Expats in Malta are unhappy with the oftentimes byzantine bureaucracy they face and the limited leisure options available, according to a new survey with damning results for the country.

They are also dissatisfied with the travel connections available, and the natural and urban environment.

A new survey, the 11th iteration conducted by InterNations – a leading networking and community organisation for expats – among 12,542 expats living in 174 countries or territories – revealed some disturbing facts about the way expats in Malta are assessing their life here.

Only those countries with over 50 respondents were included in the final countries, trimming the number down to 53.

Of these 53 countries, Malta ranks eighth from the bottom in the aggregate index, landing it in the unenviable position of being noted for its position among the worst 10 performers.

The position is unchanged since the last survey in July 2023.

The results will be cause for concern for a country seeking to attract digital nomads and startups, and which hopes to attract foreign direct investment that often relies – at least in part – on the ability to attract highly skilled workers from abroad.

The survey asked expats about their quality of life, the ease of settling in, their experience with working in the country, their personal finances, and ‘expat essentials’ like housing, bureaucracy and language.

Malta did badly throughout, with expats ranking it in the bottom half of every category.

Since each category is further broken down, a close look at the different rankings paints a granular picture of expats’ experience.

On the ease of settling in, expats placed Malta between 29th place (for finding friends) to 37th (for how welcome and at home they feel in the country).

On the ease of working abroad, expats placed Malta between 30th place (for career prospects, and for salary and job security) and 37th (regarding their happiness with working hours and work-life balance).

The mediocre results continue when expats were asked how they feel about their personal finance in relation to the host country, with Malta placed in 36th place.

Perhaps somewhat misleadingly, Malta also places 30th when looking at the language – probably because it aggregates the answers to how easy it is for expats to learn the local language (probably very hard) and how easy it is for them to get back without speaking it (probably very easy).

Things get worse when looking at expat essentials, with expats placing Malta in 48th place (sixth worst).

The chief reason seems to be the abysmal view expats have of ‘admin topics’, which covers how easy they find it to get a visa, deal with local bureaucracy, and open a bank account in their new home. Here, Malta places second-to-last – ranking below Greece but above Italy – indicating a widespread problem with bureaucracy across the region.

It is when looking at quality of life, however, that the results get really worrying.

Here, Malta ranks among the five worst countries for which results are available.

Expats in Malta are not satisfied with travel and transit (45th) and their leisure options (51st); for example, only around half (51 per cent) are happy with the opportunities for recreational sports (vs 72 per cent globally).

Expats were more positive about Malta’s healthcare (28th) and safety and security (33rd), but placed it among the three worst countries for its environment and climate, which registers expats’ satisfaction with the following factors: air quality, climate & weather, natural environment, urban environment, availability of green goods, and whether the government supports policies to protect the environment.

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