Update 2023: This article was originally written in 2012, and many things have changed since then. I’m leaving this post online as a record of my thoughts back then, but please do further research if you’re interested in Malta as a digital nomad destination. One positive development has been the launch of the digital nomad visa. Whether this is successful long-term is anyone’s guess, but you should definitely have a look if you’re a non-EU citizen.
When embarking on the journey to become a digital nomad, one of the first things we search for is a great place to relocate to. Deciding to become a digital nomad is, often, a direct consequence of a wish to travel and discover the world, and get a break from your familiar surroundings.
As working as a digital nomad becomes more fashionable, we can see a certain list of countries establishing themselves as ideal locations, due to various factors.
Here are some of the cities/countries most cited by bloggers and digital nomads:
- Chiang Mai – Thailand
- Berlin – Germany
- Buenos Aires – Argentina
- Medellin – Colombia
- Davao City – Philippines
- Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam
- Barcelona – Spain
The clear trend is that of moving to places which give you better value for money and an immersion into a new culture. You will seldom find cities in the US or Europe mentioned as ideal choices for a location independent lifestyle, largely because they are too expensive, or they are not deemed to be exotic enough.
Today I am going to bring you one more destination, a place which has been largely overlooked by digital nomads and location independent workers. I strongly believe that Malta is an almost perfect location and has been a well-guarded secret for far too long.
Where the hell is Malta?
First things first, right? It’s not the first time that I encounter people who have never heard of Malta, let alone knowing where it is or what is so great about this country.
I know, I know, it is indeed comical that the map marker is actually bigger than the country itself…
The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands:
Malta, the largest island, is where most of the activity happens. Gozo, on the other hand, is a very quiet and peaceful island, which has more greenery and is a perfect place to get some rest. Comino, a tiny island of 3.5km squared, is pretty barren but is a top location for the summer months, and home of the famous Blue Lagoon (pictured below).
With a population of around 350,000, it is one of the smallest countries in the world, yet you’ll be amazed at how much activity there is once you set foot here.
What Makes Malta the Ideal Digital Nomad Destination?
Let’s take a look at what I consider to be some of the essential requirements that will make a place ideal for digital nomads:
Affordable, quality housing
Renting an apartment in Malta is not that expensive when compared to other European cities, and can indeed be compared to locations like Buenos Aires (probably even cheaper). Since the island is so small, you can save money on rent by getting a place outside of the main touristic zones. You can get anywhere in 20 minutes by car/motorbike, so getting around is the least of your worries.
While we’re speaking about getting around, I highly recommend renting a car during your stay here, if you want to explore the island properly. The bus system is quite decent (don’t expect punctuality though), but doesn’t cover some of the beautiful areas which you should visit during your stay. During the night it is even more limited.
Malta is probably one of the safest countries you can go to, there are no pickpockets around and you can walk around without any worries even during the night. Common sense safety precautions should of course always be taken, but in general, there is absolutely no problem concerning safety in Malta. Politically it is a neutral country which stays clear of any international conflict, and it has fared well through the global recession, so you won’t find any mass protests here.
Malta has been voted as the country with the best climate in the world, does that get your attention? The weather is warm all year round, although I wouldn’t recommend staying here between December and February, as it tends to get quite chilly inside, since houses are not equipped with central heating.
During the rest of the year, you’re in for a treat. I personally swim from March all the way till November, so you get the idea.
Easy Entry and Work Opportunities
European citizens can enter freely, while others visiting from other continents shouldn’t have too much trouble getting at least a 3 month tourist visa.
It’s also worth noting that there are lots of work opportunities related to IT here in Malta, mainly due to the large influx of gaming companies during the past few years. These companies look very favorably on the employment of foreigners, so you can supplement your digital nomad business with some extra cash working part-time at one of these companies if required. This makes Malta a great place to start your adventure if you do not yet have enough income from your online ventures to support yourself.
Access To Modern Conveniences
Malta is a European country in most senses. Granted, things don’t exactly work like clockwork, as there is a relaxed atmosphere, however, you will find all the products and services you are used to in your home country.
Health care is also affordable and you will be well taken care of in the eventuality of needing a visit to a doctor or hospital.
English Language and Tourist-Friendliness
English is one of the island’s official languages, together with Maltese. This is a huge plus as you won’t have any problems at all with communicating here. A good percentage of the population also speaks Italian due to the island’s proximity and connections with Italy.
Maltese people are renowned for their friendliness. Since tourism is one of the biggest economies of Malta, people here treat foreigners very well, and will often go out of their way to help you. Most people are also very proud of their country so they will very readily give you advice on places to visit or directions.
An Efficient Technology Infrastructure
Malta has invested heavily in technology during the past few years, so you can easily find a good internet connection and, of course, mobile networks.
There are a number of public wi-fi hotspots as well, should you fancy working outdoors during the warm months.
