Are you considering relocating the center of your life and/or company to Cyprus or Malta?
Then this article is for you. Here you’ll find all the essential information about life in the two city-states of Malta and Cyprus.
Malta and Cyprus are two scenic islands in the Mediterranean that attract millions of tourists annually for their fair weather and sea views. Both islands are similar not only in terms of the Mediterranean lifestyle, but also for the tax advantages they offer to emigrants. But where do the supposedly twin islands of Cyprus and Malta differ?
This article gives you a rundown of the major differences.
General Information about Cyprus and Malta
The small island of Malta lies geographically south of the island of Sicily and north of Tunisia in the Mediterranean. Belonging to Malta are the two islands of Gozo and Comino, which is the draw for tourists due its crystal blue waters.
Cyprus lies south of Turkey, west of Syria, and north of Israel. It is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. Geographically, looking at a map, one might situate Cyprus as part of Asia, but politically it belongs to Europe.
Facts About Malta
Malta’s capital is Valetta. The official languages are English and Maltese. About 503,000 people live on the island, which is about 124 square miles in total. As you can see in the graphic, Malta has a relatively young population (http://wko.at/statistik/laenderprofile/lp-malta.pdf).
The city-state of Malta is becoming increasingly attractive for foreigners every year. This is also reflected in the increasing number of visitors. In 2018, Malta’s steadily growing tourism industry recorded the highest number of tourists since 1995: 2.6 million. (https://www.laenderdaten.info/Europa/Malta/tourismus/ – Accessed: 2018).
It’s no wonder Malta’s GDP owes 12.7% to the tourism industry. Cyprus also attracts millions of tourists a year to Malta (3.94 million in 2018) and rests heavily on the tourism industry, which has a share of 13.82% of the GDP. Both city-states are located in the EU, use the euro, and characterized by a Mediterranean climate.
Facts About Cyprus
Cyprus’ capital is Nicosia. The national and official languages are Greek and Turkish. Almost 1.2 million people live on Cyprus. The population pyramid shows that the majority is young here, too.
Conclusion of General Information
Malta can also be reached by car with a ferry from Sicily, but a flight is a more comfortable option.
Malta has excellent flight connections to Germany—even though the island has only one airport, due to its size. Before the coronavirus pandemic, for example, there was a regular connection between Malta and Cologne that flew several times a day.
Another advantage of the Malta-Germany connections is the low fares: It’s not uncommon to find flights for less than 50 euros—below, an example flight search from October 12, 2020. Flight duration is between 2.3 and 2.5 hours.
Airlines: Lufthansa, AirMalta, British Airways, Ryanair, easy Jet, Condor, Wizzair, SWISS, TUI FLY
In short: Malta’s flight connections are excellent and include many European cities outside of Germany.
Cyprus, on the other hand, is geographically a bit farther away from Europe, so there’s no realistic option for driving when coming through the EU—one always flies. The flight time to Cyprus from Germany is 90 minutes longer than to Malta. Cyprus has two airports: Larnaka (on the island’s southeast) and Paphos (on the southwest).
Airlines: Lufthansa, Eurowings, Germaniam, easy Jet, Condort, Cobalt, Cyorus Airways
Since Malta is geographically closer to Germany and, instead of 3.5 hours of flight time, entails only 2.5 hours in the air, and because Malta had more flight connections before the pandemic, Malta wins the point.
Both islands are southern European nations with a similar mentality. As former British colonies, drivers use the left side of the road.
Because of Malta’s more manageable size, getting around on Malta is relatively easy. Malta has a very well developed bus network connecting all the island’s cities. If you do want to drive your own car, you’ll have to be prepared for lefthand traffic. Despite the easy, southern European mentality, you can feel safe with the Maltese, who drive very carefully.
Malta has numerous additional options, from taxi companies to Uber-like apps (Bolt, Ecabs), to e-scooters or bike rentals (Nextbike)—there’s something for everyone.
You can also borrow a car by the minute via GoTo and park it in the designated spaces.
The best and most scenic means of transportation are of course the boats and ferries. There is, for example, a ferry that connects the most beautiful cities in Malta—Silema and Valetta. Every half hour, residents and visitors can use the ferry to get from one to the other. There are also ferry connections from Sliema and Valetta to Gozo.
In Cyprus, too, there are now similar apps such as nTAXI Cyprus, Bolt, and Nextbike, all of which enable movement via app.
