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Trials and tribulations of moving to Malta: 2

[Continued from Part One]

So after three years of living (or should I say “surviving”) in a Third World country, we decide it’s not for us any more. Where do we go? More to the point, where can we afford to go? Or where do we want to afford to go? We moved to the Third World to stretch our little amount of money in retirement. But that’s not always a good reason, as we have found. This is my philosophy now…

We’ve learned not only that we can control our cost of living, within parameters, anywhere we decide we want to live…but also, more important, that cost of living isn’t the best reason to think about moving to another country in the first place.
Beyond the media view of our world is another one, where every turn brings not worry and fear but discovery and adventure.

Not sure where I found this, but it’s appropriate for us and these times we live in!

Anyway, we don’t want to go back to England. After 28-plus years away with infrequent visits, it’s almost like a foreign country! They keep changing the money on us – I have a collection of coins you can’t change or use any more. On one visit we had, we needed to use a public phone…that was fun! Had to get a local to show us. How embarrassing!

We don’t want to go back to the USA.

So the search begins.

Well, so I thought. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d heard someone talking about Malta. Don’t know who, when, where or why. But as I started thinking more and more about looking for somewhere, that little word, country, Malta, kept popping into my mind.

OK then, let’s find out some more. Of course the first thing is to check the CIA World Fact Book. Great resource, gives you all the basic information on a country. But now we need some personal input. So we search the internet for blogs and forums. Lots of reading and chats to people. Then, of course, the most important decision to make is: has this country intrigued me enough to warrant a visit? Oh yes!

Right, let’s book a trip, we say. No problem, all can be done online: flights, car rental, hotel, self-catering. All done. Time of year is September.

My, my, what a journey from down here. Feels like you’re going to the end of the earth! Six hours’ drive to the country’s main airport. Have to stay the night and fly out the next day. Flight to USA. And change planes for the long-haul night flight, get to Amsterdam, and… oh well, no luggage! Good job I packed a change of clothes in the carry-on! So on to the third plane and we finally arrive in Malta on the afternoon of the third day of travel.

Lovely! A car from the hotel picks us up, straight to the hotel and, on our second wind after very little sleep, we have a drink and take a walk down to the seafront. Wow! What interesting buildings, little roads and paths. And a super seafront with promenade, cafés and all sorts of interesting things. We look at each other and say, “I could deal with this!” First impressions. Good feelings. So back up the hill (with a few rests!), another drink, shower and change for dinner, and early night.

Now, after a week in a hotel walking and bussing, then two weeks in self-catering, one on Gozo and one on Malta with a rental car for that time, we’ve pretty well driven and walked all of the Islands. We leave Malta with good feelings and sad that we have to leave.

Once home some serious thought is given to our situation. One big consideration: our elderly, sick cat. She travelled from the States to this country and has survived three years, but is really not doing so well. So we put our wishes on hold.

Sad to say, she only survived another five months.

We’re both feeling really down in the dumps after our little friend of seventeen years passed on. The first time in twenty-six years we’ve been without a feline friend. What to do? Book a trip to Malta. Empty the pool, lock up the house, and off for a month.

Try a different route this time. But still takes three days. What a shock when we get off the plane in Amsterdam, get hauled off to the side, and are given the third degree! “Why did you book your trip and travel within a week?” And more questions about why, what, where, who, when. Guess it was because we went direct from the third-world country and not though the States.

Anyway, we arrive in Malta safe and sound (with all our luggage!) This time we are completely independent. Hire car, apartment rented, and experience living and doing, not being too much of a tourist. But we “do” the whole island and Gozo again. Discover many new things and friends. Make our minds up that Malta is where we want to be. Warts and all!

Back to our home and put the house on the market. Still waiting five months later!

Some of the things we’ve had to deal with so far to get organised for the move:

  • Finding a shipping company…no one goes from Central America to Europe, has to go through USA. Part loads could be a problem, packing and moving.
  • Getting a bank account established in Malta…they all think we’re trying to launder money!! Getting documentation to them is a nightmare. For fear of getting lost, stolen or ID theft. No proof of residence, as there is no such thing as a street address, it’s all “PO Box xxx” – that raises a red flag.

Since making the decision to leave this country, we’ve had a few more difficulties here that have led us to truly believe we are making a good choice. Paying insurances month by month doesn’t happen, you have to pay a minimum of three months, and good luck trying to get any money back!

It’s now the rainy season (lasts about eight-plus months). But this year there is more rain than usual. Oh no! The water treatment plant is having a problem! Mud, silt, rocks and trees have blocked an inlet and a part is broken. So the water is turned off for a week! The part is ordered from another country in this region. They can’t get it. The part is ordered from Germany three weeks ago! More heavy rain, more mud, silt, rocks and trees block something else. Water is off again for a week plus! But this time we do get a dribble each day. Not enough for hot water or showers or washing! Fill up the pots, boil it, jump in the pool, aren’t we lucky!! And we wait for the part to arrive. Perhaps tomorrow or mañana, or tomorrow or mañana!
PS Not sure if the part arrived…but water is back on in full flow for a few days, hope it stays…Yea!!

Read Part Three

6 Responses to “Trials and tribulations of moving to Malta: 2”

  1. Mcapachey

    I am thinking of visiting Malta for the first time, in Feb for a week. I can’t seem to find much information on how to meet a local and buy some farmland and build a house on. When I google land, I see lots of real estate companies selling land for crazy money. I somehow feel that I might stand a better chance of finding more affordable land if I could buy from one of the old locals in person…is my assumption correct….would you have any leads that you could suggest that i follow?

  2. Dave McMahon

    Hi, and welcome.

    The best advice I can offer is that you try asking on the Housing/Property board on our Malta forum. There are plenty of people who’ll be able to give you their own personal perspective, if indeed they haven’t already provided it – from what I gather, buying property at a reasonable price in Malta is a challenge akin to a grail quest!

    Good luck with it, anyway. 🙂

  3. James

    Buying farmland in Malta will be difficult. You can check out Maltese real estate websites, and due to Malta being a small country you can get direct contact with an individual agent via an email address on their respective website, rather than an automated response you get from larger companies in other, “bigger” countries.

    Prices in Malta are still quite reasonable and I would recomend the quiter Southern part of the island. Talmaone, have you visited Marsascala or Marsaxlokk (marsa-shlock)? Being minutes away from a sandy bay, a half hour bus ride to Valletta and plenty of attractions without feeling like your in a prime touristic area, it’s a gem for expats and property is booming.

  4. Penury

    love the read on your trials & tribulations of the past decades living as global citizens.

    Malta, indeed, why not … so is the move underway, when can the little piece of paradise in the med expect you?

    Since we were last there mid 70’s & currently near legal retirement age for pensions, we are still doing lots & lots of research on Malta as well as other places – Malta is high on the present list.

    As Dave mentioned, I agree anyone considering a move, to first do a seek & search, even to the point of visiting taking in the hot & cold seasons

  5. Malkity

    Well not keeping up…been here nearly three months and getting sorted. Need to write part three of ‘Trials & Tribulations’. Will try and get to it before I forget…no I won’t!
    Love it so far, warts and all!

  6. Dave McMahon

    @penury (17 February 2011)

    first do a seek & search, even to the point of visiting taking in the hot & cold seasons

    Definitely worth bearing in mind both summer and winter – Kay and I weren’t complaining about the heat when we visited last August, but several people were, and looking at the temperatures you’ve had to endure I’m sure we’d have been complaining about the cold!

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