There is a lot to think about when it comes to retirement abroad. What, how, when and, perhaps most importantly, where. What standard of living do you expect to maintain? How will you achieve this? When do you want to retire? Where do you want to live?
As more destinations become accessible, how to compare one location to another can be challenging. Online magazine ‘Live and Invest Overseas’ ‘The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2017’ includes 13 categories: cost of living, healthcare, residency options, entertainment, recreation, English spoken, expat community, taxes, real estate affordability and restrictions, infrastructure, environmental factors, crime and safety, with climate given as a bonus because it is considered to be the most subjective of the categories.
In this year’s survey, compiled from feedback from expats, experts, and correspondents, Malta ranked second out of the 30 destinations worldwide, the same ranking that it achieved last year. It was beaten only by the Algarve in Portugal, which has topped the list for four years in a row. Malta ranked especially highly for English spoken, infrastructure and climate, but its high scores across all categories gave it an ‘A’ rating overall.
Malta also features in the top ten of International Living’s ‘Best Places to Retire Abroad’ list, one of only four countries to appear in both rankings. It said that while Malta was easy to overlook as a desirable retirement destination, its compact size did not detract from the marvellous lifestyle it offers. It found that Malta’s cost of living was remarkably reasonable, its excellent healthcare was another major plus, and, “Perhaps best of all, you’ll never get bored in Malta”.
Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean, between the coasts of Sicily and North Africa. The country covers just over 316 sq km with a population of just under 450,000. Only two of its main islands, Malta and Gozo, have substantial populations. Malta has an extraordinarily rich history and three sites are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the City of Valletta (Malta’s capital city), the Megalithic Temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. Malta has one national language, which is Maltese, and English as an official language.
Importantly, Malta has been a full EU member state since 2004 and a member of the Eurozone since 2008. It completed its six-month period as Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the end of June. As a result, it enjoys excellent flight connections to Europe’s main capitals, with most cities being reachable in less than three hours. Sicily is a short 20-minute flight away.
Aside from its idyllic setting and excellent climate, foreigners residing in Malta are only taxed on income remitted to Malta and on any income earned in Malta. There is no tax on capital gains arising outside Malta, no wealth tax and no property tax. This makes Malta an extremely attractive destination for foreigners taking up residency, seeking to retire or doing business in Malta.
It also offers a special tax status for retirees under the Malta Retirement Programme (‘MRP’). This is open to citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who are no longer employed and are in receipt of a pension as their regular source of income. The chargeable tax rate under the MRP is a flat rate of 15 per cent on income arising outside of Malta, subject to a minimum tax charge of €7,500 per annum, which increases by €500 per dependant. For married couples the minimum charge is therefore €8,000.
Ravi Viroomal, Director of Sovereign Trust (Malta) Limited, said “Malta has been at the top of the world’s most popular retirement destinations for a long time. It offers year-round good weather, a relaxed lifestyle with plenty of recreational activities, as well as a highly competitive tax regime.”
Valletta takes over as European Capital of Culture in 2018, so there is even more going on than usual. Now is an excellent time to visit Malta and assess its credentials as a retirement destination.
For further information regarding Malta residency and applying for the Malta Retirement Programme: