Mauritius – affordable or not?
I read the posts of people wanting to leave SA and my heart breaks because I know it’s not a viable option financially or otherwise for many people BUT if you can manage to do so one can adjust your budget and live a good life. It is not impossible.
We didn’t leave for the politics when we left but for a job offer for my husband who’s been in Mauritius for going on three years now. The kids and I joined in December 2018 so we’ve been here about 8 and a half months now. Although we are blessed to be living here just remember that Mauritius is a beautiful little island with its own drawbacks, drama and problems.
Life here is as life anywhere else. You work, you shop, you cook, you clean and you live. Safely so, which is a huge plus. But, it’s not all fun and games daily and it’s certainly not a 24/7 paradise.
One don’t simply ‘immigrate’ to Mauritius, there are a lot of things to be considered, one of which is that people don’t mention it’s hard for spouses to get work permits so if you have no degree or special skill or aren’t extremely business orientated you are doomed to stay at home whether you are male or female depending on which partner got the permit to come over. If you’re not so inclined you’ll find it hard to keep yourself busy here which doesn’t sound bad but believe you me it wears on the relationship. Get out and make friends. Go to coffee meetups and join groups that go out and do stuff.
One has to keep in mind your children won’t be able to earn any money for themselves either and have to leave the island by age 24 or apply for their own work or residence permits which are prohibitively expensive and yes I know… EXPENSIVE is a relative term. The good news is that universities are plentiful and from what I’ve heard quite good. Our son is currently at the Curtin University and he’s enjoying it tremendously and to boot they are quite affordable. Find the link here: http://curtinmauritius.ac.
The reason for the blog is that I see people inquiring daily about living costs and more on the SALIM (South Africans Living in Mauritius group) https://www.facebook.com/groups/2369393322/?ref=group_header
We’re a one salary family in Mauritius as I am here as a dependent for the time being and our experience is that for a ‘normal’ South African family with no savings or financial backup, it’s a hard choice and either not affordable or perhaps barely so if you’re lucky to get a good job offer. Some companies might pay housing, car and relocation but not all so be sure to negotiate with your prospective employer so you know where you stand on the above expenses. As we came over on our own expense, that was our savings gone, but we couldn’t let hubby live here on his own anymore as he had been doing for the previous two years barely coming home so for us the choice of coming over was predestined and non-negotiable.
Things you have to consider and budget for;
Bringing Furniture and personal belongings; I’m not even going down the path of getting furniture here as we got the quotes, did the math and put all our stuff in storage in Cape Town or what was left over after selling, giving away and clearing out in general. However much I miss my stuff for now it just not worth the expense and the trouble of hauling it over here. Houses mostly come fully furnished and sending it here and then on to somewhere else in future made me decide to rather bring what we need in 15 suitcases and put the rest in storage. SAA has a wonderful option where you can bring extra luggage for very little money. (R250 a bag is what we paid but it might have changed in the meantime so be sure to check with them first.)
Permit applications and Medicals; If your company are not paying for your permit applications and medicals you need to put this in your budget. Medicals were Rs3500 per person although I do believe you can get away cheaper depending on which facility you use. Hubby had to give a bank guaranteed cheques to the tune of Rs15000 towards our dependent’s applications. You can read more here about it. https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/keep-calm-and-breathe-on-its-a-red-tape-kind-of-day/
Schools; Schools for the children of expats are very expensive, to the tune of $1000 or more monthly and that’s not adding the huge nonrefundable deposits for acceptance in said school. I know. We’ve had personal experience of this. We put our son into a school here, it didn’t work out and we lost R18500 on the deposit, which we knew was going to happen but still hurts. We then enrolled him at a local university to finish his Matric equivalent having had to pay another deposit and term fees.
Pets; Bringing pets over to Mauritius is expensive and a mission in itself. You’re looking at about between R15000 – R25000 per animal. It’s a lengthy and expensive six month process on the SA side and then a month’s quarantine in Mauritius with agents both sides looking for money. Quarantine is not free and you have to travel there each day to visit and care for your own dog. We were dealing with PetPort and have no complaints about the service but we had to stop the process as some blood-works were inconclusive which meant that we could not go ahead. Contact Christine@PETport.co.za for more information if you need to bring pets. Just check with the laws in Mauritius as there was an amendment that now only allows for one pet per person.
