take a bus as we do in so many larger European airports. 

“Of course, traffic and parking are always a challenge and something that my wife complains about daily, but I travel around on a Vespa so it’s never a problem for me. Summers back in my hometown of Boston are short and the weather in unpredictable, so the long, sunny summers here  are great. Malta’s beauty from the sea is world-class. I have two adult children and they love coming home as there is so much for them to do here.

“When I look at Malta from an outside perspective, it has character, is English speaking and has 300 days of sunshine – no other EU destination has all three. I have a contrarian opinion on the housing prices on the island – I think their rates now are the new normal and that they will continue to rise from here.

“There are also a few things I think should be focused on – sports for instance. Today football is the national game and it gets funding but not all children want to play football. Rugby, on the other hand, is a sport that can grow but there are very few pitches to play and train on. Beyond that, Malta is not a clean island but it should be, especially as we count on visiting tourists to go home and talk about their time here. For some reason, people think it’s OK to throw trash out of windows, dump rubbish in empty lots and litter on the beach. This needs to be addressed.”

 

EMMA DISKIN 

Emma Diskin moved to Malta with her family from just outside London last September, after accepting to take on the role of director of PR and Social Media with Betsson Group. She loves juxtaposing the fast-pace of her work life with the island’s more laid-back approach.

“I moved to Malta in low season so I have noticed the huge influx of people that come here in the summer months. What was possible just a matter of months ago – finding a free spot on the beach for instance – becomes much harder once holidaymakers are here.  

“When it comes to the benefits of living in Malta, the climate ranks pretty high. Having lived and worked in and around London for the majority of my career, I still find it amazing to be able to leave work and go to the beach. There aren't many places in the world where you can work in a data-driven, tech environment and then feel like you're on holiday every time you leave the office. My family and I love the freedom of the island, and the fact that it offers a safe environment to bring up children – it also helps that it's just a short plane journey back home or to visit any number of European cities. Given that there are no language barriers and the Maltese drive on the same side of the road, it's very easy for Brits to settle here. 

“That said, there are a number of challenges and, when I first moved here, I found it difficult to accept the pace of life. In the UK, you come to expect a certain level of service, but it doesn't work like that in Malta. People are much more relaxed. Things take longer. I had to learn to be patient. 

“And while Malta is no doubt a beautiful country, it's dirty. I appreciate that a huge amount of litter is no doubt generated by tourists, but it's unsightly, not to mention unhygienic. The areas around Paceville are the worst. Traffic is another nightmare, with short journeys taking far longer than is necessary. I know Malta is keen to bring more companies and industries to the island, but you wonder how many more it can take. 

“Nevertheless, it’s positive from a business perspective. Malta was the first country in the EU to introduce gaming regulations that serious iGaming operators could use to compete with monopolies around Europe. The island continues to offer regulatory robustness and a business-friendly environment.” 

 

THOMAS ALLENDOERFER

Thomas Allendoerfer has been in Malta for eight years – on a journey that began as a start-up adventure with a friend. He now works as a product manager within the Salesforce team at Tipico.

“Malta has changed a lot since I first got here – primarily as it is quickly applying technology to daily life. Little things like being able to pay a utility or insurance bill online or interact with Government over the e-ID portal have all been implemented since I got here.

“When it comes to life on the island, the biggest benefit at work is cultural diversity. I have colleagues from across the globe and learn something new about different countries almost every day. It opens up my view of the world. Having married my Maltese wife this year, I have also got to know much more about Maltese traditions. I call them the four ‘fs’ – festas, food, family and friends. I have come to really appreciate how supportive and family-oriented the Maltese are.

“On the flip side, the language is hard to learn, but I am improving slowly. Punctuality is also a challenge, while finding a good handyman to turn up to your house on time is almost impossible! Thus there are a few things that I am still getting used to.

“Nevertheless, I think Malta has done a good job of finding and endorsing industry niches to boost the local economy. With rising rents, construction companies and other industries earning a lot, it is important to keep social equality in mind. In my opinion, Malta can only continue to grow if all the Maltese can participate in that growth, not just a select few. To achieve this we need to forget about our political preferences and decide what’s best for the country. As an example, supporting the environment should be in everyone’s interest. Nonetheless I see a lot of politically driven discussions about the topic.

“When it comes to our line of work – the iGaming industry – it is technology and talent driven. The University of Malta has recognised this and catered for the needs of the industry. I have a lot of very talented Maltese colleagues. Being part of the EU makes it relatively easy to relocate and start working in Malta. A solid technical infrastructure and a coherent license framework set Malta apart from many other countries.”

This feature originally appeared in the Commercial Courier

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