Part 2 of the vast topic – Why am I living in Malta. Here focusing only on cons, the negative side of living here. Yet not big enough to overbalance my pros, which you can find in a separate post!
I believe there is no ideal place on Earth where all life aspects would fall into the right places like jigsaw puzzles. However, it happened that I chose to live here, not in Poland, the UK, or Germany which could seem very rational options in my life. What annoys me in Malta, yet I still prefer to be here.
The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never.
The bad stuff
Let’s spill the tea and proceed with the cons. It may be actually the most useful information for people who are planning to stay here for longer and would like to put a pinch of salt into their paradise-malta goulash.
1. Unleashed trash.
There are many angles of this issue which is only showing how difficult it is for this country to live a cleaner way. First of all, in Malta, the system of collecting trash is very… trashy. On certain days people just take out their bags full of trash and put them in front of their house. No collective bins, no containers. Only bags full of waste. And because of bags nature – wind, rain, cats, or the force of god can easily spread nasty content around the neighborhood.
Secondly, I got a very strong impression as the education about this matter is neglected at school. I was growing up in a small village, in the middle of nowhere in Poland, I didn’t go to private school and my parents were far away from being rich, but I remember clearly all the classes and special days when we had to go out on the streets and forests and pick up trash, collect and segregate waste.
We would have even prices for people who among the year would collect the biggest amount of recyclables. Any contribution to this topic was highly rewarded and promoted. I believe not only a plain lesson with a book is needed but putting hands and mind into practice is necessary to build a healthy functioning society. When I asked several Maltese friends (who are my age or younger) if they have those active classes, everyone looked at me as if I was an alien talking about a different planet. I hope the new educational program in Malta has it covered, if not – Houston, we got a problem!
Personally, I had the antipleasure of seeing young Maltese teens throwing trash on the street just because. I am not saying that foreigners don’t do it, it just hurts much more when it’s done by someone who is from here and you would expect the highest respect for the country and its nature. And I, as a foreigner, pointing out to Maltese that they cannot do that is just laughed at, because who am I to have a right to say so.
Each year I can see in Malta more and more awareness about this topic, so hopefully, everything is going in the right direction and in a few years’ time we will forget about this issue!
2. Dust is in the air, everywhere I look around…
Construction sites, cars, lack of rain, and insufficient greenery are causing serious troubles with air pollution. Just a couple of years ago it was considered one of the worst polluted countries in Europe. I could feel it very badly when living in St. Julians or Mosta, now after mowing to the rural areas of the south my lungs are a bit more grateful. The number of Asthma is very high and I know people who left the island for this reason alone.
Another interesting occurrence that occasionally happens in Malta is rain dust or muddy rain which covers the island with desert dust. Below my balcony after muddy rain, and yes, a few times I had a laundry drying outside when it happened.
3. Many items are more expensive or not available at all.
This shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s an island so costs of shipping are added blablabla… I know. But still, it is annoying! I’m not picky about my food and I found here all I need at the local stores but when it comes to DIY – I have a lot to ask. So often a new idea of making something comes to my mind, and then to find supplies I’m searching online in local stores, and searching, and searching, and the results are largely disappointing.
Often DIYing something would cost me more than buying ready things because of the prices or it’s just not available in Malta and shipping by Amazon (or any other store) adds so much on top that I just give up. Just to give an example I am in search of blue tile paint. Malta’s a country of painted tiles! I was sure this shouldn’t be an issue.
I found only one store in Malta that sells it online but they have only available one color – white. I send them an email asking about other colors and got a reply as other colors will never be available. Although I think I found a workaround for this project. It is an issue for me, may not be an issue for someone else. Stay tuned for a new post about my favorite online stores in Malta and abroad but delivering to Malta!
4. How humans can feel freezing cold on a sunny island.
I can hear all the voices already – you are from Poland, such a cold country, how Malta can be cold. Let me explain. I am accustomed to the comfortable temperatures when staying inside – which means that despite the weather or season, more or less I feel the same inside the house.
Here you cannot find a place with a good heating system
(different than drying out AC or stinky gas heater), so even if it’s sunny outside, winters are cooler and more humid. Maltese houses are built the way to keep cold, so they do – even during winter. It’s totally normal that outside I will be sitting wearing a t-shirt, and when entering home wearing 3 jumpers and a blanket. Plus Maltese (and many other people from hot countries) love their cold, and thanks to that I will be freezing during summers as well. Why? It may be 30°C outside, but when entering offices or shops, the AC is set to Antarctique.