You will find all kinds of food in Malta, and restaurants are cheaper than what you’ll find around Western Europe. Lots of good fruit and veg from the local produce here and meat is also easily available and of great quality.
Maltese traditional cuisine is probably closest to Italian, maybe mixed a bit with Arabic/Spanish. The most common local dish is the rabbit stew, which you can find in restaurants specializing in local dishes. A town called Mgarr is especially renowned for the abundance of restaurants serving rabbit, snails, and other local delicacies.
As you can imagine you will find most Italian plates served here as there are many Italian owned restaurants. Italian products are also brought over from nearby Sicily, and you can find them in the supermarkets.
All in all, not a bad place to be at all with regards to food. I am currently in Thailand and I definitely miss a good piece of meat like I used to enjoy back home.
A Healthy Expat Community
Due to the gaming company influx mentioned earlier, there are many foreigners working here, so the expat scene is quite active. The downside is that it might not be that easy to come across digital nomads here, but hey, that’s why I’m writing this post, so hopefully that situation will improve in the near future.
Good Connections To Other Destinations
Malta is an island, so the easiest way to get there is by plane. There are also catamaran services to nearby Sicily. It is quite cheap to travel via air to and from Malta, especially in summer when Ryanair services a number of routes throughout Europe.
I also know a few people who maintain a number of offshore clients and fly there for important meetings, so connections are not really a problem.
Coworking is still a novelty concept in Malta, and I hadn’t originally included this point as one of the strong points of Malta, but after visiting the island again in 2019 I was happy to note that coworking is finally taking shape in Malta.
I am aware of a few coworking spaces that have been operating for a few years, but the latest one to open and the one I’ve had the pleasure of working at is 230Works in Mosta. It opened in 2019 and the people behind it are enthusiastic about making it work and taking on board suggestions from coworkers. It’s also the only centrally located coworking in Malta. Typically coworking spaces are located in the St Julians and Sliema area, but those areas are highly trafficked, so I appreciate having a central option like 230Works.
Value for Money
When you consider everything, Malta is one of the cheapest places you can choose. It is probably more expensive than places in Asia, but it is much cheaper than living in other European countries.
Don’t believe me? Check out the following two websites where you can easily set up a cost comparison between two cities in the world. You can select any town in Malta and compare it with other destinations.
In both these sites, you will get a price comparison for many essential products and services that you are bound to use when living at a particular place.
Convinced Yet? Why don’t you join the Malta Digital Nomads group on Facebook, where you can discuss with me and other digital nomads who are or have been in Malta?
I’ve touched upon some important points about Malta, but there’s much more to say about the beauty and history of this place.
If you have any questions, the comments section is waiting for you. I would also like to hear feedback from some other digital nomads who have been to Malta in the past, or are thinking of coming here soon.
Mark Cassar says
Thanks for sharing this great article.
With reference to coworking, I agree with you that most of the options are in the St. Julian’s & Sliema are which are totally congested with traffic and a total nightmare for parking.
Recently, we’ve just launched a coworking space & serviced office in Qormi – Mindo. More information about this new space can be found on https://mindo.mt – This might be also interesting for the readers who might be looking for a serviced office or coworking space out of the hustle & bustle of Sliema, St. Julian’s an the surroundings.
Luca Arrigo says
Love your content and journey.
Recently the Nomad Residency Permit was announced.
I launched a consultancy at http://nomadvisamalta.com/ for this purpose.
Jean Galea says
Thanks Luca, good luck with the consultancy. Interesting development for Malta, let’s hope it is a success.
Fabricio Oliveira Bortolosso Costa says
This is a amazing place for digital nomads your content so rich thanks for sharing!
I will still live the dream of living a few months in Malta!
como importar produtos legalmente says
very goood , Thanks, Jean! I’m sold !!!
F. Barcellos says
Excellent article Mr. Jean, moving to Malta in my case will be practically impossible, because I live in Brazil, but here we also have excellent cities that are focusing great names of digital marketing.
Which are the best cities in Brazil for this purpose?
Great post, Jean. Looks like there will be some other digital nomads around. I am just living the digital nomad lifestyle after finishing uni, but continue with a “relaxed” 1-year master in Malta from ctober this year, growing my online business there complimentary. Seems there are lots of supportive people there 🙂
Good luck Chrissof!
Thomas Appelbaum says
My company is in cyprus, it´s also a good digital nomad destination, but i think about move to united arab emirates = zero tax and much better lifestyle than malta, cyprus or other european countries and of course no 183 days regulation. Cheapest way (https://uae-company-service.com/business-in-rak-living-in-dubai) is setup a onshoare company in RAK and living in dubai (for better lifestyle) or also living in RAK.
Yes, dubai it´s not the cheapest emirate, but switzerland is more expensive.
