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The island of gentlemen: Postcards from Malta
Malta has one of the richest histories in the region. It’s been related to the Phoenicians, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Napoleon’s France.
I’ve always been a fan of history. Back then, when studying business, I took various courses in Medieval and Modern history, and the history of Malta always captivated me. It seemed like it was always involved in the biggest historical events of its time. I also found interesting its historical links with Christianity, as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, most commonly known as the Knights of Malta established it as its headquarters and built its capital, Valletta, as a city by gentlemen, for gentlemen.
I am David; I am from Liverpool. After 15 years in the financial world, working with EMIs, Forex, and securities, Brexit happened.By that time, I had also started working with crypto investments and saw a ton of potential in the market and thought it was the right time to start investing in the market, “why not?” I said to myself.
But as the UK was set to leave the EU, I saw it as a sign for looking new fresh air and start from a new location.
And Malta seemed like the perfect place.
I was tired of rainy, dim days, and tough winters. I wanted sun, beaches, and a different culture while keeping my life quality and finding a good place to optimize my taxes and establish my crypto business. Malta checked all boxes.
Malta has an astonishing mix of modernity and tradition. You can follow the footsteps of St. Paul, whose boat shipwrecked, and ended up on the island with a group of over two-hundred sailors. They were allsurprised by the hospitality of the local population. The legend tells that he returned to the island that welcomed him, descending from heaven, sword in hand, and riding a horse when the Arabs tried to retake the island from the Knights of Malta in the 15th Century.
But at the same time, you can enjoy the presence of hundreds of high-tech companies on the island, which is a pioneer in the integrated circuits, e-gaming, crypto, and aero-parts industries.
All these elements made Malta an enticing place to relocate and start a business. Moreover, Malta was a British colony until the 70s, and English is one of the island’s official languages (and spoken by 88 % of the population), which eased the transition and meant it had a well-established British expat community.
Moreover, it was also perfect for my crypto business because it was one of the first countries on the planet to create a crypto licensing system. It enjoys top-notch IT infrastructure and offered fantastic immigration opportunities through its CBI and RBI programs.
Even better, each of these immigration options came with a fantastic non-dom regime that offered a flat 15 % income tax rate.
All this made me wanted to go to Malta and start my business as soon as possible. And moving to Valetta, the city for gentlemen, by gentlemen was relatively simple.
Moving to Malta
Malta has one of the best immigration policies in the EU for investors, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals. I started my process in 2017, a few months later, after the Brexit referendum, which meant the UK was still part of the EU. Thus, I could apply for the residence programme, which has similar requirements as the global residence programme, which is the RBI program for non-EU citizens.
If you want to know more about our citizenship and residency services in Malta, check our article right here
That simplified the process for me as I could apply for such a program with ease. The requirements are simple:
- Be EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen
- Buy a property for at least €275k or rent one for €9.6k per year (I decided to acquire a gorgeous flat in St. Julian, Veletta)
- Have a stable and regular income
- Have a global medical insurance
- Have a certificate of good health
- Be fluent in one of the official languages of Malta
- Not stay in another jurisdiction for more than 183 days per year
- Remit at least €15k to Malta
The best? If you qualify for this program, you’ll also qualify for the non-dom regime. Malta distinguishes between tax domicile and tax residency. Malta can be your tax residency if you are accepted into one of the residency programs. However, the tax domicile is where you’re permanently settled and, generally, is your country of origin, which would mean you declare your worldwide income in Malta.
Thus, I was benefited from the non-dom regime, which meant I only paid a 15 % income tax only on my Maltese-remitted income:
- Income generated in Malta
- Capital gains deriving from Malta
- Foreign-sourced income remitted to Malta except for capital gains income
This was fantastic for me, as I still held investments and securities back home and in other jurisdictions, and I would only pay taxes over them as long as I remit them to Malta. Still, if I remit them to Malta, it would benefit me a ton, as back in the UK, I’d have to pay 28 % on rental income and 20 % on any other capital gain.
And I hadn’t said that Malta has over 70 double taxation treaties of which I could benefit from my investments in the UK and other jurisdictions.
