So October 9th this year, it was exactly nine years since I arrived in Malta
with a 15 month-old Musical M to join my hubby and embark on a life in the sun (well…actually we thought it was going to be two or three years in the sun). Nine years, two more kids, many near misses on the roads and a few sun-induced wrinkles later, we’re STILL here. We’ve hummed and hawed over the years about leaving and flirted with various possiblities including more than a mere flirtation with the idea of moving to the States which didn’t materialise after being turned down twice for the visa (their loss I say). Yet, here we still very much are. A friend of ours said during our trip back to London this Summer “So nine years in Malta…wow really guys, what’s the appeal?!” For me, Hubster’s reply really hit the nail on the head and I couldn’t have put it better myself; but more on that in a minute.
This year is Musical M’s last year of elementary school.
She started age three…and next year she’ll move to Middle School. I can hardly believe it. It’s the only school she and Doe-eyed D have ever known and Cheeky K just started too. I’ve had some of the teachers twice because of three kids at the same school so we’re part of the furniture by now. We’re in no rush to leave Malta as it really has become home but I can’t help wondering sometimes if it’s time to move on. I’ve never seen myself settling in one place forever as I’m a bit of nomad at heart but when you have kids in the mix, it changes things a bit. So what does one do when trying to answer the question of ‘should I stay or should I go’? Draw up a list of reasons to stay in Malta versus reasons to leave course!
REASONS TO STAY IN MALTA vs REASONS TO LEAVE
They Are in No Hurry to Take My Money…
I can turn up at the hairdressers/restaurant/doctors without my wallet (I do this rather a lot) and I can still get a haircut/meal/appointmet and just pay next time I go. What’s more, I can borrow items from certain stores to try out/show Hubster and then just return them at a later date without even leaving so much as my phone number or a deposit.
…But They Seem To Be In A Big Hurry to Take My Life
They routinely drive through red lights as I”m coming through my green, overtake on double lines on a tight bend with zero visibility and ignore no entry signs driving straight at me. (FYI apparently their misdemeanours are not their fault; they’re mine.)
It’s So Easy to Get to Know People…
I know the guy who runs the car park at Golden Bay, the staff at our local beach restaurant, the owner of our local convenience store, the chap who comes round with his fruit and veg truck, the fishmonger at the supermarket – all by name. This is a big deal when you come from London where you can live next to the same person for ten years and never know their name.
…But Not If They Are in The Medical Profession
We’ve had the same doctor for a few years and he still looks at me like he’s never seen me or any of my kids before. Meanwhile the staff of the state hospital look at us like we built a boat and rowed all the way from India to seek refuge in Malta and one of the nurses I had at the birth of Cheeky K clearly thought I’d had one too many children and simply couldn’t find it in herself to be civil at any point during my five day stay in hospital.
If You Need to Look Good You’re Probably in the Right Place…
I have never seen so many hair salons, nail bars or beauty salons before.
…If You Need Decent Shopping, You’re In The Wrong Place
So you’ve got perfect hair, neat nails and you’ve been thoroughly ‘defluffed’ (oh come on…you didn’t really think I’d let this post go by without a tiny bit of Prabulous humour did you?). Now try finding great shoes and amazing clothes to go with it. Good luck with that. This ain’t New York, Paris or London baby…
Clear blue skies, infrequent rain and an average of 300 annual days of sunshine. What’s not to like?
It may not be Dubai or India but the four months of intense heat and two months of slightly less intense heat but awful humidity can be unbearable…not to mention all that sun on the skin… And when it does rain, they are shockingly ill prepared for it.
And the Water!
Apparently we have the most turquoise waters in the Mediterranean! I mean just look at these scenes! These were all genuinely taken with my phone during various days out around Malta and not from a tourism site. And the one bottom left really is down the road from where we live and I can stop off and fit in a cheeky half hour of snorkelling there.
By the way, if these photos make you want to come here, then these guides might inspire you:
Safety and The Simpler Life…
They may moan about how the island is changing and blame most of the ‘negative’ change on their favourite ‘f’ word…(’foreigners’) but it is still one of the safest places to live…a major consideration when you have kids. It’s a simpler life here. There is a beauty in that.