Cyprus, like Malta, has several ports where cruise ships and boats regularly dock and depart for travel around the island.
There are occasional ferry connections between Greece and Cyprus from Piraeus, Rhodus, Ayios Nikolaos, and Crete to Limassol. Freight ships also accomodate passengers at various ports and offer the opportunity to travel to Cyprus, even by one’s own car. The ferry operated by Akgunler Denizcilik also connects Turkey with Cyprus.
When comparing road conditions, Cyprus definitely receives a point. Due to necessity because of its size, the island has well developed highways, which Malta tends not to need—this also explains the relatively poorer state of Malta’s roads. Nonetheless, Malta has a robust infrastructure that enables rapid transit from one side of the island to another.
In terms of weather, the islands are very similar. The average temperature is 75 degrees (55 at night). Both countries are hottest in July and August, with temperatures in the high 80‘s.
If you’d rather escape the heat from Malta, you have no choice but to leave the island. Cyprus, on the other hand, offers more diverse options: you can hike the Troodos Mountains, which contrast well with the sun and sand. Cyprus is known for the fact that you can swim in the sea or ski in the mountains on the same day. Cyprus‘ highest peak is 6404 feet tall—still, don’t expect a truly Alpine skiing experience.
The only serious difference between the two islands is the number of rainy days per year. Malta’s annual rainfall is almost twice that of Cyprus, which is not necessarily a bad thing—the more rain, the more nature. And, of course, keep in mind that ‘more’ rain on Malta is still a fraction of the amount of precipitation in Germany.
As already mentioned in relation to the weather, Malta has more rainy days, which ultimately means there’s more nature to be found on Malta, as well as a larger selection of regional fruits and vegetables.
So it is that Malta attracts more hiking enthusiasts not only in summer but also during the colder months. The island is not only very beautiful in the summer due to its water quality, but is also a draw in the winter, when there’s lots of greenery and nature trails to explore.
In both Malta and Cyprus, food prices are relatively high compared to Germany. Hardly surprising when you consider that the majority of food is imported from European countries, such as Germany and France, and the UK.
In our comparison, Malta gets a point here, because the cost of living is a little lower. Whereas you can find the odd cappuccino for 1.5 euros in Malta, you can count on spending 4 euros on a cup of coffee on Cyprus. In addition to the ‘normal’ supermarkets, Malta also has numerous local fruit and vegetable vendors where you can buy local food more cheaply. If you ever miss the mainland, head to the Lidl here—it has prices comparable to those in Germany.
Despite the high food prices, eating out costs relatively little. On average, expect a quality meal for around 10 euros.
Alcohol is also cheaper on Malta. In Cyprus it’s not uncommon to pay 8-10 euros for a cocktail at a bar. You can find these prices in Malta, to be sure, but only in the fancier establishments.
But don’t be blinded by the cheaper cocktails and food—Cyprus has distinct cost advantages. For example, if you want your own car in Malta, you have to pay an introductory tax, making having one more expensive in Malta than in Cyprus.
Rents are also more expensive on average in Malta than in Cyprus. Most of the action is found in Sliema, Saint Juliens, and Valetta, the prices rise steadily here for the Munich housing market. Due to the coronavirus, however, rents have fallen; In Cyprus, for example, you can get a two-room apartment in good condition for 500 euros a month—in Malta, you’d reckon on 800 euros for the same.
So, unless you live on coffee alone, your total monthly expenses in Malta will be slightly higher than in Cyprus.
Despite it’s small size, there are a number of things to do on Malta.
In summer, of course, there are a ton of activities related to water: from snorkeling to diving, boat tours, kayaking, the beach, and the beach bar.
Wine tasting, jeep and motor boat trips, hiking, exploring cities like Mdina and Valetta are among the activities that can be done all year round. There is also something for history buffs: You can visit Malta’s ancient sites and museums. One of the most glaring differences between these two island nations is that Malta was not shaped by Ottoman influences.
Malta has experienced countless cultural influences and is one of the must-see places if you are interested in European history. From traditional old towns like Valletta and Mdina to the nature in Malta and Gozo, Malta is worth seeing.
Cyprus has the same, from sandy beaches to snorkeling to hiking tours you will find everything and, in some ways, even a little more in the way of things to do. But if you want to do something specific you will quickly find that it takes a considerable amount of travel time to travel from, for example, Limassol to Nicosia.
So both have their advantages and disadvantages.
