You’ve done it! You’ve packed up your old life and started a new one. You’ve made it to the island by hook or by crook.
As you unpack your things in your new home you might wonder, what now? What’s next? It’s not all cocktails and beach sunsets especially if you are here to earn money and also if you have kids in school. But, there’s more than ample time to enjoy all that’s on offer.
Firstly I would advise to just take a deep breath of island air and relax. Take some time out to get to know your surroundings. Not all move here with prior knowledge of the ins and outs but that poses no problem. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Don’t rush into everything. Take your time.
If you are not on the ‘South Africans Living in Mauritius’ group be sure to join because there is a wealth of information there.
Get settled, get your paperwork in order so you can be here legally because that’s the most important thing. I don’t get into the legal stuff, there is way too many people for that. But You can click here to read a tad more on the application process I wrote tongue in cheek should you wish to do so. https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/keep-calm-and-breathe-on-its-a-red-tape-kind-of-day/
I did ask on the SALIM group recently what ‘advice’ they would give to newbies on the island. Unfortunately, the feedback was slow so you’ll have to go it with my opinion alone.
You have now exchanged a continent for a rock in the middle of the ocean. For some, this is a hugely exciting thought, for others less so. Depending on WHY you are here. This is something that I cannot help with, each person makes their own decisions and some are here because of a spouse and not necessarily out of their own volition. Be that as it may. If you’re reading this your here and that is what the point of this blog is.
One thing that’s important to remember is that we’re guests on this island. Behave like one. A good mannered one. Life here is just what it is.. Life. You’ll still go to work, go shopping, cook each day, meet new people. Much the same back home only surrounded by some magnificent beaches and poignant and sensitive history. Be respectful of that and careful how you tread. I’ll leave it at that.
On to more practical tips. Driving here is not the same as back home. It’s done ‘kamikaze-style’ half the time and interspersed with some hand and arm-signals that we have yet to learn and understand. Another tidbit of personal advice; drive to wherever you have to go using Google-maps but on the way back switch it off and try and find your way out on your own…that helped me to get to know the area in no time at all which just makes you feel more confident driving here as well.
Take time to soak in your surroundings. Case the local shops and get a feel of what’s available where and compare products and costs so you can work out your budget (if you have one like me). There are plenty of options for doing your food shop, SuperU, Intermart, Jumbos, only to mention a few. For those who dislike the actual going into the shop part, there is also an online food shopping website available that delivers. http://www.theshop.mu Also be sure to check my blog https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/shopping-in-french-adapt-or-die-%F0%9F%98%8B/ to read more about shopping on the island and getting a discount card that you can earn rewards with at quite a few places on the island.
There is a huge recycling facility in the basement area at La Croissette. A very well thought out and good facility. You can also exchange all bottles bottled in Mauritius for a Rs15 discount slip towards your next wine purchase.
Rent a car before you buy one. There are so many hoops to jump through don’t just buy the first car you see. Insurance, taxes, hidden costs. Take your time with a rental until you are sure you are here for good and that you don’t have to advertise it within a short time because you decided not to stay. Same goes for furniture and housewares. And for a house or apartment. If you can afford it rent in different areas until you find your perfect spot.
We purposely did not bring any furniture because we knew this was only a short term option for us. Although I miss my stuff I know it’s safe in storage back at home and I’ll have it shipped to wherever we decide to settle down permanently.
Check the groups for coffee meet-ups or be bold and create your own. Reach out on the groups and ask for advice and tips. There are many expats that will be keen to assist with many things. You just need to speak up and ask because if you don’t your struggles will go unnoticed. Make friends, because you’re going to need them for support at one stage or another. Island blues are real. It will come and go. For some more than others. It passes, that’s the good news.
Keep busy! Get a hobby or get involved! Either way. Find something to do. I kid you not!
Living in Mauritius has its challenges, it’s pros and cons. It feels a bit like home in some aspects but there is a huge cultural divide which we need to accept and respect. One thing that did came up in my request for advice was the way we as Saffas come into this country and don’t realize how easy we offend with our ways and our words.
I have thus far found the Mauritians to be a kind, gentle nation. They are mostly willing to help you where they can even if it is not convenient for them. They are soft-spoken and respectful and it is imperative that we return that respect and kindness with same. Don’t talk down to them, don’t scream and shout and be rude. It’s often uncalled for.
I did start off with a list of things and now that I look back on this post it seems I can say so much more. It takes time to settle in and feel at home. Even for myself and my family and we’ve been around the block a bit.
If you have school going kids you’ll be wanting to establish some routines and familiarity as soon as possible to make the relocation easier. Get involved at the school. Get to know the other moms because they will be your lifeline if and when needed.
So on that note. Welcome to the island. Enjoy your stay. Make the most of each moment. We never know how long it will last.