Here’s what you didn’t know about relocating to Mauritius
With the South African economy and political climate in a constant state of flux many South Africans are looking at investment opportunities abroad. However, when it comes to purchasing property in a foreign country or even relocating, financial concerns are not the only factors that matter: what are the rules around foreign ownership, residency, children’s education and other business opportunities?
Thankfully, there is more out there than the gloomy shores of England and the wallaby-filled Outbacks of Australia; and is a gem just on our doorstep.
A short four-hour flight will take you directly to the island of Mauritius and, while you may be forgiven for thinking of it at the picture-perfect palm-tree-lined beach destination, you will be pleasantly surprised by what it offers investors.
The island has seen more than three decades of political stability and constant economic growth and, with its fixed tax rate of 15% and exceptional year-round living conditions, it is no wonder that more than 6,000 South Africans have already made Mauritius their home.
Luckily developments such as the newly launched Pointe d’ Esny Le Village offers various plot and plan homes where South Africans can purchase property in a development that has consciously been designed to offer the best of Mauritius’ natural beauty while ensuring complete cultural integration. This is ensured as a certain percentage of the scheme is designated for local buyers.
While the term Golden Visa is not technically correct, Mauritius does offer permanent residency to investors who purchase property for upwards of US$500,000.
What makes this more appealing is the fact that this residency can be passed on one’s heirs along with the property itself.
This is because the Mauritian government provides free pre-primary- to tertiary-level education for its citizens.
While the country has two main public universities, various private institutions with affiliations to international schools, such as Middlesex, have set up campuses in-country.
For many years this once virgin island has relied almost exclusively on sugarcane production. Now, however, the government has set its sites on growing other sectors of its economy with great emphasis on banking, ICT and renewable energy.
With a small, ageing population, the country welcomes skilled foreign labour and people wishing to start new businesses.
Mauritius also employs a large number of accountants and auditors.
Mauritius ranked 25th out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in 2018. It is ranked first among African countries.
It has built its success on a free-market economy and has the eighth freest economy in the world.
Furthermore, in Mauritius there is no capital gains tax and it becomes a more attractive destination for investors as tax is capped at a flat 15% for both corporates and private individuals.
In Mauritius, racial and religious integration is far more than an aspirational ideal; it is a part of life with groups from different religions sharing in one another’s festivals and celebrations.
It has seen decades of colonisation by the British, French and the Dutch, paired with the high influx of migrant labour. Mauritius today is a multi-ethnic melting pot.
The language barrier is not a barrier
While French and Creole are commonly spoken, most people are fully bilingual and will easily converse in English if asked to do so.
According to residents of the island, schools are also becoming more dual-medium, moving towards an even split between English and French mediums.
While Mauritius is prone to the occasional cyclone, the Meteorological Society of Mauritius is well equipped to predict this kind of incremental weather pattern and provides citizens with ample warning.
These seasonal cyclones generally disrupt island life for only a few days of the year and Mauritians have learned from experience, adapting their building style to withstand these storm systems.
Other than that, Mauritius has a tropical climate with very little temperature fluctuation between winter and summer; a rise and fall in humidity levels is common.
The ocean temperature also fluctuates by only a few degrees Celsius between seasons.
It’s a healthy place to live
Unlike most other places in the world, you can really breathe in the proverbial “fresh air” in Mauritius; the country ranked second in the World Health Organisation’s Air Quality Index in 2011.
The country also has low obesity rates and high life expectancy compared to other African countries.
Less risk when buying property
We have all heard horror stories about people who purchased property in a proposed development only to find out that the developer had gone bankrupt before a single foundation was dug.
And when purchasing abroad, the sense of foreboding is only amplified by distance. Mauritius, however, has a unique way of negating this risk with a system of bank guarantees that ensure the bank will complete the project should the developer be unable to do so, for whatever reason.
This means that your investment is no longer solely linked to the developer’s stability.
How to buy
In South Africa, one’s search for property usually begins by clicking onto one of the many property portals where agents advertise their stock for sale.
When purchasing property in Mauritius, however, the search starts with an agent, who will not only help you find a property but will also assist you in navigating the legalities and procedures involved.
According to Jerome Espitalier Noel from Barnes International Realty, as estate agents assisting South Africans in purchasing property in Mauritius, he is often called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty. This means agents are often involved in more than just a property transaction, but also in assisting with buying cars or getting children enrolled in schools, among other concierge services to ensure immigrants make the transition to island life smoother.
Currently, the team at Barnes International Realty is involved in the sale of properties in the new development, Pointe d’ Esney le Village, situated on the southeast side of the island. The development is proving exceedingly popular among South Africans wishing to relocate, with a range of dwelling options ranging from the affordable to the ultra-luxurious – best of all, it’s very close to the island’s international airport.
During HomeTimes’ visit to the location we found that one does not need to look far to see why this “resort-style” development is already the jewel of the Mauritian real estate market with around 50% of the development sold out already.
Point d’ Esney Le Village is set to capture not only the vibrant and easy-going lifestyle of what is fondly referred to as, “old-Mauritius”, but is also designed to make the most of the abundant natural beauty of the land on which it is built – positioned near natural ponds and one of the island’s most picturesque lagoons.
The vision of creating balance between man and nature is further emphasised by not only the leisure facilities but the additional convenience of an on-site school as well as a village square that will create a laid back location for shopping at the supermarket and pharmacy, as well as meeting and social areas such as the cafe.
Whether you are looking to raise your children in a safe and idyllic environment or if you are looking at living la dolce vita while making safe and secure investments that will benefit you and your subsequent generations, Mauritius and Pointe d’ Esny La Village deserve your attention.
Words: Leanne Parker