One of the main reasons to emigrate to one of the islands is certainly close proximity to the sea and the beach. Life by the sea also means spending a lot of time at the sea or the beach.
If you compare Malta and Cyprus on the map, it’s immediately evident: Cyprus is much larger and offers more sandy beaches that stretch over several kilometers. You will find beaches on Malta, but not on the same scale. If you like a stone beach and find sand more like dirt, you will feel right at home in Malta. Malta offers rocky beaches along the popular cities of Sliema, Saint Julien, and Valetta, which are usually less visited than sandy beaches.
In terms of water quality, Malta definitely gets a plus—Malta’s water is considered to be the cleanest in Europe.
Both Malta and Cyprus have a party area. In Malta it’s Paceville, in Cyprus it’s Ayia Napa. Both areas are similar.
The only difference is that Malta’s party town, Paceville, is very close to the popular cities of St. Julien (2 minutes by car) and Sliema (10 minutes by car).
The Ayia Napa party mile, on the other hand, is 70 miles from Limassol, 40 miles from Larnaca and 110 miles from Paphos and has only a few amenities for visitors apart from hotels, bars and restaurants.
Of course, Cyprus also has bars and restaurants outside of Ayia Napa, but overall the party options on Malta are more extensive.
In both Malta and Cyprus you will find a high percentage of ‘expats,’ not least because of the iGaming and finance industries.
Exact figures on the number of expats are difficult to obtain, but there are around 23,000 foreigners in Malta and around 150,000 in Cyprus.
Although the number of emigrants to Cyprus is much higher, one should not forget that Cyprus is relatively much larger than Malta. It takes more than 3 hours to get from one side to the other, while a full tour takes just under an hour on Malta. As a result, it can be assumed that communication is restricted to people who are resident in the same area. In addition, around 85-90% of young professionals are employed in the vicinity of Sliema, so that the ‘hotspot’ for foreigners/expats is also here.
Malta also has a few bars such as ‘The Network’ that are great places to meet people your age.
Although both countries are former British colonies and English is widely spoken in both countries, Malta enjoys English as an official language, alongside Maltese. Cyprus’ official languages are Greek and Turkish.
Hardly noticeable to you as a tourist, as residents of both countries have good English skills. As an expat, however, this can make a huge difference, because the fact that English is the official language means that official communication with banks, government agencies or other institutions will be in English. You will also receive the forms in English and/or Maltese. If you have children who are still in school, the official language is certainly an important factor that you should consider when making your decision.
In Cyprus, on the other hand, you will encounter all forms in Greek, meaning you’ll need external help with the translation or at least have to reckon with a considerably larger effort.
In this regard, if you don’t speak Greek, Malta is easier to live in.
Cyprus’ bureaucracy is as expected in southern European countries and you can therefore expect longer waiting times than you might be used to in, say, Eastern Europe. Also, in Cyprus you will have to deal with forms in Greek, which doesn’t make things any easier.
Not so in Malta—Malta is in no way inferior to the German bureaucracy. Malta’s government is much more efficient and more “user-friendly” for individuals and businesses for several reasons: They can take advantage of an almost completely digitalized workflow, including the uploading and sending of documents; there is better overall communication; and you will get answers faster. You also have a direct contact person whom you can turn to with questions.
Malta’s healthcare system is very similar to Germany’s (see more in this article: https://www.drwerner.com/de/gesundheitssystem-in-malta-ist-das-zweitbeste-in-europa/)
Compared to Cyprus, Malta has, per 1,000 residents, more hospital beds (4.7 vs. 3.4) and more doctors (3.83 vs. 1.95). The difference becomes clear in statistics like the average life expectancy of women (84.6 years on Malta compared to 82.9 years on Cyprus).
Cyprus only started a unified healthcare system in 2019.
Both islands are very safe. The website worlddata.info gives Cyprus a grade of 73 and Malta an 86 for political stability.
Education in both Cyprus and Malta is based on the British system and therefore operates at a very high level. Expat parents often choose private schools despite the high level of education in the public system.
Using English as the official language, Malta’s inhabitants speak and write it on a corresponding level as many expats, which is not true of residents of Cyprus.
As you can see, the two city-states are similar in some respects and different in others. If you, as an entrepreneur or private individual, are considering either Malta or Cyprus as a new location, I therefore recommend visiting both countries.
If you have any questions about the tax situation in Cyprus or Malta, you are welcome to make an appointment and we’ll advise you accordingly.