How to Move to Malta — A Guide For Expats

Moving to Malta
©iStock/Aurore Kervoern

Planning a move to Malta to start an expat adventure is both exhilarating and overwhelming. The following guide will highlight some of the essential steps and considerations to help prepare you for a move to this unique Mediterranean island, including…

  • Researching the best region for your desired lifestyle

  • Preparing documents

  • Housing

  • Finances/Cost of Living

  • Visas/Residency options

  • Working in Malta

  • Healthcare

  • Safety

  • Moving with pets

Why Move to Malta?


The Republic of Malta is a shimmering gem between Sicily and Tunisia in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The country joined the European Union in 2004—so you will find the lifestyle, safety, healthcare, etc., up to stringent EU standards, but at a lesser cost of living than neighbors to the north.

This tiny archipelago consists of three limestone-habituated islands, including the main islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Malta enjoys mild Mediterranean seasonal weather—wet winters and hot summers. If you don’t like snow and want to live in the EU, this may be your place! Although small (122 square miles or 316 square kilometers), this beautiful country packs a punch when it comes to history, architecture, food & wine. English is one of the official languages, so it is easier to assimilate into the lifestyle compared to other places where you may not speak the language.

*Note that prices in this article are quoted in euros. €1 = US$1.07 or CAN$1.47 at the time of writing.

Steps to Moving to Malta



An educated plan commences with research. Fortunately, even before visiting, you can turn to search engines and learn about Malta through YouTube videos, real estate companies, relocation/visa specialists, and sources like International Living.

You will want to narrow down your search to the cities that offer the lifestyle you wish to have with your expat experience. Malta is divided into five districts: Southeastern, southern, central, northern, and Gozo/Comino. The Inner Harbor (radiating out from Valletta) has the highest population concentration.

Prepare Documents

You need to have digital access to your several previous years’ tax returns, banking statements, employment income or retirement statements, social security payments, investments/stocks, real estate documents from purchases or sales, health insurance policy and cards, education documents (diploma), and military records. You should also collect original copies of your birth certificate (with the raised seal), marriage license, divorce papers, and an FBI + local police report.

When applying for your residency program, Identity Malta will also require your birth certificate and marriage/divorce certificate (if applicable) to be apostilled (international notary) by your Secretary of State in the original state where your document was issued or Global Affairs in Canada.

Visa Application

Canadian and US citizens (along with 185 other nationalities) are permitted to stay in Malta for up to 90 days during each 180-day period with a valid passport. Beginning in 2025, the EU will require the new ETIAS visa (European Travel Information and Authorization System) for all visitors from outside the EU—which takes only moments to register online. You can file for any long-term visa yourself, but the system is known for its bureaucracy and can get frustrating. Because Malta is a popular country for expats, there is no shortage of agencies who can help you with the process. These are the current options:

Malta Nomad Residence Permit (MNRP)

The Malta Nomad Residence Permit, better known as the Digital Nomad Visa, is a renewable one-year visa available for non-EU citizens. Digital nomads must have proof of a salary of at least €3,500 per month/€42,000 per year). The application cost is €300.

Malta Retirement Programme (MRP)

The Malta retirement program is for retirees (EU and non-EU nationals) who receive a pension and will have it sent to Malta. You must prove that the pension amount equals at least 75% of your total income. Foreign-source income brought into Malta is taxed at 15%, with an annual minimum tax of €7,500 for the main applicant.

Malta Global Residency Programme GRP)

The GRP program is a renewable one-year residency visa for non-EU nationals that offers visa-free Schengen travel benefits and special tax advantages. This visa costs €15,000 each year plus fees.

Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP)

The program is known as the Malta Golden Visa. It is a permanent residency program for non-EU nationals. It requires a one-time investment and provides a permanent residency certificate valid for life (with periodic renewals). The program starts at €70,000 plus fees. The main applicant needs to prove assets valued at€500,000 or more.

Malta Tax Residency Programme (TRP)

The Malta tax residency program is for EU citizens and requires you to declare you do not spend more than 183 days in any other jurisdiction outside of Malta, but there is no requirement to spend 183 days inside Malta. The special tax rate on income brought into Malta is 15% (annual minimum tax: €15,000).

Malta Startup Residence Programme (MSRP)

This program is available to non-EU startup founders and employees who register their venture in Malta with a minimum € 25,000 capital investment. Applicants must be financially self-sufficient, move to Malta, and pay taxes. The residence permit is valid for three years and may be renewed for an additional five years.

*Note that none of these programs result in Maltese citizenship or a passport. Residents may apply for citizenship after six years of residency status, but applications usually take 10 to 15 years for approval. All programs also require proof of a lease or real estate purchase (with specific minimum investment levels) and proof of private health insurance.


Malta has three official languages: Maltese, English, and sign language. Signage and forms are also in both languages, so you will unlikely have any frustrating lost-in-translation moments doing any business, shopping, healthcare, or activities.

