Living in Gozo

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Living in Gozo

Postby Suzi » Sun 06 Mar 2005 23:31

Hello everyone,
We are early retired mid 50's and have been carefully checking out the possibility of relocating. We have visited and ruled out many places in the med for different reasons. During our research we came across web sites on Malta which we think may suit us, particularly Gozo.
In the uk we live in a rural village area and have a nice property. We are looking to improve our lifestyle, enjoy a warmer climate and make new friends. We hope to visit Gozo April/May time to check it out. I have some questions to ask of you, if you could help.
1) Is it true that you can find a Marks & Spencer shop in Malta? do you
have to shop in Malta for main items and weekly groceries.
2) Would you recommend a 4WD vehicle for Gozo
3) So we don't feel isolated would you recommend living in a village?
4) Can you find plenty to do in the winter period? We like outdoor life,
walking, boating, and the feeling of belonging a community.
5) How does the cost of living compare with the uk?
6) Is central heating desirable for the winter, to keep your house warm
if so which fuel is best?
7) Is it really true there is very little crime in Gozo, and are the people
accepting of other nationalities.
Hope I have not asked too many questions, look forward to hearing your replies.
Thanking you
Suzi
Suzi
 

Postby Ros » Sun 13 Mar 2005 17:03

Hi Suzi. we are not living in Gozo yet but hoping to move there very soon, so can't answer all your questions but help where I can.
Yes there is a Marks and Spencers in Malta (in Valetta, and there is also an Iceland and other well know shops) I would think a 4x4 would be more practical,
Hope this helps regards Ros.
Ros
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Postby Ros » Sun 13 Mar 2005 17:07

Sorry Suzi forgot to add yes Gozo and all maltese people are very friendly and accepting of other nationals, apparantly there is little crime and a good place to live, which is why we are looking forward to moving there. If you are worried about being isolated then it would be wise to live nearer to others as I said there are a very friendly people. Not sure about the fuel , regarding cost of living relatively cheaper although some things can be more expensive. Ros
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Thanks for your reply Ros

Postby Suzi » Sun 13 Mar 2005 23:23

Hi Ros,
Thank you for your reply. I hope your plans are going well, are you any closer to relocating? Have you had a recent visit to Malta/Gozo? Whatever I hope all goes well for you and your family.
Have you found out about taking a vehicle to Malta, I understand you can take one vehicle per couple, but I am confused about the road tax/licence, are you charged as per the engine size? Any information on this would be helpful.
It was good to hear that there are many well known shops in Malta, M & S etc, won't have to go without my fav underwear!
I read on a website (hoping it is outdated information) that internet connection can be difficult on Malta/Gozo, can you throw any light on this?
Best Regards
Suzi
Suzi
 

Postby Ros » Mon 14 Mar 2005 15:05

Hi Suzi well we are just waiting to sell house but things going very slowly at the moment so just reduced price (again!!!) so hopefully will sell soon as can't wait to move. We have been out couple of times recently and have decided to rent short term first so we can have a good look around before deciding exactly where we want to be on Gozo and buying, Also need to find schools for the kids.
Not sure about car but hubby says to sell ours and buy 4x4 when we get here.
Again not too sure about internet and web but think things are better now -at least hoping so!.
regards Ros :P
Ros
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Postby Tim » Wed 16 Mar 2005 20:38

Hello Suzi,

Glad you found the forum here and glad that Ros has popped in with some answers and chat, too!

I'll also have a go at answering some of them:

1) Is it true that you can find a Marks & Spencer shop in Malta? do you
have to shop in Malta for main items and weekly groceries.

Yes, as Ros says there is one, and there's a BHS too. But I don't think they cary a full range of goods and I thought I heard that M&S had decided to close all their overseas stores in order to avoid bankruptcy last year. To be honest, I'm not good at shopping and haven't noticed these things. What do you want to buy in M&S?

No you don't have to go to Malta to do your weekly shopping, or indeed any shopping at all. Whatever they have there, you can get here in Gozo, including white goods, garden and swimming pool stuff, computer gear and a limited range of books, CDs etc. The latter, you would have better choice in Malta, but not so much better that it's worth going (ie - you're better off stocking up on books etc on your trips home, when you can get 3 for 2 and a much wider selection). There are also a couple of rather slim catalogues that get delivered every 2 or 3 months and you can order by phone and they will deliver it to Gozo no problem. The only 2 reasons I go to Malta are to get to the airport, and to show friends around.



