How Do I Find An Ayi (Maid/Household Help)
If you live on your own, there are tons of advantages to hiring someone to help you clean and cook. What I've done is hired someone to work two hours a day around lunch hour to help me clean (sweep & squeegee-or-whatever-you-call-that-thing the floor, pick up random clutter, handle laundry, heat a thermos of water, dishes) and to make the day's food for us.
It's actually substantially cheaper to have the Ayi cook using the food available downstairs at the veggie market than to go out to eat. Even if you just want to learn how to use all the strange domestic implements that came with your apartment and you only want to hire your ayi for a few months, it's the best way to learn.
I've hired a middle-aged housewife married to a businessman who lives in an apartment three times the size of mine for two hours a day. If you have the language skills, get to know a few of the merchants near your building, find one you trust, and casually drop that you're looking for domestic help. They almost always have extra cousins and siblings who want a little discretionary income from a light, easy job.
If you're a teacher, post an ad in English somewhere on campus. There are definitely students who'd love to and need the money. It's a fantastic in with "real" Chinese people, they'll probably teach you tons of Chinese words you didn't know ("clogged" and "tug" are two that come to mind), they'll give you the real dirt on what things should cost and where to get stuff done in your neighborhood (my Ayi has saved me hundreds from unscrupulous repairmen and needless trips across town), and you know sooner or later you'll get invited to his/her place for a meal, and then s/he is also your friend!
A fair rate for someone part-time is 600 a month and you should pay more if you're going to demand more work up to 3000 a month for a full time Ayi. Try not to hire anyone who is really desperate for the money, and who is confident by the fact that you're foreign. The last two are pretty much necessary to ensure a good relationship with your hired help. I've heard horror stories from people who hire Ayis only to find that they prostrate themselves, take criticism personally and are afraid to voice demands of their own. Make it a neighbor if possible.
Whether or not you currently employ an Ayi, I’m sure you all have heard some unpleasant stories like ‘my ayi didn’t show up yesterday and unreachable’ or ‘my money on the table disappeared after ayi left’
Don’t misunderstand me, usually most Ayis are very reliable though you should clarify few things before hiring one.
Is she experienced?
Make sure she knows the difference between bleach and detergent. A good Ayi is someone who knows and remembers where everything is kept. Don’t let her change your house into her taste. Make sure she understands you like the way your house is and keep it that way. Good Ayi is someone who saves you money.
Is she reliable?
Most ayis come and go while you are at work so make sure you have copy of her ID and her relatives phone number etc. If she comes with an agent, it’s even better as you’ll be able to deal with the agent if something goes wrong.
What level of care do you require?
As I mentioned above, ayis can perform a variety of services like http://www.butlerwing.com/english/index.asp – Not all Ayis out there good at everything. If you are not happy with your Ayi, you should be in a position to replace her. Tell your Ayi on the first day what you require.