Summer in the office: AC set on 12°C, Maltese colleagues in the t-shirts, me and other foreigners with 2 jumpers and a scarf… This is not my comfort zone at all, but I got used to it and I have always with me something warmer to wear, despite the weather.
5. Being a pedestrian feels like The Hunger Games.
That’s a hot topic for me! I used to argue so much about this one – who is right, the pedestrian or the driver? In other European countries, pedestrians are more privileged and taken care of, no doubt. During my driving license, my instructor in Poland was constantly repeating – the pedestrian is like a holy cow in India, you must try to predict their movement and never, ever drive fast in build-up zones with many pedestrians.
Here, not only majority of the country feel like a build-up zone, but the old infrastructure totally abandoned the idea of having walkable pavements. Pavements too narrow to walk, too high to step on for the elderly or with a baby, pavements that disappear in6 the middle of the road, pavements with obstacles, pavements with cars parked on it – we got all here, and if there is a pavement at all, it’s already a win. Infrastructure is just one side of a coin, another one is the culture on the road.
Drivers are MAAAAAD here!
It’s like the Need for Speed for average people. People honking, yelling, double, triple-parking, taking over when they shouldn’t, and so on and so on… plus it is way too many cars on the streets. If there is a family of 4, most probably all 4 (if have driver’s licenses) will have their own car. Plus they will be using the car for everything, even ridiculously small distances, for driving kids everywhere (because using a bus is bleeh).
Of course, it’s a big generalization as I encountered some Maltese people who do use buses as well and who don’t yell or honk (naaah the second one doesn’t exist in nature), but it can give you some outline picture.
Luckily there are so many developments and constructions going around, and it does seem as they keep in mind to include pavements or even sometimes cycling lanes when building a new road. There is hope for pedestrians in the future!
6. Sex is still a big taboo.
Rather than this being a big con, it’s more of a national pattern. Sex stopped being a big taboo in many European countries which improved physical and psychological health, responsible parenting, and many other positive outcomes.
In Malta, the change and progress come slower.
Sex, talking about it openly is still not common. For sure you won’t find contraceptive machines on the streets as in Germany, but even such an innocent and simple thing as buying a pregnancy test is a) very expensive, b) only purchasable from pharmacies. As always the key is education.
- Sexuality education has positive effects, including increasing young people’s knowledge and improving their attitudes related to sexual and reproductive health and behaviors.
- Sexuality education – in or out of schools – does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behavior, or STI/HIV infection rates.
Just as sex is taboo I could add as well mental health, therapy, psychology. I found it very stigmatized and many people restrain from it at any cost.
7. If you are vegan or even vegetarian, dining out is more difficult.
It’s still not too common to find alternative options of dining. I found just 2 or 3 places in very tourist towns. Home/office delivery food which I used frequently and highly recommend is an option if you don’t want to cook – check Apple Tree Nutrition!
8. Constructions are everywhere, and many developments are not of the best quality.
As much as it is a positive thing when it comes to having new roads, pedestrian paths, etc here is about the multitude of private apartments and houses. Cranes are already a national symbol. Construction is everywhere. Every single place I lived in here (and I moved around 8 times in the last 5 years) had a minimum of one construction ner by.
Noice and dust are just a little inconvenience but what is really worrying is changing landscape. Building things that are not matching with the traditional architecture around, places where you could have a sea view disappear. New buildings are made fast and cheap to be sold expensively. The price is totally not adequate to the quality of the poor construction and lack of planning.
9. The partying culture is super strong, constant feasts every week can be difficult – noise, trash, fireworks.
Covid days were actually bringing some nice change as most mass parties were banned. However before lockdown, every summer season it’s a party hard time. Expect random streets to be blocked for a few days without any announcement. Every little town has its own feast and unfortunately after all night celebrating streets look like one big garbage.
10. Public transport is not reliable (but at least it’s cheap).
I solved this issue and got a Kymco scooter. No more delays or hours of journey, as well as no issue with finding parking or being stuck in the traffic.
11. Politics, corruption, and all the nasty drama…
I’m not sure if we should laugh or rather cry, but it is what it is at the moment.
Uff… that has been a lot to take. If you survived till the end of this list, please give a comment, share your opinion or experience!
Don’t forget to check as well the list of PROS of living in Malta!