Having a full-time maid to do the chores is a big relief for those who maintain busy schedules. There's no doubt it can save a lot of time and help you focus more on other things that you love doing.
Employing a maid is very common in Dubai, and it's fairly easy to see families who have extra help around the house. If you are currently juggling a job, family obligations and keeping the house clean, you might consider also getting one. But before you do so, it pays to consider the costs involved.
A maid can carry a hefty price tag, which is kind of like the cost of getting a one-bedroom apartment. This is because employers don't just take care of the maid's monthly salary, they are required to sponsor the helper's work permit and bear incidental costs such as medical tests, food, housing and air ticket, among others.
The first year can set you back by around Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 and that covers the work permit, salary, living expenses and visa renewal. If you hire through an authorised agency, you will have to shell out an extra Dh4,000 to Dh9,000. The succeeding years could eat up a little over Dh20,000 to Dh30,000 of the family budget annually.
The initial visa, ticket and other related fees alone cost approximately Dh9,000 to Dh10,000, and the monthly pay varies largely, depending on the nationality of the housemaid. Maids from Bangladesh require a minimum monthly pay of Dh750, while Indonesians command Dh800 a month, Sri Lankans Dh825, Indians Dh1,100 and Filipinos Dh1,400. Living costs can be around Dh600 to Dh700 a month and the annual ritual of visa renewal requires another Dh5,500 to Dh6,000.
Veena Krishnani has a live-in housemaid from Nepal. She hired her about four years ago to take care of house-cleaning, laundry and cooking for the children. "Both my husband and I are busy; we work full time, so we decided to find a house help," she says.
Even before the maid started working, the Indian expatriate had already spent about Dh8,000 on the visa and medical fees, as well as the air ticket. Every year, she sets aside about Dh6,000 for visa renewal. Add to that the Dh1,000 monthly salary and the Dh700 monthly living costs, and her yearly expense can easily reach Dh26,400. That doesn't include the maid's repatriation ticket, which costs her at least Dh1,500 every two years.
Over the years, Krishnani has seen her housekeeping-related expenses increase significantly, with the maid's salary going up by more than 50 per cent. "I hired her for Dh650, and now it's about Dh1,000."
"Indeed, it's expensive to hire a maid. So, even if I think of buying something, I have to keep it aside because I prioritise on saving some money every month to take care of the maid's salary and visa renewal fees. It's a sacrifice," she says.
Krishnani says it would be a relief for many families in Dubai if maids were given a two year-visa. That way, they don't have to pay for the hefty renewal and medical costs. She observes that because the expenses are too high, there are a lot of families who have decided not to hire a maid anymore.
For Deborah Williams, a British expat working at Heriot-Watt University, hiring a maid full-time is more cost-effective than getting the services of a part-time help. "Hiring services are quite expensive at approximately Dh30 per hour," she says.
Williams is paying her Filipino maid Dh2,200 monthly to take care of the household chores. "She has been with us for five years now … The reason we hired a full-time maid is because my husband and myself are working full-time and we have two children who are between the ages of three and four. So, we needed someone to help with the housework and the children."
Visa renewal fees cost her Dh5,500, plus Dh650 for the annual medical tests. "I am honestly unsure of living costs, as we buy food for the whole family and our housemaid at the same time," Williams adds.