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Singaporean Household: Real Cost of a Foreign Helper

A domestic helper is famous for household chores. But before hiring someone, know how much is the actual cost of a foreign helper.

Whilst Singaporeans are very hard working to provide for their families. They have very limited time for household chores: from taking care of the laundry to walking the dog every day. Thus, having a foreign domestic helper has been popular to keep the household in order.

Why are we reliant on maids?

Taking care of elders

While there are nursing homes for the elderly, many can’t afford such facilities and having a maid is way cheaper for them. Thus the government gives tax deductions to those who hire maids to care for their elderly parents. Instead of paying the monthly levy of $265, they are only required to pay $60 a month.

Long working hours

Since Singaporeans are known to have great dedication to their work, they have very little time with the household. They sometimes take home some of their work which they deal with after putting the kids in bed. Thus the work-life balance has been too much altered. There is a slight possibility of having still the energy and time to deal with vacuuming the floors and cooking.

Many don’t know how to cook.

Many Singaporeans are used to eating out because they lack practice when it comes to kitchen matters. In the Electrolux Asia Pacific Food Survey in 2014, 65% of Singaporeans admitted that they think they have limited or disastrous cooking skills. While singles can still handle eating in restaurants and fast-food chains, those with children have to resort to getting a maid.

Hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW) is a standard solution to taking care of most house-related activities. However, you must know that the Ministry of Manpower has strict regulations for hiring FDWs.

Ministry of Manpower in Singapore | The Real Cost of a Foreign Helper

Before you start applying for a work permit for an FDW, you must know your helper’s biographic data such as name, age, nationality and other passport and personal details. MOM will also require you to identify the personal information of everyone living at your address.

MOM assesses applications strictly by income. So naturally, you can only hire a helper if you can afford it with your current income. However, there are certain exceptional circumstances.

Sponsorship is when an elderly at the age of 60 wants to hire an FDW, yet there is a lack or absence of income, and he/she has no other living adult with him/her. MOM will assess the application based on the sponsor’s (children, grandchildren or siblings) income.

Another way is through Joint Application. The employer can combine income with an immediate family member (other than the spouse) living with them at home.

Foreign domestic worker eligibility

Generally, the FWD must be a female aged 23 to 50 years old from the government-approved country. In addition, it must have a minimum of 8 years of formal education with a recognised certificate by MOM.

You may interview your potential FDW. Ask about their strengths and weaknesses. Also, test the appliances they know how to use. In addition, assess their household skills like cooking. Furthermore, know their motivation for work. See if they have children to create an understanding of her goals further. Finally, determine their level of English language. While some are good at English during the interview, many still struggle with everyday use. While interviewing, you may also be upfront about your expectations and other particular household rules.

Are you Eligible to hire an FDW?

While there are a set of eligibility requirements for FDW, employers also have theirs.

To apply for an FDW, you must be 21 years old, have never been bankrupt, and have the full mental capacity to discharge your responsibility as an employer. In addition, as a first-time employer, you are required to attend an Employer Orientation Programme (EOP) before you apply for an FDW.

The Cost of a Foreign Helper:

  • The monthly salary is about $500 or more per month. Note that the salary depends on the agreed salary multiplied by 26 days per day.

$500 x 12= $6,600

  • The monthly Maid Levy costs $265. However, remember that the levy for sponsored applications is only $60.

$265 x 12 =    $3,180

  • Maid Agency Handling Fee: S$2000/ or more as a “package” for a “new maid.”

The package costs around $1500 – $1800 for “rehire maid” or helpers who already have a record as an FDW. These costs vary depending on the agency. However, choose carefully which agency you will use. Again, try to look for feedback on the agency’s website and social media accounts.

  • First, Time Employers have to undergo an Employer Orientation Programme with an online test set costing $40
  • Settling-in Programme – $75 for first time FDW
  • Work Permit application – $30
  • Work Permit issuance – $30
  • Security deposit – $5,000
  • Medical Insurance coverage – minimum coverage of $15,000
  • Personal Accident Insurance – minimum coverage of $40,000
  • Paid Day Offs if included in the agreement. Day Offs maybe 2 to 4 days per month, and on Sundays.

Total:    $71,355


Hiring a new FDW will cost you $ 71,355 in the first year. However, as different employers have various agreements with their FDW concerning lodging, food and other miscellaneous expenses, these are excluded from the calculated costs.

Now you know the real cost of a foreign helper. Do you seriously need extra help in your household? Do you need more cash to start applying for one? You can start your loan application now, as Cash Mart can give you cash disbursement today. So visit the Cash Mart website and start filling up the loan application to experience the fast and smooth loan process you deserve.