So you heard about Mauritius, the tiny little heaven-like island in the Indian Ocean. You knew already that it is one of the best tourist destinations of the world but curious to learn that it has one of the best performing economies of Africa and it has an interesting immigration policy for those who want to invest, do business, work or even retire there. But how’s life on the island? The answer to this question s essential (quintessential as would say one of our Ministers) as you choose a new life, for you and your family.
Your lifestyle may need adjustment if you are coming from a busy Europeanized or Americanized region. South Africa is part of the equation. Mauritius imports most of its commodities, point to be noted. The Mauritian Rupee is not a strong currency, the exchange rate to the USD (Rs41+-), Euro (Rs44+-) or even the Rand (Rs2.90+-) makes it look pale. You would be amazingly comfortable if you earn decent foreign currency to spend in Rupees. But earning in Rupees (through local employment, for example) to spend in Rupees requires adaptation.
Accommodation has variable prices but the simplest equation to have in mind is that nearer you are to the beach, higher will be the rental cost. Rental prices are not fixed by any means. You can get a decent urban home for around Rs30,000 (+) a month while reaching the Rs200,000 (+) per month in a luxury coastal villa. Adding a swimming pool, fenced yard or other amenities, of course, comes with additional price elements.
Non-citizens are limited by law on property acquisition. They basically have three options:
Luxury PDS (Property Development Scheme) Villa worth USD375,000 – with residency
Luxury PDS villa worth less than USD375,000 – without residency
Apartment worth more than Rs6 million in a Ground+2 building.
Heavy tax on vehicles (specially motorcycles) make you think twice. Many Mauritians prefer to purchase the next-to-new option, commonly called reconditioned vehicles. These are imported second-hand vehicles, refurbished and they beautifully sustain the pride of their owners for many years. Interesting motorcycles are taxed at almost 100%, so if you are a biker, chances are that you will be chocked with the price tags.
Education and health system is normally free. However, if you are looking for quality (let’s say at least decency of service) then you will probably opt for private / paid services. Here the prices are quite high.
An expatriate child school enrolment (tuition fees, yearly fees, book fees, etc.) costs slightly more than double as compared to a local child. A quick comparison for Le Bocage International School (Secondary Education) : Mauritians pays Rs18,600 per month, while same class is at Rs34,900 for a non-Mauritian child. The capital levy (one-off fee) is Rs35,000 for a Mauritian and Rs45,000 for a non-Mauritian. Fees (lebocage.net). The quality of education cannot be disputed though. Le Bocage for instance follows the IGCSE and International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. You can choose a public / Government school, which is free, but would you want your child to always answer a question by question (?). Tertiary education is well catered for, with numerous universities represented on the island. Medine (West coast region near Black River) is actually developing a new city which revolves around education. There you have primary / secondary schools of repute and a proper Middlesex University with its on-campus living. Accommodation on campus is around Rs10,000 a month for a common room with shared kitchen.
Education is a reflection of the health system. Apply the same theory to schools and you have the whole picture. Private health facilities are not expensive directly, as compared to the rates for decent service in other country. The different is between public / Government run hospitals and private hospitals. Not many Mauritians can afford the price of private hospitals. An eye cataract surgery (lens implant) costs around Rs100,000, appendix removal around same, a stent placement turns around Rs275,000. Sorry, this is not a happy paragraph.
Restaurant dining is fairly affordable, yet varies in terms of their ranking (which is not defined). Fine dining at usually in chateau-type (powered by history) places and hotels. There are some exceptions where reputed local and international chefs operate. They are branded and come with their own legacy. Food in itself is quite varied, as varied as the Mauritian culture in itself. We are a blend of people from different continents; India, China, Africa and Europe. So if you fancy a Dholl purri (Indian – Mauritian adapted street food), a Kebab, a pizza or some lobsters – you’ve got the options. Most of the times it depends on your purse, well, that you already know. If you want to cook yourself, you can find them at any decent grocery store or if you are on the high-end, you have some deli shops available at special places on the island.
The island allows for easy living, if you can control your budget. You can also spoil yourself and drown into luxury if this is your lifestyle. However, the teething problem remains adaptation. You really need to explore, see, listen and understand for yourself. The choices are there, which one suits you depends on you. Without proper understanding of this mixed Indian African culture and behavior, you may find yourself in total confusion. You might find that you get fresh and better fish by waiting at the fish landing station, as compared to shopping in a flashy mall. Your small grocery shop next door may be more interesting in terms of price – quality ratio than the mall where you need to fight for a parking space to get in. Well, each country has its own specifics – Mauritius no, here it is a mix of all the good and the bad of other cultures. So you need to pick and choose what suits you.
We always recommend families to come and spend some time on the island, on a short or medium stay term and see for themselves whether Mauritius delivers what they are looking for. Magazines and internet might not give you the full picture, but we are here for this !
If you require any precise information on island living, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org