Malta is the smallest EU country, both in terms of size and population. However when it comes to popularity amongst digital nomads, it certainly ranks as one of the most appealing destinations in Europe. In this Malta digital nomad guide, we’ll outline why that is and highlight some of the pros and cons to living, travelling and working remotely on the Mediterranean archipelago.
Malta Digital Nomad Guide
- Population – 515,000
- Capital – Valletta
- Language – Maltese & English
- EU – Yes
- Schengen Area – Yes
- Currency – Euro
Pros & Cons to being a Digital Nomad in Malta
- Beautiful island location
Unquestionably the biggest appeal for most remote workers who have set up a base in Malta is its location and natural beauty. Situated just south of the Italian island of Sicily and almost 300 km to the east of Tunisia, Malta enjoys a better climate than just about anywhere on the European mainland. It boasts a range of gorgeous beaches, bays, lagoons and islets and anyone looking for the picture perfect nomad beach/island lifestyle, will struggle to find a much better location in Europe.
- English is an official language
Another significant advantage which makes life a lot easier for most digital nomads, is that Malta is one of just two remaining EU states where English is an official language (the other being Ireland). The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 but the English language has remained and it’s estimated that just less than 90% of people in Malta speak English as well as Maltese.
A further 66% speak Italian, in part thanks to the easy access to Italian television shows. It makes Malta one of Europe’s most multilingual countries and if you aren’t somebody blessed with great linguistic abilities or the time to study a new language, Malta is a hassle-free option for anyone moving abroad to live for a short or longer period.
- A safe, healthy Mediterranean lifestyle
Leading a healthy lifestyle in the Med is a dream for many but the reality doesn’t always live up to the expectation. Malta ticks a lot of the boxes that some of its neighbours fall short on though. The small island nation is ranked as one of the safest in the EU to visit with very little crime besides from petty theft.
It is also known for its homemade cuisine, often consisting of fresh fish and vegetables. For anyone looking to spend some quiet weeks or months by the sea, living and eating well, Malta should certainly be high on your list of priorities.
- Malta is tiny!
Before committing to any longer term stays in Malta, it is important that you properly grasp just how small it is. It covers just 316 kilometres squared which as a point of reference is considerably smaller than many European cities. Malta is roughly one fifth of the size of London for example and around 80 times smaller than the nearby island of Sicily.
The majority of the Maltese population lives in the capital region of Valletta and while there’s plenty to see and do both in the city and around the archipelago, after some time, you may start to feel a bit like you’re restricted in terms of needing to hop on a plane or ferry for any fresh adventures.
- Maltese mentality – Some anti-foreigner sentiments
While many Maltese people are very warm and welcoming, there is something of a small island, perhaps even siege mentality which some digital nomads and indeed locals have cited as reasons for not staying longer.
This kind of antipathy towards non-locals is not entirely uncommon in places that receive large numbers of tourists, which Malta certainly does. However it can slightly sour the experience for some with the growing numbers of people from other countries coming to Malta to work and live, the source of resentment for some and a factor in the rising cost of living for locals. Here’s a more detailed post (by a Maltese person) on some of the more frustrating aspects of living there.
Remote Work Malta – Where to Go
For City Living – Valletta
Considering Malta is so tiny, it’s perhaps surprising to some just how big Valletta’s urban area is. While the old town is very compact, its suburbs and connected surrounding towns stretch out to cover a large chunk of the island with around 400,000 people living in the Valletta region.
When deciding where to live in Malta, the Valletta area is the most obvious option and the heart of the city is the best bet for more arty types or those looking for a more typical urban lifestyle. Many of its buildings date back to the 16th or 17th Century with a distinctive Baroque character giving the city a special feel, although it does bear the scars and decay of a turbulent 20th Century, particularly WWII when the British, Italian and German militaries fought for control of the island.
For more rental options & fast internet – Sliema
Just around the bay from Valletta’s old city, lies the resort town of Sliema – possibly the most popular destination for digital nomads in Malta. While it’s also pretty packed, there is a bit more space and far more in terms of accommodation than you find in the historic centre of the Maltese capital. That means you’ll pay less for renting a flat or studio.
