No doubt about it, buying a home in Malta is an expensive business. Not only have Maltese house prices soared over the last few years, but also associated costs have also increased, by about 3% in the last year alone.
Professional fees, notary , architects, estate agents, and taxes are all extras to be factored in to your budget. That’s before you get the keys to your new home and have to start forking out for furniture, curtains and carpets etc.
So how can you avoid spending a fortune on moving if you are only going to be there for a few months or even a couple of years?
If you are pretty sure you will be moving on relatively soon you have two other options, renting on your own or sharing.
How do I find the right place?
Location is everything in real estate, whether you are looking to rent or to buy. Location is the single most important thing most likely to increase the price of a property, be it purchase or leasing. So whether you are looking to buy or rent a temporary home it will pay you to look for something in some of the less sought after areas. After all you are not going to be there forever, right? If saving money is high on your agenda it will pay you to be a bit less picky about location.
In Malta you can try to avoid high profile, high density, central areas such as Sliema, or Valletta and the high end places like the three villages and look a little further afield.
If it’s off season and you will be there for 6 months or less it’s always good to check out the areas which have a lot of tourists in the summer, such as St Pauls Bay, Qwara and Bugibba. Here you can often find winter short lets for quite reasonable prices. They are also on good bus routes so even if you don’t have a car you can stay connected.
If you do have your own transport you can look a little further afield, try Bahrija or some of the places down South. Til now the South of the island has been less sought after, prices are still a bit lower and there are still some gems to be found.
If the inconvenience of travelling concerns you, it’s worth reminding yourself of the savings you will be making, the short term nature of this move and the comparatively low mileage you will actually be doing. After all Malta is less than 30 KM from tip to tail. In many other countries commuters think nothing of daily commutes of over 80 KM each way!
How do I get the ball rolling? What’s the first step?
Finding a bargain requires you to shop around a bit. Estate agents are not the only place to find rentals. Remember to look in the small ads in the papers, on Social media platforms such as RUBS, Salott, MaltaPark, Facebook Marketplace et al. Be creative. Wander around the place you want to live, looking for notices posted by hopeful owners. Ask in the local shops and at the local council offices. Don’t forget to ask around among your friends, especially the ones already renting. Have them ask their landlords if they have anywhere currently available. Landlords will be happy to save agents fees by dealing with you directly. So will you, as an agent will charge you at least 50% of a months rent as a finders fee.
Should I go for a Penthouse or ground floor?
However delightful the view from the Penthouse and however large that lovely airy balcony, these amenities come at a price. Often a fairly hefty one. The premium for a penthouse is huge compared to an apartment on the ground or intervening floors. A semi basement is usually cheapest of all. Apartments in a block without a lift are even cheaper. So if you can stand dragging the grocery shopping up 3 flights of stairs you can find some cheaper options.
Should I rent on my own, or share?
Unable to give up on the penthouse after all? If you have found the perfect spot but can’t afford the exorbitant rent, it’s time to consider sharing.
Find an apartment with more rooms than you need and offer the spare bedrooms to your friends or colleagues and split the costs. As long as you continue to reside there yourself this is not subletting, which is usually precluded in most rental contracts. Subletting is when you move out and collect the rent from someone else who moves in in your stead. This will definitely get you into trouble with your landlord.
Sharing is different. You can share with people you already know, or advertise for someone new. That might sound a bit of a gamble but you can also make lifelong friends this way.
Whoever you decide to share your apartment with, lay down the ground rules at the start. Are they paying a fixed rent or a percentage of the rent. A bigger bedroom might command a bigger share, but equal shares makes it less of a problem if someone moves out and there’s a gap before you can find someone else. What about the utilities bills? Equal shares are easy to work out but not always fair. Perhaps you use the AC all the time and they don’t, for example. Will you be sharing food costs or keeping food apartheid in the fridge? Here a weekly food kitty can help for those everyday items like milk or tea and coffee. Who is paying for the internet or cable? Establish these rules at the outset for smoother flat sharing.