The newest census data released by the National Statistics Office on Thursday shows that over the 10 years between 2011 and 2021, Malta experienced a 33% increase in the number of residences with almost a quarter of dwellings occupied by non-Maltese residents and just over a quarter being secondary, seasonally used, or vacant dwellings.
St Paul’s Bay, Msida and Mosta experienced the largest increases in residences. Valletta, Senglea and San Lawrenz, Gozo, meanwhile recorded decreases. The census also noted that flats and penthouses dominated as the main form of residence, accounting for almost half of all dwellings.
St Paul’s Bay was recorded as the locality with the largest number of dwellings, reaching almost 24,000 residences, which translates to 8% of the 297,304 registered residences.
The National Statistics Office’s second volume report from the census notes that from 2011 to 2021, Malta recorded an increase of more than 7,300 dwellings per year, which it calculates is the “largest intercensal growth ever recorded to date.”
Despite the increase in number of dwellings, in a separate study, the NSO recorded a decrease in the number of property sales recorded in the first half of 2022. Over one year, the National Statistics Office had recorded around 8,000 promises of sale, a number which nevertheless tops that of the number of new dwellings available.
The 2021 census study also noted that an increasing number of people are opting to rent their place of residence rather than purchase it, with the NSO recording more than a 13% increase in rented furnished primary residences.
The statistic is unsurprising given the rise of an increasingly unaffordable housing market, which is preventing young people from purchasing their homes given that the average price of a house stands at 13 times that of the average income.
The increase in rentals is also abetted by a Maltese economy that now relies on third-country nationals for its labour market, with people increasingly being economically forced into cramped, unhygienic and uncomfortable living spaces.
Sliema was recorded as having the most expensive rental prices at an average of €1,150 per month, while Vittoriosa had the lowest with an average rental price of €553 a month.
In June 2023, the NSO recorded the average monthly salary as €1,848, meaning the average flat rental would eat up 46% of the mean salary.
The NSO noted that since 2011, dwellings have tended to have fewer rooms, having decreased from the previously recorded average of six rooms down to five, with “a persistent upward trend in favour of single-member residences”.
The National Statistics Office’s study also noted that the Southern Harbour District and Gozo were recorded as having the least well-maintained buildings, with those regions also recording the most dwellings either needing serious repairs or in a dilapidated state.