Rich in history, culture and romance, Europe has long had a strong appeal for Australian retirees. But many people who would love to retire to the Old World fret that it’s beyond their budget. And while Europe on the whole is more expensive than Asia or Latin America, that’s not to say that there aren’t countries here where a more affordable retirement can be found—without sacrificing the Old-World romance you crave.
The tiny five-island archipelago of Malta is an increasingly sought-after retirement destination among expats these days—and it’s no surprise why. Situated just 160 kilometres south of Sicily, the Mediterranean island offers an incredible charm, from its crystal-clear aquamarine waters to its stunning historic cities. But its aesthetic appeal is just the start.
Tall street lamps with hanging lanterns light up the Santo Domingo square in Oaxaca, south-east Mexico. Home to Mexico’s most vibrant art and crafts scene, some outstandingly colourful festivals and diverse natural riches, this is where my wife, Erica, and I currently call home. Before Mexico, our home was in a variety of different destinations including Malaysia, Costa Rica and more…
When I think about my time on Malta, I think of bright blue skies, ﬁelds of richly green clover, the sound of the ocean smashing against the cliffs, all only steps away from the well-worn stone streets of ancient cities and the chatty and perpetually kind people. And all of it—cities, coastal walks—warmed and cheered by the seemingly endless sunshine, even at the height of winter.
The five-island archipelago that makes up the nation of Malta offers a mix of historic Europe and modern international culture. Just south of Sicily and about 300 miles off the coast of Tunisia, these Mediterranean islands give visitors the very best in sunshine and cyan-hued waters. Expats in Malta enjoy a relaxed, low cost lifestyle, which is made even easier by the fact that most natives speak fluent English. They entertain themselves by attending the many festi (feasts) hosted on the islands, exploring the natural beauty of their home or going out for a meal in one of the many diverse restaurants available to them.
On my first morning in Malta, I peeked out my hotel window, unsure of what to expect. I had landed in Malta well after midnight and despite the sight of palm trees lining the road from the Valletta airport to my hotel in Sliema, it seemed hard to believe I was on an island in the Mediterranean. That changed when I drew back the curtains to reveal a cobalt blue sea, shimmering in the sunlight. Yep, all was as it should be.
Rich in history, culture and romance, Europe has long had a strong appeal for Australian retirees. But many people who would love to retire to the Old World fret that it’s beyond their budget. And while Europe on the whole is more expensive than other retirement havens, you can still find affordable retreats where you can have everything the Old World offers, and at a price lower than Australia.
Gozo is a small island (with an area of just 42 square kilometers) in the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily. It’s the second largest island (after Malta itself) in the Maltese Archipelago. And it’s known for being a quiet, rural getaway, a retirement haven, and the home of a special, mild goat cheese called Ġbejniet, which tastes just a little like fresh mozzarella.
“Malta is small, but it packs a lot into that space: ancient ruins, charming cities, some beautiful beaches, and a varied, interesting population,” says International Living Editor Glynna Prentice. “In Valletta, the capital, there’s something going on almost every night—for instance, a concert, a fireworks display, or an exhibit. So you’re never bored.”