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Exploratory trip to Mauritius

Hi there!

American engineer/ business analyst guy here. I will be visiting Mauritius in the middle of February next year for a 1 week exploration trip along with my best friend. We both are intrigued by your island, it's peaceful and serene nature and how well many cultures and religions get along, and want to see if it's the right place for us to potentially relocate to (we're both unhappy about the direction U.S. is taking)... we'd like your help planning an itinerary that gives us a good sense of the island, from the perspective of what it's like to live there. Yes as this is our first trip we'd like to relax and see some must see tourist highlights too, but our overall purpose is getting a feeI for what it's like to live and work in Mauritius. Any suggestions would be appreciated. We furthermore had the following questions:

- How expensive are taxis? We are trying to decide between renting a car and using buses or taxis to get around in the island (with 1 suitcase each). The thing is that we're both used to driving on the right side with automatic transmission cars, so it would be quite a drastic change to get used to driving there.

- will it likely be very rainy in February/ should we plan mostly indoor activities?

- what amount of French would you say is required to get by and do day to day business?

- Cost of living wise, I've heard varying accounts, that's it's both more and less expensive than US. Is there a general sense someone can give me?

- As foreigners, what will be the biggest change we'll likely experience? Are there some particular things to watch out for/caution?

- From a professional perspective, are there specific engineering or consulting firms there that have major presense and likely to have job openings for expats we should look into networking with (e.g. on linkedin). Unfortunately my company does not.

Sincerely
Speedbird

Hello,

For a visitor, Mauritius has loads to offer...it really depends on what kind of tourist you are...whether you are the beach/water activities guy, explorer and adventurer type or the cultural and discovery goof. The best option would be to combine all three aspects.
The different trips you will make on the island will definitely give you an idea about life in Mauritius. However, on a personal note, I would suggest more than one week, especially coming from far away land as the US.

Now on a professional spectrum, to live and work in Mauritius, you will need an 'Occupation Permit' delivered by the Board of Investment, an arm of the govt. It allows you to work, to invest or to operate as a self-employed. As you are into engineering and consultancy, I would categorize you as a 'professional'.
There are conditions attached and you will find more relevant information and the guidelines through this link.
http://op.investmauritius.com/default.aspx

http://op.investmauritius.com/Download/ … r_2016.pdf

Companies, both local and foreign, specializing in your field do recruit expats depending on level of expertise and experience.
Hope this answers your last question.

Now coming to the rest.

As a serial expat who has also lived in the US, I can give you a proper insight.

Taxis are definitely expensive if you want to get around a lot. And buses while cheap, are inconvenient for tourism/visiting/sight seeing purposes.
The best options are either organizing your trip with a tour company or renting a car.
You can rent an automatic transmission car but you will have to do with driving on the left.

February is peak summer season with lots of sun and clear sky but with some occasional rainy days.
No need for indoor-only activities. 

For your first trip, no need for French as English is the official and administrative language and also widely spoken and understood. I can see from your profile, you can speak Hindi. This will be an advantage as the bulk of the local population are of Indian descent.
Now, in the event you are coming to live here, some French and more importantly the mother tongue here, Mauritian Creole, will greatly help.

In general terms, cost of living is definitely cheaper than in the US.
That said, it can vary drastically depending on your way of life and expenses.

Food if you are willing to adapt to local cuisine, is cheaper, whether it's gonna be home made or you will be eating outside.
Outside of luxury and high end projects, rent is way cheaper.
Utilities like water, electricity and gas are cheaper. Internet rates depending on the service provider and package, is more or less the same.
Private healthcare is definitely cheaper.
Cars are WAY more expensive.
Taxis are expensive.
Education - private institutions are somewhat expensive.

Mauritius and the US are world apart on all levels: , ethnic, politics, institution, culture, society, religious, gastronomy, you name it.
So it will definitely require some tuning and adjustment. It can taker weeks or months all depending on your experience as an expat or traveler and willingness to adapt.

Hope this helps for a start.

Should you need additional info or clarification, you can always send me a message.

