After working full time for 2 months and being unable to catch up on chores, much less personal time, I managed to convince Jose to hire a maid. There was a week when Jasmine was sick and the doctor recommended that she stay home. Jose and I had to take turns staying home like he would go in the mornings while I’d go in the afternoons. With no family around and both people working, it’s really tiring and sometimes stressful to make it all work. And because both of us are working, we can afford to invest on a maid. In exchange, someone could do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, watch Jasmine if she’s sick at home (because the plan is to continue daycare so she can interact with other kids) and even watch Casper when we’re on vacation (instead of scrambling to find a dog sitter). We would be able to eat dinner together alone, go to the movies…sigh…
There are lots of maids or nannies here at KAUST. Some are treated very well (joining KAUST events and mingling with the community) while others are practically prisoners who are not allowed even one day off. I guess it depends on the family.
At KAUST there is a nanny service that charges 50 SAR an hour which is outrageous if you consider the fact that you can hire full time, live-in one for 1500 SAR/month (the minimum wage).
There is a Filipino maid I met who told me that her contract was going to end in May and asked if I knew anyone interested in hiring her. I told her we were interested. After negotiating the salary a little (she wanted a raise), I told Jose and we were very keen on hiring her. Then she told me about the transfer fee.
Huh, what transfer fee?
She told me that her employer would only “release” her if we paid the transfer fee of 19,000 SAR. I couldn’t believe my eyes (we were chatting on Facebook). 19,000?! I asked her why and she said that’s the price her employer told her.
I was incredulous because as far as I know, it only costs 10,000-14,000 SAR to bring a maid from her country all the way to the airport in Jeddah if you go through an agency. And transfer of sponsorship fee for a maid that’s already here only costs 2000 SAR or something. The fact that the employer was asking for 19,000 for a maid that he’d already employed for 2 years was just…so infuriating! Basically it would be cheaper if we hired a nanny from the Philippines (or wherever) than to do a transfer with someone who is already here!
I actually went to the Government Affairs office to ask about this. The woman told me 19,000 sounds about right because some people even ask for 25,000 or even more! Wow, I couldn’t believe it. It’s like I bought a car for 100,000 and sold it to someone for 150,000 two years later!!! But you know what, that is how the free market in KAUST works. Because people are making good money here and everything is so limited (domestic help, clothes, things) people are actually preying on the desperate. The value of something just depends on who is willing to pay, right? Well I emailed the employer and asked if he could lower the transfer free (ransom fee, in my mind) and he said no because they already had offers for 19,000 so he wouldn’t consider anything lower than 19,000. Who knows if it’s the truth or not. Once thing is for sure, I’m not haggling over the “release” of his nanny. That’s it, I’m going to an agency. I heard that it would take 3 months or much longer depending on circumstances. Oh well, at least I won’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of or that I’m taking part in some sort of slave trade!