A rough idea of other monthly and everyday costs of living in Mauritius:
- House Rental; Renting a house can be as affordable or as expensive as you would like to make it out to be depending on your needs, wants and lifestyle choices. We’re paying more than in Cape Town but in all honesty we are now renting a bigger property with a pool and close to the beach. Budget for housing can be as low as Rs25000 – Rs145000 or much more depending on how much house you want for your money. Be aware that some agents charge double deposits as well as one month’s rental. Virginia Eckard was our agent and we had good service from her as well as that she only requires one month’s rent as deposit. Find her on FB where you can get all her contact details in one place. https://www.facebook.com/Virginia-Eckard-Properties-567082836786068/
- Car Rental vs Buying; This is a very personal choice. We once again did the math and decided on renting vs buying because we don’t know whether we’ll be staying longer after next year. For our family the rental works really well as our rental company gives us very good service re: taking care of the tires, licenses, services and insurance so it was the cheaper option as once again… Cars are prohibitively expensive and you can’t bring your own vehicle unless certain circumstances apply.) but that is us. Having said that, we pay double the amount for a rental car than we paid on installment with the bank for my car back in SA. I now drive a tiny Nissan March here for the princely sum of R5000 (Rs12000) a month. We drive a lot so spend around Rs3000 – Rs5000 monthly on petrol. (We also make use of the bus services which is a religious experience in it’s own right but it’s fairly dependable and cheap.) Driving on the island is an interactive, interesting experience.
- Food; Foodshopping can be cheap at the markets and if you shop around and get to know your supermarkets if you are so inclined. Not many are. There is a great choice of supermarkets to choose from which covers every budget and specific need. You can choose between Intermart, Jumbos, Kingsavers, Winners, SuperU and plenty more. There is also online shopping available. We are a family of four and I do visit the markets to save money. Our monthly groceries can be anything between R10000 – R12000 monthly depending on the month, inclusive of pool chlorine and acid, toiletries, anything else we might need in the house. (I have a 17 year old son that eats like a horse…that doesn’t help. 😂)
- Water and Electricity; We don’t use our air-cons even in the heat of summer as once again.. It’s expensive to do so. We run fans 24/7 and manage to keep our electricity bill around R1000-1200 (about Rs2500-3000) a month.Water account amounts to about R100 a month. Where we live the water is often off during the day… Reminds me of home. 😉 Gas is cheap, we pay under a R100 to fill a 9kg bottle. Pool products are not cheap at all. If you’re house doesn’t come with a maid, gardener or pool boy you can add more money to the account of living here plus thirteenth cheques for each one at the end of the year.
- Wi-fi and TV; We’ve got 20mbs which cost around R650 (Rs1600), we have a tv box thingy with loads of Mauritian channels and a couple of English (translated or with subtitles. We use NetFlix and Stremio to watch series and movies. We haven’t used DSTV for years so it was never an issue for our family but you can use it here by either streaming or having the dish installed I think.
- Medical Aid; Your SA medical will only cover you for a certain amount of time although I think Discovery has an international option. Your traveling insurance should also cover you for the first few months. We’re looking at Cigna health for medical and just hospital plan is around R4500 for our family. No doctor, dentist or optometry.
- Cellphone; Our whole family uses Emtel and spend around Rs300 per person per month on data and not even Rs200 for phonecalls as we subsist on whatsapp-calls on the island and even for calling back home.
- Bank accounts; For hubby that is here on an Occupational permit he needed: a letter of good standing from our bank in SA, his OP, proof of residence, his employement contract and Copy of his passport. I managed to open my own bank account as well even though I am not employed. It was super easy to do.
- Driving License; Your SA driving license is valid in Mauritius, however if you would like to change over there is a letter you need from SA and a process to go through once you arrive but NOT necessary at all.
There were a lot of things we didn’t know or think about before coming here like getting the letter of good standing from the bank. Hubby got his straight from the bank so his was quick. I waited four months for mine from FNB. Leaving a Power of Attorney letter with a family member you trust might also be a good idea when you need things sorted from afar.
Life on the island is not cheap especially now that they noticed that expats are streaming in and I’ve noticed that rentals have skyrocketed with some of the agencies. You can negotiate your own rental with a local if you want to try that. They are open to it. Having said that as a family of four you CAN get along on from Rs130 000-00 onwards DEPENDING on various factors like schooling, housing car and more and MOST IMPORTANTLY whether your company contributes to these or not. (My calculations are for a family of four, two adults and a 17 and 19 year old. We don’t pay school fees anymore but we do need to pay the university and our daughter studies online. Of your children are younger or you have none, or if you are single the math will look different.)
