Things to organise when you’ve moved to Malta
Living in Malta is quite easy and simple, and with proper guidance even better. When you’ve traveled through Europe to step on to the land of limestone and turquoise waters, it’s time to start building your new life in Malta. If you followed our Moving to Malta Guide, everything is in order back in your home country, and you can happily focus on getting things straight in your new territory. Sit back for a moment before you start – we’ve got you covered with this profound list of things you need to figure out.
Living in Malta: A to-do list for a newcomer
Life in Malta is what you make of it. It can be the time of your life, or you might feel homesick and isolated. To avoid the latter one, it’s important to organise everything properly and make yourself feel like home. This list covers all the mandatory steps, and we’ve included some extra tips for you to make your transition as effortless as possible. Some of the tasks are more urgent than the others, but none of them is so important that you couldn’t start your journey by taking a little walk by the sea, sitting down for a beverage, and observing your new surroundings just for a moment. After that, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and start ticking this to-do list off!
At the airport
If you’re reading this before your big move, you might be thinking of the very first practical step: how to get your stuff from the airport to your accommodation. The international airport of Malta is located in the middle of the island, about 10 kilometres away from Valletta, the capital of the country. For a penny-pincher, there’s always an option to catch a bus from the airport, but with your presumably heavy luggage, we highly recommend to invest for a taxi ride. Pro tip for the future: having an airport as near as this one is, living in Malta can be spiced up with some weekend trips and adventures around Europe!
There’s no need to preorder the cab; there are plenty of them available at the airport. White taxis are known to be the most expensive ones, but they are the quickest to get from the airport. If you wish, you can download an app for Taxify or order a taxi from eCabs to save a penny or two. A taxi ride from the airport to Sliema/St Julians/Valletta usually costs around 15-25 euros depending on the company and the time of the day. Some relocation packages include a lift from the airport, so in that case, the driver will be waiting for you at the airport.
Find an apartment
The most important thing to get started with your new life is to find a place to live. There are a lot of apartments on the market, and most of them are furnished. However, finding a suitable, reasonably-priced place without any hassle might be a bit of a challenge, if you’re not on good terms with Lady Fortuna. But do not worry, it’s not a mission impossible. All you need is a couple of tips to avoid the most common mistakes, so read this part carefully.
- Never make a contract without seeing the flat. This is The Rule number one. No matter how amazing the pictures look like, obey this advice (actually, the more amazing pics, the bigger chance for a scam).
- Prepare yourself for a negotiation. The supply of the apartments in the market is big, but so is the demand. When it comes to renting flats in Malta, it’s all about business. Be prepared to bargain so that you’re not getting an overpriced apartment. Living in Malta is not as cheap as it used to be back in the days.
- Using an agency is very common, and it can be a huge help when running around the country from viewing to viewing. Tell the agent what you want, and he/she takes you to see the places that match your wishes. The side effect of using an agent is the commission for the service – which is usually a half of the rent – but getting a rental apartment directly via landlord is rarer. Most prominent agencies are for example Quicklets, Gold Lion Malta, and Remax.
- Take advantage of social media. Everything is on social media, and the same goes for accommodation. Join Facebook groups, such as Accommodation Malta – Share, Rent, Buy – Apartment, Flat, House, Room. Different nationals also have their own Facebook groups to share tips and apartments in their respective languages, so search for groups where your fellow countrymen share their advice.
- Checklist at the flat:
- Air. Smell the air – is it moist and stuffy? It’s good to be aware of mold issues on the island, which considers especially the reasonably new buildings that are built super quickly for many expats waving to the country. If the air is fresh and there are enough windows to ventilate the apartment properly, you should be fine.
- Air conditioning. Heat waves during the summertime can be tough, so we highly recommend having an aircon in your apartment (unless you like taking a cold shower every 2 hours to cool down). The need for an aircon depends on the apartment: sometimes one might do fine with a fan if the apartment doesn’t enjoy straight sun exposure.
- Location. One of the most important things is that your commute to work is not too complicated. Pick a location based on your workplace. Make sure there’s plenty of bus connections if you’re not planning on getting yourself a car or another vehicle. And bear in mind that public transportation is not like at home; timetables and commuting durations can sometimes be – let’s say – flexible.
