Pollution, greed and rude locals – why Malta’s expats are leaving

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.

                           
                               
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Bobbi Haydon
Bobbi Haydon
6 months ago

Terribly sad. I left 6 years ago, it was like living on a giant building site with the constant noise of single stroke engines, jackhammers and construction trucks; the dust from the building sites and constant winds was more than annoying and the constant development was ruining the island (Gozo). But the one thing I did not experience was rude Maltese. I found them all very kind and welcoming. I once went to a hardware shop first thing in the morning, and he couldn’t give change for my 20 Euro note; he said, “Just pay me next time you are in town.” He didn’t know me, or whether I was a tourist who would never return. I give this example, because it was how I found most Maltese people. I once told some school children on the bus to get up and let an elder sit. They were embarrassed and polite, and moved. So the reports on the Maltese people is hard for me to imagine. My sadness at leaving was leaving the Maltese people.

Marisa Frendo
Marisa Frendo
6 months ago

This is so true. The problem is that we who were born and bred in Malta have nowhere to go. We are stuck in this concrete jungle, congested roads, polluted air and substandard services to say the least! Is this the Malta we want for our children? I don’t think so.

Rose
Rose
4 months ago
Reply to  Marisa Frendo

I think the Maltese can go and live anywhere in Europe

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
6 months ago

An organized social ‘grey-listing’? Looks like it – and could easily turn to black!

Mallia Carmen
6 months ago

Come on. Give us a break. I know not all is perfect here in Malta. But the way you make it sound is beyond me. I live in Malta and as I said there are things I don’t agree about. But saying and generenlise that the Maltese are not friendly any more and buildings are taking over. Yes I don’t agree with all the building that has been done or that are being done. But Malta is still beautiful. Our sea water is allways found up to standard. Yes trees had been removed but many more have been planted. We are still the generous people, kind, helpful people we allways were and allways will be. We might have a little problem with how much migrants we can take because of our size. Still we are allways there to help. Pls do not generenlise you find all sorts in every country. This really hurts me. As I feel this is ment to do hurt us as a nation!!!!

Joe Azzopardi
Joe Azzopardi
5 months ago
Reply to  Mallia Carmen

Mallia, This article is reporting what many many people have recounted as their personal experiences in our country. If their truth means our reputation is harmed then the answer is not to shut them up but rather listen, learn and change.

Meridwen
Meridwen
5 months ago
Reply to  Mallia Carmen

It’s not perfect anywhere but I very rarely see such contempt for the environment where you live, the building is nonstop without any real thought for the infrastructure required for it. Large numbers are going to be used in the tourist trade but they are cutting their nose off to spite their face as fewer and fewer tourists are likely to come to Malta the more built up and expensive it becomes…you don’t have anything here to draw in the people who are willing to spend more for good products and service because the service industry here is not that great and you price yourself out of the cheap holiday market the more prices are raised, and, besides which, who wants to holiday on a construction site?

Parts of Malta may still be beautiful but how long is that going to last? The litter and rubbish dumped everywhere is another problem even at areas designated as beauty spots / viewing areas. Beaches are often being cleaned on volunteer clean up days, often organised and run by non-Maltese. You blame the tourists for the mess but it happens everywhere even when tourists aren’t around and, frankly, how are you expecting tourists to behave better when they see how little the locals seem to care about their own island?

Some Maltese are very friendly, sure, but there is definitely a double standard when it comes to how foreigners are treated by some locals, and the phrase “go back to your own country” would not have become a *meme* locally if it wasn’t so widely used.

As for the trees…I don’t think you understand how long it will take for them to grow and I honestly don’t expect them to survive to a ripe old age.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Mallia Carmen

You’re right. I have got nice Maltese friends, but they have the same complaints and they are not happy to see their children want to move from Malta as soon as they can.
In a parents’ school WhatsApp group there was a mom complaining about organisation and she took a very nice “Go back to your country”, she did not reply, but another mom informed the other mom she is Maltese. Any way for sure there a fact that the average Maltese did not understand: “no foreigners both companies and people no economy”.
When I texted this in a Facebook group I received as answer :”in Malta we had always jobs and economy”. Maybe this person lived abroad, I remember Malta 20 years ago compared with other EU countries. The greatest enemy of the Maltese people’s future are the Maltese themselves, and this fact doesn’t mean that my home country is perfect, otherwise why would I move abroad and I had a beautiful job there?

Kev
Kev
4 months ago

Someone once asked me where Malta was, I replied, somewhere under all the concrete.
The one thing Malta has lost is it’s “charm”, it’s becoming difficult to distinguish the original houses anymore as they are being dwarfed by the surroundings monstrosities. Yes rubbish in the gutters isn’t very pleasant for the Maltese people or for tourists either, gives a bad impression to everyone visiting the island, but the one thing that gets my back up is the dog fowling everywhere, especially Bugibba, I’ve started walking in the road which I know is dangerous with the way the Maltese drive but it’s better than walking in home with dog shit all over your shoes. So to sum up, yes Malta isn’t anything like it used to be & never will be while the greed, corruption, impunity of others rule.
By the way I’m half Maltese & a Maltese citizen, been coming here for 60 years, I try to remember all the happy times when Malta was charming, & the people were unique in there own way, today Malta is becoming unrecognisable, so before someone says “if you don’t like it go back where you come from” I might just do that.

Carlos
Carlos
4 months ago

Although I agree with some points about the reasons provided by the article I find it quite stereotyped and simplistic.

Most probably foreigners leaving the island didn´t find what they needed, that´s why they left their own countries too…

As a foreigner, I know that many, probably the majority, of foreigners judge the locals with a lack of critical thinking, based on some experiences, not looking at the majority and probably this works the other way around, some locals judging foreigners. We tend to forget that xenophobia, which is the basis of the stereotyped comments of both foreigners and locals is a type of fear that is common in most of the countries, so probably where you and I come from we can find rude locals, greediness, etc.

In my opinion, this article collaborates with this “judging attitude” which doesn´t help to improve the situation…

Now I wonder, how many foreigners and locals here support or participate in actions to improve the situation?

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