A much coveted tourist destination known the world over, the tropical island of Mauritius is fast emerging as a preferred destination for non-citizens looking for an enticing place to retire. With its all-year-round temperate climate, first-class infrastructure and harmonious living, this rainbow nation with an affordable cost of living has, since 2006, opened its doors to eligible non-citizens looking for a stress-free retirement.
Applications for a residence permit under the Retired Non- Citizen (RNC) scheme should be filed with the Economic Development Board (formerly the Board of Investment). Eligible applicants should be aged 50 years or above. Retired applicants should also prove their ability to transfer US$40,000 (or equivalent in any freely convertible currency) annually to an account with a Mauritian bank. A residence permit is issued for three years, after which time the retiree may apply for a renewal or for a permanent residence permit, which is valid for 10 years. Dependents of a retired non- citizen, including children under the age of 24, are also eligible to apply for a residence permit.
During their stay, retirees are not allowed to work or be a majority shareholder and director in a locally incorporated company. To avoid having to file for a renewal of their residence permit, many non-citizens elect to buy a residential property under existing schemes targeting principally foreigners, namely IRS/RES/PDS, the PDS or Property Development Scheme having now replaced the former Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) and Real Estate Scheme (RES). If the investment in the property is at least US$500,000, the acquirer will be entitled to a permanent residence permit. Foreigners having held a permanent residence permit for at least 10 years may, after that time has elapsed, apply for citizenship with the Prime Minister’s Office. For more information on the Mauritius RNC scheme, please visit www.investmauritius.com.
Why is the island gaining popularity among retired non-citizens?
Since the introduction in 2006 of various schemes to attract foreign nationals to invest, work or retire in Mauritius, over 17,000 Occupation and Residence Permits have been issued to non-citizens, of which some 4,500 holders are currently in the country. Retired non-citizens make up 10% of that figure and their numbers are on the rise. In the Mauritian government’s last budget speech, measures were announced to further entice retired non-citizens to their shores.
While investors in real estate may only buy under approved schemes in specific locations, RNCs may choose to live anywhere on the island. Beachside rentals are preferred though they can be expensive, especially on the northern and western coasts. Infrastructure and amenities are of a very good standard and, for RNCs who are concerned about their health, Mauritius’ clinics and hospitals offer highly professional and affordable care. Non-citizens with children who are still studing are spoilt for choice. International schools and universities are open to foreigners, are of a good quality, and offer tuition in either English or French. The island’s well developed air connectivity is another advantage. With several daily flights to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, you are only hours away from your loved ones.
For a place so small – 2,000 square kilometres – cultural and social life is incredibly buoyant, with a lot to choose from. Expat clubs abound, with many occasions to get together and socialise. Naturally, water sports are a favourite among locals and foreigners alike, be it sailing, water skiing, snorkelling, diving, fishing, boardsailing or just sunbathing on an immaculate white sandy beach. The hinterland, with its stunning landscape, is an invitation to memorable hiking.
But what makes people feel so comfortable living here is, above all, the feeling of being accepted. With more than a million tourists each year from all over the world, the locals have developed a real sense of hospitality toward foreigners. It is not uncommon for non-citizen to develop strong ties with the locals, with the feeling of having found a new family. The ability of Mauritians to converse in many languages – principally in English and French – contributes to making life easier for foreign retirees in their day-to-day interaction with their neighbours, and also with the authorities.
Is Mauritius the new Eldorado for non-citizen retirees? For sure, the island nation boasts a plethora of attributes. But with non- citizen retirees now a global phenomenon, Mauritius does face competition from other locations around the world. Mindful of this fact, the Mauritius government and other concerned parties are likely to keep working hard to retain and reinforce the island’s competitive advantages.
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