Have you been to the UAE Thomas? We’ve been there a few months ago and definitely don’t agree that it’s a much better lifestyle if you think long term. Obviously each person has his own needs and that influences how much he will like any given place, but the UAE is a very particular place. I don’t think I could stay more than a month there. Life is much more than low tax.
Life is much much more than low taxes.
You only have 1 life, money is secondary if you don’t enjoy yourself.
Thanks, Jean! I’m sold…
Hopefully, I will check out Malta when Italy gets cold in November.
Let me know how it goes! 🙂
I’m wondering about the tax situation if you live in Malta…? If you earn money online, and live in Malta (or at least have your residence there, even if you’re not there year round)… what is the tax situation?
There are some very good incentives for relocating your company to Malta, best to contact a local firm specialising in this area for more advice.
Di niente Davide, spero di incontrarti li 🙂
Davide Tonini says
Grazie Jean. Andrò presto a Malta e il tuo racconto mi accompagnerà:-)
[email protected] says
Very convincing article. Im atleast motivated to search further info and do more research. Youve opened my eyes to the real possibility of visiting Malta.
I wish I was an EU citizen to visit more easily.
Glad to provide that motivation 🙂
Thanks for the summary. How would you compare Malta with Thailand? I stayed in Thailand last winter and am thinking about going back. But I’m open to new opportunities and like the European flavour of Malta.
Chris, winter in Malta is dreary in my opinion, although lots of people come here because it’s great when compared to other European countries. I would definitely head back to Chiang Mai in winter though if I had to choose. Malta is tops from late April up till end of October, lots of things happening here and now a growing digital nomad community as well. We’ll be heading to Playa del Carmen in Mexico this winter, hopefully it will be another great destination.
Interesting article. I have applied for joining your group on Facebook. I am a 33 year old internet marketer from Germany and moved to Malta in March. I have lived before in Spain where the Spanish language is required and the taxes are not favorable and in Cyprus where locals are not really friendly and welcoming and the current economic crisis is making things even worse. So Malta is the best option for me right now.
Your reasoning makes sense Henning, looking forward to meeting you at our next meetup or co-working activity.
Not a digital nomad (yet), but your post makes me want to visit Malta (not to mention Medellin). Maybe I can squeeze in a visit next year.
BTW – Just found your WP Mayor site… I’m about to check out your “Best Wordpress Plugins for 2013” post (a little late, I know).
Jean Galea says
Hope you enjoy WP Mayor Kenny, and do let me know if you make it to Malta. We’ve managed to build a nice nomad community here, it’s great fun.
Thanks, you have inspired us. You may have caused us to change our plans slightly to fit in Malta for a month in October. Its either there or the Philippines. I don’t want to head/tails it – I need to do more research! 🙂
Sure, just let me know if you need any information about Malta 🙂
Kevin Muldoon says
Looks like a good blog.
I’ll let you know when the book is complete and send you a copy 🙂
Hmm yes I suppose it’s always best to write when things are fresh, I prefer writing about web dev and entrepreneurship, but luckily I’ve got my gf covering the travel part at Alyona Travels.
Looking forward to your next ventures!
Kevin Muldoon says
I’m in the process of writing a book about freelance blogging. I travel a lot, probably more than most travel bloggers, however I’m not sure I want to write about the subject extensively. I mean, I first started travelling regularly about 9 years ago. Writing about how to pack your bag and other travel tips would get boring quickly. It’s something I should have done when I was younger when I was travelling before the niche was popular.
I wrote one guest post about it last year entitled The Life Of A Travelling Entrepreneur. Suppose I could write one or two more posts on the subject but I’m happy writing about web development topics. Plus, i’m keen to launch a few big projects next year – perhaps release 3 or 4 books, perhaps launch a few websites. Will see what happens 🙂
Kevin Muldoon says
Might check it out in a few years for a holiday. I’ll be in South America until next Summer so no point in making plans for a while 🙂
Nice 🙂 You should write a guide about South America from a digital nomad perspective, I’d love to explore those countries too, maybe next year.
Kevin Muldoon says
I’ve been to Italy and Greece but never to Malta. When I was younger I remember people would come back from holiday from places like Malta and Cyprus with illegal movies on VHS video.
Malta looks beautiful. Only about 4 hours from the UK I think so it’s pretty handy for returning home too. Definitely somewhere I want to visit one day.
For British people it’s an excellent choice for sure, in fact there are lots of expats, also due to the close ties there have always been between the UK and Malta. Many business connections between the two countries as well.
I went to live in Malta for a year, and can say this pretty much covers it! The only thing i think is missing is info about food, which can be a bit strange down there. Egg and green peas pizza, anyone?
All of you that think of going to Malta: do it 🙂
I might add in a bit about food yes, although its mainly a mix of Italian, British and Arabic. Never encountered egg and green peas pizza haha, although of course the most famous local snack has to be the pastizzi, available in either peas or ricotta variants.