Mauritius is a small, mountainous, and sub-tropical island located in the Indian Ocean, 800 kilometers east of Madagascar.
It doesn't get much more remote than that. And for some people, that is an attractive feature.
But despite its geographical isolation, the nation is remarkably well-connected to Europe, Asia, and Africa through airline links. Plus, it has an enjoyable climate, gorgeous white sand beaches, and relatively well-developed infrastructure.
Mauritius is also a particularly attractive and unique jurisdiction to establish an offshore company (more details on that here).
The focus of this article, however, will be on why Mauritius might be a good place to live from a lifestyle standpoint, and how to obtain residency there.
And with that I will turn it over to Roy Mason who has lived in Mauritius for many years.
Until next time,
Life In the Middle of the Indian Ocean—Residency in Mauritius
By Roy Mason
In an effort to diversify the economy and to attract foreign capital, the Mauritian government has facilitated a program that grants permanent residence to anyone who purchases residential property for a minimum of US $500,000 in several specifically designated locations under their IRS (Integrated Resort Scheme) and RES (Real Estate Scheme) schemes.
Examples of these locations are Tamarina Golf & Beach Estate, La Balise Marina, Matala Estate, La Tourelle, Anahita, and the Azuri development currently under construction. Prices of property in these developments typically vary from US $750,000 to US $3,000,000.
Upon purchase of property under these schemes, which is on a free-hold, outright ownership basis, permanent residence is automatically granted without any requirement to stay in Mauritius for a minimum period of time.
The application process is quick and straightforward and is normally done on your behalf by the sales team at the developments. Permanent residence is granted to the purchaser and his/her immediate family.
Medical reports stating absence of contagious diseases and police clearance certificates are required as part of the application. Pretty standard stuff.
The application also includes a declaration that a nominal sum of capital will be brought into Mauritius, tax free, to cover general living expenses.
It is not easy to obtain citizenship and a Mauritian passport. The government has a great deal of discretion in deciding who gets naturalized, and does not grant it easily. To even be considered, you should, generally speaking, have been a permanent resident for at least five years and have demonstrable links to the country. For specifics, consult with a local attorney.
Foreigners are not permitted to purchase property in Mauritius outside of the aforementioned developments, which means that non-citizens do not have access to attractive beach-front private property, which is all purchased on a 99 year lease basis.
This non-free market 'protectionism' is designed politically to shield citizens from foreign price competition.
Although property prices under the IRS and RES schemes are relatively expensive, advantages for retired permanent residents are significant.
Personal income earned in Mauritius is taxed at a maximum rate of 15%.
Private banks offer accounts in both local and foreign currencies. Of interest, too, is the ease (at present) with which gold coins and bars can be purchased from the Mauritius Central Bank. Certificates are issued for fully allocated, numbered bars that are held in storage at the central bank, and physical delivery is straightforward.
Life in Mauritius
The population of Mauritius is diverse, tolerant, and peaceful, and now stands at about 1.3 million.
Ethnic groups make up the population today as follows: Indian (Hindu majority) 68%, Creole (African descent) 25%, Chinese 3%, Franco (French descent) 2%, with the remaining 2% made up of a mix of expatriates. French, Creole, and English are widely spoken by the people of Mauritius, with English being the official business language.
The climate in Mauritius is a tropical luxury. It is hot and humid from November to March and warm and mild the rest of the year. Mauritius is susceptible to cyclones from December to March, but construction standards are sound and early warning services are efficient.
The island is covered in beautiful trees and flowers, and anywhere bougainvilleas flourish is a pleasant place to be.
Retired life mostly revolves around golf and boating, though ocean swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, and kite surfing are also popular. Mauritius offers many quality golf courses, and the ocean provides a haven for boating, sailing, and fishing. Domestic workers are inexpensive and generally reliable.
The island is well-connected by flights to Africa, Europe, and Asia, making travel convenient. As a small island, social life can be somewhat limited, but Mauritius serves well as a base from which to travel.
Although not often necessary, dealing with government departments is a slow, inefficient bureaucratic process that requires patience and a sense of humor.
Infrastructure in general is well-developed, with an adequate network of paved roads and reliable water and power supply systems. The island also enjoys the benefits of competent medical and dental facilities, with qualified practitioners from India, France, China, and South Africa.
The Mauritian economy has strong ties with India and, to a lesser extent, China. It is also part of the Southern African Development Community (SADCC). The main pillars of the economy are sugar cane/agriculture, textiles, fishing, tourism, and a growing financial and investment banking sector, which facilitates commerce mostly between Asia, India, and Africa on a low-tax, offshore basis.
Due to its small size, the limitations in local business and education are such that opportunities for young people are minimal.
Mauritius is not for everyone. But for those attracted to its remote location, developed infrastructure, tropical weather, cultural diversity, and beautiful beaches, it could be an option to consider for a lifestyle choice.
Mauritius isn't just about a lifestyle choice.
Even if you do not want to spend any significant time there, you should consider Mauritius as a jurisdiction to form an offshore company.
Editor’s Note: There are many other jurisdictions that are attractive besides Mauritius. Some are ideal places to reside. Others are great places to park some savings or to invest in. Others are optimal for conducting business. Yet others are perfect for obtaining a second passport. You can find out our favorite jurisdictions—and how to capture the internationalization options they offer—in this recently released video. Click here to watch it now.