Singaporeans are a busy lot, and after spending a long day at the office most people don’t have the time or energy to attend to the annoyances of daily life. Who’s got time to spend hours preparing food in the kitchen, helping the kids with their homework and walking the dog?
To most people here, the most obvious answer is to hire a live-in maid. However, shrinking homes give rise to privacy issues, and many households prefer to have a helping hand every now and then rather than rely on a maid. Here are four things you can outsource instead of hiring a maid.
One of the biggest reasons many young Singaporean families end up hiring a maid is the need for someone to look after young children after maternity leave ends and the mother has to go back to work. The sad truth is that infantcare and childcare in Singapore don’t come cheap, and it’s less expensive to hire a live-in maid than to pay monthly childcare fees.
Fees can vary wildly, but in general you can expect to pay at least $300 a month for half-day childcare. Most working parents need to sign their kids up for full-day childcare, which costs about $900 a month on average.
If you have multiple kids and don’t want to opt for a live-in maid, it often makes more sense to hire a nanny. Nannies usually charge $700 to $1,000 and can stay overnight if needed. If you have more than one young child, this will be by far the cheaper option compared to putting them all in full-day childcare.
Admin can be soul-killing, and there’s nothing more annoying than having to spend your entire weekend responding to emails, filing receipts, sorting out your credit card statements or running errands like going to the post office. Businesses and self-employed persons routinely outsource their administrative tasks, and if you’ve got lots of organising to do there’s no reason you can’t do so yourself.
If you have just one or two tedious tasks to complete online, like organising your emails or uploading photos to your online portfolio, engage a freelancer on Fiverr, Elance or Upwork for a few dollars per hour and instantly save hours of your own time. For more regular admin help, you can engage a virtual assistant on the same websites. If the person’s physical presence is required, students in need of some pocket money are a cheaper alternative to professional assistants.
Keeping your house cockroach-free can be a bit of a challenge when everyone in the household works full-time. Unless you have a live-in maid, you probably need to devote a significant chunk of time each weekend to doing laundry, cleaning the floors and removing dust from the various surfaces in the house or flat. Or you could just live like a slob….
Engaging a cleaner to keep your home habitable on a weekly basis is relatively affordable. Depending on the size of your place, you’re looking at a monthly cost of $200 and above. If you are renting a room with housemates or are an owner-occupier who rents out rooms to tenants with whom you live, you can split the monthly cost of the housecleaning service. Freelance housecleaners sometimes charge by the hour, and you’ll be looking at rates of about $15 per hour and above, or a package deal of $50 for a couple of hours at one go.
I can’t tell you how many poor, frustrated dogs I’ve seen staring forlornly into the HDB corridors outside their homes, yapping irritably at passers by. Many dog owners don’t bother to walk their dogs at all, or do so only on weekends.
Companies and freelancers around the island offer dog-walking services that will typically involve someone taking your dog for a walk that lasts 20 to 60 minutes. One session should cost about $20 to $35, and you can buy packages of multiple sessions that will lower your cost a little. But then again, if you’re not ready to fulfil the responsibilities of being a pet owner, why are you even getting one in the first place?
Have you ever tried to outsource any of the above? Share your experiences in the comments!