Malta still popular option for digital nomads, but other countries more attractive

According to NomadList.com, Malta is a firm favourite for digital nomads who want to base themselves in Europe

The bustling port city of Sliema in at 490 on their epic ranking of cities around the world, based on criteria such as affordability, internet speed, weather, and safety. This ranking puts Malta squarely in the middle of the list (between Yokahama, Japan and Brampton, Canada), demonstrating that this is still a popular option, but perhaps waning in popularity over previous years.

Digital nomads are professionals in communications technologies, design, writing, photography, web programming and other professions that can be done remotely. They relish travel and adventure, and live their lives in a nomadic fashion, roaming the globe and working in co-working spaces, coffee shops, and rented accommodation. While many digital nomads work within start-ups, these communities are not one and the same, and have slightly different needs.

Many cities around the globe are seeing a big boost in their digital nomad populations, and communities, co-working spaces, classes, and events are popping up nearby. In Malta, there are quite a few new co-working spaces, including CoCoHub in Birgu, Glashaus Start-up Space in Gzira, and Your Urban Office in Valletta.

Sliema is the most popular city in Malta for Digital Nomads

While the beauty of Valletta and the peace and quite of Gozo are attractive options, digital nomads need fast internet, cheap accommodation, and access to coffee shops and gathering places. Sliema can offer all of these things in spade, with a wide array of accommodation choices. While it might be a busy, over developed town, it has excellent apartments and is a transportation hub.

Any digital nomad who wants to live in Valletta will need to pay a premium. Living in the capital will usually add 20% to rental costs, but the more poetic digital nomads might be willing to buck up. Victoria, on the sleepy diving paradise of Gozo, is also a pretty, quaint locale, but anyone living here will be limited in their shopping and dining choices. WiFi speeds are also slower on the island, something that will put off most digital nomads.

What do Digital Nomads like so much about Malta?

Digital Nomads love to record their daily lives and experiences on their blogs, and many have written about their love of living and working in Malta. On her blog The Storyteller, Sabrina Andrea Saches writes, “no matter what part of Malta you choose to settle in, you’ll likely find everything you’re looking for as a digital nomad.”

She loves the weather, but does state that “Malta isn’t Chiang Mai or Bali… there aren’t the same amount of digital nomad events, workshops or communities.” That said, she claims that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as some of those cities have become too over-inundated with wannabe writers, developers, and designers.

Similarly, bloggers and digital nomads Nick & Dariece write about their love of living in Sliema on their blog Goats On the Road. They state, “to be honest, this is one of the best digital nomad locations that we can think of, so it’s hard to find any real downsides.”

They love many different aspects of living in Malta, including great public transport, stunning weather all year round, good flight connections around Europe, delicious food, safe and secure communities, and great wine. While they chose to live for a stint in Sliema for budget reasons, they do write, “if we were to return, we’d probably pay a bit extra to live in Valletta. Alternatively, if we were looking for some real peace and quiet, we would even consider Gozo island.”

What are the downsides of Malta for Digital Nomads?

While there is a lot to love about being a digital nomad in Malta, there are some downsides as well. Sliema in particular can be quite busy and noisy, and the entire island is crowded with holidaymakers in the high season. The rents are also higher than those in some of the most popular digital nomad destinations, such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Digital nomads reported being dissatisfied with the slow internet speeds in the country, which were reported in 2017 as the third slowest in the EU. To give you an idea of what that means, a 7.5 GB movie would take 18 minutes and 34 seconds to download in Singapore. This same film would take nearly 2 hours to download in Malta, a speed that is unacceptable for web designers, animators, and photographers. They grow frustrated, and word has spread that Malta’s internet is not suitable for these professions – and so they stay away.

Will Brexit impact the number of Digital Nomads in Malta?

As listed above, the relatively high cost of living in Malta (when compared to digital nomad favourites such as Thailand) can repel potential newcomers. These costs could continue to increase in the lead up and aftermath of Brexit. According to LiveDealers, “numerous companies are planning to move their operations to Malta as a result of Brexit. For example, Bet365 is moving as many as 1,000 workers from Gibraltar to Malta due to Brexit, with all of these people naturally needing to find accommodation.”

This large influx of residents will be good for the Maltese economy, but it could be the death knell for digital nomads. As one of the main criteria for deciding upon a new digital nomad ‘hot spot’ is affordable rents and accommodation, this could be a big turn off.

However, it could help to address and solve the other most common complaint about Malta – the slower than EU average WiFi and Internet speeds. When this new influx of post-Brexit residents, workers, and companies make their move to Maltese shores, many believe that these slow internet speeds will be addressed. If the internet gets a lot faster, this could be a beacon for some digital nomads (who don’t mind the higher rents) to choose Malta over other options around the globe.

What are the top cities in the world for Digital Nomads?

It’s clear that many digital nomads like living in Malta, but that there are more popular places dotted around the globe. Where are they?

According to NomadList.com, the Top 5 Digital Nomad Cities in world are currently:

  • Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Seoul, Korea
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
     

These destinations have a few main factors in common, namely being that they are affordable, safe, and have fast and reliable internet speeds.

That said, there are some outliers in this list – both Seoul and Berlin have high rents, as well as cold weather in the winter. That said, their diversity, arts scenes, and extremely fast internet make them perennial DN favourites. If Malta improves its own internet speeds, there is no reason that this country can’t top the list in the near future.

More in Sponsored