Regards

I'll be following this thread as I'm another American who is planning to visit next year though not as soon as February. Good luck with your decision, SpeedbirdYankee.

Hi Winston! Thank you so much for your reply! It was great to read your insight on everything. I have a good sense of Cost of Living and Transportation now.. we'll rent a car for maximum flexibility. I am of indian origin, but my best friend is not; we're trying to get started on french :)

I had the following follow up questions:

- From the OP guidelines, it seems apparent that one must first have an employment contract from a company within Mauritius and then apply for the OP, correct?

- Are there any engineering or consulting firms that come to mind you'd recommend networking with, both online and possibly in person when we visit? It's sorta hard to get a sense of the big players there just from online searches...

- Could you give an idea of how expensive cars are? Let's say a Toyota Corolla...
Do most people choose to not own cars and take taxis or buses to work?

- What might rent be for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, say middle end/middle class? Is there an example of a typical residential community you can think of? Would be nice to visit..

- Are there specific areas you'd recommend visiting that would allow an opportunity to meet with local people and get a good sense of what living there feels like?

Again, thanks so much! PS would you like to hang out for lunch or coffee once we're there?

@dhalgren - hope you find useful information too! What are your motivations for wanting to move?

Sincerely
Speedbird

Speedbird,

I've been looking for possible places to retire in the next few years -- Uruguay, Panama and Chile are on the list. Australia and NZ are great but expensive and harder to retire to. I've been to South Africa and loved it but there are still political/economic issues.

Mauritius seems to have some of what I love about South Africa (weather, beaches, culture, music) and fewer of the negatives (crime, corruption). If not for the latter, Cape Town would be at the top of the list.

That's not to say Mauritius doesn't have its problems, no place is perfect, but the problems don't seem overwhelming, at least not yet. Not having visited yet, the one downside would be its size. Unless you can afford to travel abroad rather frequently, I imagine it would feel claustrophobic after awhile.

That's why I'm especially interested in what Americans think about Mauritius. As it seems there are relatively few Americans on this board, your post caught my interest.

Ah. I want a nice cozy place away from overwhelming hum dum I guess.

It sounds like Mauritius may be just what you want. I look forward to reading your dispatches after you get there and see it for yourself. Wish I could get over there as early as February!

Hiya!

In regards to Dhalgren - Mauritius does not feel claustrophobic! :) There is a lot happening, cultural events are popping up everywhere and the variety of mountains, beach etc. keeps one busy.

I have lived in London for the past 9 years and only came to live in Mauritius earlier this year. I'm working full time. And I have not had one 'boring' day since I set foot on this beautiful island....

One thing that I'm starting to miss though (apart from family) is online shopping. E-commerce is only starting and there is absolutely no comparison with the UK and the US, I suppose.

Thanks for the perspective Annie! Do you have any other insight on jobs / living accommodationa / daily life?

Hi,

Yeah...it's better top already have a job contract before moving than coming here to look for work. It will save you a lot of hassle and strenuous formalities.

There are a bunch of engineering and consultancy firms, both local and international. However it would be better for you to look for them online through registered job portals. You will find all the information you are seeking.

A new Toyota Corolla would cost you around $30,000. Depending on the dealer, prices can vary. Better look for one once you are here.

Rent for a standard 1-2 bedroom apartment starts from $400-500/monthly. Rates depends type of product, location and amenities.
You can search for one here.
https://www.lexpressproperty.com/en/

Like I said, Mauritius has loads to offer. If I have to narrow the search and considering you are of Indian-origin, I would suggest you visit some popular attractions especially during weekends and cultural events. Example Mauritius has lots of temples and religious sanctuaries where you will easily meet with people if you are the type.
Now on a professional outlook, you can meet with people though business chambers, workshops and other seminaries where you will meet with locals and expats and get a good insight about the way of life on the island.

I'm always on the move and busy, but if I'm there...sure we can arrange for a meeting.

Annierajoo :

Hiya!

One thing that I'm starting to miss though (apart from family) is online shopping. E-commerce is only starting and there is absolutely no comparison with the UK and the US, I suppose.

