When I think about my time on Malta, I think of bright blue skies, fields of rich green clover, and the sound of the ocean smashing against the cliffs—all only steps away from the well-worn stone streets of ancient cities and the chatty and perpetually kind people. And all of it—cities, coastal walks—warmed and cheered by the seemingly endless sunshine, even at the height of winter.
It turns out I’m not alone in these memories. When I asked expats why they moved their whole lives over to the tiny Mediterranean island chain of Malta, sunshine, sea, and the kind English-speaking population were the three most popular answers. And those answers make perfect sense.
Despite its year-round warmth, Malta still manages to have distinct seasons. Winter is mild and the days are often sunny. But it’s also decidedly green—with fields of clover and other plant life spreading out, emerald, across the cliffs and between the towns, dotted by bunches of bright white chamomile and other small flowers. In summer, the hot days drive everyone to the water, where Malta is known as a diver’s paradise.
Malta is made up of five islands: the main island of the same name, the smaller Gozo, Comino, Cominotto, and Filfla. My favorite island is Gozo, the second-largest island in the Maltese island chain. It’s just 25 minutes north of the main island by ferry and has a reputation for rural landscapes, quiet living, and a whole lot of retirees.
Gozo’s appeal is peace and quiet that’s still close to urban convenience. It’s still easy to get to the bustling capital of Valletta on the main island of Malta, ancient Mdina, or Malta’s international airport—each just a ferry and bus ride away.
On Gozo, I woke up every morning to the sound of birdsong and the strong smell of thyme, which grows along the cliffs and often hangs drying in the Gozitan kitchens. I enjoyed long coastal walks, with only the sound of the ocean beating the cliffs and the occasional bleating of goats grazing above me.
And still, I had everything I needed here. Victoria—the capital city—is a hive of activity, full of shopping centers, a sports center, burger joints, and exceptional restaurants.
It is the headquarters for just about everything on the island, and also has a hospital, two opera houses, and even an organic food shop. Victoria is also Gozo’s bus hub (it’s easy to reach from any other part of the island) and the top stop for most tourists who visit the island.
The cost of living is good value on Gozo. A day-long bus ticket is just over $1—and only 50 cents if you’re a resident over 60. The ferry costs $5 round-trip for visitors, $2 for permanent residents, and nothing for senior residents (with a special card from the transportation company).
Grocery costs are reasonable, with milk and bread under $1, eggs about $2, and a mid-range bottle of wine at about $6 on both islands. Expats report living expenses here of between $1,800 and $2,400 a month, depending on their lifestyle.
And don’t worry about getting sick here, either. Maltese healthcare is very reputable—it’s widely considered one of the best healthcare systems in the world—and costs are moderate. You’ll find both public and private hospitals and clinics here. While most hospitals are located on the main island, Gozo also has one in Victoria.
So if you’re looking for a warm-weather, Mediterranean island destination, put Malta on your bucket list. With its Mediterranean waters; sandy beaches; sunny, warm weather; ancient cities; and low costs, it offers a rewarding, dream-worthy lifestyle.
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