It is known as the Hollywood of the Mediterranean, providing the backdrop
for dozens of movies, but that is not why property seekers are drawn to settle
in Malta. «It’s just wonderfully idiosyncratic, » says Sir Cameron Mackintosh,
the world’s richest theatrical impressario.
Sir Cameron has just completed renovating a palazzo in Old Valletta.
«Malta has a very special atmosphere, » he says. «I like it more than any
other island in the Med.»
London-born Sir Cameron, producer of such West End hits as Cats, Les
Miserables, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins, is half Maltese. He bought his Grade
I-listed palazzo, which overlooks the Grand Harbour in the capital Valletta, six
years ago as a base for his relatives and has just spent 500,000 euro on
«I’d been looking for a property for a while and found this house with
stunning views across the harbour, » he says. «It’s more than 200 years old and
has five or six bedrooms.
«I extended it, did a lot of rebuilding and redid the layout. I added
storeys, bringing it to seven, and put a swimming pool on top, which drips into
«It took a long time. Valletta is a heritage city so there was a lot of
planning red tape. Valletta does not have a tradition of roof terraces. I set a
bit of a precedent building one and putting a swimming pool on it, but I am so
thrilled. It is the most wonderful house, a unique place. I have also installed
two kitchens so the family can have separate spaces, and real log fires.
«Malta has a wonderful warm glow about it.
Everyone speaks English, which is a bonus.
Every time I visit, it feels like coming home.
There is also a ramshackle, worn feel about it which I like too. It is not a
place for wonderful golden beaches but has lots of rich heritage and culture,
with stuff going back 4,000 years.»
Sir Cameron, who has five «boltholes» all over the world, is actually trying
«I really just want three places, » he says.
Home is a 700-year-old house in Somerset but he also has a London base,
designed by John Nash, in Regent’s Park; a farmhouse in Provence, which is on
the market for 2.2million euro; a 13,000-acre estate in Scotland and an apartment in New York.
However, his busy theatrical schedule means he won’t be around next month to
witness the 60th anniversary celebrations commemorating Malta’s crucial role in
the Second World War.
«My house will be a wonderful place to watch the celebrations. Sadly, I won’t be there. I will be opening My Fair Lady in Manchester.»
One man who will be on parade is Frank Salt, who established Malta’s biggest
estate agency 26 years ago. «Only about 1,000 foreigners a year come to buy a
property as a holiday home or move here,» he reveals, dispelling the myth that
Malta is being deluged by overseas investors. «The attraction is a 15 per cent
flat tax rate, excellent medical facilities, no capital gains tax if you are
resident and no inheritance tax.»
The north of the island is devoted to holiday homes and apartments, which
sell for as little as euro 80,000 for a spacious three-bedroom apartment, rising to euro 200,000 for a house.
St Julian’s, on the east coast, is a smarter area and more upmarket where
properties sell for upwards of euro 200,000. On the south coast, you can buy
apartments in one of the many fishing villages for as little as euro 80,000.
Frank adds: «In the centre, you can find beautiful old houses with
traditional beams, thick stone walls and courtyards, from euro 200,000, rising to euro 1million.»
Retired couple Tom and Betty Chambers are living in Malta for the second
time after buying a holiday property there in the early Nineties.
Tom, 75, who used to run a horticultural business in Ripon, sold their
family home in Hull and bought a bolthole on Malta while they «tried out» living
He said: «We lived there for three years but thought we would try somewhere
different. We sold up and went to Tenerife but we didn’t like it and we came back to Malta a year ago.»
The Chambers bought a new three-bedroom apartment off-plan for less than
euro 100,000 in St Paul’s Bay, in the north of the island.
Tom explains: «We didn’t want the hassle of buying an older property and
finding it needed a new roof or something. We love it here and don’t need a car
as we can walk everywhere.
Pensioners benefit from discounts on bus journeys, and taxis don’t cost a
lot. It is much cheaper to live here than in the UK we go out to eat at least
twice a week and get lots of exercise walking on the nearby beach.
«We prefer it to Tenerife because we love the seasons in Malta and the
character of the buildings. The people are lovely too. We decided against buying
a property on the beach because it can get very cold and damp in winter which,
if you are living here all year round as we are, can be a bit uncomfortable.
«My advice to anyone thinking of moving here is to come and try it for a
while but keep a bolthole in the UK, as we did, in case the way of life doesn’t
«We usually move every five years but I don’t think we’ll be leaving Malta
The republic of Malta actually comprises three islands: Malta, Gozo and
Comino. Gozo, the second largest, is more rural and favoured by artists and
«Malta is very prosperous, » adds Frank.
«A bonus for any British investor is that we drive on the left-hand side of
Several airlines, including the low-cost carrier GB Airways, fly to Luqa,
the airport in the centre of Malta.
Sunday Express August 28, 2005