2) Would you recommend a 4WD vehicle for Gozo

I don't even own a car on Gozo! I rent when I need one, probably about 80 or 90 days a year at about LM5 - 8 per day depending on the model and save myself a lot of hassle - no need insurance, tax, servicing, and it's always a new car. And when I want a jeep I have a jeep, when I don't, I have something else! To be honest, the roads in Gozo are not just bad, they are absolutely awful!! The only place I have ever been where they are worse (and I am an international consultant working in 20+ developing countries) is Malta! So there is a big advantage in renting, that you can just drive through the potholes regardless, while everyobdy else is twisting and turning and swerving and breaking and generally acting the fool to try to avoid hurting their poor car!

Apart from the roads being awful, you have to remember that the Maltese / Gozitans are also rather poor drivers because they simply don't have the experience of any decent roads to drive on, or of going for a drive that lasts longer than 10 minutes (on Gozo). And the heavy commercial vehicles, of which there are many hence the potholes, are all condemned stuff pensioned off from the UK. So one way or another, your car is going to shake apart and get scratched and dented pretty quick. So I would recommend something sturdy and reliable, but 4WD isn't necessary. The little Peugeot 106s that I rent have managed the steepest hills here with me and 4 full-size passengers on board!

The important thing about your choice of car is that you will be able to squeeze it through the narrow streets. Some streets are really narrow and even though you might not mean to drive down them, it is easy to make wrong turns, especially on Malta and you end up discovering some wonderful places that way, but also getting into some very, very tricky situations! Wide cars aren't a good idea!


3) So we don't feel isolated would you recommend living in a village?
It's almost impossible to find somewhere that is really isolated. The only way you'd find them is by getting lost as mentioned above, and if you then go and buy a place like that, you risk never finding it again! Somehow or other Malta is in the record books for having more roads per square mile than anywhere else, and it also deserves to be in the books for having worse signposting! Villages are fine. There are several very nice peaceful villages, but they have plenty of grocery stores and things like that, so you'll be Ok.


4) Can you find plenty to do in the winter period? We like outdoor life,
walking, boating, and the feeling of belonging a community.

I'll have to be honest with you. You can almost feel the relief here this week, now that the spring is on the way. January and February have both been bad and also the first half of March, and people have been pretty miserable. Homes aren't centrally heated and most people use gas from cylinders. They also use it for cooking. Thei year the government coccked-up on 2 counts, and the gas ran out in January and has only just come back. So, make sure you stockpile in the summer, I guess! Then it isn't too bad. There are always some nice days, except February which seems to be a month to just hibernate through! Up to December is no problem, you can go out walking etc quite a lot. It is usually too rough to do much in boats from October to April or so, unless you have something big in mind. You will quickly feel part of the community, that is one fo the big attractions of this place.



5) How does the cost of living compare with the uk?

It's not so much the cost as where your money comes from! I find it cheaper, but I earn the same moeny as if I was based in the UK. If you were planning to come here and depend on work at local wages, then it's almost certainly more expensive here.


6) Is central heating desirable for the winter, to keep your house warm
I don't know of anybody who has it! What sort of house are you planning to get? You need heating regularly but not daily from late December until the end of March, but generally I only use it for an hour or two in the evening in one room. February this year was diffrent as I mentioned, but you just have to put up with it. You can get plenty of electric heaters too, but it is a lot more expensive than gas. This winter I have been here all but 3 weeks in February and my heating bill is LM4.20 (ie less than £10). If there hadn't been a shortage, and I hadn't gone away, I would have needed an extra gas bottle, so that's another LM2.10.


if so which fuel is best?
7) Is it really true there is very little crime in Gozo, and are the people
accepting of other nationalities.

Yes, it's true. Generally any nasty crime is within families - disputes over inheritance etc - and doesn't affect foreigners. There are a number of petty things that are institutionalised and not crime as such. Check your change - often it is wrong, and I think it is just that some of the shopkeepers aren't all that good with numbers. But if you go to the touristy places you will be ripped off on purpose. For instance some of the popular restaurants, virtually all of the white taxis etc. Then there are the 'bargains' in the little convenience stores. They don't tell you that it is in fact a price reduction because the stuff is out of date or damaged, but it will be. Nearly everything here is on the brink of its sell-by date when you buy it. Beware people who try to charge you a parking fee in some of the car parks. They have no official status and are just thugs 'protecting' your car for you. I never pay them, and get roundly cussed at! You won't have this problem on Gozo, but it is getting more widespread on Malta.

You'll have no problem settling in and being welcomed, or at least accepted, by most of the community in your locality. It doesn't seem to go very deep - Gozitans are even more reknowned than the Brits for being supsicious and keeping their distance - but you'll get a cheery wave and a smile from most of your neghbours within a few days of moving in.

Hope that helps!

Tim
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Thanks for your detailed reply!

