We speak to some workers who have swapped the office for a laptop in Malta
Residency Malta’s announcement last week that it had received 180 applicants for a temporary residency scheme for nomads has put the spotlight on a growing economic niche in the country. The scheme is targeted at non-EU individuals with a gross monthly income of at least €2,700.
Digital nomads are not tied to an office desk for the usual 9-5, but as long as they have their laptop, mobile and good internet connection, they can be found typing away in a coffee shop, preparing a spreadsheet at the beach or holding an online conference in the comfort of their living room.
Malta is not new to the concept of digital nomads and thousands of expats – both from the EU and outside the EU – already live and work here – but who are they?
‘I knew Malta was special after just five days’
Originally from the US but living in Germany and France since 2000, Daniel Thompson-Yvetot arrived in Malta for a short holiday in September last year.
“After just five days, I knew I wanted to stay here longer… and now I received my Nomad visa, including my own Maltese ID card and I believe Malta can be the place I call home and where I set up my new business idea.”
He is the co-founder, director and CTO of SEMNET Limited, an Irish software engineering company.
Working away from an office was not a new concept for Thompson-Yvetot, saying that he worked from home for over a decade before moving to Malta.
“When the COVID pandemic hit and everyone was experiencing a shift in their work routine and working remotely, this didn’t really affect me at all.
“What did affect me was having this sudden urge to travel and see more of the world,” he said.
When restrictions were eased, he travelled to other parts of Europe and ended up in Malta.
“I found the Mediterranean landscape charming and people welcoming but also tough – in the sense that they are friendly but are strong to their original roots. I found that very interesting,” he said.
He also took an interest in the history and archaeology of the island, and most mornings begins his day looking out across his balcony in Senglea and appreciating the beauty of the ancient city.
“As long as I have a laptop, WiFi and my phone I can work from the comfort of my own home,” he said.
His day usually starts around 7am, checking in with engineers from his company who are spread out across the world in places like Taiwan, United States, France and Brazil.
“I’m done around 8pm, and I try to work as much as possible during the week so on the weekends I can grab my camera, check out historical sites and have brunch with friends and new people that I meet in the digital nomad community,” he said.
‘Setting a work-life balance is important’
Italian consultant and trainer Viviana Premazzi originally moved to Malta in 2017 to work for an international company based on the island. Yet soon enough the company shut down – which brought about the opportunity for her to set up her own remote business.
“I fell in love with the island, the sea and the sunshine, and I decided to set up Global Mindset Development, where I provide training to companies to promote diversity, equity and inclusion policies,” she said.
“I have been self-employed for most of my working life, but the pandemic has taught me and others about the importance of having a proper balance between work and leisure. Many people worked overtime during the pandemic since everything is online, but it is important I find time to go for my daily walks and fit in a yoga session.”
Apart from falling in love with the island, she praised Malta’s professional healthcare system after undergoing major surgery back in 2018.
“Many people are attracted to the quality of life here, the culture, the history and the people. Many people in fact message me asking what life is like in Malta.
“Other digital nomads also contact me looking to make connections,” she said.
‘One of the biggest digital nomad meet-ups in the world’
Daniel Goebel took the plunge to leave Germany and work remotely in Malta back in 2016.
“At the time, we realised that there was no proper community for digital nomads in Malta, so we set up one in Senglea,” he said.
Goebel then went on to launch the Digital Nomad Association and believes it is important to invest in digital nomads and expats coming to Malta.
“In December 2019, myself and six other digital nomads wrote to the government explaining why Malta should become the safe haven for remote workers. After that, we became consultants to Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Alex Muscat, and we work together to bring about one of the best nomad visas in the world,” he explained.
Last year, the Digital Nomad Association organised a meet-up that attracted 160 nomads.
“It was one of the biggest digital nomad meet-ups in the world, despite Malta being the smallest island in the Mediterranean,” Goebel said.
He added there is still a “long road” ahead for digital nomads in Malta, with the need to improve digital infrastructures and the hopes of creating a digital physically nomad creativity space in Valletta.