Malta’s attempt to attract ‘digital nomads’ shaken after fall in expat polls
Malta announced earlier this year that it would seek to attract so-called ‘digital nomads’ to settle on the island through a new temporary residence program offering non-EU applicants a one-year visa allowing them to live and work from the island. However, an Expat Insider survey, released in May this year, may disappoint those promoting the plan: results show Malta among the bottom 10 countries for expats in 2021, in 50e place in 59 countries.
The results represent a steep and steady drop for Malta, which has slipped steadily since being ranked 4the in 2015 and 2016. Between 2018 and 2019, he had lost 11 additional places of 25e to 36e in law. This dive saw the island rise from the top 5 to the top 10 in just five years.
The fall in Malta’s odds could affect its success in implementing the digital nomad program, which aims to encourage non-EU business owners and remote workers to temporarily settle in Malta on a one-year visa costing € 300.
The survey was carried out by InterNations, one of the world’s largest expat networks with over 4.2 million members worldwide. In January of this year, 12,420 expatriates participated in the survey representing 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries or territories.
The five main categories that contribute to the overall ranking of countries are “Quality of life”, “Ease of settling”, “Personal finance” and “Working abroad”. Each of these categories is then subdivided.
In the overall ‘Quality of Life Index’ survey this year, Malta ranked 54e over 59 countries. In the seven subcategories that make up the overall score, Malta performed well among participants in the categories ‘Leisure options’ (20) and ‘Health and wellness’ (25), but fell in the list in the areas “Safety and security” (43), Digital life (46) and “Personal happiness” (48) and noting lamentably in the areas “Travel and transport” and “Quality of the environment” which place Malta 56e out of 59.
These results seem to agree with similar studies like the one undertaken by Brian Micallef, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bristol who concluded that the cost of living and poor quality of life drove foreigners away. Based on a 2019 study by the Central Bank of Malta, which examined the average stay of foreign workers in Malta, Micallef’s research aimed to determine whether local housing market conditions contributed in any way. or the high rate of out-migration of foreign workers in Malta.
Malta does significantly better in the areas of ‘ease of settling’ (35) and working abroad (31), the subcategories of which include ‘Career prospects’,’ Work and leisure ‘and’ Economy and job security. Malta also has an average score of 35 in the “Cost of Living” category, it drops to 50e place in the “Personal Finance” category.
This year, the survey also looked at the impact of COVID-19 on people living and working abroad. Among all survey respondents, nearly one in ten say they have moved or relocated earlier than expected due to COVID-19, however, 46% of them also plan to resume their lives abroad in the year.