Mauritius has become a popular destination for digital nomads, with 25% of its 3,000 foreign teleworkers being French, followed by South Africans, Russians, and Britons. The “premium visa,” introduced post-Covid, facilitates remote work from the island. Most nomads prefer renting flats and villas over hotel packages. To qualify, they shouldn’t work within Mauritius’s local market and should have adequate insurance. The visa also extends to retirees, with 1,100 issued, of which nearly half went to French nationals. source
A quarter of digital nomads are French
Around 25% of the 3,000 foreigners who have chosen to telework in Mauritius are French. They are followed by South Africans, Russians and Britons.
“We were looking for a tropical destination. And where there were no power cuts all day long, having had the bitter experience in South Africa”. Austrian Juergen Wuertenberger and German Nina Hanl, who will soon be blowing out their 47 candles, spent just over a month in the north of Mauritius. They were among the 3,732 digital nomads who were able to work remotely from the island thanks to the “premium visa” – renewable annually – introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The couple spent six years before Covid-19 travelling around North America, South-East Asia, Europe, Japan and Australia in a camping van before settling near Grand-Baie. Nina provided online consultations in alternative medicine, while Juergen, known as Jay, offered his services as an IT consultant. Combining business with pleasure, they went to Trou-aux-Biches for breakfast, took the opportunity to do some shopping before taking a dip at Mon Choisy beach.
“We wanted to discover another country and the internet connection is very good, which is a good thing for digital nomads,” says Nina. She took the opportunity to practise her French with Mauritians. With Jay, she is back on the road in a camper van for new adventures, which she reports on the “Two on Wheels” Facebook page. At the moment, the couple are in Sardinia.
Briton Tania Cheney has been in Mauritius since November 2021. Aged 40, she decided to come and work on the island when health restrictions were introduced in the UK. “I’d never been here before. One of my best friends is Mauritian, which is why I chose Mauritius, even though I’ve already worked in Australia and the Middle East, where it’s warmer,” explains the woman who teaches first aid online. “At first, it wasn’t all fun and games. I arrived in the middle of the hurricane season,” she says.
“The internet connection was lousy. But by taking out an appropriate subscription, the situation improved,” she says.
“The majority of digital nomads are more web developers or are involved in digital marketing. Many prefer the west coast, while others have a soft spot for the north or the centre, or even the capital where rental prices are cheaper and co-working spaces are available,” continues Tania Cheney. She admits that her relatives back in the UK are somewhat jealous of her choice to work remotely from Mauritius, and believes that other Britons will be arriving in the coming months.
On 31 March, of the 5,140 applications for the “premium visa”, 762 did not meet the established criteria, while documents were missing for the remaining 587. According to data collected by the Economic Development Board (EDB), the government agency responsible for foreign investment, 25% of digital nomads are French. They are followed by South Africans (15%). Russians, British, Germans, Indians, Chinese, Americans, Swiss and Canadians complete the picture.
Introduced in October 2020, the “premium visa” was intended as a means of ensuring that tourist arrivals were kept to a minimum, given the disruption then being experienced around the world. At the time, the hotel sector was called upon to offer packages to attract these types of customers. Since then, however, digital nomads have preferred to rent flats and villas. To be eligible for this visa, applicants must not be entering the Mauritian labour market and must have travel and health insurance for the duration of their stay.
Applicants may also be retired. Another visa is aimed at retired people wishing to live on the island for 10 years. 1,100 visas have been issued, 48% of them to French nationals. Other types of resident permit are also available, such as those for the purchase of property.