15 September 2017

Tricia Mitchell - Expat in Malta

Tricia Mitchell - Expat in Malta

We’ve had the chance to talk to Tricia Mitchell, an American expat who has moved to Malta with her husband. Ms. Tricia Mitchell who has been living there for several years, now works as a freelance writer and intercultural trainer. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Born in Germany, I grew up in the Midwestern United States, but I’ve called Europe home for 15 years.


Q: What made you move out of Germany?

A: Ever since childhood, I’ve enjoyed mingling with people from around the world. When I was in elementary school, I made my first trip to Europe. As an 8-year-old, I kept a travel diary, making note of the delicious sweet treats I feasted upon in Austria and Germany. Years later, I started studying French, and it was around that time that I became determined to someday live in Europe. I’ve since called Germany and Malta home, and have travelled to about 60 countries.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I’m actually a bit nomadic at the moment, however, I most recently lived in Valletta, Malta for one year. My husband, Shawn, found a graduate program of interest in Malta, so we decided to make the move to this island nation in the Mediterranean.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Through university and community events, plus old-fashioned networking, we met some lovely people in Malta! I was fortunate to have befriended a Maltese family during a weekend trip there a decade earlier, so it was fun reconnecting with them when we moved to Malta. My husband and I spent several afternoons with these old friends, enjoying traditional Maltese meals at their home in a colorful fishing village.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Malta? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Our social circle was made up of locals and fellow expats. Since English is one of the official languages in Malta, it was generally easy communicating with the Maltese. (We tried increasing our Maltese vocabulary too, but it’s a tricky language!) Also, since the island is popular with tourists, as well as students taking intensive English classes, we’d often meet visitors from all over the world. Crossing paths with someone from Japan, Zimbabwe, or Germany made even the most mundane of errands interesting!


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Bureaucracy exists everywhere in the world, and Malta is not immune to it. The requirements for obtaining residence cards were sometimes unclear. (If you are a non-EU citizen, for example, be sure your health insurance policy meets Malta’s requirements, for the duration of your stay.) Ask questions. Double-check the details. We made several visits to the office issuing our residence cards and were glad we did, otherwise the cards would’ve been issued late.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Malta is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: We had routine examinations while we were living in Malta, and found the cost to be very reasonable, and the level of care reliable too. The doctors we interacted with were either Maltese or European Union citizens. Either way, their level of English fluency was sufficient to communicate.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Germany or Malta? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: We purchased a private Maltese healthcare plan, based upon requirements set out by Identity Malta, the government office responsible for issuing residence permits. Since requirements vary, based on one’s nationality or reason for staying in Malta, it’s best to check with them.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Malta? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: Since we chose to live in a furnished apartment, we moved to Malta with only the basics – about 4 pieces of luggage. Despite being a small country, Malta offers lots of shopping opportunities, meaning that necessities are not hard to come by if you need something once you’ve moved there. I’m glad we didn’t bring too much with us!


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Finding an apartment in Malta was not easy! We were determined to live in Valletta, Malta’s capital city, partly because it’s a lovely, cultural place, and also because it’s the island’s mass transport hub. With Valletta becoming increasingly popular with tourists and expats, there is a very high demand for accommodation there. Persistence is key. I established contact with about 8 real estate agents and contacted them a few times every week. Most of them said it’d be impossible to find a Valletta apartment. Eventually, we did, and we’re thrilled to have done so. Living among all that history and culture was incredible.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Malta?

A: The pros of life in Malta are the plentiful sunshine, history, and dramatic scenery. Some of the negatives are the population density, and the lack of green spaces.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Malta is well known for its sun and sea offerings, but there’s much more to do there! Initially, we were concerned we’d get island fever on such a small island, however, that worry ended up being unfounded. Our favourite activities revolved around Malta’s complex history and culture, and the outdoors. We spent many weekends exploring the temples, going to museums, or walking in the countryside. A sailing trip, ecotours, and olive harvesting experience were also highlights. I’ve written about these, and other must-dos in Malta, on my website.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: At the moment, we are exploring Croatia. Our plan is to remain abroad, and we’re looking forward to seeing where we end up next.