A quick, pocket-sized guide to the cost of living in Malta. This round-up hopefully answers some of the regular questions we receive each week from would-be expats thinking of life on the rock. Our author is Mario Vitanelli, a freelance writer who specialises in international retirement and investment.
Malta was not immune to the financial crisis and credit recession. The Maltese have definitely been feeling the strain. The prices of just about everything have steadily increased in the past five years and salaries have been decreasing. Wages are quite a bit lower in Malta than the average in Europe. The cost of living in Malta was once lower or about the same as it was elsewhere in Europe, but it’s been catching up in recent years and compared to some areas it is actually higher, especially since income tends to be so much lower.
Still, all in all, it is less expensive to live here compared to a large cities in Europe, and particularly UK ones, which is one of the myriad reasons why Malta appeals to so many English expats. The lovely weather, low taxes, lack of a language barrier and the laid back lifestyle are some of the other major draws to relocating here.
Rent – don’t buy, especially in the six months after arriving. For expats, it is good to scope out your ideal location before settling in. Real estate is pricy and rent is often cheap, especially outside the city centers or on Gozo. Renting offers you so much more for your money here than in say, the UK. Nearly all places for rent are fully furnished. You can find a modern, nicely furnished one- to three-bedroom apartment or house with small yard for much less in Malta than in other parts of Europe. Expect to pay €350 to €950 depending on the size, location, garage availability and sea views. See also our other posts on rentals here and here.
Malta is rated 5th for healthcare. The quality of care is excellent and the cost for insurance and care is much less here than in other parts of the world, such as the US. All Maltese citizens receive free healthcare, but many will pay for private healthcare, as it offers a better range of services.
All EU citizens residing in Malta are eligible for free healthcare as long as they have their E121 form. With that they can be issued a Certificate of Entitlement. Those just visiting will need to bring their European Health Insurance Card. Most expats from outside the EU would need to purchase private insurance.
Household and personal care items are much more expensive in Malta since the majority of products are imported. Expect to spend anywhere between €150 and €250 on food per month depending on how many are in your household. Your monthly food expenses could be much less or about the same as where you are coming from, depending on where that may be. If you are an expat moving from the UK, expect to pay less each month.
Local and Italian products are much less expensive than the more familiar imported UK brands. Buying from supermarkets rather than smaller residential grocery stores will save you a lot of money as well. To get the best bargain buy local produce from road side venders since it is super cheap and fresh – also try the twice-weekly Farmers Market at Ta’ Qali. Buy certain products in specialty shops dedicated to those items, such as frozen foods.
Average shopping basket prices (Nov 2013)
Loaf of white bread: €.85
Rice (1kg): €1.10
Dozen eggs: €2.05
Milk (1 litre): €0.90
Chicken breasts (1kg): €7.10
Apples (1 kg): €2.00
Tomatoes (1kg): €1.10
Meal at a mid-range restaurant: €16.00
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: €9.00
Fast food meal: €7.00
Coca Cola (500ml): €1.25
Bottle of beer (local): €2.10
About the Author: Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer who specializes in international retirement and investment. His areas of expertise include European economic policy and is currently working with QROPS Group. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and cooking.