Is Malta the next European digital base?

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If you’re looking for a spot in Europe to stay a while and crank out a few blog posts or catch up on all those important emails, you could do a lot worse than Malta. Will the affordable living, easy access to great food, top cultural experiences, and fast WiFi temp you over?

Having lived in Malta for over half a year now, we can say with confidence that the island is the new European digital base. With a booming iGaming industry and its much toted 300+ days of sunshine a year, Malta is fast attracting Digital Nomads, freelance writers and travel bloggers alike.

We first came to Malta back in 2015 for a quick friend visit and noticed it’s potential as a future digital base for us. So, after touring around Southeast Asia for most of 2016 (and with our Thai visas on the brim of expiration) we headed back to sunny Malta to create our next digital home.

During our travels we lived in Hoi An, an enchanting UNESCO heritage town, whilst exploring Vietnam. Later, we also rented a condo in Bangkok, the buzzing capital of Thailand. So, we had a pretty good idea of what a good digital base should offer. Malta, it seems, ticks all the right boxes.

Here’s why…

The Mediterranean Climate & Great Outdoors

The climate in Malta appealed to us a lot when choosing our digital base. With around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, the Maltese islands are an inspirational place to base yourself for a while.

Malta Expats | Salt Pans Gozo MaltaIn our experience, digital nomads enjoy the great outdoors and Malta certainly has plenty to offer in that department. From trekking the ‘Great Wall of Malta’ to endless water sports options or diving in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean sea, the island is jampacked with businesses ready to take you on a new adventure.

And that’s exactly what a digital nomad seeks in a new destination. Places that will allow them to keep exploring and creating fresh content for their readers. Top marks so far!

The Diverse Culture and History

Cultural experiences are one of the most important factors when choosing a digital base. The impressive religious festas and colourful events here make Malta very unique. We surely feel festive when we hear and see those fireworks from our terrace.

History buffs basing their travel blogs on cultural experiences will be delighted to discover the rich history dating back to the prehistoric Megalithic ages and the romantic Knights of St John. Not to mention the vast British influence on the island, occasional separate hot and cold taps for example!

While it’s important to mix with the locals for the best experiences, being a foreigner in a strange land can get a little lonely. Therefore it’s great to see Malta as such a multinational country with expats from across Europe and beyond.

Size of the Island and the Laid Back Lifestyle

The laid back approach feels strong on the island, sometimes maybe too laid back but we love all these extra public holidays!

After spending 15 years in London we know what a rush hour is and we do not miss it. We also know how long it takes to drive out of London for a weekend away.Although we do miss the space, size is another reason to choose Malta as digital base. Nothing is too far away, especially if you will be looking for a job to sustain your digital nomad lifestyle while building your blogging career.

Malta Expats | Sailing in Malta
However, being on a tiny island creates a sense of isolation from time to time, but luckily you can always hire a boat and sail the endless crayon blue sea if you feel spaced in. And you can always hop to our favourite island of Gozo, Malta’s little sister island.

The Diverse Food Scene

We are not foodies, but we love good quality food. Eating out in Malta can sometimes be cheaper than cooking at home, especially if you go to local restaurants. There are good food options in the St Julian’s area, where we are currently based, but unfortunately the beautiful Spinola Bay is a no-go for food! Go to Naxxar, Rabat or the Three Villages (Attard, Balzan, and Lija) instead for a great local feast!

Sitting just 90 miles away from Sicily, Malta’s food scene is of course largely influenced by the Italian culture. We haven’t had a bad pizza yet on this island and pastas are great too, not to mention a cheeky custard cream filled pastry. And let’s not forget the delicious gelato.

The cuisine in Malta is very diverse and we love it. While there’s no shortage of pizzas and pastas, there is also a large selection of traditional Maltese dishes with insanely rich rabbit stew on offer. Or how about some Turkish, Indian, Vietnamese cuisine? There’s even the British classic Fish & Chips! But of course, they can’t compete with the proper version back in the UK, we’d know!

