Malta Owners Guide
Owning a holiday home in Malta
Placed at a strategically crucial point in the southern Mediterranean Malta, Gozo and Comino share 7,000 years of history dating from megalithic times through the Phoenicians and Romans, St Paul, Byzantia, the Arabs, the Normans and the Knights of St John (from where we get the Maltese Cross). This historical richness is reflected in the wealth of temples, fortifications, palaces and churches that can be found on the islands. Visit the walled city of Mdina in the centre of Malta, once the Maltese capital city and home to the Knights. This ancient, quiet place is an oasis of quiet and coolness on a busy island. The new capital Valetta, with its creamy coloured buildings and blessed by the Mediterranean sun, has a skyline rich in domes, spires and towers of historic buildings and offers lively harbours full of multi-coloured fishing boats, sophisticated café society and is the business hub of the islands.
At 198 square miles Malta will not, of course, offer the wide open spaces of larger countries, but inland the islands have some wild areas and the craggy coastline has some beautiful sandy beaches to the north, perfect for various watersports including snorkelling and scuba diving. Windsurfing can be enjoyed to the north of the islands and there are reefs and wrecks to explore off Gozo and Comino.
In summer the island can get very hot and the beach or poolside are the places to be, though the warmth of the evenings makes venturing out after dark very pleasant. Out of season, (late September through November and March through June), the climate is ideal for walking, horseriding and other outdoor pursuits. Even in the short winter it rarely gets cold and temperatures tend to hover in the mid teens centigrade, often with plenty of sunshine. For nature lovers, for much of the year, pink and white oleander, jacaranda and prickly pear abound throughout these limestone islands. In the springtime wild flowers are everywhere.
The British generally feel welcomed on Malta and although Maltese, (a derivation of Sicilian and Arabic), is the language of the islands, English is learned by every Maltese at school (and spoken by 95% of the population). It is also the official language of business on the islands. The relatively recent close connections of this importantly placed island to Britain, (the entire country was presented with the George Cross for bravery after the Second World War), means that there is a distinct pro-British feeling even today. So though now proudly independent Malta is in the Commonwealth for example, and many Britons will find of comfort in this connection when holidaying or thinking of buying a holiday home here. As with Cyprus, in Malta you drive on the left. You also see the odd red British telephone box and post box, and electrical items use the familiar British plugs. In addition to this, many say that Malta has the gentle attractions of Britain fifty years ago – bowls for example is very popular. Add to this the splendid climate and the fact that the country has an efficient, modern infrastructure all combine to make Malta an attractive holiday home destination.
Learning about Malta:
It is a good idea to visit this small group of islands and get a feel for where you would like to be situated. Such exploration will help you to focus on what you finally want. You then get a better idea of which characteristics of a holiday home, and its location would be important to you. You will discover compromises you might have to make – the noise and bustle involved in being within walking distance of everything against a quieter but remoter location where you would require transport. Those with experience of buying here advise that it is a good idea to rent a place first to really experience what life is like.
Service and product providers
Make provision to pay for the essentials of owning property, particularly when you live in a different country most of the time. When planning to take on a holiday home, you must ensure that you budget for any ongoing mortgage payments, buildings’ and contents’ insurance for the holiday home, second home local authority tax and any service charges if your property is in a communal setting. And don’t forget utility bills, broadband etc. If there is a pool at your property allow for chemicals, special water rates and on-going maintenance and cleaning. Your insurer will insist that there is someone local to keep an eye on the place – to hold a key and to organise any necessary urgent repairs in your absence. You may well want gardening services to keep the garden from drying out and to give the impression of the property looking neat and lived in. And over time you will need to pay for builders, plumbers, electricians etc for maintenance and extensions etc.
Things to do when you are there:
Make the most of the area that you have chosen to live in. Get involved in the local community, culture, entertainment, miscellaneous activities, and keep fit and healthy. There are a lot of British people in Malta and English is the official language so you will have the opportunity to join associations such as tennis clubs, a riding stable or one of the numerous boating clubs. There is also a British Residents in Malta club, which you could join and attend their meetings when you are visiting.
Renting out your holiday home:
You may plan from the start to rent out your holiday home for holiday use, or you may find this option more attractive at some point in the future. You will need funds to market your holiday home. Your property will then need to be kept in an excellent state of repair and be very well presented, with clean furniture in good condition and pristine crisp linen for each new visitor. The house will have to meet all rental regulations and if there is a
pool/ garden areas, these will need to be kept clean and safe. You will probably need to employ the services of a management company to do this. Adequate holiday home insurance will be required which should include liability cover and loss of rent.
If you are going to rent your home for holiday lettings, a freeview TV with DVD player may not be enough for today’s renters. You might wish to invest in providing a full entertainment package, multichannel television (which receives the home TV stations of the rental market you will be aiming at) and wi-fi. In that case you will be looking at the cost of on-going cable/satellite packages, broadband. However these added facilities will hopefully enhance the income you could earn from holiday home lets.