- Work Permits and Visas
- Working Conditions
- Health Insurance
- Maltese Economy
- Job Market
- Salary and Tax
- Cost of Living
- Best Places to Live
- Retiring to Malta
Malta might be tiny, but the country packs a lot of career opportunities into a compact space. It is not just the chance of a dream career that appeals; this island is the gateway to a Mediterranean lifestyle. Most of the year, Malta has beautiful weather; throw in great beaches, country walks and ancient architecture, along with a vibrant bar and restaurant scene, and you’ve got yourself a very appealing work-life balance. If you’ve interested in living and working in Malta here's what you need to know:
1. Culture and language
The Maltese are friendly, welcoming people, and since offices tend to be relatively small, you're likely to make friends quickly. The island is booming, and you get the distinct feeling that anything is possible with hard work and vision.
Anglophones are in luck because English is an official language, along with Maltese. In addition, most local people speak English well, so it's perfectly possible to live and work here without learning Maltese (although everyone will be very impressed if you do...once they get over the shock!)
2. Work permits and visas
So, what paperwork do you need to live and work in the land of feasts, fireworks and fantastic bread (or hobż as we call it here)? Well, that depends where you're coming from…
For more information click here.
For everyone else, it's a little more tricky. Most people can get a tourist visa to visit, usually for up to 90 days. However, if you'd like to stay permanently and work, you will need a job offer, and your potential employer must apply for an employment licence. That requires them to advertise the job and confirm that no appropriate Maltese, EU, EEA or EFTA candidate applied. This can be challenging but not impossible!
Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP): Got some cash in the bank? If so, there is another path to life and work in Malta. The Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) allows you to become a Maltese citizen (subject to certain conditions and an annual cap) for a cost of €650,000 (€25,000 for spouses/dependents), plus a five-year investment of €150,000 in government authorised stocks or bonds. You will also need to buy a property for €350,000+ or rent a property that costs €16,000+ annually for a minimum of five years. Lastly, you'll have to spend the year before naturalisation in Malta. Find out more here.
Tourist (Schengen) Visas: A short stay tourist visa (known as a Schengen Visa) allows you to enter Malta for up to 90 days for tourism or business. It is not a work permit. You risk a fine, deportation and/or a ban from re-entering the European Union if you overstay that visitor visa.
Student Visas: EU and EEA/EFTA citizens can study and work in Malta without a visa. If you're from another country, you can apply for a visa to study in Malta, allowing you to work limited hours (subject to conditions). You must sign up for either an English-language course at an ELT licensed school or MQRIC approved course that must last for more than 90 days. You can then work for up to 20 hours per week. Some university students can also stay for 6 months after graduation to look for work. Remember that you must keep up your attendance and course work, or your visa may be revoked. You'll need to request a work permit with Jobsplus, and there are other requirements. The full details are here. To study at university, you will need to prove your proficiency in English with a test by TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge. Find out more here.
3. Working conditions
The usual Maltese workweek is 40 hours, and the legal maximum is 48 hours (unless you agree otherwise with your employer). Those extra eight hours are generally paid as overtime.
Most people are in the office from 8 to 5, but government employees may have different hours, particularly in summer.
Holiday (vacation) time 2021 entitlement is 216 hours.
Malta has a social security system. Employees and employers both contribute. Find out more here. You are generally entitled to two weeks of sick leave annually and must provide a medical certificate. After those two weeks, social security may pay you a sickness benefit depending on the contributions that you have made.
Six-month probation is the norm, although it could be longer if you have a high salary. During that probation, your employer does not need to give a reason to sack (fire) you.
Beyond probation, the notice period to end your employment depends on how long you’ve been there. Find out more here.
4. Health insurance
If you are from the EU and working in Malta, you can use the national health service. Employed Third Country Nationals paying national insurance may also be entitled to public health care; find out more here and here. If you are not entitled to use the national health service, you should ensure that you have private insurance.
The healthy job market reflects Malta's rosy economic situation. The economy is mainly industrialised and service-based and is classed as 'high income' by the World Bank. Inflation is low, and public debt is falling. Unemployment hovers around 4%.
Currency: Malta uses the Euro (€)
6. Job market
The job market for IT specialists is very healthy in Malta – you should have no trouble picking up work. Likewise, pharmaceutical, medical, legal and financial experts will find job hunting reasonably straightforward. Online betting is massive on the islands; Cryptocurrency, Fintech and Blockchain industries are also on the rise, so expect to find plenty of opportunities there. If you're a travel professional, you'll find a niche too. Even beyond those sectors, there are many jobs, but you might need to search a bit harder and be prepared to compromise.
