Life in Mauritius has much to offer for expats and their families, with good schools, high standards of real estate, and a vast choice of leisure activities, ranging from numerous water sports and horseback riding to rugby and golf. The cost of living in Mauritius is cheaper than in some countries with a comparable quality of life, and crime levels are low.
Whilst there is publicly funded healthcare provision in Mauritius for local residents, as an expat you would usually need to pay your own medical costs. It is therefore important to ensure that you have appropriate medical insurance before you move to Mauritius. There are plenty of public hospitals on the island, but many expats prefer to make use of one of the private hospitals such as the Darne Clinic or the Apollo Bramwell Hospital, where a broader range of services can be offered and superior facilities are available. A small number of complex medical procedures may not be available in Mauritius, and for these you would need to be transferred to a hospital in South Africa or Reunion.
Malaria does not occur in Mauritius except in some rural areas, so there is little need to take precautions against this, and you are typically not required to have any vaccinations when traveling to and from the country, unless you come from a country with yellow fever risk transmission. Nevertheless, standard immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), as well as for hepatitis A and B are recommended.
Education is highly valued, and the state provides free education from primary school through to university for children who live in Mauritius. There is also a wide choice of international schools that are ideal for children moving from overseas to Mauritius, for example, Alexandra House School and the International Preparatory School for children aged up to 11 years. In addition to academic subjects, pupils have the opportunity to take many extra classes such as ballet, art, netball, tennis, touch rugby, and cricket.
For secondary level students there is also a range of private schools to choose from, such as Le Bocage International School and Northfields High School, where pupils can study for academic qualifications, for example, international GCSEs, A levels, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Fees are payable for all international schools. The high standard of education at the international schools also attracts Mauritian children to these establishments, offering expat pupils the opportunity to become more integrated in the local community.
Traveling to Mauritius is straightforward, with many airlines offering regular flights to the country, including Air Mauritius, Air France, British Airways, Emirates, and Air India. Direct flights to Mauritius from some of the world’s major cities make traveling very manageable for expats. For example, a direct flight from London or Paris to Mauritius takes just under 12 hours, while direct flights from South Africa take less than 5 hours. The island’s Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport located outside Port Louis is named after the politician who campaigned for independence and went on to become the first Mauritian Prime Minister.
The main mode of transportation within Mauritius is by road, since there are no railways in operation on the island. The M1 motorway links the capital, Port Louis, with a number of towns and the international airport. From Port Louis you can sail to the island of Rodrigues, which can also be reached by air. Several bus services operate on the island and taxis are plentiful, but if you choose to hire one it is recommended that you agree a fixed fare before you begin your journey, as many taxis do not use meters.
If you buy a car in Mauritius, you will need to arrange the vehicle license or road tax, known locally as the “declaration”, in addition to arranging vehicle insurance. The amount payable depends on the vehicle’s engine size and you can choose to pay for 3, 6 or 12 months, but you must have insurance cover in place for the whole road tax period you wish to select. Cars do not require a “fitness test certificate” until they are 7 years old.
Whereas holidaymakers can drive for up to a month using their national driver’s license (or an international driver’s license in case their national one is not written in Latin letters), anyone residing and wishing to drive in the country for longer will need to get a temporary permit from the Traffic Branch of the local police. The quality of roads varies across the country, with small rural roads being particularly prone to potholes. Drivers should also be aware that there are some cars and bikes on the road with little or even nothing in the way of headlamps, so if you choose to drive at night you will need to be particularly vigilant on the roads.
If you become involved in a minor traffic accident where no one is hurt and responsibility is clear and agreed with all parties involved, you will simply need to complete an Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident form, and this must be done within 24 hours of the incident. However, if you have a more serious accident, the police must be called immediately, and if you don’t speak French, you are advised to seek the assistance of a family member, friend, or colleague who does.