It is the unspoken thing on an island such as Malta, that it would be superbly idyllic to live by the sea. There was a time before WWII when the well-to-do and nouveau riche would make it their purpose in life to buy a house on a seafront and enjoy it as a family retreat all summer. Such was the case of the wealthy families of The Three Cities who could afford to invest in a second home where only the British lived. So many of the lovely two storey houses which once lined the Sliema promenade were just such properties, owned by Maltese families who lived elsewhere for most of the year.
Nowadays, with the advent of apartment blocks, so many more people can enjoy this luxury of living akin the sea. The Sliema promenade is a case in point. Tower blocks stand where once those little houses stood. There are no bay windows lining the streets on ‘the front’, but balconies which can, if they are set up high, view the sea for a great distance.
One stark reality is that seafront properties fetch and demand high prices. No matter how large or small, no matter where the seafront, such properties command higher prices than similar properties set further inland. Views are considered luxuries in themselves and the higher the apartment, the wider the view and the more distant from the main road below, the higher the price. Larger terraces and balconies are added bonuses, as are double glazing on windows which help keep typically strong seafront winds in check.
Modern seafront apartments are mostly being constructed with sea salt erosion in mind. Many of the old houses, built of traditional stone, suffered hideously due to stone erosion which, in many instances, if left untreated, practically disintegrated stone slabs to crumbs. Thus, new apartment blocks get their facade treated or clad in specifically targeted materials, to counteract sea salt damage.
Most popular seafront locations for apartment availability in Malta are Sliema and St Julian’s, Bugibba and St Paul’s Bay, Birzebbugia, Marsascala, Ta’Xbiex, Xghajra and Xemxija; and Marsalforn in Gozo.