The moving to Mauritius topic is one that’s probably been discussed to death but as per usual I have some thoughts to add so I hope you’ll bear with me. 🙂
Moving from a continent to an island smaller than the average farm in South Africa is a challenge in itself. Being on some expat groups I see a lot of same same questions that show up repeatedly.
Questions that range from what is the safest area on the island to live in, answer being; most, to where to buy groceries, what medical aid to use, cheapest transport and home rentals. The list goes on covering even which cellphone distributor to use to where to change your SA drivers license to a Mauritian one. I do love the groups as one can find so much constructive information there.
Encountering these questions daily I’ve been mulling over this blog for a while now. Some of you might have read the previous one about whether you are ready to be an expat https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/are-you-really-ready-to-be-an-expat-am-i-ready-to-be-one/. Following up on that this particular blog is for people that are considering Mauritius as an option to relocate to or that are in the decision making process. My humble opinion is that one should at first try and establish the following; Ask yourself why, what, how, when and where.
What or Why do you consider relocating to Mauritius? For work, business, retirement, just the laid-back lifestyle which promises (and definitely delivers) better quality of life, or just because it is the closest safe-haven to South Africa which means you can visit home often? Are you a wife following a husband, a single mom with her children, a single person on his or her own, a family here due to job opportunities or for retirement? Are you seeing yourself spending all your free time on the beach or perhaps the golf course or alternatively exploring what the island has on offer. Each one’s unique circumstances and needs will most definitely have a different impact on the other W questions.
Having established your ‘what/why’ you can start obsessing over the next question. Where do you intend to live? Are you a fun loving party person looking for a vibey suburb dotted with restaurants, bubbling nightlife and other amenities in easy reach? Or alternatively are you a quiet, restful person that wants the soothing proximity of the ocean within a stone’s throw of where you live, not caring about being in close range to shops and local businesses? Would you mind bracing the morning traffic into Port Louis on a daily basis or are you set up to work from home? Are you a mom with kids or a family that loves to socialize? Then surely you wouldn’t want to live in isolation and far from schools, doctors, and friends to hook up with? From being here for a while now, I think I can say that The North, West, and Centre of the island seem good for most of these options bar being close to the beach should you choose Moka or any other more central towns to live in.
We prefer living in the North as we like the proximity of shops, beach and quiet surroundings in most areas all rolled into one. I love Mon Choisy as our kids are older, traffic into Port Louis are bearable on the days that we have to brave it, the beach is close and we are on the main bus route as I often elect to take the bus as opposed to having to fight the traffic and find parking in the city. But that’s just me.
It is good to do comprehensive research before coming over as many things are the same but also different than back home. One needs to establish what kind of budget you will be needing as renting homes can be on par with SA mostly but cars are a different kettle of fish. Loads of hoops to jump through when buying and renting doesn’t come cheap. Your budget and how long you plan on being here will influence which option will work better for your circumstances.
For us the decision to rent a car was easy, purely because we are still deciding whether to stay on after the end of next year. I feel for our family this was a good choice so far as anytime I have even the slightest problem with the vehicle I contact the rental company and they either fix it or exchange the vehicle for another. They service the vehicle and change the tires when needed. If the car breaks down it is not my problem at the end of the day and I am not accountable for fixing it which if I have to tally services, breakdowns, tires, insurance, etc which in my book equals out to buying one and carrying those costs myself. I add a link for the car renal company we use as we have thus far only had very good service from Fara Noor and her husband. https://www.facebook.com/Noorcarrental/
If you have school going children you might want to look into the areas I mentioned above as you don’t want to do a cross-island drive having to drop and fetch kids twice daily. On top of that the international schools on the island is not cheap and another thing to factor in. I’m not up to date with the school fees but I’ve gleaned through discussions on the various groups that the average fees could be as much as a 1000 Us dollars a month.
Coming over as a dependent brings its own frustrations, plan ahead and foresee that you might get bored so be sure to come armed with ideas or hobbies to pursue as boredom is a killer of relationships and sanity. You will need to know what you are going to do to combat that issue before you set foot here. Once you arrive be sure to reach out to others to curb loneliness and the boredom that might set in.
The ‘HOW’ question. Once again, each person or family differ. Some people choose to move to the island lock, stock and barrel and others choose to come ‘refugee-style’ as a friend calls it. Refugee style is coming over with what can fit into your suitcases and nothing else. That was basically our modus operandi. Knowing full well that Mauritius would probably not be a long-term option for us we brought only what could go into our (15) suitcases and nothing else. You can bring all your earthly belongings if that’s what you want to do but just know that it’s a lengthy and costly process. Having said that, each to his own.
Working through your list of ‘Why, What, How, Where, When’, try and understand what expectations you have of exchanging one lifestyle for another. Be sure to establish beforehand whether you meet the requirements of relocating here, whether you have the necessary funds and the documentation needed for applying for the various permits.
Use the groups, ask the questions, befriend the islanders that have been here for a bit because they have gone through the processes. One will swear by living in the North, another by the West. One is an Emtel fan for data and airtime, another will promise you MyT is the best. Some shop at SuperU, some at Intermart or Jumbos, and another lot will order their groceries online. Be assured that the island shops stock most things we’re used to back at home, albeit at exorbitant prices at times due to everything having to be imported but the upside is that you can mostly find what you are looking for here eventually if you search for it long enough. Alternatively, just make do with whatever is available locally and stop worrying about stuff you cannot find on the shelves. It might just alleviate your stress levels a tad to make your peace with living life on an island.
You can ask and people will give advice and opinions which will bring you a long way but ultimately not such a long way as actually living here and experiencing it firsthand.
Good luck with your journey whether you have already made the decision or are perhaps still in the planning phases. Moving in itself is hard, relocating overseas are even harder.
If you’re already on the island good luck and all the best with your new life.