Category Archives: Expat

Working a dream job (relatively speaking)

I know a woman who has lots of experience in her field.  She was able to name her salary and then on top of that her employer pays for her transportation costs.  She works just on weekdays and doesn’t have to bring any work home.  She is largely able to work whatever hours she wants as long as the work gets done.  She gets an annual bonus of about 8% of her yearly salary.  For much of the summer she even works reduced hours while still paid the same.

That salary that she named is only $130 a month.  We pay an additional $16.50 for her monthly bus pass.  She insists on calling me “master” and her job is to clean our house and cook a few times a week.  This is one of the alluring but surreal attractions to living in a place like India.

I am thankful when each evening I pull back the sheets which have been tucked in as tight as a hotel’s.  We have her cook about twice a week and coming home to a meal that is ready to eat as soon as we walk in the door is just incredible.  Sure we can pull that off if we order pizza, but home-cooked south Indian food from scratch is much more satisfying. (And much less expensive!)  She handles our laundry from wash to ironing.  We may have to search for our clothes in Jordan’s room, or put our neatly folded clothes that are set on our beds into our closets, but that’s a small hassle when traded for the rest of the laundry chore.  She washes and puts away dishes.  We just need to keep up with them a little on the weekends.  She does floors and bathrooms.  The other day I scooted the stove and fridge out and she scoured the area clean.  If we set out fruit or vegetables on a cutting board in the morning then when we get home they are chopped and set in the fridge.  She’s even helping to keep the ice trays in the freezer full.

Sometimes it is easy to think that we’re spending over $1700 a year that we could be saving by doing our own laundry, cleaning and a little more cooking.  But I bet that once a week we’d order take out or pizza or go out to a restaurant and spend about $700 a year to have an evening where we can spend a little more time as a family and less time cooking and cleaning.  Then we spend about $5 a day for the rest of the chores.  How much would you pay to not do just  laundry or clean the house?  How much would you pay a kid to do chores like taking the trash out, cleaning the litter box, or washing the dishes?

I think that she’s happy working for us.  We’re already looking at when we should increase her pay, because we’ve had a few cleaners and would really like to keep this one!