It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that renting in Malta is getting more and more expensive. This is especially true in the more “sought after” areas of Sliema and St. Julian’s, to the extent that it can almost look like nothing is available for less than €1,000 a month.
But there’s no reason to start spending your nights on a brown bench just yet. Following these five tips will help you find amazing flats for much less than the “going rate” – even in Sliema.
1. Don’t limit your choices
In the current economy, where demand for rental properties outstrips supply by far, it pays to keep all your options open.
Don’t just walk into a random estate agent’s office and expect the agent to find you your dream home in a few days. Speak to a number of different agents and agencies, and look for opportunities elsewhere. There are many (some would say too many) estate agents on the island, so get in touch with all of the ‘high street’ agencies like Quicklets, Remax, Dhalia, Frank Salt and others, and have them all work for you. After all, there’s no extra cost for you, you’ll only end up paying one agent.
Other than agencies, it’s often a very good idea to keep an eye on newspaper classifieds (the Times of Malta is good for that – especially on Sundays), sites like Maltapark, as well as private Facebook groups like this one or this also help.
2. Be Prepared and Specific
Nothing kills your chances of finding what you want more than not knowing what you want! Before going on the lookout, figure out what it is that you’re after. These two lists will help you decide:
- The “Can’t Live Without” list (for example, A/C, and parking)
- The “Nice to Have” list (brand new finishing, two balconies, etc.)
You should also know exactly what your budget is, as that’s going to be the first question that your estate agent will ask you.
“It’s a good idea to give the agent a number that’s 15-20% lower than your actual budget.”
If your budget is actually fixed and can’t be moved up then it’s a good idea to give the agent a number that’s 15-20% lower than your actual budget, as most agents tend to offer slightly more expensive (but almost never cheaper) properties than the budget they’re given.
3. Decide What to Sacrifice On
Equally as important as figuring out what you want, is figuring out what you can sacrifice on.
All of us would like to have a 3-bedroom flat on the Sliema seafront, with an A/C in every room, an underground parking spot and a full-size hot tub, whilst paying €500 a month for it, but suffice to say, it’s simply not happening.
Simply put – there are thousands of people just like you who are all looking for a bargain, but don’t want to sacrifice on any of their requirements. Even making one or two minor sacrifices may be enough to shift the curve and turn things around.
“A good friend of mine found a nice 2-bedroom flat in the middle of Sliema for €650 per month, simply because he realised that having a balcony isn’t all that important for him.”
There are various “specifications” to each and every apartment, such as: its overall condition, size of the property, A/C status, parking availability, view, balconies and so on. It’s your job to determine which of these options aren’t so important to you, and mentally agree to make sacrifices in this area.
A good friend of mine found a nice 2-bedroom flat in the middle of Sliema for €650 per month, simply because he realised that having a balcony isn’t all that important for him. By doing this, he put himself ahead of the competition, as most people would consider a balcony something that’s a “must-have”, and wouldn’t even look at flats that don’t have one.
He’d like to have a balcony, sure, but if that means saving €4,200 a year, he can take the 45 steps up to the shared rooftop for his cigarette breaks.
4. Be Ready to Act!
Being ready doesn’t mean being able to make a decision in 2 days, it means having the deposit money physically in hand and being mentally prepared to make a decision in 5 minutes.
Sure, it’s not ideal to not have time to compare options and to contemplate, but in a market where good deals get taken in a matter of hours, not days, it’s the only way to stay ahead of the competition.
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) make rash decisions, though. But if you’ve planned accordingly, know what you’re after and have researched the estate agents’ web listings to have an idea about prices, then there’s not much to think about and you’ll spot a good opportunity the moment you see it.
“Being ready doesn’t mean being able to make a decision in 2 days, it means having the deposit money physically in hand and being mentally prepared to make a decision in 5 minutes.”
For this reason, it also helps to bring your significant other with you to every viewing, or alternatively use Facetime if they can’t make it. This way, you’ll save time and be able to make a decision before someone else does.
It’s amazing how much a simple “I’d sign it now but can we make it €700 instead of €750?” can do.
There are many landlords these days who know the value of their properties exactly, and wouldn’t ever negotiate. But others would. And there’s never ANY downside to asking. If they say no, then you’ll sign regardless. But if they say yes, then the €50 is actually €600 that you’ve saved with one single sentence. That’s a weekend trip to Rome waiting to happen!
While negotiating, don’t go too low – remember there’s a huge demand, and a relatively low supply.
Even though demand outweighs supply and “beggars can’t be choosers”, it’s still also important to make sure that you’re actually happy with what you’re signing, and that you don’t land on a rogue landlord.
Even at €700 a month, it’s a €8,400 contract that you’re signing, and in most cases, there are little to no ways to end it earlier than the official expiration, so be careful!