Finding someone to look after your little darlings is a challenge wherever you live in the world, but the range of options in Malta helps to make things easier.
The government provides free childcare for children aged 3 months to 3 years if both parents are employed or in education. There are lots of centres across the country, so take your time to find the one that works for you and don’t be afraid to make multiple visits before you choose one. The most popular will inevitably have waiting lists. Application forms for free places are available online or at the childcare centres. There might be a registration fee payable to the centre and you will probably need to pay for lunch or snacks.
There are also private childcare centres available. Choose one that is registered with the Department for Social Welfare Standards. Find a list of private childcare centres in Malta here. While the government centres are totally free, you can still get a government contribution towards fees at the private centres if you meet the criteria. If not, the full fees are not excessively high compared to other countries and you’ll get a tax rebate on payments. Kindergarten is free (but not compulsory) for children from age 3 until primary school starts at age 5. Most parents in Malta choose to enroll their children. Register as early as you can because places fill up fast in popular locations.
If you just need occasional childcare, various organisations offer childminding by the hour. Maltababyandkids.com has a comprehensive list.
The expat community will also help you retain your sanity when it comes to kids – most foreigners in Malta are here without grandparents and other relatives to help look after the children and are usually happy to swap childcare duties. As you get to know your new community, you’ll make local friends who can supply the names of some trusted babysitters. Prices for babysitters vary but expect to pay around €7 an hour.
A good way to meet other families is through ‘parent and baby’ clubs. Kidsmalta.com has a good list which includes everything from music classes to groups helping to integrate expats. As for having fun with your littlies, it’s hard to beat sandy beaches, warm water and a lot of sunshine.
There is a free state school system in Malta which is open to everyone and church schools are free too (although they require donations and are usually oversubscribed). Many foreigners choose to send their children to private school, in part because tuition is in English rather than Maltese. Fees vary from a few thousand Euros a year to considerably more than that.Where shall I live?
Where you choose to live will depend on where your work is based and/or the children’s schools. Many foreigners start off in the Sliema area if they can afford it – nearby Swieqi, Msida, Gzira and Pembroke are a little cheaper and less busy. St Paul’s Bay is popular too, especially with older residents. Xemxija is an up-and-coming village towards the north, which is cheaper and away from the crowds.
Bugibba and Qawra are principally holiday zones, popular especially with the British – unless you like hanging out with your fellow countrymen abroad, you might want to look elsewhere.
Towns such as Balzan, Attard, Birkirkara and Lija are quaint and pleasant places to live and not too far from all the action. Madliena or Gharghur tend to be a little more expensive but are highly sought after. Mellieha is a beautiful town, but far north if you have to commute to work every day. The same could be said for Marsascala and Marsaxlokk, which are situated at the other end and to the south of the island.
Gozo is caught in a dreamy time warp – this is the place to settle in if you genuinely want to get away from it all. Here's a quick guide to the regions of Malta.How safe is Malta?
Welcome to one of the safest countries in the world. There aren’t any ‘no-go’ zones and violent crime is rare. Petty crime does exist (especially pickpocketing in tourist centres) but can be avoided with sensible precautions such as keeping your bag zipped and being aware of your personal possessions. The clubbing capital of Paceville can be edgy at times but no more so than any other nightclub zone. Burglaries are reported to be on the rise.