This week,  Karla Fraser takes your questions.  

Disclaimer: You asked for advice. We’re providing it. But as with anything else, make sure you check with the actual professionals to make the right decision, especially when it comes to immigration.

Q: What are the benefits of having help at home being an expat?

A: Part of your expat journey is about value-added options to your life experience. Domestic services can often provide some of those experiences:

-Hiring a housekeeper who is local or from another country introduces you or your family to another culture. Whether your housekeeper is living with you or part-time, your interaction will likely result in your learning about their culture.

-If cooking is part of your housekeeper’s job, you may enjoy having their cuisine and learning new ways of cooking.

-If your housekeeper’s native language is the one you are trying to learn, it is an effective way to do this. Start conversations and practice, practice, practice.

-Ease the stress and pressure and give you the freedom and flexibility for traveling, time with your children, explore locally healthy meals, have a well-maintained home and more.

Sometimes when you choose to add conveniences to your life, it provides some unexpected benefits. Enjoy them as a perk of choosing to explore life abroad.

Q: What should I consider if I am seeking domestic help or services as an expat?

A: Looking for domestic help is not as hard as you might think. Just keep in mind that you might have too many options, so take your time to choose what services and person(s) are the best mutual fit for your circumstances. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while doing your research.

Use an Agency

Some countries and cities have domestic services agencies. Working with an agency ensures that you comply with the local employment laws and fair wage recommendations. You can find agencies that provide both local and international housekeepers based on your need, be it live-in or part-time, for a few hours a week. In my case in Singapore, I used a local agency specializing in part-time help where I hired a cleaner for two days a week for four hours each day.

Word of Mouth

Do you know someone who has already hired a housekeeper? Maybe they can point you in the right direction. Your local or expat tribe can help you find a good match for your needs. While I lived in the UAE, a fellow expat left the country and referred their cleaning person to me for my part-time needs. It was a win-win. I found the help I needed, and this person did not lose hours or pay in the process. Additionally, their housekeeper can put you in contact with some other great housekeepers that they already know!

Meet the Prospective Housekeeper

You should have a one-to-one conversation with your prospective person, especially if they will be living with you full-time. Even with a part-timer, having a preliminary call, email or face-to-face can provide insight into whether the person will be a mutual fit. While living in Dominica, I hired someone specifically for managing my laundry. It was vital for me to meet the person so they understood my requirements, my clothes and how to care for them.

Language Barriers

Sometimes, you have the challenge of language. The person should have a sufficient level of the language spoken at your home – be it English, Spanish, French or Japanese – to enable them to converse with you and/or your family. This is essential, so you can be sure they understand what you are asking of them in their job role.

Vetting Your Candidates

I highly recommend that you check references, ratings, reviews of all your candidates, whether they are local or from overseas. If you are using an agency, you may want to ask if you can be a part of the process or request them to ask specific questions to help you decide which person is suitable for you and/or your family.

Once you have found your service(s) or person(s), enjoy the added freedom and flexibility it will bring into your life.

Need advice? Ask away. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

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