One of the most common problems new arrivals have when they live in Chiang Mai, is the question of how to hire a Maid, Cleaner or Housekeeper. Looking at westerner based forums on the topic, does not offer much in the way of useful information, with the most common sage wisdom being “Get a Maid who is referred by another Expat”. This of course is not much help when you are new and have limited contacts.
Hiring a Maid, Cleaner or Housekeeper in Chiang Mai can be a complex problem, because there are so many options. Let’s start by defining what combination of options there are, so that you can get a better idea of what you are looking for.
In a Nutshell
Full Time or Part Time
Live In or Live Out
English Speaking Required
Specialty (farang) cooking
Cook-Housekeeper or Cleaner
Know the legal required Holidays
Where to Find your Maid
Condo Cleaner vs Housekeeper
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Live In vs Live Out:
Do you want a employee that you provide a free lodgings and food for? Or do you want someone who will come to your place, work and go home. Generally if you provide a room at your home and provide food, you can reduce the monthly salary by 2000-3000 baht per month.
Full time vs Part time
Having a maid full time means that usually you will be employing them for 6 days a week from approximately 7am-7pm plus or minus a couple of hours. The longer you hire a Cleaner or Maid the more economical the salary becomes from your prospective.
Maid vs House Keeper vs Cleaner
The term maid and house keeper are used interchangeably. In times gone by, the term Maid was for the female and a Male serving in the same role was called a Butler. Now days (and in particular here in Chiang Mai) when you refer to a housekeeper or maid you are talking about a cook-housekeeper.
Cook-Housekeeper: This type of employee is usually engaged in full time work and does the domestic chores around the house. Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry, Child Minding, Shopping, gardening and a variety of tasks that was the role of the traditional wife in days long gone.
Cleaner: A cleaner is more likely to be a part time employee and will engage in cleaning duties which may sometimes include doing your dishes. A cleaner will generally not do laundry or ironing or other domestic chores of a housekeeper. They are there to clean – not be your maid.
Hiring staff in a new country with a new culture is complicated. Farangs previous expectations of western work ethic, a lack of understanding of the culture, the sexpat who is looking for a girlfriend but employs a maid – are among some of the several issues that creates confusion in information about employing a maid. Lets examine some of the things you are likely to face
1) How Much to Pay a Maid?
Some long time residents of Chiang Mai will give you their ‘expertise’ of how to get the best value for money. They will offer such titbit gems like, “You can pay a Bernese maid 100 baht a day, a Thai maybe 150-200”; then warn that you have to be careful they are often lazy (on their phones) or will steal from you.
I am hoping that most readers of this article will appreciate that a person who has a property large enough that they require a maid, yet make the conscience decision to pay someone $3-6 for a days work – is not someone who advice should be taken seriously.
Pricing is often a difficult choice. Generally you can take the following as a guideline
1) Non English speaking Maid live In 8,000-10,000 baht a month
2) Non English speaking Maid live Out 10,000-12,000 baht a month
3) English speaking Maid live In 10,000-12,000 baht a month
4) English speaking Maid live Out 12,000+ baht a month
If your maid speaks English, and has extra skills such as cooking western or specialty foods, ability to pay bills and balance budgets then you will pay more for these skills.
All domestic employees in Thailand are entitled to one day off per week, and no fewer than 13 public holidays per year, as well as sick leave.Another important thing to be aware of is that Thais typically get a 13 month payment as a bonus at the end of each year. Maids and Housekeepers must get overtime for extra hours and working on entitled days off and holidays.
2) Thai Maids are Lazy!
Many people ready and willing to give their advice in forums will often point out that Thai people are lazy. In many cases Thai people will also say the same thing. So lets get a bit of perspective here.
You are employing someone almost always from a rural and farming background, probably with an extremely limited amount of formal education. And you are employing someone whose language has a limited use of past, present and future tense. The Thai mindset does not only not hold the same importance to a system of ‘time management’ we have in the west – more often than not, there is no conscious perception of the concept.
If your expectations are that your Thai Maid should have the same set of values and work ethic, as where you are from – you will constantly be disappointed. It is you who is in a different country, with a different culture and set of values. It is your responsibility to adapt to the country you are living in.
For Thai people family is extremely important. You maybe employing a younger person who has left children in the rural areas with their grandparents, or an older person who is valued and revered by their extended family. Thai people will want and desire to stay in contact with their family (and friends). Not having an understanding of this and (again) expecting the Thai people to behave and believe the same way you do – is setting yourself up for more disappointment.
3) Where to Find your Maids
You should first be aware of why you are wanting your Maid or Housekeeper. For many Expats, the inability to speak Thai Language can make difficult tasks of the simplest of intentions. Having an English speaking Maid that can act as interpreter for both communication and understanding Thai culture will greatly increase the quality of life experience here. For many people they want the comforts of home – which means cooking in the style you grew up with. Obtaining these things in addition to someone who just cleans up after you will require more pay and more effort to find and interview.
The best way to find such a person is through word-of-mouth referrals, from others in the Expat community who know of a maid looking for work or extra hours, your landlord, the internet or using a domestic help agency. Unfortunately the English speaking services that have Maids looking for work are scarce in Chiang Mai (If you own one or know of any, please add the details in a comment)
4) Interviewing your Maid or Housekeeper
You should of course interview your potential Maid, making it clear they understand what their duties will be. Be aware of …
Do you require cooking (if so, what kinds of cuisine?)
Live in or Live Out
Regular Working Hours
Annual Bonus Payment date