…Safe and Simple Isn’t Always Fun
Much safer and fewer things to do also means way less buzz. Nope, this sure ain’t New York, London or Paris.
It’s Lovely How Everyone knows Everyone…
There’s no need to be nervous if you’re going to a social event on your own because there is a 90% chance that you’ll walk in and know at least five people there, it’s such a small island.
…It’s A Nightmare How Everyone Knows Everyone
You have to seriously watch what you say. It will ALWAYS come back to bite you if you don’t, it’s such a small island.
You Don’t Have to Book Way Ahead For Events…
None of this months in advance nonsense…partly because they only advertise concerts or events about a month before the date. Well it is the Mediterranean Darling.
…Unless The Event is a Beauty Treatment
Women would rather go hungry here than not have tidy nails or fancy hair. Luckily I can call my magician lady at 4elements and she’ll squeeze me in for an emergency appointment even if she’s fully booked (I’m Indian. We have hair. I’m not being superficial. Believe me, it’s an emergency.)
A Night Out Doesn’t Cost a Fortune…
Crazy transport prices, exhorbitant parking costs, insane drinks prices…nope…don’t have that.
…But You’ll Always End up Going to the Same Places
A Tiny Island Means Short Distances…
Nothing is more than a 15 minute drive away. The kids’ school is a five minute drive away and my daily/weekly life pretty much takes place within a two mile radius. It’s liberating.
…But It Also Means Cabin Fever
When everything is reachable so quickly, you start craving the chance to let rip on long smooth open roads and actually drive. Problem is if you let rip on the roads of Malta and drive, you’d just end up in the sea. Not so liberating.
Life’s a Beach…
Whether it’s a full day relaxing at Golden Bay on the weekends or just delaying the reality of homework/dinner/evening routine by stopping off after school at our local beach for a cooling midweek swim, the beach is never far away. Heaven.
…But Sometimes The Beach Is The Only Thing To Do
…especially during those four blisteringly hot months of the year when It is just too hot to do anything not involving a cooling swim.
Still, you can’t do that in New York, Paris or London.
Or as Hubster said to our friends, “When you start the conversation about where to move to ‘next’ and you sit down and try to make a list of countries that have what Malta has, you end up with a very short list.” About a year after we moved here – once I’d got over my ‘rock shock’ – I realised it’s not about what Malta doesn’t have; it’s about what it does have.
Think we’ll stay a little bit longer then.
Phew. I’m glad that’s decided.
[…] you want to know how come we ended up staying so long, this should help. I can remember so much of that initial time like it was yesterday. Hubster came first to start […]
[…] I have written about previously from different angles in Should I Stay and Home is Where). A time of year when my disbelief at still living on ‘the rock’, […]
Prabs how has it taken me this long to discover your awesome blog? Love reading all about your Maltese life. I went to Malta once on holiday and really enjoyed it, might just come knocking on your door one day if we go back 😉
Hee hee you’ve read my blog before lol. Thanks for the lovely words. Sure. Just turn up ha.
Can I come visit? Seriously. I am sure though that when living there it tends to get too familiar. I grew up in a small town…moved to Las Vegas…lived there for over 20 years and now find myself in a smaller town then what I grew up in. And you think your shopping is bad…oh girl you should see the stores here. And I can’t even find a good hair dresser. I used to be a cosmetologist before motherhood so I am a little picky but man…it’s really bad here. But when I see kids playing outside without the constant supervision of their parents and riding their bikes to and fro to get everywhere, it assures me that small is a little better then the city. Plus I never stress when driving anywhere. I don’t even go on a freeway unless I am headed to the city. Any who….I was just nosing around your prabulous blog here and thought I would leave a long lengthy novel of a comment. :)) Cheerio!
lol long lengthy novel comments welcome. You know why don’t you? Yep #bloggerlove
Are you saying you have a guest couch? (-;
lol…I’m saying I have a guest ROOM. Welcome any time…
“it’s not about what a place doesn’t have, it’s about what it does have” – sounds self-evident but really, what a nice post about the ups and downs of being an expat. Keep enjoying the Maltese sun!
Thanks Simon. I’ll sure try!
Love you Blog well done……..Your a clever girl. May-be a book is calling for you to write. Or a degree in creative writing….He! Ha!
Ha! Thanks Dianna. Glad you enjoyed it.