Having bought and moved here six years ago we have never regretted choosing the quieter life on Malta's sister island. We love to visit Malta for its shopping, theatre and exhibitions but find ourselves heaving a huge sigh of relief as the ferry pulls out of Circiewwa and the stress evaporates as we head back to "our" island again. It feels like visiting a city with all the associated noise and air pollution but as the sea journey of half an hour is so short it is an easy trip. The Maltese themselves also greatly appreciate the relaxed way of life on Gozo which is why many buy holiday homes and escape here for long week-ends.
However, life is far from boring on Gozo as we have many art exhibitions and classical concerts. There is a thriving music scene which attracts people of all ages, both ex-pats and locals.
Zeppi's Bar in Qala is well-known as a favourite hang-out on Friday night with young musicians turning up to play. Main Square in Victoria also has trad jazz and open-mike sessions where anyone can turn up and jam. The owner is always generous with free food circulating and the occasional bottle of champagne when she is in a really good mood.
We also have two -yes TWO -opera houses. For an island nine by five miles this is pretty remarkable. Tickets sell out fast as the Maltese come over specially for the event- normally dressed as if they were going to the Oscars. It is quite surreal to witness all these glamorous people in full-on evening wear and diamante parading up the main street in Victoria on opera nights. Not that we are shabby exactly, but it is quite common to find yourself standing in the local shop next to a millionaire whose shoes look as if they should have been donated to Oxfam a decade ago.
We often hear from people who say that on such a small island everyone must know everyone else which is too claustrophobic but this is not the case at all. We are still meeting other ex-pats who live in our own village we have never met before. The good thing about living here is that you can choose whether you want to have a busy social life or keep yourself to yourself. If you prefer to be solitary then everyone will respect your need for privacy.