Scan Magazine, Issue 82, November 2015

Page 110

Scan Magazine | Business Profile | SIMON Estates

The Malteasy life Winter in Scandinavia and northern Europe certainly has its charms. Christmas, warm drinks and fresh air see us through the darker months, but few would deny longing for sun, sand and seaside during months of relentless darkness and cold. If you long for a warmer climate, but want to avoid the holiday hordes bedecking the coastlines of our best-known Mediterranean neighbours, Malta might just be for you. The tiny, ancient island state tends to go under the radar, but it has consistently punched above its weight throughout history, from the time of the Knights of St. John to its career as not one but two main locations in Game of Thrones. By Louise Older Steffensen | Photos: SIMON Estates

Simon DeBono is proudly Maltese, born and bred in Malta. He spent years working in the UK but, in the end, the pull of the quiet, easy life of his home country became too great to bear. Back in Malta, he started working in real-estate in 1988. In 2000, he set up SIMON Estates in order to help northern Europeans find the perfect property from which to get to 110 | Issue 82 | November 2015

know this beautiful, peaceful EU nation of just over 400,000 people. “The weather here is among the best in the world, and foreign companies with an office here pay only five per cent in tax,” DeBono says. “Just two weeks ago, a survey by AMPILOT found that Malta is one of the best countries for British ex-pats – as voted by ex-pats!”

Brimming with history This is perhaps unsurprising, given Malta’s historical connection to the UK. “We were a protectorate of the British Empire,” DeBono explains, “but the de-colonisation here was unbelievably peaceful. We basically told the British that we would like to manage our own affairs in the 1960s, and the British soldiers left, leaving behind a string of crying girlfriends, unfortunately – but the soldiers returned a few months later as tourists!” DeBono believes the connection has left the people of Malta with a unique outlook on life. “We have the lifestyle of the Mediterranean but the attitude of northern Europe, and we speak both Maltese and English here,” he says. “We enjoy life and each other, but we also keep to ourselves. We live by the rules, and we’re very unpretentious.”

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