Ménagère or not?

18 11 2010

We have officially moved in to our house, problems and all, and I am often asked, “Do you plan on getting a ménagère?”  So what is that, you ask?  Well, it’s a housekeeper.  Every time someone comes to the house or hears about our house they ask.  This week the men came to spray bugs and when they realised I was sans ménagère, the man left me his number because his sister is looking for a job.  The head maid in the hotel left me her number and a lady at Joe’s office has also mentioned she knows many good women for the job.  They can be hired for about 150 000 CFA per month (about $300) plus taxi fare which is another 10 000 per week and they will clean your house 5 days a week morning until night!  If you’ve ever inquired about hiring a house cleaner in Canada, you will know that this is very cheap.

Every expat household I know, with the exception of one, has hired a ménagère.  It’s a two way street: the expats like the thought of cheap help to do the dirty work and the locals expect the wealthy expats to provide jobs for their people.  It is just Joe and I here so if you ask me, do we need a ménagère, the answer would be no, of course not.  If we decide to hire someone, we would only have her come a few times a week and maybe not even for the full day.

Now that we are actually living in the house, I’ve been tossing the idea around.

PROS

-We provide a job to someone who might not necessarily have one.
-We have 2000 sq feet of tile floors that need to be swept and washed almost every other day.  It’s a big job and I don’t like doing it!
-We do not have a dishwasher and it is probably cheaper to hire help than it would be to buy one.
-Any tasks that neither Joe or I want to do, we can pass it off to someone else.
-The house will always be clean and there would be no scrambling with those surprise visitors.

CONS

-Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, complains about their ménagère.  They either don’t do things right or they don’t do them well enough.
-It’s hard to trust people here as many are opportunists.  We would have to be careful about what was accessible in our house.
-You have someone extra in your home whether you feel like it or not that day.
-It’s $300/month that could be spent elsewhere.  Over the course of a year, that would be 1 return ticket to Canada.

 

So what do you think?  To ménagère or not?

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3 responses

18 11 2010
Mindy

Well, from what I hear about these 3rd world countries is to hire local help is a way of being accepted into the community as well. You are employing their people that desperately need money. What I’ve also heard is you have to watch that your belongings don’t walk away so you have to be very careful locking valuables up. I’d say try a couple days a week to start and be very firm that you won’t tolerate questionable behavior. Congrats on getting settled in the house.

19 11 2010
Jeanie

I say do it! When else will you have the chance to have a full time housemaid?

17 01 2011
Janet

That’s a tough one, Jay. One the one hand, you are providing employment. On the other, you’re leaving yourself open to perhaps more “things going missing”. I don’t know if I could handle having a housekeeper all day. I haven’t had a cleaning service for a couple years. It is just Jay and myself but we do a lot of entertaining and our house is almost 5000 square feet. Jay keeps asking when I’m going to find someone. I always seem to have an excuse. Mind you, it would be nice to always have a clean and tidy house.

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