Construction, pollution and rubbish, “obscene” rental costs and unwelcoming locals are just some of the reasons why foreign residents are leaving Malta for good, according to a Facebook expats group.
The group observed an uptick in posts from people leaving the island recently and queried why this was the case. Over 100 comments were posted in response, primarily pointing at the same issues.
“Malta doesn’t let you in, doesn’t make you feel at home. They don’t include you… they tell you all the time, if you are not ok, go back to your country,” said one commenter. Another chimed in by saying that “how the Maltese treat foreigners” was one reason she wanted to leave.
Some accused Maltese of “ripping off foreigners” with high prices and substandard services.
“Take what you can, deliver substandard and don’t give a flying eff if someone complains, then get the foreigner slurs thrown in your face.”
One woman explained she had lived in Malta for six years but that things had gone noticeably downhill in the last three years. “Overbuilding, concrete, destroying trees and the rudeness and attitude of the younger Maltese” were her reasons for leaving.
“Malta has taken a downturn,” said another, adding it is near unrecognisable from a couple of years ago.
Clean air was a big complaint on the thread with many bemoaning both pollution caused by cars and dust created by construction. Others observed the lack of trees and green areas due to building and development.
“Endless construction, no regard for life, noise, pollution. It’s become a free for all and you can start building without permits and get it sorted afterwards if you grease some palms,” one said.
They added that much of the island was becoming run down and dirty because “few seem to care anymore and around construction sites, it’s more of a dump”.
Traffic was a big issue for foreign residents.
“Gone from some enforcement to a complete non-enforcement, creating a complete free for all in traffic where no rules are respected anymore. Dangerous driving is rife,” one noted.
Expensive rents were also an issue. One person commented that “for €1,000-€1,500 apartments in other countries, you have so much more”.
Another added: “We are paying prices as if we were in London”.
Others said the cost of living was so high when compared to salaries, that it was impossible to think about buying property or building a future.
The Shift spoke to several ex-Maltese residents who had lived in the south of the country but who have all now left. One woman explained how her entire friendship group of expats had moved back to the UK, or to another country in the last three years.
“Around 20 of us have gone now, there’s no one left. I got sick of the pollution and noise and the wages just weren’t covering our expenses. Others left because they got treated badly by Maltese colleagues and were fed up of getting ripped off.”
“It’s not like it was five or 10 years ago,” she added.
One woman, in her early 70s, said the town of Marsascala had changed beyond all recognition. “The plan for the marina in Marsascala is the last straw for me, I cannot bear it, I am so angry,” she told The Shift.
While the criticism was harsh, it seemed that many were sad they had to leave. “This is no longer the peaceful and beautiful country in which we wanted to raise our children,” said one person on Facebook.
Another added, “The island has been destroyed to the point of no return”.
One individual, attempting to lighten the mood, noted that “even the Maltese want to leave”, but this is in fact true.
According to the recent EY Generate Youth Survey, around 60% of young Maltese want to live in another European country. This demonstrates a 12% increase in last year’s results.
The survey also showed that nine out of 10 young people think Malta’s environment is worsening, mainly due to overdevelopment. In the eyes of the youth, other challenges faced by Malta are traffic, the country’s international image, and the economy.
Some 66% said they do not think or are not sure they will have a better quality of life in the near future.
As for measures that could entice them to stay, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, health and safety, raising living standards and controlling the rising cost of living and property prices were some of those mentioned by respondents.
But it wasn’t all bad feedback. A handful of commenters said they were enjoying living in Malta regardless and that the beaches, weather, free healthcare and good schooling and childcare made up for it.