If living in an island paradise appeals to you, then perhaps you should consider moving to Mauritius. Situated off the coast of Madagascar, this diverse nation is renowned not just for its natural beauty, but for the exceptional freedom its citizens enjoy.
As an expat living in Mauritius, you can expect a laid-back way of life and plenty of opportunity, along with great schools and healthcare. Here’s everything you need to know about how to move to Mauritius.
Sandy beaches and picturesque terrain abound in Mauritius, a remote country that combines historic villages with newly-developing modern cities. With a strong financial services sector, Mauritius is rapidly attracting white-collar workers from around the world. In fact, since gaining independence in 1968, the population of Mauritius has grown by almost half a million, to around 1.3 million in 2022.
A former Dutch, Portuguese, French, and British colony situated at the crossroads between Africa, Arabia, India and East Asia, Mauritius attracts a diverse range of settlers, who all bring their own cultural influences and make Mauritius an exciting, thriving, and inclusive country. As an expat living in Mauritius, you can expect to enjoy a lifestyle unlike anywhere else in the world.
Mauritius is a popular hub for international trade in business. 70% of jobs in Mauritius are in the white-collar services industry, with tourism and financial services two of the strongest sectors. In its final Business Enabling Environment Report (2020), the World Bank listed Mauritius as the 13th best place in the world to do business.
How many expats are living in Mauritius?
The total population of Mauritius in 2022 is around 1.3 million. Up-to-the-minute population data for Mauritius is hard to come by but, according to a United Nations International Migrant Stock report, as of 2019, it appears there were around 29,000 foreign-born people living in Mauritius, making up 2.3% of the total population.
How many British expats are living in Mauritius?
In 2013, an earlier International Migrant Stock report by the United Nations listed the UK as the fifth-largest supplier of migrants to Mauritius. At that time, there were 1,326 British migrants living in Mauritius. The total number of foreign-born migrants living in Mauritius at that time were:
|Country of origin||Number of migrants (2015)|
Source: United Nations Migration Profiles
Since then, Britain has been pushed out of the top 5 by Bangladesh.
Is Mauritius safe for expats?
Mauritius is generally considered safe; however, its crime rate is on the upper end of the low scale, at 2.92 incidents per 100k of the population. However, crimes of a violent nature are considered rare in Mauritius.
The UK government warns that incidents of petty theft and burglaries make up some of the most common types of crimes in Mauritius, so expats moving to Mauritius should be conscious of ensuring their home security.
The greatest risk to people living in Mauritius are natural disasters. Mauritius is prone to:
- Tropical cyclones from November to May
- Storm and tidal surges
Mauritius also experiences earthquakes, although these do not tend to be serious in nature – Mauritius has never had a single death attributed to an earthquake.
In its 2016 Disaster Risk Profile of Mauritius, the World Bank classified Main Island as the most at-risk territory, accounting for 90% of all losses through natural disaster, with the island of Rodrigues making up the remaining 10%.
How is the political situation in Mauritius?
Mauritius became a republic in 1992, having previously obtained independence from Britain in 1968. It has a strong history of liberal democracy and free elections, and is regularly ranked as Africa’s most robust democracy.
However, Mauritius’ high reputation has come under strain in recent years. A poor score of 54/100 on the Corruption Perceptions Index shows how government corruption is becoming more common in Mauritius.
Furthermore, the government and police in Mauritius have been seen as heavy-handed in recent years, especially after a poor response to the MV Wakashio oil spill in 2020 (which led to widespread protests), the COVID-19 pandemic and irregularities found during the 2019 election.
As a result, Mauritians have become increasingly dissatisfied with their democracy, with AFR Barometer recording a drop from 72% to 51% satisfaction in the government, and a rise from 27% to 45% dissatisfaction between 2012–2020.
As an expat living in Mauritius, you may encounter demonstrations and protests, especially if you choose to live in the capital of Port Louis. For now, though, the political situation in Mauritius is considered fairly stable.
What language is spoken in Mauritius and do people in Mauritius speak English?
As a melting pot of cultures, Mauritians speak a variety of languages, and many Mauritians are bi- or even tri-lingual. The country has no official language, although the de facto official language is Mauritian Creole, spoken by around 90% of the population.