You will also benefit from fast internet access. The wifi is generally good in Malta, but Sliema really does cater to an international crowd with coffee shops, restaurants and cyber cafes offering excellent wifi access. While it’s not as pretty or blessed with as much character as the old city, Sliema ticks a lot of boxes for anyone looking to work remotely in Malta whilst living right on the coast.
For Peace & Tranquility – Gozo
While best known for its natural charms, the high population density means it’s not as easy to find peace and quiet in your daily life in Malta as you might imagine. To truly find a bit of tranquility, your best best is perhaps to leave the main island altogether and head to neighbouring Gozo, the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago.
Something of a diving and water sports paradise, you won’t tire of swimming or snorkelling in Gozo’s turquoise waters. It’s also an island full of rolling hills so there are some lovely walking routes. However digital nomads will need to take into account that the island is much less developed and finding a good wifi connection won’t be quite as easy.
Getting Around Malta
Malta’s small size makes getting around quite straight-forward as you are never too far away from your destination.
By Bus – There is a good bus network on both Malta and Gozo, which caters to both locals and visitors which ensures all of the major travel destinations are well connected. There is information on routes and ticketing details here. There are options for discounted longer-term passes but single tickets (paid to the drivers) range from just €1.50 to €3 (depending on the time of day & year) and cover two hours of travel which will be more than enough to get you wherever you need to go.
By Ferry – Getting between the two main islands takes just twenty minutes by ferry. It only costs €4.65 and is free for Gozo residents with regular departures throughout the day. There are also ferry connections to Comino, a small island home to the popular blue lagoon, situated between Malta and Gozo.
There are also ferry connections between Valletta and the Italian port of Pozzallo on the island of Sicily. The crossings typically run twice a day and take just short of two hours.
By Car – Renting a car in Malta is not really necessary unless you really want to head to some of the more off the beaten track areas. Daily rates are typically between 15 and 30 Euros. Taking a car on the Gozo-Malta ferry costs €15.70 (including the fare for the driver). They drive on the left in Malta and road signs are in English.
Malta is a major European travel destination during the summer months. This has its pros and cons as far as digital nomads are concerned. While it does see accommodation prices soar during the peak tourist season, it also means there are a lot of short-term style apartments, many of which are largely empty between late autumn and spring.
That can serve up some good opportunities for nomads to find higher quality accommodation at great discounted prices. At the time of writing (9th February 2021), you can find Airbnb apartments to rent starting at around 600 Euros per month. Valletta and the nearby coastal areas of Sliema and Paceville have the most options. The Bugibba/Qawra area is the other location where you have a wider selection of Airbnb’s and short to mid-term accommodation on the main Maltese island.
There are some good deals to be found in Gozo too including some seafront apartments in the Marsalforn Bay area. Fast-forward to summer though and you will struggle to find anything decent for anything close to 600 Euros. You’d be wise to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible if you want to stay in Malta throughout the peak tourist season (July & August) and also be ready for the heat which can be intense.
For longer stays, you may want to check out a site such as Maltapark. Prior to the pandemic, the cost of rental accommodation was skyrocketing in Malta. It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue once foreigners start returning to the country in greater numbers, although the recently introduced Malta digital nomad visa may help to bring more people in.
Coworking Malta & Other Places to Work
Malta is one of Europe’s most popular digital nomad destinations so it’s no surprise that a number of coworking spaces and communities have cropped up over the past few years. Almost all of them are in the Valletta area, although there aren’t that many options in the old city proper.
Here are some of the highest rated coworking options in Malta:
|Cocohub||A coworking & coliving community that connects digital nomads and runs a range of events and activities.|
|Mindo||New, centrally located coworking space in Qormi with 24/7 access.|
|Grand Central||The best option in the city of Valletta with hot desks, a lounge and a roof terrace.|
|SOHO Office Space||Possibly the largest coworking set-up in Malta with over 300 active members and three separate locations.|