My maid, cook, and gardener each get paid less than $150 each a month. This is more than double of what they get paid in regular (non expat) houses. I know many people pay way lesser and negotiate what meals they can eat at the house and bargain for every little thing. I would understand it if these folks themselves were short on money but many I encounter are most certainly not. For most it is a mindset - to get the most you can for the least you can pay, even when it means shortchanging someone to who change actually matters.
I agree with not getting ripped off or getting taken advantage of but when you pay IKEA prices you can’t expect Bloomingdales quality. For pennies you will get the work done but yes, you will have to micromanage and not grumble about lack of quality, honesty and loyalty.
When I moved here I found out the previous pay for the people I was employing. I could afford it so I gave them a raise and had a little talk with them. I told them what my expectations were and very clearly explained that I was not going to micromanage but at the same time I would not stand bad work. I expected quality, honesty and loyalty.
Six months later I must say I have it good. I do not have to micromanage; they show up on time and get the work done. I am in what many Indian housewives would call “household help nirvana”. I am sure I could squeeze a little more out of each of them. I am sure I could fire one of them and get the others to suck up the work but then I would not be writing this post. I would be screaming at one of them and then calling my mom and telling her how horrible help in India is. Yes, I would certainly get what I paid for.
I have been warned that once bitten I will change my tone about household help - bitten means cheated in some way. I am sure I will be disappointed and more cautious but I am unwilling to throw away something good I have going out of that fear.
The fear that I am working on instead is that of my kids growing up expecting people doing things for them and not valuing it.