French is the language of education and the media, and English is the official language of parliament (although many members of parliament still speak French). English is also commonly taught in schools.
The percentage of people living in Mauritius who speak various languages are:
|Language||Percentage population (2011)|
|Other, bi-lingual, or unspecified*||4.1%|
Source: CIA World Factbook
* ‘Other’ includes English, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population. Therefore, if you are thinking of moving to Mauritius, it might be a good idea to brush up on your French!
How did Mauritius deal with COVID-19?
A case study in the British Medical Journal used Mauritius’s response to COVID-19 as a “success story.” It highlighted Mauritius’s strong leadership, high levels of political engagement and strong co-operation with WHO, the private sector and other key stakeholders, as well as clear communication and a successful implementation of public health measures.
The World Health Organization also published a case study of Mauritius, highlighting best practices in terms of both preparedness and response.
Mauritius was quick to close its borders after its first COVID-19 cases were detected in March 2020. By keeping track of its known cases, Mauritius was COVID-free by April, and managed to stay that way until November.
Mauritius was hit by the second/third waves of COVID-19 in 2021. However, a fast vaccination roll-out beginning January 2021 helped to mitigate the effect of these resurgences. By August 2021, over 50% of people living in Mauritius had received their first dose of a vaccine, and by April 2022 almost 80% of the country had received a vaccine. Mauritius reached an all-time-low of cases-to-deaths in September 2021, at 0.27%. See the full data of Mauritius’s COVID-19 response here.
As of April 2022, Mauritius had 214,000 confirmed cases and 985 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
Mauritius has fully opened its borders but maintains a high degree of caution to COVID-19. Fully vaccinated travellers with a recognised certificate can now enter Mauritius without needing to show a PCR test or quarantine, however, you will need to submit an All-in-One Travel Digital form and take out health insurance with COVID-19 insurance – and you will be tested on arrival. Non-vaccinated travellers will need to quarantine for seven days upon arrival (more details here).
Port Louis is the capital and largest city of Mauritius, home to around 150,000 people including the majority of the expat population. Central Port Louis has 81 primary schools and 24 secondary schools across the urban area, plus a large number of private institutions and international schools.
The cost of renting in Port Louis is very cheap compared to other capital cities. Rentals start from around 15,000 rupees (£265) per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Even a larger, family-sized apartment will only cost somewhere in the region of 50,000 rupees (£900) per month.
The Port Louis urban area extends into the heartlands of Mauritius Island (the main island), where expats will find many up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Quatre Bornes (also known as La Ville des Fleurs) is home to about 78,000 people with 12 secondary schools and 9 primary schools. A sizeable apartment here will cost about 40,000 rupees (£700) per month to rent.
Moka was named by South African Airways as one of the best places for expats living in Mauritius. Home to around 84,000 people, it is a more middle-class neighbourhood with large townhouses and villas, which rent for around 70,000 rupees (£700) per month.
Looking outside the capital, you will very easily find villas for rent. These tend to fall in the region of around 100,000 rupees (£1,800) per month, and often come with multiple bedrooms, swimming pools and access to beaches.
Before moving to Mauritius, it is a good idea to look online for properties and speak to a relocation expert. Mauritius has a thriving real estate sector and there are many agents who will be willing to help you. We recommend checking out:
Top expat tips for living in Mauritius
- • Ensure you have all essential documents and visas in place before departure
- • If you move with your kids, early application for school places is advisable
- • Have up to three months’ rent available upfront to secure a rental property
- • Look at life insurance and health cover that reflect your location needs. We have been supporting expats with international insurance for almost 30 years now
- • Stay healthy and immerse yourself in the culture
Can expats buy property in Mauritius?
Yes, absolutely. However, it should be noted that foreigners can only purchase property with a minimum price of US$375,000 (£285,000). The upshot of this is that, after purchasing a property in Mauritius, expats will be eligible to obtain a 20-year Permanent Residence Permit, which also extends to immediate family members, so long as you live in Mauritius for at least 183 days a year.