- Surroundings. There are quiet and cozy areas, and there are party areas. The latter one refers mostly to a district called Paceville. It can be a lot of fun, but getting some sleep is crucial – living on top of a nightclub is thus not an option. Another thing to look for is the numerous ongoing construction sites. If you’re a late riser, those construction workers might change you into an early bird.
- Be fast. When you find the one, act immediately. If you ponder for too long, another tenant might grab it right in front of your face. As mentioned above, business is business. The one who signs the contract first or pays the best price will catch the fish.
- Read the contract thoroughly before signing. One month’s rent as a deposit is a standard procedure. You’ll also need to pay the first month’s rent beforehand, so be prepared with a stack of notes to seal the deal. Utility bills are sometimes included in the rent or added on top of it. Ask your agent/landlord about the electricity & water tariff before signing the contract. There are three options of tariffs: Residential, domestic, and non-residential. Residential tariff is preferable, as it’s the cheapest one. Checking the meters at the time of your move is advised, and a reliable landlord is happy to give you all this information without a problem.
- Change your address. Once you have a Maltese address, remember to inform the authorities to help the postman deliver your love letters to your new location.
Social Security Number
Once you’ve found a place to live and you’ve started your new job, you need a Social Security Number (SSN). That gives you access to the free national health service and enables your employer to deduct your Social Security payments from your monthly salary.
Please note that you’ll need your SSN to apply for a Tax number and to open a bank account, so this is the first paperwork to do before the rest of the list.
Getting your SSN is simple. Just go to this website and fill out the form. It will take about 15 minutes. You will need your passport number, a Maltese address, and a valid proof from your employer that you work in Malta (e.g., a job contract), so make sure those are available before you start. The processing of your application usually takes about five working days. Your SSN will be sent to your email, and you shall forward it to your employer. Most of the companies will take care this for you when you start working for them.
Another necessary paperwork to do is to become a valid taxpayer when living in Malta. To add you in the records, apply for a Tax Number and forward the number for your employer. Follow this link and open the online application form to fill it out. Important: you can’t apply for a tax number before you’ve received your Social Security Number. So wait for your SSN before rushing with this step. Most of the companies/employers will take care this for you.
Opening a bank account
Many expats decide to use their own bank account in Malta, and often that works perfectly fine with a well-functioning online banking service. Before making your decision, check if your employer is willing to pay your salary to a non-Maltese bank account. Just bear in mind that international transfers can take a one day longer, and check from your bank if there are extra charges when you use an ATM in Malta. However, if you decide to stay in Malta for a more extended period, a local bank account can turn out to be handy. The main banks in Malta are Bank of Valletta (BOV) and HSBC.
Prepare these documents before marching to the office:
- Job contract to prove you work in Malta
- Lease agreement to show you live in Malta
- Passport or a Maltese ID
- Recommendation letter from your employer.
If you have all the necessary documents and you don’t have any history of debt, opening a bank account should be quite simple, but be prepared to visit the bank more than once.
Besides that you may use your home country bank account, there is also other options like Revolut. So before you will start filling applications to Maltese banks, it will be good to ask around and think about other options, as there is plenty of good alternatives.
Maltese ID Card/E-Residence Card
First and foremost, take care of the SSN and Tax number. But getting yourself a Maltese ID Card at some point makes things smoother for you, and it is recommended if you intend to reside in Malta for longer than three months. As getting your Maltese ID is a bit more complicated process, we dedicated it a whole article to guide you through.
Getting your tax return
Once a year one must check the income tax situation, and in Malta, that time is in June. You should receive an Income Tax Return form, which you will complete and return to the tax office by the end of the month. This concerns your income over the previous calendar year. Remember to deduct the expenses, and see if you’ve paid enough (or too much) taxes the past year. Here you’ll find the income tax rates of 2018.
Hobbies – find your tribe
Finding like-minded people is vital for you to feel at home. Hobbies, sports, and other leisure activities are a great way to feel connected and have some life outside the office. Whether you’re a gym addict, runner, yogi, crossfit enthusiast or a scuba diver, you’ll find your place. While living in Malta, being active and having an open mindset is a great combo. As it is always when moving to any other new country. Google your interests, ask around, and have a look at the activities your employer offers – usually there are plenty of options to get to know your colleagues outside the office.
Hopefully this list was helpful. Feel free to share your experiences with us. We sincerely wish that you feel like home on this fascinating Little Rock!