An Ayi is the Chinese equivalent of a maid. Compared to their foreign counterparts, their services can be quite inexpensive.
There are many reasons to get an Ayi. An Ayi can help you with many domestic chores including laundry, dishes, cooking, and childcare. She can also run errands and provide your child with exposure to Chinese.
Many Ayi charge little more than 20 – 30 yuan an hour, making the help they provide very affordable.
Finding the right Ayi can be difficult and takes time to do. Typically, Ayi are best found through word-of-mouth. Simply asking around in your local area can often tell you all you need to know about whom to hire and where to find her. However, this can be difficult to do if you do not speak Chinese and do not have a Chinese-speaking friend.
Additionally, a search online can be a way to find Ayi. The effectiveness varies by area, however, as bigger cities such as Shanghai have many more resources than smaller ones in regards to hiring Ayi. Expat magazines may also offer listings, but these Ayi typically charge more.
You should be careful to find an Ayi that suits the needs of you and your family. Different Ayi specialize in different things. Also, though it is possible to find an Ayi who speaks English, she will charge more. The most inexpensive Ayi know very little English, if any.
Keep in mind that not all Ayi perform the same quality work, nor do they all have the same specialties and prices, so it is important to do some research before hiring. Some questions to consider before hiring an Ayi are as follows:
1. What is her level of education?
2. Do you feel that you trust her? Would you feel comfortable having her in the house when you are away?
3. Can she speak English? How much English does she speak?
4. How thorough a job does she do? What are her specialties?
5. How much experience does she have?
Something to remember is that Ayi prices are typically higher for foreigners because there is the general belief, however untrue, that foreigners are wealthy. Paying your Ayi very low wages, even if these wages are acceptable for Chinese households, may make her feel neglected or underappreciated, potentially resulting in discontent, low-quality work, or even her resignation.