Closed borders: They quit their jobs, sold their house and are now stranded...

Published 2020-08-18 14:57

They had been planning their move for over a year. It was finally coming together. It was real: they sold their house, they quit their jobs, the children left their schools. But then, borders closed. Now, they are stranded in their home countries without a house, without jobs but most importantly, with growing uncertainty.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Jérémy, I am married and we have two kids, a 16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. We currently live in Perpignan in the south of France. I was a partner in an insurance firm and my wife was an executive secretary.

How long have you been planning to move abroad?

We have been preparing our expat project for 18 months now. We did a lot of research on the internet, we found a lot of information on, and we visited Mauritius in July 2019 for 15 days to introduce our teens to the island and above all validate our choice. These 15 days allowed us to decide on where we wanted to live. We were initially hesitating between the West and the North, we chose the North. When we returned to France, we made the final decision to come and live in Mauritius, with everything it entails, whether personally or professionally. We had planned to get to Mauritius on June 1st...

Why do you want to go abroad?

I have always been drawn to the adventure of expatriation: a new experience, a new culture, a new country... The idea of ​​stepping out of your comfort zone is something that I love. Will we be able to recreate a social network, recreate a business from scratch in a new country, adapt to a new culture? So many challenges driving our desire to move.

The choice of Mauritius very quickly became obvious, we wanted a French-speaking country with a favorable climate, with an efficient school system, dynamic economy and politically stable.

Where in planning your project are you right now?

We are waiting for the borders to open, we have sold everything in France, we have 8 suitcases left since the end of May. We were scheduled to take off on May 31, so we had planned for everything to be ready by then.

How are you coping with this setback?

It's very complicated, we have been staying with friends for several weeks with the bare minimum. It is especially the lack of visibility and the uncertainty that is wearing us out, our children will miss the start of the school year, we do not know when we will be able to leave- in 15 days, in 1 month, 6 months, never? The lack of communication and clear perspective is very confusing and we can’t help but wonder.

Does the project still stand despite it all?

Even if our priority remains Mauritius, we are having to ask ourselves tough questions and to consider a plan B or C. Going elsewhere or staying in France are options, everything will depend on what the Mauritian government will decide regarding reopening the borders. It's hard to change our plans when we've been thinking about it everyday for a year and a half, but unfortunately it's a possibility that weighs a little more everyday.

Financially, how has this situation affected you?

End of February, beginning of March, we had contacted real estate agencies to obtain information on rentals, fortunately we had not made a commitment. We would have had to pay rent while we are still here. We are in contact with expats who are in Mauritius, we go daily to the forum to follow the discussions concerning the reopening of borders, some are in much more complicated situations than us. For the moment the only expenses incurred were for the children’s school, it is besides the only "official" bond we have to Mauritius which means we will probably not be prioritized when the borders eventually reopen.

Emotionally, how are your family and yourself reacting to this?

We have the feeling that our dream has turned into a nightmare. It's very complicated not to be able to plan, not to have a date set for our departure, to tell the children that they will not go back to school as planned, to tell themselves that nothing is certain, and we may have to give up on our project... It is a great feeling of frustration because we cannot do anything to change the situation, we are waiting for announcements that might never happen, without being able to act on anything.