January has been a very busy month, making preparations for the move abroad.
We spent New Year’s Eve in Malta with an excellent, gourmet seven-course meal at the Phoenicia Hotel after which we joined the Valetta street party.
The atmosphere was wonderful, with a fantastic Maltese band, Fakawe, so that we stayed out until after 2:00am – the first time we’ve done that in many a year!
During our visit we met up with Jenny Stevens, who is the Secretary of the local British Residents Association and got some very useful information on tax, health service and residency issues in Malta.
Once back in the UK, work on the transition began in earnest. In one week we:
- Downsized the car from an E-class to an A-class
- Changed banks
- Changed from PC to Mac
The car was an obvious change to make. There is no point in leaving a large, expensive vehicle depreciating on the drive at home while we are out of the country. We still haven’t ruled out driving the new car to Genoa and taking the ferry to Valetta. It would be a good size for Maltese roads and cramped city car park. However the rules on importing cars to Malta aren’t exactly straightforward and this needs further investigation.
We’ve changed banks to HSBC in order to be able to hold multiple accounts in different countries, in different currencies and still be able to manage them all from one internet banking screen. Also there are no fees when exchanging currencies. Although we had no complaints about our existing banks, I have to say that we have been very impressed by the professionalism of the HSBC teams we’ve been dealing with, both in Worcester and in Malta. Our Maltese bank manager is a very affable fellow and was happy to spend quite a long time on the phone with us when setting up our Maltese accounts.
The change from PC to Mac (by far the most exciting of the three!) has been an eye-opening experience. The Mac’s seem to be superior in almost every department. We went for two MacBook Air laptops, Jaqui an 11” and me a 13” model. They are amazingly light and extremely well constructed. It requires a little bit of patience to learn the differences between Windows and OS X. I would recommend a “how to” book if you want to make quick progress with the Mac.
As an ex-IBMer I have been a “PC” since 1981. I’ve always seen Apple computers as somewhat of an irrelevance and just not for someone like me. With their reputation for ease of use, I’ve always considered them as being for non-technical types.
As a rather geeky power user of Windows and the DOS command line, I though the Mac would be a bit soft. How wrong can you be.
It only takes a little digging to discover that OS X has much more depth and interest for nerdy users like myself. Under the covers it’s a Unix operating system (which brings back memories) and I’m having a lot of fun getting to grips with it all.
Jaqui has been working hard on finding a nice place to live. I believe she is now on first name terms with every rental Estate Agent in Malta. She has compiled a target list of properties and we will be going out in Febuary to make a final choice.