With political turmoil, crime rates and job uncertainty on the rise, more and more South Africans are making plans to seek new lives abroad, or at least have a second residence or citizenship as Plan B.
Earlier this year Afrobarometer has published its latest findings on emigration concerning South Africa and the rest of the continent, and the results are shocking, yet predictable. 3% of all South Africans are currently preparing to emigrate, or have already begun the process of doing so. More than two-thirds of these want to head towards Europe or North America.
Malta, a relatively unknown small island set smack-bang in the middle of the Mediterranean is attracting its fair share of interest amongst South Africans. The foremost reason for the surprising interest is the alluring Citizenship By Investment and Residency and Visa programmes that the country has to offer to non-EU nationals within a safe and stable economy.
The Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP), for instance, was the first EU-approved citizenship programme of its kind. It offers citizenship in a European Union member state and the freedom to reside, work, establish business, move capital and travel anywhere in all EU countries, as well as EEA and EFTA states. It also offers visa-free travel to 165+ countries worldwide, including all of the EU member states and Canada and Australia.
Similarly The Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP) offers South Africans the right to reside or settle in Malta indefinitely and acquire an EU residence card that offers visa-free travel within the Schengen area. This programme comes at a relatively low cost.
South Africans interested in the subject or interested in investing or relocating to Malta, must make it a point to attend the next series of the highly anticipated MOVE TO MALTA seminars, which are being organised by Malta’s leading real estate Group – Frank Salt Real Estate (1969). Attendance is free of charge, though one must book beforehand through this link.
Seminars will take place in Johannesburg on 1 October at the Protea Balalaika, Durban on 3 October at The Oyster Box and Cape Town on 7 October at The Mount Nelson.
What else does Malta have to offer to South African investors and emigrants?
Looking beyond its residence and citizenship programmes, Malta is an exceptional fit for South Africans for other reasons. An archipelago of islands, Malta was admitted to the EU in 2004 and became part of the Euro zone in 2008. English is an official language and the islands offer a high quality of life with good education and health systems, modern infrastructure and excellent flight connections to all European countries and beyond.
For the last decade, Malta has been experiencing an economic boom, placing it amongst the best in Europe. Only in 2018, the island’s GDP grew by 6.6% and 2019 is expected to be no different. According to Eurostat, Malta’s unemployment rate as at February 2019 stood at 3.5%, which is the fourth lowest such rate in the Eurozone, whilst Malta’s annual inflation came in at 1.8 % year-on-year in July 2019.
Although the archipelago is relatively small, there are a range of entry-level jobs as well as more specialised positions. From transport workers, cleaners and construction labourers, to fintech specialists and IT and financial services professionals, the island could be looking at an increase of 28,000-30,000 foreign nationals in the next four years.
Malta is also a great country to set up business. It offers the lowest effective corporate taxes in the entire European Union and at €1,165 the share capital cost (start-up capital) is one of the lowest required across the world and you only need to hold 20% of this fee in a bank account.
Malta truly is the epitome of smooth sailing, bewildering diving experiences, sunbathing and sunny skies. With mild weather all year long, Malta’s climate quite closely resembles parts of SA. Malta’s average yearly temperature is around 23°C during the day and 16°C at night. In January – the coldest month – the typical maximum temperature is of about 15 °C (54 to 68 °F), whilst in August it reaches a maximum of 34°C. It is for good reason that InterNations’ 2016 annual Expat Insider survey placed Malta in the top 10 countries with the best climate.
Malta’s history of providing publicly funded health care dates all the way back to 1372, when its first hospital was already functioning. When the Knights of St. John first arrived in Malta in the 16th century, one of their first projects was the building of hospitals.
According to a 2012 report by PWC, Malta ranks amongst the top 6 in the EU for the overall quality of healthcare as well. The government operates a number of public hospitals and 24/7 clinics, supplemented by a well-organised private health care infrastructure.
EU nationals enjoy free healthcare in Malta. The same applies for expats who take up full employment and pay national insurance contribution taxes on the island. In the case of non-EU nationals taking up any of the Malta residence programmes, they would need to be in possession of private health insurance – which is also easily accessible and very affordable.
Crime and safety
When it comes to violent crime, Malta is as safe as it gets. According to Eurostat, Malta has only 0.3 violent crime incidents per 1,000 inhabitants. According to a study carried out by global market research group New World Wealth based in Johannesburg, the island nation has been named number two in a list of 195 countries where women feel safe. While petty crimes do occur, they are not common and can usually be avoided by using common sense. Violent crimes are far rarer than in some other European countries and it is safe to walk the streets pretty much anywhere and at any time of the day. People look out for each other here and there is still a strong feeling of ‘community spirit’ which helps to keep crime rates down.
A lucrative property market
Property in Malta is as solid as a rock. Back in 2009, it was hardly affected by the global financial crisis, primarily thanks to sound banking ethics and consistent capital growth.
Catering for all tastes and budgets; from the uber futuristic, ultra-modern, to the charming and traditional, Malta offers a great selection of property types. Demand is fuelled principally by the local buyers. Besides sales of homes and holiday residences, there is also a very active rental investment market – the latter driven by the expat community which currently stands in excess of 60,000 expats. The market is further boosted by a very healthy interest in local real estate from foreign investors and those looking to partake in Malta’s residence and citizenship programmes.
For the past decade, property prices have always remained stable or registered an increase year-on-year with average capital growth of 6% per annum, augmented by an average rental return of 3% to 6% per annum -depending on the location and type of property.
Frank Salt Real Estate seminars coming up
For South Africans interested in investing or relocating to Malta, Malta’s leading real estate company Frank Salt Real Estate is hosting its next series of MOVE TO MALTA – investment, residency, and relocation seminars – free of charge.
The subjects covered will include real estate or investment opportunities and taxation and residence in Malta through presentations by Grahame Salt, a director of Frank Salt Real Estate, together with South African partners who have experienced Malta first-hand. Lawyers and residency specialists from Maltese law firm EMD, and some of the island’s leading property developers will also be present.
Seminars will take place in Johannesburg on 1 October, Durban on 3 October and Cape Town on 7 October. Attendance is free of charge, but prior registration is required. To book your seat, or to find out more about the forthcoming Malta residency, investment, and citizenship seminars, visit the Malta residency website.
This article was published in partnership with Frank Salt.