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Tuesday May 11, 2021

Jewel of the mediterranean

Mediterranean islands conjure up visons of azure waters, quaint villages steeped in history, healthy living and loads of sunshine year-round. And when it comes to Malta, you have all of this and so much more. It is no wonder that many hundreds of South Africans and their families have already made it their permanent home.

A stone's throw from Italy, this small island nation of about half a million people has seen an influx of South Africans relocating to its sunny shores for a better, safer life and the privilege of living in a safe and booming economy in a country with a low crime rate.

The additional bonus of becoming a resident is visa-free travel to the entire Schengen Area and European Economic Area, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Being at the forefront of financial, iGaming,IT, chandler and maritime services, Malta also has one of the most popular residency schemes in the world, allowing non-EU citizens to live and work on the islands to benefit from all this mighty little country has to offer. The programmes cover citizenship, retirement and many other visa options for those who decide to make the move.


The booming economy and thriving real estate scene
Low crime rate and safety
Weather and climate

Not only has the Covid19 pandemic had no effect on the pace of construction in Malta, the number of registrations for the purchase of new properties has broken records month after month.

Property price increases and, therefore, the capital appreciation of Malta's real estate, has been among the best in this sector in the whole of Europe, even surpassing places like Hong Kong.

When it comes to investing your money wisely in Malta, the saying "safe as houses" is a lucrative reality.

For years, Malta has topped the list of the safest places to live in the world. This goes for both crime and natural disasters and to be at the top of the list of hundreds of countries, ranked and surveyed annually, is no mean feat.

Malta is the go-to place for well-heeled UK citizens who want to escape the dreary, grey and wet of the British Isles.

With more than 2.6 million international tourists visiting Malta annually, an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and winter temperatures rarely dipping below 15°C to 20°C, Malta is a sun-lover's paradise. Summer starts in April and can last as late as November.

English is spoken by more than 80% of citizens and is an official language, along with Maltese. This makes it easy for South Africans when doing business or for simply getting around.

Even locals who are not fluent will do their best to help you out in English.

As a legacy of Malta's British occupation, people drive on the left in Malta, as in South Africa. This makes the process of driving in Malta easy with no need to have to get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Your South African driver's licence is valid for a year in Malta before you have to obtain a Maltese one.

With the large South African expat community, you will be able to buy favourites like koeksisters, boerewors biltong and many other products from established companies which have set up shop in Malta. One of South Africa's favourite seafood chains has opened a thriving restaurant in Bugibba and more are planned.

Language compatibility
You won't miss old favourites
Residency and visa programmes

A variety of options are available to South Africans and many Saffas have dual passports, which makes it easy to move to Malta.

For those who have only South African citizenship, Malta has tailor-made residency programmes that are globally well-respected and immensely popular. Administration costs for the programmes are relatively low, although some of the investment criteria can be high. However, with stringent due diligence procedures in place, Malta is interested in attracting only quality candidates. Once you have made the grade, there are numerous tax benefits and savings.

The Malta Permanent Residence and Visa Programme, in particular, is proving to be one of the most popular in Europe, while the country also offers a EU citizenship by investment option.

Valletta, the capital, was voted Europe's Capital of Culture for 2018. It's also a World Heritage site, along with many others on both Malta and the island of Gozo, and civilisation on the islands can be traced back to the Megalithic period and earlier. With more History and culture than 5 000 years of continued habitation, the archipelago is awash with history. The islands have seen Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Greeks and many more pass through over the millennia. Malta is a dream for any history and culture buff.

If you want bang for your buck, Malta is the place to be. It is regarded as cheaper than Italy, although more expensive than Spain. However, on average, you get a lot for your euro with day-to-day living expenses. For instance, annual medical, car and home insurance is cheaper, there are no inheritance taxes and no municipal rates and taxes. The cost of living might be low but the standard is very high.

Malta does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and legalised same-sex marriage in September 2017.

Malta's health-care system is regarded as one of the best globally. Health-care plans in Malta are offered by most insurance companies and are budget friendly.

If you work in Malta, contribute towards social security and pay tax, you will be able to use free health-care facilities, within reason. State healthcare is First World all the way.

In Malta, all children have the right to free education from the age of 4 to 16 years. Alternatively, as in South Africa, you can send your child to a private school at your own expense. Malta's state schools have a very high standard.

Cost of living
Equal rights
Health care

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)8 May 2021


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