Valletta, Malta Report of what it's like to live there - 10/06/18

Personal Experiences from Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta 10/06/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Multiple cities in Latin America and Europe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Malta to US flights connect easily through Germany, Italy, UK or other major cities that have standard flights to the US; this adds not much more than a couple hours of transit time.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year thus far.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

USG.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most people live in flats because that is the style in the popular areas. There are houses, but not many and they are not in the up-tempo areas. We live in a nice townhouse. In my opinion, all the provided housing is very nice. With that said, everyone seems to complain about something. Anyone we have had come over that has to pay for their lodging is stunned by what we have. It’s Europe, so things are smaller, but you still have decent space relative to most people. Most rentable housing is landlord furnished. The economy is doing well so rents are high and increasing. Due to the humidity, like a lot of places, mold can be an issue.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Comparable to most major cities in Europe, everything you want is available. A tad more expensive at the gourmet grocery stores. Of course, everything depends on the exchange rate.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, and chocolate chips.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Great food. Mainly Italian based with a Maltese twist on things. Most food is Mediterranean style, you can buy fish pretty much straight out of the ocean. There is still Chinese/Indian food available to mix it up. No shortage of great restaurants to try.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No, just normal bugs, mosquitos, ants, etc.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

The economy is doing well, most Maltese don't seem to be into doing domestic work. The Filipino community is available for domestic help at a reasonable price.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many gym options available, this is Europe, but they are catching on to how gyms should operate. The best gyms are on the higher side of the price point.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, almost all are fine to use. Be careful in Paceville.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None really, 95% of the island speaks English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, like most other European/old cities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Buses are cheaper with a regular pass that you can apply for. Taxify and eCabs are the Maltese equivalent of Uber and Lyft. Other services are safe as well but just charge more.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most cars here qualify as small “Euro” cars, not models we are used to seeing in the states. A standard sedan is “big” for here. The roads are small/tight in most places. It just makes your life easier to have a small car. You will still see plenty of SUVs around as well. It’s just up to you. Buying a car here is easy and most everybody uses the same 10 models as they function best here and are economical. Bringing your own car isn’t a bad idea, just easier if it is smaller and it will just have wear and tear from sub-standard Malta roads (they use terrible asphalt).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, reasonably priced and consistent service. Two to five days to set up.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone, get a sim card, T-mobile works decently well.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Occasional EFM openings. The online gaming sector is doing very well, and the economy in general, so positions are available in the local economy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business to business casual does just fine. Public, whatever seems to go. Occasionally if you go to a nice restaurant or a formal event.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really. Standard street smarts will get you by just fine. The economy is doing well, so crime is low. Right now Malta is very safe. If the economy tanks, that would change a bit.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Watch out for mold in your residence. Medical care is good but for special or non standard issues you would have to go to the UK or Italy.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The amount of diesel vehicles makes the air quality not as good as it should be, but most "smog" blows out quickly, small island in the Med, the air should be clean. This isn't really an issue, just not perfect.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Island fever? I guess, but you can go anywhere quickly and easily in Europe, so don't complain, travel.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winters are mild but can be chilly due to the wind. It is windy here a lot of the time. Summer does get hot and humid. If you don't like cold weather, this is a good place to be.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Two schools, QSI and Verdala. The community has varying opinions on both. QSI is smaller and offers a more intimate experience. Do your research and ask around.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Due to the economy doing well and the government offering free child care to EU citizens (maybe even all tax payers?) day cares fill up fast. If you know you are headed to Malta, look into day care asap. They are not cheap but they are affordable. Visit as soon as you get in town and get on a waiting list, or even reserve a spot based on research alone if you are ok with losing the deposit and don't want to risk not having daycare on day one.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Soccer, of course.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

A hand full of Americans and more Swedes (online gaming industry). If you are grumpy in Malta, something is wrong with you.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Be outgoing, find things to do, there is plenty.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, Yes, Yes. Similar culture to Italy, great weather and outdoor activities, plenty of kids parks only inhibited by the weather.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

More accepting than most of Europe but still a bit of the Catholic conservative mindset, especially among the elderly. I think there is a thriving LG community.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. They are really scared of immigrants "taking over" but the country needs the labor.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Golden beach, Gozo, boat trips, boat tours, great scenery, sunbathing on rock beaches, old temples, rich history, and good food all around.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Ghajn tuffieha bay. Any of the above.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

I'd say no.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Easy travel to all of Europe. Relaxed European lifestyle.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Crummy roads is my gripe, not the best drivers (but most everybody says that about anywhere). It is windy. Don't expect a big city vibe. It is a small country made up of 15-20 towns/villages.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Parka (unless you plan to go skiing in the Alps).

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4. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit. Shoes that are good for walking on wet rocky beaches.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

There is a lot of filming done in Malta. Troy. 13 Hours. Plenty others.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great place to be but it is not a perfect paradise. Forget about the small things that will bug you and realize this is a great place to live.

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