Maltese is a Semitic language developed from a dialect of Arabic and is closely related to the Western Arabic dialects of Algeria and Tunisia. Strongly influenced by the Sicilian language, Maltese is the only form of Arabic to be written in the Latin alphabet. Yet, it uses some Arabic-influenced letters – thus making it a bit more challenging to read for expats. For example: Ċ, Ġ, GĦ, Ħ, IE, Ż. It is not necessary to learn Maltese to live in Malta.

Finances/Cost of Living

If you have any bills where you live now, be sure that you have updated all accounts to be digitally accessible, paperless, and autopay.

You can open a local bank account in Malta once you have your visa or residency. Bank of Valletta and HSBC are the biggest and have the most branches. It is recommended that you keep a bank account in your home country to wire money or pay any bills originating from there. Many Maltese use Revolut as an online banking option—which offers banking services in euros, debit and credit cards, crypto current exchange, and supports ATM withdrawals in 120 currencies.

Because the island is so small, you will not see regional differences in the cost of living for things like groceries, utilities, activities, dining out, healthcare, etc. However, the Inner Harbour area (Valletta, Sliema, St. Julian’s, the 3 Cities) has slightly higher rental rates and real estate pricing. A couple in Malta can live in the €2,500 to €3,000 range, depending on their lifestyle.


It is recommended that you rent first before buying in Malta (or any new country, for that matter). Once you are on the ground, you will want to be sure the town you initially choose meets your expectations.

There are numerous Airbnb’s around Malta. You can rent one for a few weeks or longer and hire a relocation realtor who works specifically in rentals. The real estate companies in Malta typically have someone who specializes in housing “lets” or leases. Some of the bigger companies include Frank Salt Real Estate, REMAX, Ben Estates, Zanzi Homes, and Quicklets.

Most lease agreements are drawn up for six months to a year and may or may not include utilities or a parking space. Two-bedroom, two-bathroom long-term furnished rentals range from €800 on Gozo up to €5,600 for a penthouse overlooking the harbor. €1,000 to €1,200 is a typical average price.

The greatest concentration of places to rent is in Sliema, St. Julians, St. Paul’s, and Mellieħa. Valletta features more vacation rentals than long-term rentals since it is a major tourist destination. However, you can find hidden gems all over the country. The key is to be patient and network.

If you purchase, there are no annual property taxes (just a one-time 5% tax when you purchase). Maintenance fees tend to be significantly less than those for condos/apartments in North America.

Working in Malta


With most visas, you can work in Malta, which is especially easy if you work for an overseas company and are paid into your foreign account. Malta has been a leader in the iGaming and Cryptocurrency industries for the last decade, making it easy for a foreigner to set up a business.

Malta offers several startup attributes, like the low setup cost, favorable tax rates, tax incentives, and human resource effectiveness, making it an attractive base for a business.

There are multiple business development companies in Malta who can help you legally set up a business (and Startup Residence Visa) in a short period.



Unless you have paid into the Maltese social system, you’ll need private healthcare insurance once you apply for a visa, residency, or citizenship. Wait to buy a local policy in Malta because it is less expensive than you would find in the U.S. You can also research global healthcare insurance online. Cigna, IMG, Allianz, GeoBlue, and Bupa are some of the big names that offer policies with worldwide coverage.

Malta has excellent healthcare that is up to EU standards and relatively affordable. There are two main private medical centers on the island, with several other smaller hospitals and clinics serving every community.

Like most countries around the world, Malta has a public system (there are eight government healthcare centers on the islands) and a private system. You can visit any private clinics or hospitals with your private insurance, and many doctors work in both sectors. Even many Maltese use private alternatives to avoid the long wait times that are typical in public healthcare for non-emergencies. As a resident, you can also use the public system, but you will need to pay out of pocket.

A cost guide for private medical pricing:

  • Physician visit at a pharmacy €25

  • House call €40 to €50

  • Ultrasound €200

  • MRI starting at €250

  • Dental check-up/scaling €50

  • Standard filling €60

  • Root canal €300-350


Malta is considered a low-risk country in which to travel and live. Crime rates are extremely low compared to cities in the US. In fact, Malta has one of the lowest murder rates in the world - Reporting no modern-day mass shootings or terrorist attacks.

However, there is still a chance of petty crime, such as purse, wallet, or cell phone snatching, which occurs in highly touristed areas or with the late-night party crowd.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving to Malta

“I wish I had known riding a bicycle is just not easy nor safe on this little island. Bike lanes are optional, and road safety is a huge issue.” – Fabiana Pica.

“The USA and Malta do not have a bilateral social security agreement. It’s not a problem if you’re employed, but expensive if you move here as self-employed.” – SJ Fuerst

“That the old phrase “banker’s hours” is applicable in Malta - especially in relation to the post office. If you need something mailed, you will likely need to take time off work during your day to get it done. Most shops close early too.” – Erica Taylor

If you are looking for a Mediterranean lifestyle with mild winters, an English-speaking country in the EU, many visa options, a lower cost of living than most North American cities, and more affordable healthcare, Malta may be the place for you.


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