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Heading east: Many moving to Mauritius

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Increasing numbers of South Africans are relocating to the nearby island, or buying investment property there

South Africans in greater numbers than ever are packing their bags and relocating to Mauritius as that government’s “open for business” policies make owning property and gaining citizenship increasingly lucrative.

Not even the number of Europeans making this move can match the numbers, says Jérôme Espitalier-Noel of Barnes International Realty Mauritius.

Some South Africans are relocating their businesses and families to the island, while others are purchasing buy-to-let properties there and keeping the country open as Plan B should they want to emigrate in the future, he says. 

Many retirees are also heading to the Indian Ocean island in search of “a happy, safe place” for their golden years, and increasing numbers of South Africans with school-going are children emigrating there. 

Due to Mauritius’ tax incentives, many asset and wealth managers are moving their clients’ investments to the country, says Avi Kaplan, a business developer at Mauritius Commercial Bank in Joburg.

“A lot of traders are also going to Mauritius to trade,” he says.

The World Bank ranks Mauritius as the best in Africa to conduct business.

Among the attractions are that it is just over three  hours away from South Africa, and offers a smooth transition in lifestyle, says Espitalier-Noel.

Diane Watkins, executive director of Barnes International Realty in Mauritius, says the boxes it ticks include the lifestyle and beauty, the fixed 15% tax rate, and the fact that there is no Capital Gains Tax.

Watkins says property purchases within designated Property Development Scheme (PDS) areas in Mauritius in excess of $500 000 (about R7.3 million) earn foreign investors permanent residence status.

“There is no need for property owners in this investment bracket to constantly renew their permanent residence documentation because it is tied to their title deeds and is transferable as part of an estate.

“Foreign investors looking at purchasing property in PDS can start more conservatively, and still expect excellent medium- to long-term returns.”

She says in recent years South Africans have become increasingly dominant in Mauritius property and their buying power is contributing to the construction and real estate sector having become the second largest GDP-generator, according to statistics from the country’s Board of Investment.

Most South Africans – whether holidaying on the island or reviewing investment opportunities – will be familiar with the west and north coasts, although the east coast also offers a few upmarket resorts. The south-east coast is almost entirely unknown to the South African market, despite it being home to a lagoon.

“Most of the land around the Blue Bay and Pointe d’Esny areas – the two villages that front the lagoon – has had a single owner for nearly 300 years. That ownership was consolidated under the umbrella of the Compagnie de Beau Vallon Ltée 97 years ago and remains intact to this day.”

AfriAsia Bank and New World Wealth revealed a report on the Global Wealth Migration Review which shows the “rise of Mauritius as a global wealth hub” over the last 10 years. From 2007 to 2017, Mauritius showed 195% wealth growth – one of the top three best performing wealth markets.

The report says reasons why Mauritius has performed so well, with the prediction of further improvement, include:

  • Sufficient and strong security for women and children.
  • Strong ownership rights.
  • Resilient and stable economy.
  • A well-developed banking system
  • Independent media.
  • Low income and company taxes.
  • Ease of investment.
  • High migration of wealthy individuals.

New life: Family was welcomed by community

Picture: Supplied
Sun and security: Anika and Patrick Peggs with their children, Nathan and Peyton. Picture: Supplied

When Anika Peggs, who is an airline pilot, was offered a position with Air Mauritius in November 2011, the family did not hesitate in accepting it. They were living in South Africa at the time, but because she and her husband, Patrick, loved the outdoors, the lifestyle and “plentiful opportunities” in Mauritius were highly attractive.

“There is also a sense of security living here that is good for families,” Anika says. As with most relocations, especially emigration, settling in initially was “quite difficult”, especially as family and friends were left behind in South Africa. The family live in Point d’Esny.

Anika says they have missed the availability of fresh organic products in the immediate area, “but a 10000m² mall is going up nearby”. The mall is being built by Ascencia Malls, the largest listed retail property company in Mauritius.

Anika says: “The first summer was something to get used to with the humidity, but now we love it and use it to our advantage. We also love the sense of community here. We felt welcome from day one.” It is almost seven years now that the family has been living in Mauritius and to sum up their experience, Anika says the word to use is “great”.

“We love living in Mauritius for its peacefulness and the beauty of nature. We’ve missed the convenience of being able to pop into lovely supermarkets like one can in South Africa, but that’s set to change. It has made us appreciate the little things in life so much more.”

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