If You\’ve Ever Fantacized About A Carefree Life As an Expat “Island Girl,” These Two Unique (English-Speaking) Islands — Malta and Saba — Just May Suit You Perfectly

By Teresa Roberts
NABBW’s Expert on Living Abroad

There is something rather otherworldly about living on an island. During the course of my travels, I have lived long term on two islands, the isle of Malta and the isle of Saba.

Even though these two islands are separated by quite a distance and don\’t even occupy the same sea, they share many similarities. If you have fancied island life, you might want to check out these two little gems.


Both islands are rather small.

Saba being the smallest of the two at about 5 square miles. It has the feeling of Jurassic Park, a veritable tropical volcano at sea.

Malta, on the other hand, is an island comprised of many towns that largely run together and although roughly three times bigger than Saba is extremely easy to navigate by bus.


Both islands are beautiful.

Saba is surrounded by the pristine waters of the Caribbean where some of the best diving opportunities in the world can be found. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Malta is located off of Sicily in the Mediterranean. It is a golden island where the biggest percent of the architectural structures are built from sandstone derived from quarries of the island. In the evening light, the towns truly do look like they are made of gold.


I have to say that of all my extensive travels, I have never felt safer than on either of these two lovely islands.

Malta is perhaps one of the staunchest Catholic countries of the world. There you will find 365 chapels, churches and cathedrals. It is said that someone is on their knees in prayer at all times on this lovely island.

Saba is the home to only about 1400 people. There is one road, called The Road, which offers an adventurous drive in and of itself. Saba belongs to the Dutch. Everybody knows everyone else on Saba. That factor alone makes it rather difficult to get into very much trouble.


The Maltese speak English and Maltese.

On the isle of Saba, the natives speak English and Dutch.

On either island, English suffices. For many expats, this makes life a tad easier.


As is often the case with islands, if you don\’t care for what you find there, you\’re out of luck.

Although Saba is relatively close to the island of St. Martins, there are only two ways to get to the neighboring island. One can take a multi-hour ferry or arrive and depart by prop plane.

I have done both, and frankly, they were both a bit on the adventurous side. Saba claims to have the shortest landing strip in the world.


Things can be a tad expensive on a island. Much of what one needs must be imported, adding an expense that is often passed on to the consumer.

If you enjoy being surrounded by the sea, warm climates, the intimacy of a small landscape, getting to know the locals and the feeling that you just might have left the world behind, I suggest trying life on an island.

You may not choose the same two islands that I chose, but there is bound to be a perfect island experience waiting for you somewhere in the deep blue sea.

Teresa Roberts retired early from a career in education to travel the world as an international house sitter. Along the way, she accidentally became an author/blogger/freelance writer, adding digital nomad to her evolving job description. Although insisting that she is still retired, Teresa writes a weekly blog on her website Creative Paths to Freedom, exploring the topics of creative living, travel adventures and life without debt. Her essay, How to Travel Without Being a Tourist, appears in the book 65 Things to Do When You Retire – Travel, released in February 2013. Teresa\’s published books include Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter and Creative Paths to Freedom – How to Live Your Dream Life ASAP. She could be the poster girl for finding adventure at any age and on any income. Sharing her story as a guest speaker is also very rewarding. Feel free to contact Teresa at www.findingthegypsyinme.com.