In this article, we examine how Mauritius compares with South Africa and Portugal, using cost of living, rent and groceries as our key indicators.

For the purpose of this review, we have used information for 2019 available from, a website which compiles cost-of-living data for nearly 7,000 cities, using New York City as its index benchmark (=100).

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index (excluding rent), Mauritius consumer prices are higher than in South Africa and almost on a par with Portugal. However, inflation rates have been lower in Mauritius over the past decade and stood at 2.2% in February/March 2020 compared to South Africa’s 5.2%. This suggests the cost-of-living differential between the two countries is closing.

Diminishing differences

The website’s Rent Index also shows that rent prices in South Africa and Portugal are much higher than in Mauritius. The island’s attractiveness increases when combining cost of living with rent, as it is slightly higher than South Africa but lower than Portugal.

On the other hand, groceries prices are higher in Mauritius than in South Africa and Portugal. However, these differences are not substantial and ever diminishing between South Africa and Mauritius and the premium on day-to-day necessities could be offset by potential tax savings.

Better standard of living ranking

Additionally, standard of living data for 2019 provided by the International Monetary Fund shows that Mauritius is ranked 58th out of 185 countries in the world. Portugal is placed in the 42nd position and South Africa 95th.

Last year, gross domestic product (at purchasing power parity) per capita for Mauritius was US$24.996 compared to US$13,754 for South Africa. Although maybe less relevant to retirees who do not generate GDP, this is still an important indicator of the social well-being of a country.

These different measures of affordability show that Mauritius remains a very desirable and convenient destination for South Africans to retire.

Comparative cost-of-living figures

Mauritius South Africa Portugal
Cost of Living Index (excl. rent) 52.64 42.49 50.39
Rent Index 11.53 16.50 21.07
Cost of Living Plus Rent Index 32.80 30.01 36.31
Groceries Index 47.89 33.88 40.20
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Nazira Mahangeer


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