Buying a holiday or retirement home or simply investing in real estate is a proposition that has become even more attractive since Malta became a fully-fledged member of the European Union, thus shedding once and for all the legal and financial complications of the past.

Maltese and foreign-owned real estate agents have risen to the challenge and today offer a vast range of properties, from stylish apartments and homely maisonettes to seaside village houses and country bungalows.

The trendy towns of Sliema and St Julian’s are the liveliest spots on Malta’s beautiful coastline, but the not-so-young mostly favour the Mellieha and St Paul’s Bay areas. Only 28 per cent of foreign-owned homes are actually in «holiday areas,» and you may prefer to buy a traditional village property with a walled garden and a cool interior courtyard where the centrepiece is a pattering fountain.

Agents call these types of homes «houses of character,» and many have a distinct Mediterranean feel with their vaulted ceilings, tiled passageways, and archways. Prices are bound to vary according to selected areas and size of properties, but you can be assured of a fruitful investment. The popularity of Malta and Gozo with their virtually crime-free environment confirms the wisdom of such a move. Affordability and low maintenance rates are other advantages that have a bearing on house-buying in Malta.

The same goes for low living costs, juicy tax concessions, and almost everybody speaks English. You won’t find many places where it’s this easy to integrate into local society. Malta property prices aren’t bargain-based, but you’ll find some good deals…if you know where to look.

Malta has long been a favourite British retirement destination, but is now fast being discovered by other European and American home-seekers wishing to live in a sun-kissed outpost.

However, prior to investing in Malta property, you might consider renting property instead.

Whether you are planning on visiting Malta for a short, sharp holiday or intending on settling here for a number of years, the property rental market is amongst the most extensive and varied of any European country.

From farmhouses to villas and from apartments to bedsits you can rent or lease pretty much exactly what you want and where you want at prices which are, by most people’s standards, reasonable and affordable.

Those of you looking for a short stay may want to focus your attention on some of Malta’s more well trodden areas like Sliema, Valletta, Qawra, St Julians or Mellieha. Most types of accommodation are available for rent in each of those areas although you would probably have trouble if you are looking for famhouses which generally tend to be, as their name suggests, more out in the countryside. If you do chose to rent further afield from these more travelled areas be aware that public transport can get a little tricky especially if you hit the less populated areas of Malta or Gozo.

If you are moving to Malta on a more permanent basis and prefer renting to buying then the island does really become your oyster. Assuming you will have transport of your own they you could look at houses of character in the small villages and towns as well as the more modern options available in the major towns.

Most properties available for rental are privately owned and, in some cases you will be able to deal with the owner direct. However, most estate agents have letting departments which will be only too happy to set you up with the ideal place for either a holiday or a home.

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