Before making the decision to move to a new country, many expats tend to carefully look at the career prospects, the pay scales and the work culture of that place. Nations that are rated as good places to work in generally attract a higher number of professionals with global degrees and work experience.For several years, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Luxemburg have been regarded as some of the best places to work in, based on factors like career options, job security and work-life balance. However, in the recent past, Malta ranked as the best place to work, in terms of overall job satisfaction according to expats from the 64 participating nations that were featured in the Working Abroad Index.
This survey stated that 7 in 10 expats (70%) in Malta were satisfied in general at work and 27% of them were completely satisfied (the global average is 16%). In fact, one in five working expats believe that they “couldn’t be happier”. More than 50% of foreigners stated that they would like to spend the rest of their lives in Malta. These are very high numbers compared to most countries across the globe as well as some of the European nations.
Malta has therefore seen a significant inflow of professional immigrants in the last 5 years or so. In addition to a good work environment, other factors that attract foreigners to this small island are its superior lifestyle, low living costs, mild weather, friendly people, ease of settling in and its natural beauty. The place also has a lot to offer in terms of leisure and entertainment, which is a form of relaxation that most professionals look for.
A majority of the expats employed in Malta work in specific industries, mainly information technology and online gaming. Around 22% of the professionals from other countries are employed in these two fields. Approximately 16% of the foreigners have got jobs in the retail and trade industry. Around 10% of the expat workforce is employed in consulting (to the government), banking & finance, diving, translation, tourism, hospitality, catering, recreation, entertainment and telecommunication. Many foreigners have also taken up customer service jobs in the call centers of different sectors.
If you looked at the average salary in Malta and compared it to some of the other countries featured in the survey, you would probably be surprised. Average wages in this island are much lower than the US, UK, Canada and other European nations like Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg.
Yet, it has been voted the best place to work. Several professionals, who hadn’t even heard about this small island in the past, are now seriously thinking about moving to Malta. Below are some of the reasons why.
Many organizations are striving hard to improve the balance between the professional and personal lives for their people, as it has a huge impact on retention rates and overall productivity. However, it continues to be a major concern for employers as well as employees all over the world.
Many expats in high positions are known to quit well-paying jobs in foreign countries (like Singapore, Turkey, Mexico and Japan) mainly because they get little time for themselves, their families and friends, socializing or other personal commitments.
There are different factors that contribute to the concept of work-life balance, the most important ones being reasonable working hours, paid leave and holidays per year, options to work from home and things to do aside from work
The average number of working hours per week in this country is around 42, which is lower than the global average of 44.9 hours. Those who choose to work beyond their 40 hours get paid for the additional time they put in. Moreover, there are 13 public holidays and most of the employees are entitled to 25 days or paid leave per year.
Around 70% of the expat population is generally satisfied with the working hours in the country. When it comes to work-life balance, 67% is generally satisfied and 31% is completely satisfied.
Since Malta is a relatively small island, it is unlikely for people to spend hours each day, commuting to work and back. This gives them more time for themselves and their families. Fortunately, there are several things to do and see which keeps people occupied after work.
When it comes to job options, only countries like the US and the UK ranked higher than Malta in the survey. Around 67% of the foreigners (more than two-thirds of the expat population) are “generally pleased” and 20% (2 in 10) said that they “couldn’t be happier” with their future prospects. However, most firms in Malta prefer to hire a local and will only consider outsiders if they come with exceptional qualifications, knowledge or experience. In fact, of all the participants in the survey, only 4% found a job on their own and 3% were sent to this country by their employers. Seeking employment may therefore be a challenge, especially if you are from a non-EU nation. Once you manage to get a good break though, your chances of growth are quite bright.
The working culture
Unlike other nations, the overall atmosphere at the workplace in Malta is quite warm and welcoming. This is because the business community on this tiny island is fairly close-knit. The entire society is very family oriented and this trait is also extended to the workplace. Personal relationships are given equal, if not more importance than professional ones. Your employers as well as your colleagues will soon consider you a part of their family. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to settle in, especially if you are all alone in a foreign country.
However, being a part of such a tight-knit environment can be like a double-edged sword. For example, quitting a job could become very difficult even if you find a better opportunity. Your employers are likely to take your decision personally.