Banks: HSBC Malta, Bank of Valletta, APS
Financial Services: Maitland Group, Alter Domus, DeVere, Deloitte
Insurance: Mapfre Middlesea
Online Gaming / Betting: Betsson, Kindred Group, Tipico, Unibet, Casumo, Mr Green
Telecommunications: Go, Melita, Epic
Travel: SMS Mondial, Britannia Tours, Air Malta, FCM Travel Solutions, Hamilton Travel
Other: M. Demajo, Simonds Farsons Cisk, University of Malta, BMIT (data and cloud), Konnekt
7. Salary and tax
Wages are lower in Malta than in some Western countries (although exceptions include the gaming, financial and insurance industries). Job seekers need to balance salary expectations against a relatively cheaper cost of living.
To give you an idea, the 2020 figures from the National Office of Statistics put the average monthly wage at €1,536, with managers earning an average of €2,197 and a Financial Executive bringing in well over €2,200.
At the other end of the scale, basic workers earn around €994 monthly, and the minimum wage is €784.7 per month for over 18s in 2021.
Everyone gets a statutory bonus in Malta – these quarterly payments were added to a wage and come to €512 annually in 2021. There is also a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) allowance for all employees set at €1.75.
This handy tax calculator will help you work out take-home pay and tax obligations. The government lists the current rates here. Third Country Nationals may pay different rates – contact the Commissioner for Revenue for details.
Malta is still refreshingly cheap, especially if you're coming from a big city in Western Europe, although there's no doubt that prices are on the rise. Still, you can find a decent one-bedroom place to rent in the capital Valletta for around €800 – €1,000+, while a three-bedroom in a rural location will set you back around €1100. Highly sought after locations will, of course, cost much more. Essential utilities come to at least €80-120 a month, and internet expenses around €35 monthly. Preschool will set you back about €380 monthly, and a year of a private school at primary level is €8000.
You can get a pint of beer for €3, a main course in a cheap restaurant for €15, a three-course meal in a good restaurant for €60 and a cappuccino on a lovely outdoor patio by the sea for around €2.20 (did I mention that life is lived outdoors here?) When it comes to groceries, a loaf of bread is €1.16, and a dozen eggs cost €2.53.
9. Best places to live
Sliema and St. Julian's are the most sought after locations in Malta and are correspondingly expensive. They are the heart of the islands when it comes to shopping, dining and drinking, with decent access to Valletta by ferry and road. The capital Valletta and the outskirts of Floriana are also prominent choices. Gzira, Ta X'biex and Msida have a lot of office space; if your work is nearby, they are a good option. Pembroke and Madliena are pleasant residential neighbourhoods. Beyond Sliema, prices drop a little in Swieqi and San Gwann.
If you don’t have a daily commute to Valletta or the Sliema area, you might consider living further north. St. Paul’s Bay, Xemxija and Mellieha are delightful locations, but you must consider the traffic going South.
Some of the cheapest accommodation can be found in Marsaskala and Marsaxlokk, and there are still bargains to be had in the Three Cities outside Valletta (Birgu, Conspicua and Senglea). If you want to be in the heart of a traditional Maltese town/village, try Rabat, Lija, Mosta, Għargħur or Mgarr. Lastly, if you can work from home and want to live somewhere peaceful, it's worth checking out Gozo.
If you're interested in renting or buying property in Malta, you can browse on noagentfees.com.
10. Retiring to Malta
Retiring to Malta got a whole lot easier tax-wise with the introduction of the Malta Retirement Program. EU, EFTA and EEA citizens can retire here and pay just 15% tax on foreign source income received in Malta. This is subject to certain conditions. Find out more here.
If you want to give your career a boost on these sunshiny islands, it's a good idea to start with a fact-finding visit. You can assess the areas you might want to live in and look into the job market in your sector. While you’re here, it’s worth making an appointment with a recruitment agency. They can help you get an idea of what kind of jobs are available and how much you would earn. A preliminary visit might even end up with your skills being matched to an employer looking for staff.
Other ways to find a job include the local newspapers such as The Times of Malta and the Malta Independent. There are also lots of online job boards. If you don't find something right away, don't panic… the right job is out there, but you need to give yourself time to find it. Make sure you have some savings to support yourself while you are looking.
EU nationals looking for work can register as unemployed with the government organisation ‘Jobsplus’ and may be entitled to benefits.