The Cost of Living in Malta: 2017 Edition

So you’re considering a move to Malta. Maybe you’ve spotted a job on our site that looks promising, with an attractive salary. Naturally, the next sensible question to ask is, “How does that salary stack up after taxes and cost of living?” Well, allow us to save you a little research time.

First, let’s look at taxes. Assuming your employment is your primary source of income, you’re looking at a progressive tax system with a maximum rate of 35%. The most common tax band is 25%, with the higher rate taking effect after EUR 60,000 of annual income. However, Malta also has various tax concessions in place that may benefit individuals looking to relocate. For example, skilled workers in the online gaming, financial services, and aviation industries only pay 15% tax, which can make a significant difference to disposable income. You can see complete details on the government website.

That’s the easy bit – cost of living is a little harder to gauge accurately. A quick Google search for recent data will reveal apparently contradictory headlines, such as “Cost of living in Malta one third of that in global cities” and “Malta has second highest cost of living in the EU”. Unfortunately cost of living is one of those things that is always relative: a person’s view of it will depend on what they are used to and what they earn. Exact comparisons are further complicated by the fact that the relative cost of goods and services will differ from mainland Europe based on whether they need to be imported. For example, service industries like cleaning, childcare, and private education are generally cheaper than Western European averages, whereas some consumer goods, vehicles, and utility bills (energy, water, etc.) can be more expensive. We will, however, do our best in giving you some objective information that will be helpful to you no matter what your circumstances!

Overall, the first article we linked to is correct in that if you are currently working in a large city then Malta will offer a lower cost of living. Its headline fact should be taken with a grain of salt, as it is based on a basket of only four goods (bread, wine, cigarettes, and petrol), but the overall thrust of the article remains correct. Although rents are rising as the Islands become increasingly popular (particularly for international tech companies) they are still far lower than in places such as London, Copenhagen, and Paris. A one bedroom flat is likely to cost between EUR 450 and EUR 650 in rent per month, depending on location. Although vehicle ownership can be quite costly in Malta, remember that it is a small jurisdiction with good public transport links, short commutes, and plenty of sunshine, so a car isn’t essential. Rather than being comparable to a hub city, Malta’s average cost of living is more reasonably comparable to relatively affluent but non-metropolitan areas of Western Europe, such as the South of England. The cost of living is therefore higher than most of Eastern Europe or some of the rural peripheries of Western Europe.

The article that suggests Malta has the second highest cost of living in Europe, on the other hand, is hard to support. It isn’t directly referenced and looking at the Eurostat figures (which the article is purportedly based on) would suggest that Malta is roughly in the middle of the 38 European countries they cover when looking at the comparative price levels of ‘household final consumption expenditure’. Malta earns a mention in the report only for being the most expensive country among EU member states for household appliances, specifically. Looking at it objectively, it’s likely the article’s source was politically motivated to take a stab at the current Maltese government and actively sought data that supported a high cost of living, so we would suggest you disregard this when drawing your own conclusions about the value of relocating.

Finally, remember that how you spend your money will change. For example, your leisure budget is likely to go much further in Malta: a day at the beach is free, after all, and if you are coming from Northern Europe you will definitely be spending more time out in the sun! Families with young children will benefit due to the inexpensive childcare and education: although Malta offers free childcare if both parents work, and there are very good quality free government schools, many expats nevertheless choose private schooling because it is so affordable in Malta. Private schools in Malta can cost as little as EUR 3,000 per child per year and are unlikely to cost more than EUR 10,000. This compares very favourably to somewhere like the UK, where the average cost is well above GBP 13,000 and can rise to GBP 30,000 or more.

Anecdotally, several of our own Boston Link staff have relocated from London over the last few years and admittedly some things are as expensive or even more so than they are there, but then other things are much cheaper. Overall, we believe that all the professional candidates we have relocated to the Maltese Islands over the years have benefitted from a higher disposable income when accounting for wages, benefits, cost of living, and taxes. If, however, you want to look in more detail at the costs of certain goods and services then we would suggest services like Numbeo which, at the time of writing, says that “Cost of living in Malta is 11.43% lower than in the United Kingdom (aggregate data for all cities, rent is not taken into account). Rent in Malta is 26.99% lower than in the United Kingdom (average data for all cities).”

If, after all that, you still feel you could do with a little more help considering a relocation to Malta, then just drop us a line. We’re always happy to help!