For the best seafood a visit to Marsaxlokk is a great idea. This place seems to continuously hold accolades of being the best place to head for a catch of the day. In our personal experience, however, Sundays should be avoided in the fishing village when the hordes descend for the weekly market!


Speedy WiFi

One of the biggest struggles for digital nomads, apart from ordering food in exotic countries, is the WiFi speed. Every digital nomad wants a home that can provide a decent internet connection for all that online work.

While one of the fastest internet connections I experienced in Europe was actually back home in Lithuania, Malta also has pretty great connectivity.

The average download speed in Malta is around 24 Mbps while we enjoy around 27 Mbps in our flat if we work closer to the router. However it comes with a price tag. We found that the monthly bills for the internet connection aren’t that cheap here at around €35 for higher speeds.

Cost of Living in Malta

This is the major concern for most digital nomads. The low cost of living is one of the main factors that determines the next digital base.

It all depends on where in Malta you are planning to settle. In our experience, the prices are much higher in areas such as St Julian’s, Valletta and Sliema (€1,000 pcm and above) and go down in price further inland in Rabat, Birkirkara or further North in Bugibba (€700 – €900 pm) where is a large community of Expats in Malta. In Msida you can get a 2 bedroom apartment for around €800 pcm.

Flats with terraces typically cost more, however, if you don’t mind living further away from the coast, Naxxar can offer you a comfortable living with a terrace and a pool for just over €1,000 per month.

Food wise, prices in the locals restaurants are good. On average, a main course at a typical local restaurant will cost up to or even less than €10. Having said that, many restaurants offer a starter size option, which is more than enough most of the time. That’s what we recommend, this saves the pennies and your waistline!

Booze, especially the local lager Cisk is cheap, at around €2.50 a pint, unless you go to fancy bars. The local Maltese wine is a tasty surprise too at under €4 for a bottle!

Easy Access to Travel Europe

Strategically, Malta is well located and has easy access to many European cities which makes it even more attractive as a digital base. We want to be able to explore places other than our home base. And direct, affordable flights to destinations such as Sicily, Istanbul, Budapest or London makes Malta a great base for travellers.

Social Life

With great weather and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s easier to meet people and make new friends. You don’t need to live on the island long to figure out how this country works, but having a large expat community is always helpful. It can be especially handy for things like renting a flat or even looking for job.

Talking about jobs, there’s quite a few of them on this tiny island. Taking on a job to sustain a starting blog in Malta can be fairly easy. Especially if you are interested in iGaming (online gambling) industry as a web developer, content copywriter or even customer service agent.

The Scandinavian and UK markets are expanding rapidly in this particular sector so if you speak any European languages you can land a pretty well paid position.

Friendly Locals

One of the best things when making a new country your digital base is the opportunity to interact with the locals. Luckily the second official language in Malta is English, which played a big part in our decision making process of choosing a new home.

Malta Expats | Dingli Cliffs

Being able to chat to locals and have the opportunity to hear their stories is invaluable experience when living in a foreign country. The older generation Maltese who are running pubs, pizzerias or local restaurants, they all seem to have lived in London at some point in their lives, just like us.

When we lived in Msida for a couple of months, we used to go get a Cisk at a local pub just round the corner from our apartment. First we went there for cheap booze, but all the other times we simply went there to chat to the owner, a 70 years old Maltese chap who told us his life story and all about his wild youth spent in London. He’s been running this pub for the last 50 years and said, ‘If I stopped running this bar I’d probably just die of boredom’.

Author Bio

Hi, we’re Charlie and Kristina. We love travel and started our travel blog Maptrotting.com to inspire you to Experience Your Planet!

During a 2 week trip to Cuba in 2015 we had an honest chat on the beach one night and decided to change our lifestyle to one of travel. We soon realised it wasn’t just the rum talking and made a plan to quit London and set off on a lifetime of travel and adventure.

Come and say hello on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube

 

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