What to do in Malta
Despite its size, Malta is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet. It has 494k inhabitants in 312 sq km divided between three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino.
I scheduled my arrival during the summer, and the spicy Maltese sun with a refreshing breeze was the first sensation I felt once I got off the plane.
I fell in love with the island quickly. The same warmth that amazed Saint Paul struck me. I already had a few friends living on the island, which helped me set foot quickly.
I acquired an apartment in Valetta. The city’s Renaissance architecture gave it an open-air museum feel with awe-inspiring views at every corner.
The Saint John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace made it look like the aristocratic city the Knights intended to build.
A 25-minute ferry takes you to the idyllic island of Gozo. It’s the perfect place for relaxing during the weekend as it has plenty of little towns with fantastic Mediterranean foods, a calm ambiance all over the place, and some of the most crystalline and best-known beaches in Malta. Gozo has two of the best archaeological and historical sites in Malta: the Medieval citadel of Victoria and the Ġgantija temples, which date all the way back to 3500 BC, meaning they’re even older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt.
Comino is the smallest island of the three. It’s also about 20 minutes away from Malta in a ferry and has the Blue Lagoon, a turquoise natural pool with temperate and calm water surrounded by bright white sand.
Moving between the islands is simple and gives you plenty of amusing and relaxing options for each weekend for you. Malta has a perfect combination between small towns and modern European cities that fit all tastes.
The islands have some of the best wineries in the Mediterranean and marvelous cafes and pubs to meet with friends after a long day of work.
Living in Malta
Malta is a terrific relocation destination. It has a fantastic climate with a 23 ºC average temperature and 30 ºC in the summer, which translates into 3000 hours of sunshine per year, which is almost double than London. That’s a good starting reason to put Malta at the top of your relocation list.
It’s also wonderfully located, which is vital for investors and businesspeople like me. I’m three flight hours or less away from Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens, Jerusalem, Paris, and Cairo.
Malta has to import a ton of products, meaning the general costs of living is about the same as the rest of Europe. That also means the utility bill can be expensive (around €150 and €200), but the island doesn’t levy property taxes.
Furthermore, renting costs are incredibly low. You can find small apartments in Saint Julian, one of the best parts to live in Malta, for as little as €700. If you want to buy, the prices are significantly lower than the UK and most large American cities.
Add to that the fact that taxes are significantly lower under a non-dom regime, and it means that it’s generally cheaper to live in Malta than in most major European cities but to keep the same quality of life you might be used to. Most foreigners can live comfortably in Malta with less than €3k per month.
Malta is one of the best relocation places on the planet. The archipelago is filled with freelancers, retirees, high net worth individuals, and e-gaming and crypto entrepreneurs.
Until not so long ago, the Maltese public transportation was awful, to say the least. But it has improved and gotten cheaper in the past few years. A car is a good option, but traffic can be heavy in Valetta as it has narrow streets and not many parking spaces. That’s why many people choose to ride a bike or use public transportation, as the monthly bus pass costs about €40.
Malta has a terrific public health system, which follows the model of the British NHS. Not all residency options include public insurance. However, private insurances are affordable, as they may cost between €250 and €1200 per month depending on the type of coverage you prefer.
Malta is also one of the safest countries in the world. I like to take long walks at night and feel the Mediterranean breeze to clear my head without having to be worried about getting mugged. Malta offers me that possibility.
I’ve always wanted to write a book about my experiences in the financial world. I think I’ll start doing it this summer, spending around a month relaxing in Gozo in a seaside resort. You may ask me how I can do that during the Coronavirus madness. Well, Malta never imposed a full lockdown, and, as of today, the islands only have a handful of active cases, which means Maltese residents can continue their lives with ease.
I always wondered why the Knights of Malta chose the archipelago as their headquarters. After living a couple of years here, I think it was because it is the closest they could feel on Earth.
Malta is one of our favorite European jurisdictions, and we provide many different services for our high net worth and entrepreneur clients. If you want to know more about them, please check our Malta Country Focus and contact us right here if you want more details about our services.
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