I have been buying online for a long time now from most online retailers and never had any issues. Sure, being a far away island, shipping costs can be expensive and buying large and bulky items can be a problem.

Thanks for the additional details, Winston! Really appreciate your advice!

By job portal did you mean the global ones like indeed, glassdoor, LinkedIn etc or was there a local one Mauritian companies tend to use more often?

Ah yes one more question... I heard phone data coverage is spotty... is that true? Also true for GPS coverage? Wondering if it's worth to pay extra for GPS unit on rental car...

No,

You have some local ones.
https://www.myjob.mu/

Phone data coverage all depends on the service provider. Some are spotty and with others, you get good coverage.

GPS is not really used here. It can actually make your driving more confusing and strenuous.

Thanks!

WinstonH :

Phone data coverage all depends on the service provider. Some are spotty and with others, you get good coverage.

GPS is not really used here. It can actually make your driving more confusing and strenuous.

Which providers are good vs bad?
So don't rely on phone or GPS at all; just good old fashioned maps and landmark detection skills eh? Exiting yet a tad bit nervous.

The 2 most prominent providers are Mauritius Telecom and Emtel.

You can always use your GPS...however you will get used to navigating without it quickly.

Hi,

Not saying I had problems with online shopping. But it's the variety and choice and of course the shipping costs. PayPal for instance is only now being launched. Big platforms like Amazon often don't ship here.

Also when it comes to shopping in stores, returns & refunds are not accepted. Which for me was a surprise... Those are the things you learn in your daily life in a new country. Also haven't seen any coupon loyalty programs, only loyalty cards.

Personally I find food shopping in the big supermarkets/hypermarkets quite expensive. Clothes is not cheap either. As an expat, I tend to shop in malls and larger stores, whereas locals mostly shop in local shops and markets. In the UK we had several low price clothes shops for seasonal/trend purchases, which I yet have to find here. On the other hand there is a nice range of up and coming Mauritian designers and craftsmen and in comparison to the UK, I find their prices rather accessible.

Cars are definitely quite expensive too but it's handy to have one if you want to get around the island easily and be flexible. Furniture can be pricey too but if you are renting, you won't have to worry about this.

As for jobs, I applied before coming and did a couple of Skype Interviews. myjob.mu is definitely to good staring point. I've heard of a recruitment agency TALENT LAB LTD. Don't know if they are any good and if they are specialised in any field. Look them up...


Life is perfect here! :) Have a great trip in February and I hope you love the island as much as I do.

@Annierajoo, you make it sound fantastic and that's great to hear about not feeling claustrophobic. I was basing that on people I know from the mainland U.S. who've lived in Hawaii who say they got "island fever" and felt isolated after awhile.

I'm surprised Amazon doesn't ship to Mauritius or, as you say, "often doesn't ship here." So, they do, sometimes? And I know, in theory, Netflix is global now but what's the reality there?

Dhalgren :

@Annierajoo, you make it sound fantastic and that's great to hear about not feeling claustrophobic. I was basing that on people I know from the mainland U.S. who've lived in Hawaii who say they got "island fever" and felt isolated after awhile.

I'm surprised Amazon doesn't ship to Mauritius or, as you say, "often doesn't ship here." So, they do, sometimes? And I know, in theory, Netflix is global now but what's the reality there?

Just sneaking in.

Amazon's shipping policy is classified based on different regions. There are items that they don't ship to a particular region.
Example; geared more toward electronics, Amazon doesn't ship many items to Mauritius due to different regulations and specifications. 

In Mauritius, Ebay and Alibaba are way more popular anyway due to having more sellers from Asia and faster shipping for free or cheaper rates..

Netflix is available in Mauritius since mid-2016.

This is all very helpful!!!!!

Annie - would you and/or your family like to meet and chat over a meal when we visit in feb?

@Annie - how did you hear about talent lab? I looked them up and they seem helpful yet website is sorta crudely set up... I wanna be sure they're legitimate / not any scam or fraud before contacting them

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