Keep in mind that purchasing property in Mauritius does come with added costs. You will need to pay a registration tax, which could be anywhere between US$25,000–70,000 (£20,000–55,000), or 5% of the value of the property. You will also need to have money set aside to pay legal costs including notary fees.
If you are hoping to purchase property with a mortgage as a foreigner living in Mauritius, you may be eligible to borrow up to 70% of the value of the property
In order to work in Mauritius, expats must first obtain one of either:
- A Work Permit
- An Occupation Permit
- A Certificate of Exemption
The most common of these will be a Work Permit. Expats must also apply for a Residence Permit for Employment.
In order to obtain a Work Permit for Mauritius, expats will need to be between 20–60 years old, and will need to submit:
- A Common Application Form (can be submitted online via the e-Work Permit Portal) and a data sheet
- Four passport photos
- A copy of their passport
- Proof of degrees and professional qualifications
- A cover letter issued by a registered employer and a certificate of employment, confirmed by the Labour Division, showing a minimum salary of 30,000 Mauritian Rupees (£500), and proof that the job was previously advertised in at least two newspapers
- A copy of the employer’s Certificate of Incorporation
- Certificate of health issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness
- The employee’s CV
There is a lot of paperwork involved in your application for a Mauritian Work Permit, but your new employer should be able to help you to take care of the process.
You do not need to apply for a Work Permit if you are married to a Mauritian citizen.
What sort of salary will I earn living in Mauritius?
The Mauritian economy is going from strength to strength, although expat salaries are still lower than in other parts of the world. In late 2021, the average salary in Mauritius was around 400,000 rupees (£7,100) per year. However, expats moving to Mauritius for white-collar jobs can expect to earn much more.
Mid-level managers can expect to earn between 50,000 rupees (£900) to 70,000 rupees (£1,250) per month, while senior managers can earn upwards of 90,000 rupees (£1,600) per month. Many companies in Mauritius also offer generous packages to foreign workers which may include a company car and accommodation.
Like most countries in the world, the cost of living in Mauritius has shot up in 2022. In April 2022, the rate of inflation in Mauritius hit 10.7%. As a result, the cost of consumer prices and rent are increasing rapidly. Expats moving to Mauritius may find that the cost of living exceeds their expectations, however, the good news is that Mauritius is still relatively cheap compared to other countries.
Numbeo reports that the cost of living in Mauritius is around 33% cheaper than in the United Kingdom, with rent around 70% lower on average.
Expats living in Mauritius can therefore enjoy a high quality of life, even if they find their wages lower than in other parts of the world. Mauritius is a popular destination for shopping, and expats can partake in Mauritius’ leisure enterprises at a relatively low cost.
If you intend to relocate your own household items to Mauritius, you will need to hire a professional overseas relocation company to help you transport these items by ship. The cost of moving an average family home’s worth of furniture to Mauritius from the UK can be anywhere between £2,300 and £5,500 according to reloadvisor.
Banking and finance in Mauritius
Opening a bank account in Mauritius is, thankfully, not a complicated process. Foreign residents are allowed to open a current or savings account for regular transactions, cash withdrawals, online banking, and savings.
In order to open a bank account in Mauritius, you will need to have a) a permanent address in Mauritius and b) a visa indicating your residency in the country, such as a Work Permit, Student Visa, Marriage Visa, or Residence Visa.
You will need to visit a branch in person to provide:
- A copy of your passport
- The relevant visa
- Proof of address, either in the form of a tenancy agreement, land deed or an up-to-date utility bill
You will also need to bring cash to make an initial deposit. The exact amount required to open an account varies per bank but is usually upwards of 1,000 rupees (£18).
If you wish to open a business bank account, you may need to provide:
- Signatories from the directors and chair people
- Evidence of your business’s right to operate in Mauritius
- An initial deposit of around 200,000 rupees (£4,000)
Mauritius has 22 banks registered with the Bank of Mauritius. Some of the more popular banks with expats living in Mauritius include:
You will also find local branches of international banks including Barclays and HSBC.
As a small country, Mauritius is home to just five government-funded hospitals. Residents and expats are free to utilise public health services, however, non-citizens may find a lot of red tape and long waiting lists.