We were blessed that my husband has special skills and were able to come here on an occupational permit. It’s been tough and we’ve had many difficulties with the company which is another thing that most people won’t tell you, is that people have come here for work and all was not as should be. Things that happen everywhere but it’s not spoken about enough. Coming in on a permit for one specific job or company that’s all your allowed to do. Nothing more.
If you’ve made it through this long-winded blog just know this; I do love the the island, it’s rich in history and culture and have awesome beaches BUT do I want to live here forever? 🤔 I am not sure. It is a huge adjustment to move to an island in the middle of nowhere from a place like Cape Town and although our family makes the most of every day that we are here I’m not convinced that it will be a forever home for us.
Getting citizenship is nearly impossible. (Speak to professionals on the group about getting it under the Common Wealth Countries policy but I cannot vouch for that.) I know of Mauritians struggling to get citizenship papers approved for their children or spouses. It’s a tough journey and one we don’t qualify for sadly. We have a three year permit which will hopefully be renewed next year. It’s that hopefully that I don’t like. It gives no feeling of permanence.
You can get a residency permit by buying property or come and retire here with pockets full of money. Which we don’t have.So in conclusion. If you want to move to Mauritius, look at it perhaps as a short-term opportunity, a stepping stone for the next place. A more permanent one. Where you can get citizenship guaranteed. I don’t do hopefully well. I need surety which I’m sure a lot of you can relate to.
I don’t mind any questions if you think I’ve left anything out. I don’t deal with permits and conditions of such. There are enough people on the group that can help. Aditi Boo (http://www.templegroup.mu), Nadeem Mosafeer (https://www.facebook.com/Gibsonandhills/), Henri Grignon (https://www.facebook.com/groups/wwwdotinvestinmauritiusdotcom/) are only a few that can assist with more information. If you want to know more be sure to join the South Africans Living in Mauritius group where you’ll find heaps of information.
This is just our story. I cannot vouch for others and for their experiences but this is as realistic as it comes. I can just hope it helps someone’s decision easier.
Some previous blogs on the same vein if you are interested.https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/youve-made-it-welcome-to-mauritius/ and https://www.karolien-thereslifeafterkids.com/thinking-of-moving-to-mauritius/
Some additional information on the medicals:
Source: Henri Grignon’s post on Facebook in answer on a query about the medicals.
Some of the main points to the procedure. Note that not all tests need to be done in Mauritius.
All non‐citizens are required to do a set of compulsory medical tests as set out below:
1. Blood tests for:
a. Haemoglobin and Full Blood Count;
b. Hepatitis B Surface Antigen;
c. Anti-HIV screening test for AIDS;
d. VDRL test
e. Urine tests for albumin and sugar;
f. Stool test for parasites;
g. Chest x‐ray
h. Lymphatic Filariasis
2. Leprosy test is restricted to Indian nationals only, where the consulting Doctor should add on the Medical Certificate that the person is not suffering from Leprosy.
3. Lymphatic Filariasis test is required only to non-citizens coming from India, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Brazil, Comoros, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda & Vietnam.
Out of these tests, the following three tests should compulsorily be done in Mauritius: (i) Hepatitis B
Surface Antigen, (ii) HIV and (iii) Chest x‐ray.
These tests may be done at any private local medical laboratory or clinic registered with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life. An indicative list of private clinics and laboratories are annexed.
The remaining tests may be done in the applicant’s country before coming to Mauritius or in Mauritius itself.
All the tests results should be submitted to a local doctor who will issue a medical certificate after an examination. The medical certificate and the reports for the three tests done in Mauritius (HIV, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and chest x‐ray) must be submitted at the time of application.
No application for Occupation Permit will be accepted if there is evidence that the applicant is suffering from any infectious or contagious disease.
Medical tests should have been done no longer than six months before the date of submitting an application.
The chest x‐ray should be signed by a radiologist.
Children who are below 12 years will have to submit a Medical Certificate after undergoing a clinical examination. Appropriate medical investigations including a chest x‐ray and blood test should be carried out only if required by the doctor.