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The pros and cons of retiring to Mauritius

This time we discuss the pros and cons of retiring in Mauritius for South Africans. In this article, we pay attention to factors such as safety and security, taxation, connectivity, healthcare and lifestyle.

Let’s look at some of the potential advantages first. Based on United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) figures, Mauritius is a substantially safer place for retirees than South Africa.  In fact around 20 times safer and with Mauritius being closely comparable to the UK and also safer than US.

In terms of tax savings, there is not much difference between the effective tax rate for a retiree in Mauritius and South Africa at an income level of around R600k per annum. However, the flat 15% rate applied on the island delivers meaningful savings for tax residents as soon as income levels start getting higher.

It takes about a year to move your tax residency from South Africa to Mauritius. Residents are taxed on both income generated through local investments and foreign income remitted to Mauritius (i.e. only when received in Mauritius). For instance, the annual profit of an offshore structure or investment would not be taxable save for earnings repatriated back into Mauritius. This comprises a substantial advantage for those with offshore-based wealth and income-generating assets.

Easy connectivity

Another key advantage is the connectivity factor. Increasingly kids and grandkids are basing themselves in the likes of UK, Europe and Australia. Mauritius has easy connectivity to these major destinations as well as many African cities. With numerous flights daily, it won’t be an issue for South African retirees to plan a trip back home to visit family, friends and business counterparts.

The public healthcare system in Mauritius is well-developed, expanding and available free of charge to all residents. There is also private healthcare with costs that are comparable to those for medical treatment in South Africa. Both cater to the vast majority of healthcare requirements of retired residents.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks the national health system 84th overall out of 191 countries. The country stands at 56th position in terms of responsiveness with an index of 5.57. In addition, Mauritius is ranked 54th, South Africa 133rd and Portugal 30th in the Health category of the Legatum Institute’s 2019 Prosperity Index.

Healthy outdoor lifestyle & cultural treasures

With summer temperatures ranging from 25°C-33°C and 17°C-25°C in winter, there are also few places in the world that measure up to Mauritius in terms of a healthy outdoor lifestyle. This idyllic tropical island obviously has much to offer in terms of land- and water-based activities. There are also many sports clubs and gyms catering for all levels of fitness.

Moreover, Mauritius is a unique melting pot of many different cultures that have gelled well together to create a feeling of peaceful harmony. There is a vast array of historical, cultural, artistic and culinary treasures for discovery beyond the mainstream tourist attractions. It’s also a multi-lingual country with a very high adult literacy rate and English as one of the main languages for communication.

Potential cons to retiring in Mauritius

However, there are not just advantages. For instance, the country has a relatively small size (2,040 km²) from a South African perspective. Comparatively, the Kruger National Park alone has a surface area of 19,485km². Fortunately, the topography of Mauritius helps create a sense of space, making it feel larger than its conservative size. There is off course the coastline, as well as mountainous, forest and farmland regions. But understandably the diversity in landscapes and scenery is a mere fraction of what SA has to offer.  But what the island does have, combined with the cultural treasures, could keep a retired person busy for years.

It can also get hot and humid in the peak of summer, around December, January and February. While this might be the perfect period for holidaying on the beach, it can put a damper on full-time retiree residents. But the reality is that the weather is not unbearable and there are always modern lifestyle luxuries such as air conditioning to elevate your comfort in your car or at home.

When we weigh up all the pros and cons of moving to Mauritius, the island still remains a paradise for retirees!

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Retire in Mauritius at an affordable price

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
Retraite à l’île Maurice | Retirement in Mauritius
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Mauritius, the perfect setting for retirement

The more we advance on the path of life, the more we desire for a certain quality of life, peace and quiet…

Beyond the undeniable natural, cultural and social assets that have made Mauritius a very popular tourist destination, the island offers great benefits for a happy and fulfilling retirement.

A pleasant weather all year round, lush nature, an enviable quality of life, warm and friendly people… Mauritius is often listed among the dream destinations for a comfortable retirement and is the perfect example of harmonious cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.

The island has everything you need for retirement in paradise!

The advantages of living in Mauritius

Choosing to live in Mauritius will give you access to multiple benefits, including very affordable living, risk-free investment, tax treaties with 43 countries to avoid double taxation of income, an advantageous tax system, adequate air access and a healthcare system that meets international standards.

Colorful panoramic urban skyline illuminated at night

How to benefit from these advantages?

To enjoy all these benefits, you can choose between buying property governed by a well-established legal framework which automatically entitles you to residence (under certain conditions) or applying for a residence permit as a retired non-citizen. You will find some further explanation below:

As a retired non-citizen

As a retired non-citizen, you may apply from the age of 50 years for a renewable 10-year residence permit or an Occupation Permit for a maximum period of three years. Your spouse and children under 24 years of age are also eligible to apply for a residence permit.

Children education in Mauritius

Through property investment in Mauritius

Property investment in Mauritius is a great way to combine business with pleasure. It ensures a safe investment in a stable and welcoming country with a thriving economy, a business-friendly environment and attractive tax benefits.

You will also automatically qualify for a residence permit in Mauritius upon purchasing a property with a minimum value of USD 375,000 under one of the various schemes that are open to foreign buyers or an apartment in a condominium development of at least two levels above ground. The permit is valid for as long as you hold the property. Another option is to buy shares in high-end retirement accommodation, mostly run by renowned international operators.

What is the procedure for applying for a residence permit?

You may apply for a residence permit if you are a non-citizen of Mauritius aged 50 years or more. You must make an initial transfer of at least USD 1500 to your local bank when first settling in the country. You must also undertake to transfer at least USD 1500 every month or USD 18,000 annually to your bank account in Mauritius with evidence of transfer. For your application to be entertained, you should request a tourist visa for a minimum period of one month on arrival in the country. Your dependents must also hold a tourist visa for the processing of their application and are entitled to a residence permit valid for the same period as yours.

What documents do I need to submit an application?

For New Applicants, preliminary documents should be uploaded online for Approval-In-Principle:

  • Birth Certificate – original (either in English or French) If not, a certified/sworn translated copy by a competent authority should be submitted.
  • Passport – Biodata page
  • Certificate of Character /Police Clearance covering the last ten years – less than six months old
  • 1 recent colour passport size digital photograph – dimensions 3.5cm (413 pixels) x 4.5cm (531 pixels) (less than six months old)
  • Signed undertaking – to be filled and signed by the applicant.
  • Copy of any other permit, if applicable– Occupation Permit/Work/Residence Permit

Documents to be uploaded after Approval-In-Principle:

  • Bank statement (Evidence of funds available on the certified bank statement from the retired non-citizen’s country of origin or residence)
  • Marriage Certificate / Divorce Certificate– original (either in English or French) If not, a certified/sworn translated copy by a competent authority should be submitted.
  • Medical Certificate and reports – less than six months old
  • Last entry visa pages
  • Copy of any other permit, if applicable– Occupation Permit/Work/Residence Permit
  • Processing fee