How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #8: Paying (sometimes at high prices) for a housekeeper, cook, etc. while living the expat lifestyle

March 31, 2016


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #8: Paying (sometimes at high prices) for a housekeeper, cook, etc. while living the expat lifestyle

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Is it affordable to hire a housekeeper in your host country?

Many of us have never had a housekeeper while living in our home countries. We never even had the idea that we would need one or even be able to afford one. But while living abroad as an expat, international school teachers potentially can live a very different life and lifestyle in comparison to their former home country lives. Many times they will find themselves in situations where they can now financially afford certain help around the house. And who doesn’t want to hire somebody to clean their house and iron their work clothes every week?

Of course the cost of this help can be quite varied in different parts of the world. Hiring a house cleaner in Spain might be cheaper than hiring one in Norway, but then could be more expensive than one you would pay for in Japan.

There are international school teachers that refuse to get help like a housekeeper. They are quite content to continue their lifestyle as they were living in their home country. But in many 3rd world counties, there are locals that could very much benefit from employment from an international school teacher. Some might say hiring a local and having them come on a regular basis (and also paying them an accept rate for the area) to help you out around the house is a good thing for the local economy.

So, before you just have anybody come to your place and do some work for you, it is advisable, of course, to check with your colleagues at your school about their experience hiring housekeepers, for example. Often there is another teacher that is currently using one that is also looking for more work. Sharing a good housekeeper amongst work colleagues is a great way to assure you are getting a trustworthy person.

Even if you get a trustworthy person it is not always smooth sailing once they start working at your place. In some situations, the housekeeper might not speak English. And if you not fluent in the local language yet, there can be some issues with communication and getting things done in the ways that you like and prefer. One solution is to get one of your local friends to come over and help interpret for you; for some bigger issues that may arise.

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Some international school teachers hire a local to cook some meals for them during the week.

If you are lucky, you will find a great person that fits your needs. Maybe you’ve set up a schedule where the housekeeper cleans your place while you are at work. Then when you get home, you have a fresh and tidy house in which you can immediately relax. It is always nice to see the little things that your housekeeper might do in certain parts around the house; like a special way of folding the towels or making up your bed.

It all sounds good, doesn’t it?  But it does come at a cost. So to make sure that you are still saving money while living abroad, be certain that you can find a balance between how much you have your housekeeper do things for you around the house.  On the other hand, hiring a housekeeper does save you time!

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We have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of how much it costs to pay for these types of extra help in your international school life living abroad.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc. Here are a few examples of comments related to housekeeper costs:

“Housekeepers, but law, must be full-time, though some are hired part-time, unofficially. Minimum wage for housekeeper is ~4500HKD per month.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (55) Total comments

“Individuals make their own contracts with housekeepers, nannies and gardeners, though the school assists with obtaining visas for nannies and housekeepers. (This process can be frustrating at times based on the Omani bureaucracy, but gets done.). A nanny/housekeeper will make anywhere between 170 and 300 OMR/month and the number of hours in that frame go from a regular 40 hr week with weekends and holidays off with overtime provided (along with yearly airfare and insurance — can be obtained for under 200 OMR/year), to 24-hour on-call, no benefits or overtime.” – American British Academy
(33) Total comments

“You can get a housekeeper here that comes for 1/2 a day, every day of the week, for 250,000 Shillings a month! It is wonderful! The person will do all the cleaning and all your laundry (and you need someone do do your ironing here as some washing needs to be done by hand, etc.).” – International School of Tanganyika (141) Total comments

“One thing great about teaching in Malaysia is the opportunity to have a different lifestyle than would be affordable in the Western world. Most teachers with kids have a full time (some live in) nanny and maid. A full-time nanny is paid $500 -$600 a month. Part time help is affordable, costing between $6 and $10 an hour. For $300 a month, you can have a part-time housekeeper come 3 times a week.” – Mont’Kiara International School (27) Total comments