Postby Suzi » Thu 17 Mar 2005 00:08

Hi Tim,
Many thanks for your detailed repy. It was good to hear you can get all essentials in Gozo, so no need for weekly shopping trip to Malta, I don't particularly like shopping, but like to keep my kitchen cupboards reasonably well stocked.
I appreciate your comments about vehicles and road conditions, I think we will not make any decisions right now, but come over and experience the pot holes personally, then decide... thinking about a WW2 half track! Ha!
I will cancel the mountain bikes for now, don't fancy going base over apex in the potholes.
About the heating in Winter, we have experience of using bottle gas for heating, we used to live in an area without piped gas, so I reckon that would be no problem at all, other than the government forgetting to order enough!
We would certainly keep a spare supply just in case!
We have been checking out the real eatate agents on the internet, but have'nt decided what type of property yet, book marked a few possibilities. When we come to Gozo I would contact the estate agent to view the properties of interest, then take it from there.
I would like to ask Bill & Pauline Wood a few questions, tried to PM him, but it did not work for me. Perhaps he will look in on the forum. It would be nice to hear his experiences of his first winter in Gozo, and any problems he may have encountered with his move.
Once again Tim, thanks for your time and the answers to my queries.
Cheers
Suzi
Suzi
 

Postby Tim » Thu 17 Mar 2005 17:22

Since Bill moved over here, we have met up a nuber of times and I'm going to see him tomorrow, so will ask him to have a look here.

I forgot to mention about internet connections. They are no problem here, you can choose between either landline or cable adsl or a selection of dial-up options.

Ciao,

Tim
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Hello all ...

Postby Sue96 » Sat 19 Mar 2005 09:39

Great to see the forum has sprung back to life and that there are now more folks considering the move and asking all the questions I also want to know the answers to!

I, too, hope Bill and Pauline will be able to share their experiences and feelings after their first winter on Gozo. Hope they will feel like posting.

Suzi - a fellow Yorkshire lass? I was born in Leeds but we now live in the rural vicinity of the Emley Moor TV mast. Are you far away from us?

On the topic of M&S, there was also one on Sliema front the last time we were in Malta a couple of years ago. Not sure if it is still there though.

Tim - thanks for the weather update. Sounds like February without bottled gas has not been much fun! It wasn't great here either as our central heating packed in. Suzi's future Gozo winter evenings of pie with lashings of gravy sound wonderful!

Does anyone know what is happening to property prices in Malta/Gozo since EU accession? I have this horrible feeling that prices may be rising rapidly.

We are still hoping someone who has started a business in Malta/Gozo will post to let us know how easy/hard it may be and share potential pitfalls and their joys and successes. What about the guys who run diving businesses? Any self-employment stories to share?

Well, all for now. Just thought I would touch base. Regards to all, Sue
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Our first winter

Postby Bill Wood » Sun 20 Mar 2005 14:13

Hi Suzi

I met up with Tim on Wednesday and he said you were trying to contact me and pauline. I have only just seen the forum today so I am sorry I have taken so long in replying, but here goes. I think first and formost I must say that Tim is the Gozo expert having been here on the Island for a few years and I have taken his advise on lots of things. This winter here has been the worst for 65 years so I am to understand and Pauline and I have "weathered" the time well we think. It has been cold and I recon I have spent as much on electric heating as I would have in the UK but it has been worth it. As a "newy" to the island I suspect its still a bit "rose coloured glases" for us, however the longer we are here the better it is for us both. We just love the island and the Gozitan people, they are so friendly. We have in a very short time met lots of Yorkshire folk, so P and I feel well at home. Pauline is from Shiply and I originate from Skipton so its almost home from home without the snow. There are other places in the world that I am sure are as good as Gozo but we couldn't find them, so in a very short time sold up in the UK and "burnt the bridges" and moved and we will NEVER regret it.

I hope this gives a picture of Gozo as we see it. I supose it can be described as a little unsophisticated with pot holes but nontheless its a beautiful place to live. We feel we are lucky to have the dream become a reality, oh and yes the booze is very cheap....

Hope to see you on the Island.

Best of luck

Bill, Xaghra. GOZO
Bill
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Thanks for your reply Bill

Postby Suzi » Mon 21 Mar 2005 00:59

Hi Bill,
Many thanks for your reply, its good to hear you have settled in well, sorry to hear about the coldest winter in 65 years, well if you have managed ok, lets hope its a long time before you experience another one!
Pleased that you have met other Yorkshire people, and you love the island and the Gozitan people, and have no regrets. That is very encouraging.
Well if the potholes are the only annoyance, I reckon I could live with that, given that it is such a beautiful place.
We hope to get over May time, to check out the island and properties, so maybe we will meet up at your local and catch up with your latest views. I really appreciate you coming back to the forum, and giving your comments as a new settler.
Meanwhile I hope you and Pauline continue to enjoy your new life, and hope that we may be able to do the same soon.
Best Wishes
Suzi
Suzi
 


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