Blue lagoon

The best place to live in the world – Mauritius

Did you ever wonder where is the best place to live in the world? If you’ve travelled a lot, you must certainly have thought about that, as most people do. Deciding on what would be the best country or city to suit oneself is a highly personal decision. What suits me may not suit you but let me nevertheless share my top place in the world to live – Mauritius.

Blue lagoon

Strong attraction

This tiny island in the Indian Ocean has built a reputation for luxury tourism over the years. Warm weather and lovely beaches certainly attract a lot of tourists every year – over a million per year. That’s considerable given that the population of the island is nearly 1.3 million. But some people do chose to settle there. French is widely spoken and as a result, quite a few French people tend to come and settle there. This fact speaks highly of the country as just half an hour’s flight away is Reunion island which belongs to France and is in effect, part of the EU. If the French eschew Reunion island and even Guadeloupe and Martinique to settle in Mauritius, surely, there must be something attracting them…

Weather

If you hail from Europe, especially from Britain, then choosing a place abroad to settle will mean that the local weather will be a strong factor. Most British expats choose Spain, France, Australia and America as their destination and I bet in America it’ll probably be sunny California or Florida unless they have to go to New York for work. Well, in Mauritius, the warm sunny weather is a well-established fact used to attract tourists. There are occasional cyclones that break up the torrid heat and mild winters to give a respite from the constant humidity. Sometimes it’s good to have a little cold to freshen up the air and make us look forward to the next warm weather. Living in Singapore for example means being assailed constantly by the heat all year round as it sits close to the Equator. The downside with the tropical weather of Mauritius means that there are plenty of mosquitoes to drive you mad. There’s no escaping that when you’re outdoors, especially on the beach or in nature.

Money

Let’s talk money now, the deal-clincher! Here are the basic facts – the cost of living is high but the local currency, the Mauritian rupee, is weak compared to the euro or pound. So if you could somehow keep earning your income from Europe while living on this lovely tropical island, well, you’ll be as close to paradise as you can imagine, lacking nothing money can buy on the island, mostly rum! There are several international banks operating there, which means transfering your money over would be easier and cheaper. You could also do most of your work over the internet but the connection speed unfortunately still tends to be low.

Culture

There’s just enough cultural difference in Mauritius to make it exciting to live there and discover these differences without feeling like a complete stranger and being unable to integrate.The population of the country is varied – half are hindus, and the remainder is mostly split among Chinese, muslims and christians. There is strong influence consequently from the East yet the inhabitants tend to be western in their outlook and taste. Fashion is definitely western and jeans are as common as in the US. On top of all this, Mauritius is often associated with Africa, the closest continent, weather for sports or economic associations. The country is part of SADC – the Southern Africa Development Community. While this may not be particularly useful to someone who just wants a peaceful life, it does mean that culture is not homogeneous. There is also emphasis on attracting foreign labour, skills and investors and the international banks set up in the country facilitate that for everyone, whether it’s investors, workers, expats or simple tourists.

 Living la vida dolca

Language

I mentioned the widely-spoken language already – French – but English is the official language. Although not widely spoken, every Mauritian will understand you if you speak English. Being the official language, all official procedures and documents will be in English. So unlike Spain where the Brits need to hire a translator for anything official, you’ll get along just well with your English. But why this dual language in the country? This is due to historical reasons: the French first conquered the island a few centuries ago but the British captured it from them. During the treaty of Paris, which formalised the handover of the island to the British, the latter agreed to retain the custom and religion of the French on the island. So the French language remained.

For an idea at the easy-going lifestyle, see this piece on the simple life in Mauritius that makes a good comparison. For me, this is one of the most important reasons – the lifestyle – but I know for many others, the weather will be first on the list. The language and culture will certainly help with integration and who knows, perhaps call Mauritius a second home…

 

 

View from Corps de Garde

A simple life in Mauritius

View from Corps de Garde

If you come to Mauritius for the usual 2 to 4 weeks of holidays, you may not have time to fully experience daily life on the island. A typical day for you will involve going out and visiting places. Yet, if you dig deeper, you might find that life on the island is much simpler there than in countries suffering from severe winters. Here’s why.

In the cold

Carpets are very popular in Europe to act as insulation and cover a poorly finished wooden floor. However, if liquids fall on carpets, it is not easy to clean them. As stains accumulate, it is either time to call a professional cleaner or change carpet. Cheap carpets don’t last long. In addition, carpets are a source of dust and many asthma sufferers have a poor time coping with them. You need a vacuum cleaner to clean a carpet and the good ones must be powerful and will be expensive.

Proper house insulation is crucial if homeowners don’t want to be burning money through heating bills. Energy bills rise steeply every year. Double-glazing windows are essential nowadays as a result. Not having them in a well-insulated house is like trying to heat it with the door and windows wide open. Yet double and triple glazing windows don’t come free. In addition, bathrooms need an extraction fan in order to remove humidity and prevent the growth of mould in winter. As usual cheap fans won’t do a good job.

Snowfall and freezing weather result in a lot of serious consequences for countries that are not prepared for them: burst pipes, abandoned cars, accidents on iced roads.  We all know how trains stop running in England for any reason, least of all snow. There are horror stories of Eurostar trains breaking down, people spending Christmas and New Year in airport lounges because the landing strips are covered deep in snow and schools unable to open. Salt must be imported and fleet of vehicles operated to grit major roads.

And in Mauritius

The intense heat on the island throughout most of the year means that rooms must be kept as cool as possible.  Ceramic tiles are an ideal material to cover floor surfaces every where. They are easy to clean, do not get stained and are hard-wearing and long-lasting. Unfortunately, they are quite brittle and can get broken suddenly. They are also expensive to buy and lay down. A very popular and cheaper alternative in Mauritius is the vinyl. However, vinyl tiles tend to get unglued with humidity so are not used outside. Just a simple broom is enough to clean these surfaces, no vacuum cleaner is necessary, although it is quite popular to use one. It is also possible to thoroughly clean these floors with a mop and a detergent.

There is no need for such a thing as insulation in Mauritius – no loft insulation and no double or triple-glazing windows to pay for. This means windows do not need to seal shut to block the cold, thus requiring a lower standard of finish. No insulation means no heating which means that inhabitants do not spend a single penny on heating bills or worrying about the rising price of energy. The time for sunset and sunrise change little throughout the year under the tropics so it never gets dark at 4 pm and there is no need to start switching on lights so early. Some people might invest in air conditioning or fans to keep their house cool.

A hot weather throughout the year also implies no issues whatsoever with snow and its consequences. No airports closing, no bursting pipes, no iced roads and accidents, grit that must be imported and spread on roads and so on. Perhaps the only natural disaster that may occur as a result of the climate is the formation of cyclones in the area. However, the country is well-prepared and experienced in such cases and has a system of warnings that everyone is familiar with. Apart from limited flooding, fallen-down trees and electrical cables on the road, there are few other consequences of the passage of cyclones. No damaged houses or roofs blown away as they are all made of concrete.

Such a simple difference in the weather – akin to summer all year round in countries experiencing harsh winters – leads to profound and positive changes in the lifestyle of the inhabitants on the island. Nothing is perfect yet life in Mauritius has nothing to envy from that in other countries. A holiday is too short to experience it.