What can I say? Six months has passed since my last post, in which I promised to finish the travel blog and possibly transform the blog into moving-to-Malta blog. And here we are, I have not written a word despite my good intentions. Life got in the way, I suppose. I do admire people who stay consistently with their blogs. However, I thought I might just resurrect this blog and recount at least our life in Malta so far. Rest assured, no important part of the trip was left untold - the last week or so in Thailand was rather uneventful. We stayed in Pattaya, spent some time on the beach and rested, trying to prepare ourselves mentally to leave the backpacking life behind (for now) and get back into the having-a-home-and-going-to-work-kind of life.
As it turns out, it wasn't hard to do. After being on the move for so long, the idea seemed actually rather appealing. After spending two weeks in our respective homes, we flew to Malta on 17th May. We had a cheap hotel booked for the first five nights and the plan was to find a place to live in that time, after which we would start looking for jobs (it always gives a better impression to the potential employers if you have an address).
Finding a place to live was somewhat more difficult than we expected - we had been spoiled by the post-real-estate-bubble situation in Spain where you could basically choose any apartment you liked and ask for a discount in price, since the landlords were desperate to find tenants. In Malta the situation is pretty much the opposite, at least at the start of the summer season. Our budget of €500.00 per month seemed terribly inadequate at a time when the landlords can charge the same for a week's stay from tourists. The real estate agents proved to be rather unreliable - promising to get back to you on this and that, only they usually don't, cancelling viewings minutes before the agreed meeting time etc. With all this, it took us actually six days to find a place (yes, a whole day longer than expected!) that we were (and still are) pretty happy with. It's not luxurious and it's not super cheap but considering the options we had to choose from, it could be a lot worse. At least it's recently refurbished, has a lot of natural day light and it's in a rather central area from where you can get anywhere by bus with relative ease.
So, with the address sorted, the job hunting could start in earnest. This process was quite different for me than for my wife, namely because she works in accounts and therefore she is very much in demand in Malta. The job ads are absolutely full of positions for accounts clerks/executives/assistants and often these jobs are handled through recruitment agents. There were loads of jobs to apply to but the process takes time as you first contact the recruitment agent, who will then get back to you to arrange a preliminary interview to see if you are any good, after which they will send your CV to the employer, who will then possibly get back to you to arrange an actual interview, after which there may be another interview... so the whole process takes easily a week or two, during which time you of course keep applying for other jobs as you can't know how the whole thing will turn out. In the end, after about three weeks in Malta and going through multiple interviews, she was offered two different positions from which she chose the one that seemed more suitable and rejected the rest of the interviews. On one hand it was easy getting a job as it took such a short time, on the other hand she still had to go through lots of stress and frustration with interviews, not hearing back from the recruitment agents etc.
Minulle hotellialan työläisenä homma meni ihan eri lailla, koska hotellit eivät usein käytä rekrytoimistoja eivätkä ilmeisesti myöskään vaivaudu päivittämään "avoimet työpaikat"-osiota nettisivuillaan. Päädyin sitten lähettämään avoimia hakemuksia kaikkiin hotelleihin, jotka vaikuttivat hyviltä uramahdollisuuksilta (ja viikon hiljaisuuden jälkeen, kaikkiin hotelleihin mitä netistä löysin kun epätoivo alkoi jo iskeä). Minulle soitettiin parista työpaikasta, jotka eivät kiinnostaneet, mutta samoihin aikoihin kun Gina sai töitä, minäkin sain toivomani työpaikan viiden tähden hotellista varauspuolelta. Eli kolmen viikon sisällä Maltalle saapumisesta meillä oli katto pään päällä, molemmilla työpaikat ja noin ylipäänsä kaikki rullasi melko hyvin.
For me it was quite different as I work in hotels that often don't use recruitment agents and, as it turned out, don't bother updating the "careers" bits on their websites either. I ended up just sending open applications to all the hotels I deemed good enough for me (and, after about a week, any hotel I could find online when the desperation started to move in). I got a few calls about positions that didn't interest me but at around the same time that Gina got her job, I landed a job I was happy with as well. So within three weeks of landing in Malta, we got a home, we both got jobs and things were looking pretty good.
Tarvittavat paperihommatkin hoituivat melko helposti. Ennen kuin mitään virallisia papereita voi alkaa hoitaa, pitää olla työpaikka. Sitten kun on virallinen työtarjous, voi hakea residence cardia (joka tarvitaan ainakin pankkitilin avaamiseen, en ole varma tarvitaanko sitä mihinkään muuhun), veronumeroa ja sosiaaliturvatunnusta. Koko paperisota oli minun kohdallani aika helppo homma, vaikkakin jonotin esimerkiksi verotoimistossa puolitoista tuntia vain kuullakseni olevani väärässä toimistossa, koska ulkomaalaisten veropaperit hoidetaan ihan eri paikassa. Pankkitilin avaamista varten piti odottaa residence cardin tuloa, missä kesti noin kuusi viikkoa, mutta siihen asti sain tilin shekkinä, joten ei se mikään ongelma ollut.
Handling paperwork was, for the most part, pretty straight-forward. Before you can really sort anything out, you need a job first. Once you receive an official job offer, you can go ahead and apply for residence card (which is necessary at least for opening a bank account, not exactly sure if you need it for anything else), social security number and tax code. All that was pretty easy, even though it did require some effort - for instance I was queuing at the tax office for about 1,5 hours only to learn I was in the wrong office and the foreigners needed to go to a different office altogether. As mentioned, I was not able to open a bank account before getting my residence card, which took about six weeks but until then I was paid by cheque so that was not really a big problem.
Tulevissa päivityksissä kerron elämästä Maltalla sekä pienistä retkistä sinne tänne (olimme pari viikkoa sitten Pohjois-Italiassa ja ensi kuussa mennään Turkkiin) joten pysykää kuulolla mitä tapahtuu sillä välin maailmalla :)
In the following posts I will cover random bits of Malta as well as the other little trips we make from here (we have already been to Northern Italy and next month are heading to Turkey) so stay tuned for more of Lezzies on the Road :)