We survived the last of the water shortage, rainy season, and normal electrical outages for another month in lovely Chiriqui Province, Panama. That was in September ’10. Then we broke down and decided to put our house with a realtor for sale as there wasn’t much response from our “cheap” and free advertising.
At the beginning of October we contacted some realtors and listed the house with a couple. We got a call from one of them the day after we’d listed, saying a Canadian couple would like to come and see the house. That same day they made an offer for the house, furniture, everything including the truck…all for the price we were asking! Needless to say we couldn’t believe our luck. Was it meant to be?
Oh yes, and did we get a good deal. The couple wanted to close the deal in a week. We said, “How can we get a shipping company for our personal bits, book our flight and find somewhere to live in Malta in a week?”
So they said, “Well, take what time you need. But we want to be in by the time our relatives come to visit at the end of October.”
So hustle we did. We weren’t going to lose such a deal. We got the shipping sorted, our stuff packed and on its way in two weeks. Our flights were booked, we had a temporary place to stay in Malta and were itching to get going. But it took another two weeks for the Panamanian bureaucracy to get all the paperwork through. However, the buyers paid all the money up in the first two weeks into our bank and let us stay in the house and use the truck, all rent free, until all documentation was complete! Couldn’t have asked for a better deal!
Off we went, and in the first week of November we arrived in Malta to our little two-bedroom temporary apartment. A great deal; rent for a month included all utilities, TV, once-a-week cleaning and linens and personal laundry service. It was clean and convenient, but not too comfortable in the sitting area. We got a good deal on a hire car too, so we kept that for three months until we bought one. Anyway, after looking with several estate agents and us being very difficult customers, not used to apartment living, we found a very nice, albeit large, apartment.
In the meantime, we did the Valletta trip for our ID Cards and got them no problems within four days. We put in our application for health entitlement, saw an accountant and applied for the KartAnzjan (cheap bus and ferry pass, as we’re in the “old fart” age range!) Everything was easy, plain sailing – apart from…The Bank Account!
As we’ve lived in the USA and other countries outside the EU, it seems as if our money has a jinx on it. Six months before we even decided to move to Malta, we tried to open an account with HSBC. We finally got an account in New York, but could we transfer it to Malta? No – not without paying all sorts of fees.
Next option, try the Bank of Valletta. Sure, we sent all the papers required, references etc. We went into the bank when we got here to move things on. Sure! They hadn’t got our references, told us they would call us, never heard from them.
Finally we went into HSBC here with our ID cards and opened an account instantly. We moved some money over and are now on first-name terms with the bank manager.
We bought the car, are getting some issues sorted in the apartment, and are even getting our Maltese driving licences. That was an interesting challenge. Both of us have non-EU licences, and thought our UK licences were lost or out of date. They told us we would have to go to driving school (maybe I need to, but definitely not my “better” half, having both driven all over the world!) and take a theory and practical test. No way!
So we called DVLA, got a “certificate of entitlement”, and hotfooted it back down to Transport Malta offices, after several calls and emails to a very helpful person. We handed him our certificate (which arrived from the UK in one week). We’ve now got a letter saying our application is being approved, and hope to have a licence in our hot little mitts soon!
We’ve even had the doctor experience! The husband had to go and get a re-evaluation from a doctor for his problem and get some medication. First visit to the Mosta clinic was OK. He took the queuing system number, found out who had the number before and waited for nearly an hour. Doc. did the question and answer bit and referred him to another doctor. A month later, husband got to see a “specialist”, but not the one he needed. However, the “specialist” made an appointment for the relevant tests. A couple of weeks later those were done.
Another appointment with the same “specialist” who told husband he had no need to be “cut open” (as the Panamanian docs wanted!); just take half the meds the Panamanians prescribed and all would be well. So off goes the husband a happy little camper…forgetting to ask for the application for the free meds card thingy!! Another appointment is then required and, maybe, in a few weeks that will be sorted. But we cannot complain, it was all free!
OK, so I hear you ask, “How’s Malta so far?” We love it: warts, cold and all. We’ve been overdosing on food and goodies we haven’t had for many years, going to concerts and the theatre, taking in all the beautiful sights, walking and eating ice cream by the sea (only when the sun’s out). The only big complaint we have at the moment is the cold indoors. No matter how many layers I have on, how close I’m to the gas fire, how tight I cuddle my hot water bottle, I just cannot get warm indoors! Only when I’m under my quilt in bed! Oh. I nearly forgot… and my single-size electric blanket is on.