Fortunately, Mauritius is also home to a number of high-quality private medical clinics, plus six private hospitals, which have recently made Mauritius a top destination for medical tourism. Be warned, however, that these clinics often carry a high price tag.
For that reason, expatriates moving to Mauritius may want to consider taking out international health insurance to help them access private services.
This is especially true for expats who may be considering specialist services, where the Mauritian health system often underperforms. One of these areas is maternal and contraceptive health, an area in which 44% of women told Guttmacher their needs are ‘unmet’. As a result, 7,000 women per year in Mauritius do not attend antenatal care visits and around 200 women per year choose not to give birth in a public hospital.
Culture and customs in Mauritius
Despite being a small island nation, Mauritius is an extremely diverse part of the world, and is therefore brimming with culture. Living in Mauritius, you will find that no two people are the same. Around 68% of residents are Indian in origin, with some of the most common ethnicities including Bhojpuri, Tamil, Hindi, and Urdu. 27% of Mauritians are Creoles, usually of French descent. 3% of residents are Chinese and 2% are of other European descent.
Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution of Mauritius, and religious society is highly pluralised. The most common religion is Hinduism, practiced by 48% of people living in Mauritius. Around 30% of Mauritians are Christian (with Roman Catholicism the more popular denomination), while 17% are Muslim. Don’t be surprised to find awesome temples, churches and mosques dotted around Mauritius. Normal etiquette applies in these environments – be respectful, follow the customs and don’t touch anything you’re not supposed to.
Because of the diverse backgrounds of the people, Mauritian food is highly regarded. Expect to find plenty of Chinese and Indian street food when moving to Mauritius. Mauritian Vindaye combines French and Indian flavours, and is an absolute must-try. If you are a fan of rum, you will be delighted to hear that Mauritius is a major producer – between 2017-2018, Mauritius exported some 3,600 tonnes of rum.
According to the United Nations, Mauritius is ranked 66th in the world for gender equality and is classed as an area of ‘high human development’. Women living in Mauritius have the same legal status as men, and the 1998 Domestic Violence Act criminalises domestic abuse and sexual harassment, as well as forbidding men to abandon their families or pregnant spouses. However, women are underrepresented in many areas of public life.
To help get you started, here are the essential things you need to tick off:
- ☐ Have you researched places you’d liked to live?
- ☐ If you’ve found an apartment or house you’d like to rent, have you contacted the landlord and made an offer?
- ☐ If you’ve agreed a place to live, have you received your tenancy agreement?
- ☐ Have you received a job offer from a Mauritian employer who meets the eligibility criteria to help you apply for a Work Permit?
- ☐ Have you started your application for your Work Permit or Residence Permit for Employment?
- ☐ Do you have all the paperwork necessary to complete your Work Permit application? This includes: passport photos; certificate of health; passport; proof of degrees; a copy of your employer’s proof of incorporation; a certificate of employment, confirmed by the Labour Division, showing a minimum salary of 30,000 Mauritian Rupees (£500), and proof that the job was previously advertised in at least two newspapers.
- ☐ Are you happy to depend on state healthcare while living in Mauritius?
- ☐ If not, and you would prefer to depend on private healthcare, have you taken out international health insurance before moving to Mauritius?
- ☐ Have you looked into other forms of health insurance to support your life in Mauritius, such as life insurance and income protection?
- ☐ Do you have all the paperwork necessary to complete your application for a bank account? This includes: a copy of the relevant visa, such as a Work Permit, Student Visa or Resident Visa; passport; proof of address
- ☐ Do you have the minimum deposit available in cash? This is usually around 1,000 Rupees
- ☐ Have you looked into the cost of relocation? If you’re bringing your own furniture from home, have you received a reliable quote from a shipping company?
- ☐ Have you looked into schooling for your children? If you are relying on state education, you may need to contact schools to see if they have places available
Before you go…
If you’re considering choosing international health insurance, William Russell would be happy to offer you advice and a quote to help you decide. For 30 years, we have helped expats like you move and settle into their new lives overseas, with the peace of mind of knowing their families are covered by a comprehensive and flexible health insurance policy.
Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance could benefit you and your family – and good luck moving to Mauritius!