I’ve had itchy feet ever since my parents took me, as a ten year old, on a driving holiday to Spain. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I did my best to scratch those itchy feet by taking them to various European countries, but two weeks was never enough. It was after a ghastly holiday in Benidorm that I decided that enough was enough and loped off to Australia where I spent ten wonderful years of what I can only describe as freedom, before heading back to Aberdeen.
I’d heard of Malta, but never really considered it as a holiday destination, thinking that it was just another Mediterranean island, offering the same stultifying array of excursions and attracting the same sort of globetrotters that find their way to the myriad of other atolls in the Med. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although my fellow voyagers were accommodated handsomely, there are a myriad of other distractions on the island.
Being totally hacked off with the NHS, the UK property boom came at an excellent time for me. Thus, in 2007, the house was sold to the highest bidder and the crates were duly packed. As a destination, Malta won over Australia, simply because it’s nearer to my family. It only takes three and half hours to fly to Edinburgh as opposed to the thirty odd it takes to get to Sydney.
Not being sure if this was the right move, we decided to rent furnished accommodation. There is a multitude of property to let in Malta, no two are the same. You can choose from a Penthouse in Sliema to a House of Character in Zebbug – or anything else in between. The only decision we’d made was that we didn’t want to stay in the north of the island; somewhere like St Paul’s Bay or Qawra, where many other expats have decided to decamp. The reason behind this is because we thought that it would be too far from the more central areas and the traffic was also a major concern for us. Our big mistake was that we waited until we actually set foot on the Island before consulting with a reputable estate agent. If we’d done that, we’d have had a better idea of the type of property in Malta we were after before we even arrived. Today, the more reputable estate agents can send you a list with links to their properties in Malta that you can view online. If you are lucky, they can also fill you in with the do’s and don’ts as well as the proximity of schools, supermarkets and other important information that would assist you. Obviously, if we had contacted them before, this would have saved us a lot of time and effort. Consequently, we spent around eight days just looking. Our estate agent was incredibly gracious, though he must have been driven to his wits end in trying to arrange mutually suitable viewing times for the property owners, himself and us. The Maltese are reluctant to relinquish any part of the letting process to the professionals – they like to meet prospective tenants face to face.
We started off by looking at apartments to let in Sliema, St Julian’s and Pembroke areas which are close to the main shopping centres and the entertainment life of Malta. You’ll find an abundance of restaurants, pubs, cinemas and fashionable nightclubs, but we quickly realised that there wasn’t enough open space there for the money that we were prepared to spend and started looking further afield. Our real estate agent in Malta showed us apartment after apartment in places as diverse as Marsascala (South) and Bidnija (North). However, we changed our minds yet again and decided finally, that a House of Character would be more for us… Again we were spoiled for choice, each one had something unique to tempt us, but finally settled for a 300 year old ex-farmhouse in Zebbug which has a huge garden, three bedrooms – one with the ubiquitous en-suite and loads and loads of ‘character’.
My itchy feet are itchy no longer and I’ve rediscovered that elusive freedom in my adopted country of Malta, hopefully you will too.
Written By: Hazel Fettes
Hazel Fettes has been living in Malta for quite some time and has experienced the whole relocation process, the working environment in Malta and is part of the ex-patriot community. Every three weeks she will be sharing her own experiences with us along with other experiences she has encountered.