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Harri, Sliema

I go by the name of Harri on my blog, and I’m a 24 years old British female now living in Malta!

I moved to Malta in June 2010. My boyfriend and I had just met and were looking for a fresh start. We were sick of the dreary concrete jungle we called home and unsatisfied in our jobs. We wanted a new life, sun, sea…and jobs! As we worked in iGaming already Malta seemed the perfect choice.

What challenges did you face during the move?

What to bring- shipping stuff over is pretty expensive so we literally came with a suitcase each. Whittling down a lifetime of possessions into one suitcase is no easy task!How did you find somewhere to live?

We came out for a few days about 2 months before we moved and in that time arranged viewings with some estate agencies to see what we could afford, what was available and which areas would be most suitable. So once we finally moved over we had an idea of what we were looking for. We arranged viewings with Belair and found a place on our first trip.

Renting was easy, we found a place we liked, put down the security deposit and met the landlady the next day to hand over the rest of the money (this included a months rent in advance, an agreed amount for bills per month and 50% of the rental price as a fee to the agent).

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Its worth knowing that the security deposit (usually one months rent) goes directly to the landlord so there is no protection in place for tenants and it’s not unusual for landlords to keep this without cause once the lease ends. Keep a good relationship with your agent as they can help you fight this.

Are there many other expats in your area?

We live in the Sliema area and there are certainly plenty of expats! I’ve not met another English person, however there is such a mix of nationalities!

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Very good- there is no tension against expats at all. I find the Maltese friendly and laid back- once you get used to all the shouting anyway! You quickly find yourself on good terms with local shop and cafe workers and some of my best friends on the island are Maltese.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love how laid back and relaxed life is in Malta. I used to live near London and didn’t have a particularly high powered job but somehow lived in a constant state of stress. I love the weather- the amazing summers and the mild, short winters. I love how much cheaper rent is here, my current apartment is the same price as my place back in the UK but 100 times nicer. I love how much history there is to the island, so much to learn and for such a small place- so much to see and do.

I also love how flights to other European countries are often very cheap- weekend getaways out of the country are great if you’re missing the shopping or hustle and bustle of a big city.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I don’t actually dislike anything about my expat life. I came here for a better life and that’s exactly what I got!

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I actually wrote a post about culture shock here Malta: What to Expect

The main difference is people’s attitudes. As everyone is so relaxed timekeeping often suffers- get used to waiting around! Also nothing gets done quickly, however important it is.

Luckily these are only small things that although frustrating, once you embrace the way of life, you’re able to get used to it!

How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?

This differs a lot, and not in a good way. Food wise, it’s OK- deli counters and butchers are actually considerably cheaper than back home and good quality. If you only buy the brands you recognise from home then shopping will be expensive. But look for the local and Italian brands and you’ll find that food/grocery shopping can be really low cost.

However, clothing, electronics, household items and cosmetics here are the bane of my life! They are all much more expensive than the UK, often even UK shops will rip you off (Topshop exchange their prices into Euro with a rate of 1.52!). With clothing and cosmetics your best bet is to shop online, even with shipping costs it will be much cheaper than shopping here, and the variety on the island is very poor.

Electrical items are just shocking, we are currently looking at getting a new TV and a lot of the times the price for the same one will be almost HALF in the UK!

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Some of the local favourites- rabbit and bragioli are the stuff of my nightmares but in general I love the food. The pasta dishes, gorgeous fresh fish, ftiras- delicious!

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

I wouldn’t advise doing what we did- leaving your job and flat, coming here with neither, just one month’s wages and a suitcase each! We were lucky that it worked out, but had it gone wrong we would have been homeless and jobless with neither to go back to in the UK and barely enough for a flight home.

I would say though- don’t over think it. Life is great out here. Look online for jobs, come here for a break to look at apartments and arrange interviews with companies. Don’t worry if it’s not your dream job initially, and the wages are low- the cost of living is much cheaper and once you’re here you can work towards something better if needs be. The country is beautiful, the people are lovely and the flights to Europe are cheap if you’re missing the busy cities!

What are your plans for the future?

We plan to stay here until we feel restless really. I don’t like to plan too much for the future as life has a way of ignoring what you decide and you just never know what will happen. We both have good jobs and great friends, both of which we couldn’t guarantee in another country. Probably in 5 years or so we may begin putting feelers out in other countries (possibly America) see if there are jobs available but we certainly have no plans to leave and it’s very possible we’ll stay here!

Harri shares more information about life in Malta through her blog Malta: Moving on, up and away or follow her on Twitter @MovingOnUpAway.

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