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Mauritius, a better destination than Portugal for expatriation of wealthy South Africans

For wealthy South African nationals looking to emigrate or retire abroad, the choice of destinations is very often between 2 options; Portugal and Mauritius.


Portugal is slowly becoming a popular destination for South Africans who are looking to enter the European Union. Relocating to Portugal can be strategically beneficial as the country offers a favourable tax jurisdiction for financially prudent expats. Portugal offers investment and business opportunities and improved lifestyles.


Mauritius, on the other hand, has always been the favourite island of South African investors due to its relatively close proximity to the country, attractive tax-regime and the laid-back lifestyle. Residence permits are available to foreign investors looking to work, invest, live or retire in Mauritius.


Gaining a Residence Permit in Portugal and Mauritius


A Portuguese residence permit via the Portugal Golden Visa Program enables visa-free mobility through 26 countries in Europe, ranging from Scandinavia, Iberian Peninsula, Western & Eastern Europe. Among the several options available to South Africans wishing to obtain residency, real estate investment is the easiest route with a minimum investment of €350,000 [whereby conditions apply].


The Portugal Golden Visa was kickstarted in 2012 by the government and has since amassed several billion euros in real estate investment and over 2,000 applications on an annual basis. A real estate investment of €500,000 is required and the property can either be residential or commercial. Moreover, the amount can be invested either in one or multiple units for a total value of €500,000. And the investment can also be made on an individual basis or jointly, as long as each applicant invests at least €500,000.


There is also the possibility of buying properties with a value equal to or above €350,000, as mentioned previously. However, there is a catch in it. This particular investment only caters for properties for which the construction has been concluded at least 30 years ago, or for properties in urban rehabilitation areas. If the particular property price is below the €350,000 then the cost of renovation can be added to it and ultimately qualify for this type of investment.


So, as an investor, will you dive into the trouble of going through the renovation process or acquire decades-old property just for the sake of expatriation? Well, to keep it short, this is where Mauritius comes in not as an alternative but as the prime solution.


In Mauritius, the 2020/21 Budget has been presented all whilst the country was still in the COVID-19 crisis. This has been a crucial step forward with an attempt to reboot the economy that was at a standstill for months due to the pandemic and also to boost badly affected revenues.


In this sense, a series of measures concerning the Mauritian Residency Program has been announced by the government and which makes it easier for South African professionals, investors and retirees to relocate to Mauritius. Below are some of the main announcements:

  • The validity of the Occupation Permit and Residence Permit has been lengthened for retirees for up to 10 years and renewable.

  • The minimum investment amount for an Occupation Permit has been reduced from USD 100,000 to USD 50,000.

  • The spouse of an Occupational Permit holder will not need a permit to invest or work in Mauritius. Additionally, Occupational Permit holders will be allowed to bring their parents with them to Mauritius.

  • Professionals with Occupational Permit and foreign retirees with a Residence Permit will be able to invest in ventures without any restriction on shareholding.

  • Non-citizens who hold a Residence Permit under the various real estate schemes will no longer require an Occupation Permit to work in Mauritius.

  • Occupational Permit and Residence Permit holders will be able to apply for Permanent Residency if they held the permit for 3 consecutive years.

  • The minimum investment amount for an investor to obtain the status of Permanent Resident or for a holder of an immovable property under an existing scheme to obtain the status of Resident has been reduced from USD 500,000 to USD 375,000.

  • Non-citizen holders of Residence Permit, Occupation Permit or Permanent Residence Permit will be allowed to acquire one plot of serviced land not exceeding 2,100 m2 for residential purposes within Smart Cities.

At a time where uncertainty hits nations and where there is a tendency to tread cautiously, it is very encouraging to see Mauritius coming forward with its opening to the world and to investors.


Living in Portugal and Mauritius


In the last few decades, Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, has gone from being the less attractive sister to Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona to being one of the most hip and happening cultural and travel destinations in Europe. Cascais, the Silver coast and the Algarve seem to be the more popular locations for South Africans and other expats. However, Cascais is relatively more expensive than Tamarin, located on the west coast of Mauritius.

Scores of South African business owners, investors and retirees are exchanging the uncertainties of modern-day South Africa for a safe, relaxed island existence in Mauritius. Offering a strong, diversified economy, exceptional quality of life and a high degree of personal safety, the country is a breath of fresh air compared to life in South Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic and its unfolding aftermath.


A key advantage of Mauritius over Portugal is its close proximity to South Africa: critically, it is situated close enough to South Africa for business professionals and farmers to travel to and from the country on a regular basis in order to manage their affairs locally, while their families can enjoy a high quality of living, healthcare and education in Mauritius. Also, the cost of living in Mauritius is 5.3% cheaper than in Portugal. Language will not be a problem, as Mauritius is a predominantly English-speaking country, if you choose to move to Portugal, you will have to learn Portuguese, especially if you are hoping to find employment there.


We can help you move to Mauritius through real-estate investment. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions by filling in the contact form.


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