We had so many great family vacations while living in Africa that sometimes it’s hard to remember them all. Yet if you asked my husband and children which one of those was their favorite, a uniform “Mauritius” would be the answer.
Frankly, to a large degree this is based not on the beautiful sandy beaches or excellent scuba-diving but on the beyond divine chocolate mousse available without fail at our hotel’s nightly dessert table, rows and rows of slim glass flutes filled to the rim with the rich creamy dessert. We ate A TON of that chocolate mousse at Le Touessrok, favorite of favorite hotels ever.
To us, Mauritius was like paradise, but there were some cracks in the facade. We had friends who were building a house there. They were building it when we arrived in South Africa, and they were still building it when we left. It was a never-ending project, and there was always something going wrong and decidedly not moving forward. When you drive across the island, you see the same thing: oodles of half-built houses. Mauritius, it seems, is even slower-moving in terms of getting stuff done than South Africa.
Nevertheless, living in Mauritius can be a dream come true, as it was for Ross Campbell, an American who recently decided to retire there. The following is a guest post about his experience.
Living in Mauritius Teaches Patience and Appreciation
For many people, living in Mauritius is living in paradise, and while that’s vastly true for myself, I also find Mauritius has much more to offer than just beautiful scenery and comfortable weather. It’s a great place to call home with welcoming people and plenty to do, and best of all, a nice slower pace of living than what I was accustomed to in the States. This has been the perfect place to destress from the hustle and bustle of living in a large city and having to be around an enormous number of busy people one day after another.
I moved from the United States to Mauritius a little over a year ago, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even with the natural beauty of the island, you will still need to do your part to make life great. Before I get into my time spent here, I would like to talk about why I decided to make the move in the first place.
Please keep in mind though that there was a fair share of swearing, complaining and frustration throughout the process. Not only did I have problems obtaining my visa due to slow paperwork, I also found some of the residential areas were much more crowded than I anticipated.
Why I Wanted to Move
Many expats move away from America to try and find a more affordable place to live. There are plenty of countries that are cheaper than the USA, but Mauritius isn’t one of them, and the cost of living was not the reason I wanted to have a change of scenery. I chose to live here because I was enchanted by the beauty and seclusion it offered. Sure, the island isn’t massively large, but there’s always something new and beautiful to look at. While on vacation here for the 5th time in 10 years, I knew there was something particularly special about Mauritius. I could spend hours just wandering the island and taking in the sights, and that’s exactly what I do now. I enjoy hiking and seeing majestic waterfalls, lounging around on the beach, surfing and even shopping in the local markets. In Mauritius, I have found a lifestyle of calmness that I was never able to capture before. (Of course, calm is something you will not find in the market on a Sunday morning.)
My Life in Mauritius
Since I first came to Mauritius, I’ve grown very fond of the people of the island more than anything else. Compared to Americans they are exceedingly friendly and accepting. Something to note is that Mauritius is not large, and with a low population, the noise level, as well as the level of social gatherings is slim. While there is not a large bustling population to hinder travel and sightseeing, it is normal to see smiling faces everywhere you go, and this makes it more enjoyable to travel around and to explore new locations.
As an expat, I spend my days walking the island and talking with locals. I love browsing through the many open air shops and looking at the goods everyone has for sale. I’ll take a dip in the ocean as it starts to warm up, and I’ll grab a bite to eat before settling down to read a good book.
The main thing I’ve learned during my time here is how to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life. I pay more attention to my food and how it tastes, to the people and how they communicate so openly, and every experience I have has made my life better.
I could focus on every beautiful site that I’ve seen like the Chamerel waterfall, or experiences that I’ve had since moving here, like open water scuba diving, but those aren’t the things that mean the most to me. Learning to relax and take in life is what I enjoy the most about living here, and it’s the reason I tell friends and family to move here as well. Even when I stop for a while and work, I feel more relaxed during my work day than I was ever able to feel back in the States. Don’t get me wrong, I still work hard, but with the calming scenery around me, it’s much easier to feel relaxed when I’m working. The pressure for results and to meet deadlines just doesn’t seem to worry me quite as much as it previously did when I was surrounded with loud noises and busy people.
Moving to Mauritius
Moving to Mauritius is quite the feat if you want to bring your personal belongings with you, because it’s just so far away. It’s possible to ship things through boat or by air, and I did this myself for some belongings, but I wouldn’t recommend it for too many items. I relied on a professional transport company to ship my car here in a sealed container. When I started planning to ship everything else, I was looking for a low cost provider to ship everything all at once. While I managed to ship most of my belongings all at the same time, I paid more than $3500 to do so. I’ve spoken to others who paid more. The shipping period was very extended and I had to set up the service many weeks before I planned on moving myself. This gave me anxiety, but it worked out for the best in the end. The same company helped me with some of my larger belongings, but I decided not to bring my bulky furniture and large personal property but rather to sell much of it to people I knew or via sales ads online. I also placed a few important pieces in storage for safekeeping before the move.
And then there is the small matter of paperwork. Once I had arranged my shipping through the moving company, I had to gather the paperwork to hand to the officials of Mauritius. Here is a quick list that can help you gather what is needed if you’re considering the same move:
- A Visa, which can be obtained through an application with an intent to move to the country. In it you will state the reasons why you want to move to Mauritius. United States citizens are not required to obtain a visa, so this is a plus for American expats considering a move.
- A Passport is required and must be valid for at least 6 months prior to leaving for Mauritius.
- Declaration of Goods for all personal property imported.
- Proof of Income or letter from the company you will be working for showing what your position is and what your salary will be.
- Those seeking permanent residence need to show proof that they have a negative HIV/Aids test
- Vaccinations are required and these include: Hepatitis A, Typhoid and all routine vaccines such a polio, MMR, DPT and chickenpox.
Please keep in mind that to become a permanent resident in Mauritius you must provide proof of being an investor with $500,000 or more that you will bring into the country, or you must work within a specialized field.
Many expats move to save money, but those who live in Mauritius have usually moved here to live a quieter life. Something to keep in mind about moving to Mauritius is that you really need to check rates for rentals and check into the cost of living before you move. The cost of living can be high, higher than in many areas of the U.S., and should be taken into consideration prior to moving. If you can purchase a property in areas such as La Balise Marina, La Tourelle or Tamarina Golf & Beach resort instead of renting, and can afford to spend a half million USD, you will be eligible for permanent residency.You should also know that expats are only allowed to purchase property within a few developments.
Mauritius is an exciting place to live, it’s beautiful and a truly rewarding location to call home, but only if you value beauty and a relaxed pace of life.