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When you arrive in Malta, you’ll know right away that there really aren’t that many options as far as banks go to choose from. In most people’s eyes there are two main banks – Bank of Valetta and HSBC. However, it can be very difficult to get a bank account in Malta if you are a foreigner. There are several ways to go about it, and you may find that HSBC and BoV are not the best options when you are initially starting out.

One thing to be aware of is that Malta does not run on a formal credit system, so they can’t just verify who you are or even check into your credit history. This can work in your favour if you’ve had trouble in the past, but can be very difficult for you when you first move there. You won’t be getting credit anywhere, as most places require at least 5-6 years of credit history in Malta before you’ll get anything. So be prepared for this before you  move. Plan accordingly.

So, the first thing you need to know is they’re going to ask you for:

  • A Tax ID number – You will get this in the mail after starting work, or alternatively you can go to the Tax Office in Valetta with your ID and SSN and request it.
  • Proof of Address
  • Proof of work
  • Your Passport
  • If you have it, your Residence Card

They will then tell you that you need to provide them with the details of your bank in your home country. At this point, they will email your bank requesting proof that you were a customer there and that you have good standing. Only then will they give you an account. Now, in most cases banks would never release that information, as privacy laws mean they can’t. So in these circumstances you’re often left waiting forever as they’ll never hear back.

There are a few ways to get around this. 

Open a bank account with HSBC in your home country a 3-6 months before you go to Malta, as then you could go to an HSBC in Malta and they WILL be able to get records, as it’s the same bank.

If you aren’t keen on HSBC:

Baniff is a Maltese bank that will allow you to open an account without all of that runaround, however you do have some downsides. In order to use a debit/credit card you have to agree to place money into a savings account every month to the tune of 100 euros upfront and 50 a month every month or the card will be deactivated. You cannot use the money in this savings account at all during the year, every year it is reviewed and given back to you and the process starts again. Only after 2-5 years will this not be necessary. Otherwise you can choose to simply have the account and only go into branches to withdraw money using a passport/residence card to withdraw.

Bank of Valetta will be the hardest for you. They have the most bank machines and the best reputation, but without having at least 6 months track record in Malta, you’re going to find it ridiculously hard to open an account there.

My personal advice would be this: Open an account with HSBC in your home country 6+ months before moving to Malta. After the 6 months, you can then look at Bank of Valetta as a bank, as you would have your residence card by then and a track record of banking in Malta. But this is just my take on it.

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If you’re from somewhere outside of Malta you may be a bit worried about where to buy your groceries, whether it’ll be very different from what you’re used to. But some good news is to be had. There aren’t a lot of differences from where you’re from, especially if you’re from elsewhere in Europe. The opening hours can be a bit difficult to get used to here though, due to siestas in the middle of the day and closure of everything on Sundays. So make sure you plan your shopping!

If you’re in the Sliema/St Julian’s area, there are a lot of fruit/veggie trucks, and they’re all fresh from that day. The prices are decent and definitely something to take a look at. You may not find the biggest selection on them, but the food is fresh and often from the farmers plot of land just that morning which is a really cool thing that most people won’t be used to.

Tower Supermarket is a wonderful store to go to if you’re in the Sliema area, as it has 3 floors, all of the variety you could ask for and great opening hours. One of the wonderful things is the sales they have, usually if you spend over a certain amount you are going to end up getting free things or vouchers for money off. It’s great and the staff are very pleasant.

Lidl is available in Malta, much to everyone’s happiness as it’s a little bit of home! They’re not in the more tourist areas, so you may need to get a bus to one if you don’t have a car. That being said the Lidl in Malta are absolutely huge. So have a look at Lidl when you’re in Malta definitely.

Shopping online is actually a great option for grocery shopping here. It was a suggestion made to us by a lot of local Maltese people, given that you really only have Saturday to grocery shop if you’re working regular office hours. So the best site to go to is:
http://www.maltasupermarket.com/

This has a group of local stores linked into it, including Tower I mentioned above and deliver right to your door in a window you set. It covers the entire island and is super convenient. Really can’t recommend it enough.

If you are looking for local vendors in a specific area, please have a look here, as there’s a huge compiled list from MaltaMaltaMalta.

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Meat & Co is one of those places where there isn’t a vegetarian in sight, but no one here cared for what little of the meal portions were actually grown from the earth. In fact I was most happy with my main course just consisting of a lovely, delicious, mouth watering medium rare steak.

The decor is something what I would expect from a secret society of butchers who want only the best cuts of meats for their meal, Lovely wood panels on the walls, PVC strip curtain doors to add to the effort that the food your tasting is super fresh right from the animal as it moo’s.

Meat and co is situated just a few steps from Spinola Bay towards St Julians. It is a few steps up the hill and has a full glass window wall and door to get in. I found myself spending an embarrassing amount of time before I figured out how to get into the building but I was not the only one. Tip: its a sliding door you have to touch a button for it to slide open. There are no handles and no visible way in. I had heard many stories from my Maltese friends that this place was amazing before we came. And as I was walking up the stairs, I found a glass cabinet with the selection of meats they sell made my stomach growl with anticipation. The cooks were partly visible before you get to the seating area, and you can see a beautifully clean kitchen, fresh produce and the smells coming out of there were to die for. The view from there was amazing, especially at night with the lights coming from the across the bay. 

They have a large selection of wonderfully crafted and tasty starters. As we were a rather large group, they gave use a selection of each starter for everybody and I have not eaten so much good food in a long, long time right after each other. Each starter was better than the rest. I wish I had thought to bring a camera so I could have taken photos of all of the starters. Beautiful selection, and I think the cheese were the best. The waiter was really friendly and even got the cook to make a specialty not on the menu with artichokes. 

Then we were brought our menus. I had to laugh at the start of reading it, as when you got to the different meat cooking temperatures, the description for ‘well done’ was “Go ahead, destroy this beautiful cut of meat”.

At first look the prices seem a bit steep, but when the steak came out, honestly the price is fair. The portions of steak were generous and came with sides of either chips or mashed potatoes. The chef really knew what he was doing and mine was a perfect medium rare, while Jenni’s was a perfect medium well. We enjoyed it so much. Jenni says it’s the best steak she’s ever had. The waiters were really attentive to our group, considering we had roughly 15 people and the wine just had to keep flowing for some! At that point I was glad we were not in charge of the bill and our work was covering it!

They have a nice selection of liquors for after the meal, my particular poison this night was double Baileys with ice. It was perfect! When the restaurant was getting ready to close at 2am, they called cabs for some of the people leaving and allowed some of our party to stay even longer, enjoying the end of their bottles of wine and drinks, while having some beautiful dessert. Where we’re from a restaurant would tell you they were closing, not allow you to stay until you were ready to go. We really appreciated the service and the amazing quality.

Price wise it was very reasonable for the quality of the food served here and the service.

I can not wait to go back and try a new type of meat I know I won’t find anywhere else for quite some time. If you’re visiting the St Julian’s area and you like steak, this is a MUST go to place. 

If you want to find out more about them, please have a look at their facebook, website and trip advisor pages.