Buying or Renting
Rent first. You knew I would say that, didn’t you? But it’s a good idea. That way, in a year’s time, you’ll know what areas in Malta you’ll like or don’t like, what kind of place you can afford, what you get for your money in Malta, etc.
Besides, the housing market in Malta is at an all-time unreasonable high—just as it was in the US and Spain before the proverbial bubble burst. If you really want to buy—rent, wait a year or two—and then look around.
We ended up renting an old-style Maltese townhouse when we came here in October, 2008. It was the first place we saw and we paid 500 Euros/month for it. Compared to the US, this was a good deal. We were seduced by the little enclosed yard and the roof which we turned into a roof garden.
For particulars, please see the following article:
Live like the Maltese
Maybe you'll be on this Mediterranean island for only a couple of weeks. Or maybe you're thinking of living here for several months to find out if Malta is a place you want to retire to. What kind of living arrangement should you make?
The landlord, who we loved at first (of course), told us that we could be in here for years; it was his boyhood home and he wanted a couple just like us who would take care of the place.
Well, we did love the place despite the fact that the toilet wouldn’t flush, the refrigerator door wouldn’t close, tiles were missing, there was mold on many ceilings and walls—all the things that he would said he would fix—and didn’t.
We did a lot of repairs ourselves. After only three months, he started asking us if we wanted to buy the place. We said no, it was too high priced, etc. This continued for another six months until the landlord said he was putting in on the market. Then he started bringing people in to see it—which ruined the place for us. As of now—Feb, 2010—we’re looking for another place to rent on a more guaranteed long-term basis. And this time—it will be a modern apartment with a large terrace.
I don’t regret the townhouse; I wish it had been a better arrangement. We’ll probably never to be able to rent a townhouse like the one we had. But I’m glad we did it. It was a good first year in it.
Before you rent or buy, here are some things you should know:
1. You cannot trust what you see online on the real estate websites. Many places you see were rented years ago and no longer exist! When they rent a place, they often don’t take it offline. On the other hand, sometimes you'll see a place that is available in the future—say, 2012. That means, believe it or not—that the place is currently rented and you can reserve it for when the renters move out! The only reliable way you can
2. Get every single thing in writing—what you want repaired before you rent or buy.
3. When you like a place, don’t take it—renting or buying—until you go the neighborhood at night. There are things and sounds at night that don’t happen in the daytime when people are at work or kids at school. We walked through a couple of neighborhoods where deaf people lived and the TV’s were on so loud throughout the neighborhood that we couldn’t stand it. Also listen for—and it won’t be hard to hear—screaming babies or yelping dogs—which mysteriously appear at night on the street where you live.
4. The worst thing than can happen is that construction starts right next to or across from your apartment. Malta is, unfortunately, constantly under construction. So if you see a permit for construction anywhere near you, you MUST check out when it’s to begin. Call the authority listed on the permit. Don’t ask the landlord or real estate broker; they will only tell you that the permit is there for nothing.
5. Most places for rent are furnished. This is different than the US—where most places come unfurnished. The apartment/flat may have good or bad furniture. If you have come with your own furniture to Malta, then you need to find out right from the beginning if the landlord is willing to remove some or all of the furniture he has supplied.