Expats living in Beijing can hire services from professional housekeeping companies

Chinese ayi

Part of the good things of the expatriation in China is that it is relatively cheap to hire a maid or an “ayi” to help you for domestic tasks as well as to take care of your children.

Finding the right staff, especially if both parents are working: you really to find the right staff to help you during your stay in Beijing. If you are single, you will easily forget the meaning of cleaning, ironing, washing and even cooking and feeding your fridge! And soon you will understand that it is not a luxury to have at least once a week someone helping you to clean your apartment, Beijing being a very polluted city.

When hiring a domestic helper – whatever his assignment will be: driver, housekeeper, babysitter, … – make sure you hire the right person you can trust for taking care of your family and your home. Here are some recommendations for the hiring process.

1) How to search an ayi? You can hire a “freelance ayi” by looking in the classified ads sections of websites including beijing-kids.com, theBeijinger.com, CityWeekend and Yahoo! Groups such as Beijing Mamas. Many ayis will post candidatures at local stores located inside or right at the door of the residential compounds – bakeries, supermarkets, pressing… Most of the time, the ads will be written in English, which doesn’t mean that the ayi wrote it herself: most of the time, her former employer will help her to find her next job. During the interview, you will make your own idea about the person – translation may be needed if you can’t speak Chinese.
Some housekeeping services companies offer also foreign ayi (Philippines).

2) Reference check: do not hesitate to call former employees. You may have the chance to hear that someone whose ayi is wonderful is about to leave China… you may be tempted to close the eyes and hire immediately this person. Keep in mind that your requirements may not be the same as others.
If you hire an ayi working for a professional housekeeping services company, the company will do a pre-screening based on your requirements to facilitate the search process.



3) Trial period: you should request for a trial period in order to understand if the ayi understands well your requirements. You should clearly tell what you need her (or him) to do: prepare the meals, which kind of food, purchase the food and the cleaning utilities, take your clothes to the pressing, wash your clothes, iron… If you hire a non-professional ayi, you will have to provide her with a training and explain your expectations into details (don’t be afraid to repeat 2 or 3 times).
At this point, you will understand if you need an ayi who can speak at least basic English, if you can speak Chinese yourself… Professional housekeeper companies will provide translation service if the ayi can’t speak fluent English.

4) Agree on a salary: In order to address the potential problem of agencies taking advantage of ayi, Beijing Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau is regularly issuing standard wage rates linked to levels of service. Agencies would offer a salary grid based on skills and experience levels. If you hire an ayi from a professional agency, you should make sure the salary is fully transparent to you: what’s the fee you pay to the agency and how much the ayi receives. Make sure the ayi doesn’t claim for extra money if her contract with the agency says that everything is included in her wage. Some will claim a 13th month. Be ready to discuss raises and bonus.
Ayi working for professional agencies will have yearly health check, background / references check and they will receive training as well. If you hire a “freelance ayi”, in many cases, you will understand that “training” is not a luxury. Indeed expat standards are often far from local Chinese people!
Also clarify sick leave and notification period. If you have a business trip and your ayi can’t take care of your kids, it can be a nightmare! Professional agencies will offer replacement staff.

5) Agree on holiday! You’d better discuss holiday periods in advance:  Chinese New Year, National Holiday (October), as well as other Chinese festivals (Tomb spring Festival and 1st May).

Scout Real Estate has established partnerships with several professional housekeeping agencies, ensuring that the employment is under the Chinese regulation and allowing to search for you the best solution in terms of services and budget. You can contact us by phone or send your request by filling the form on our website


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About Marketing

I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!