Economy and taxes
The overall impact of the recent crisis that hit most of the European nations in the last few years has been comparatively low on Malta. Fortunately, as the financial situation across the continent improves so does Malta’s government-regulated economy. Over the years, unemployment rates have stayed fairly low in spite of the inflow of expat workers.
The Maltese government lays a lot of emphasis on privatization and free enterprise. The main drivers of the economy are tourism, online gambling, financial services, electronics manufacturing and foreign trade. This island continues to attract foreign investors with its well-experienced workforce at low labor costs, favorable legislation laws and low taxes.
While the overall pay scale in Malta is not as high as EU standards, you may just end up saving more per month, because people pay lower taxes in this country (15% to 25% for up to € 60,000 per year). Moreover, this island has double taxation avoidance treaties with several nations, which means that the tax you pay in one country can be offset with the amount due in another.
Increments and benefits
Remuneration across the country is governed by the Wages Council or through collective agreements for certain industries. In Malta, all people who are employed, including the foreign workers, are entitled to receive a uniform increase in their paychecks each year. The best part is that the hike has to be in proportion to the cost of living in the country. This means that people continue to lead the same quality of life even if the inflation rate goes particularly high.
While the salaries may be comparative lower in Malta, foreigners usually enjoy other perks, which they wouldn’t if they were working in their home country. After a point, some employees receive additional reimbursement in the form of health insurance, accommodation allowance, a company vehicle and communication expenses.
Networking with like-minded people
One of the best features of Malta is that is has a very international working environment. In the past, the foreign workforce mainly comprised EU nationals; however, in the present situation, a number of managers and executives from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and a few Asian countries are employed in Malta. You will therefore get to interact with professionals from various countries, diverse backgrounds and different fields. The island also attracts a lot of entrepreneurs and businessmen from across the world because of its taxing laws. This gives you an opportunity to widen your network on a global scale, which in turn could increase your knowledge and improve your career prospects to a great extent.
Ease of communication
While the country has two official languages, more 88% of the Maltese people speak English with a fair amount of fluency. Around 66% of the population can speak Italian and about 17% speak French. You can therefore find it easy to get around at work even if you speak little or no Maltese. In fact, English is the main language of communication at the workplace, in terms of correspondence, documentation and interaction with one another. All English-speaking professionals can easily participate in meetings without the need of an interpreter. Being able to understand, read and speak Maltese will definitely help you at work, but isn’t a necessity.
Expats rarely move to Malta for purely job-related purposes. Many of the professionals from have decided to settle down and work here because of other factors some of which include:
More than 75% of the expat professionals in Malta confess that main reason for them to leave their home country and move to this place is the warm, Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry; during this time, people enjoy at least 12 hours of sunshine. Autumn and spring tend to be pleasantly warm. Winters can be cold with 5 to 6 hours of sunshine, but are fortunately short as houses without central heating get quite chilly! The average monthly temperature ranges between 12ᵒ C (54ᵒ F) and 31ᵒ C (88ᵒ F). Malta gets rainfall for no more than 90 days per year.
Proximity to other European nations
Located at the southern part of Europe, Malta neighbors Italy, Tunisia and Libya. However, it is also quite close to other popular destinations in the continent, like Spain, France, Germany, Greece and Portugal. In fact, you can get from Malta to London in just about 3 hours with a direct flight. Traveling to Berlin and Madrid will probably take the same amount of time. Lisbon and Paris are barely 2 to 2.5 hours away while Athens is less than 1 hour away by flight.
If you have more time, you could save a lot of money by taking a train to other interesting places in Europe. For example, several Brits travel from the UK to Malta and back by the train and ferry, so that they can stop by Italy on their way.
Healthcare in this country is ranked among the highest in the world; a survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Malta ranked 5th across the globe for its high standards of medical care. Anyone who pays for national insurance is eligible for free public healthcare in the country and this includes expats.
The rates for private healthcare are also quite competitive as compared to other countries. A majority of the expats therefore prefer to opt for private health insurance plans.
It is safe to say that Malta isn’t just one of the best places to work in for expats. Interestingly, another recent survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal placed Malta as the 3rd best place for senior citizens to retire and live their expat dream. This means that this island isn’t just ideal for younger professionals but also elderly people from all across the globe and foreigners of all ages can lead a happy life in Malta.