Island of opportunity
Dr. Austin Sammut discusses the many plus points of Malta, the enduringly popular Mediterranean destination
The first feeling a foreigner experiences when travelling to Malta is that of being welcome. Malta, a small but beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean, with a population of around 420,000, is pleasant and warm; a safe, secure place enriched with an exceptional cultural and historical heritage. It has proven itself to be an enduringly popular destination over the years.
The Maltese archipelago lies at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93km south of Sicily. It consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino, covering an area of 316km2 and a coastline of 196km.
Malta is the largest island and the cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo is the second largest island and is more rural, characterised by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture. Comino is largely uninhabited. Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008. Its legislation is completely aligned with the rest of the European Union.
The island enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. Its winters are generally mild and the summers are hot, dry and very sunny. English, together with Maltese, is an official language and is universally spoken and written. Many Maltese are also fluent in Italian while some also speak wider European languages such as French and German.
High standards of living, as well as social, political and economic stability are huge selling points which have attracted visitors for generations. Comparatively low daily running costs offer a change from other busy, chaotic and high-cost locations.
Malta’s size does not restrict it from offering abundant facilities, ranging from top class restaurants and nightclubs to plentiful sporting facilities, including tennis, golf, scuba diving, sailing and windsurfing in the Mediterranean.
The island’s outstanding real estate includes remarkable luxury apartments and homes, some of which overlook the stunning Mediterranean Sea, and many have featured as gold award winners in the International Property Awards. Luxury projects and developments are set in ‘Special Designated Areas’, meaning that property may be freely purchased by foreigners without requiring any acquisition of extra property permits.
The safe environment, meanwhile, makes it an ideal retirement location. It is particularly popular with retiring UK citizens.
Flight connections, too, are excellent. The national carrier Air Malta services numerous European and a number of North African destinations with regular flights. There are also a significant number of international carriers, including low-cost airlines operating to and from Malta International Airport.
The island’s favourable tax regime, as well as over 50 double taxation agreements with key countries, are well known, and provide another, more financial, reason for investment.
Today, Malta continues to stand out as a safe, popular place for both property investment and expatriate relocation, attracting those wanting to move to a warmer climate, as well as those who plan to do business in and from the island.