BEING A FOREIGNER IN MALTA

It’s offical. Living in Malta is a dream.

The Maltese Islands have been ranked as the second-best place in the world for foreigners to live, according to Expat Insider’s survey (2016), with only Taiwan ousting the Mediterranean archipelago.

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Image source: Danita Delimont

 

And really, what is there not to love? The crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the historical gems, the low crime rates, grocery bills and taxation. Malta can easily become a haven of relocation. But like any foreign country, there are some challenges to overcome in order to enjoy the tiny paradise and your international life.

What is the main reason why people move to Malta? The weather, naturally. But before you even start dreaming of beach days and tall cool drinks while packing your suitcases, ask yourself if you really understand what an endless summer means. When it comes to a few days of vacation, the 30°C heat is amazing. When it’s three months in a row without even a day of rainy weather and having to work as opposed to lounging around the pool or beach, it’s not as easy for those who aren’t used to these kind of temperatures.

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I couldn’t help but overhear a woman in a grocery store today. She was asking someone, “Can you feel that winter is coming?” Are you kidding me? It’s 28°C degrees outside! To the natives, such a temperature is a relatively cool one. Perhaps if you’re coming from the Baltics, the best bits of summer are sweetest in small doses.

Also, you may come across unexpected trouble in paradise. The island is infested with cockroaches and mosquitoes. I often run into them on the streets every now and then, and my friends have told me stories of putting their feet in their slippers in the morning, only to feel something crawling inside. It’s one of the cons that make you wonder whether the whole foreign-experience thing is or was such a great idea after all.

 

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Living in Malta will likely require getting used to the public transport. When you’re coming from a country where a 5 minute bus delay indicates that something’s gone wrong, it’s hard to accept the unforeseen Maltese bus schedules, a result which is partly down to traffic congestion and a lack of buses.

Let’s face it, international living is not always easy. From finding a suitable place to live in an unknown city, to developing new friendships, to getting used to local holidays, to acquainting yourself with different social and cultural norms, to learning a foreign language… without your family and friends to visit or call on for help. That’s the price you pay for your dreams coming true.

But once you finally figure out where to buy those foods that you’ve missed so much, and found new friends and got used to the unpredictable bus schedules, you’ll finally start to appreciate your new life in Malta. Perhaps the more flexible you are, the more likely you are to make your international living work. You’ll start to live like a local, learn new ways of doing things and grow as a person.
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