(Post 3 of 172 (So far! It was 164 when I first wrote this!). Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)
Having a house cleaner in Mérida makes sense because of the wage difference between earning in pesos and earning in USD. I work about 1.5 hours to earn what it takes me to pay someone to clean my house for 6 hours, so it makes no sense at all for me to spend that time cleaning when I could be working instead. It took me a long time to find a house cleaner who seems to be a good fit for me. I understand that I’m giving someone a day of employment and that she’s relying on the income from me, so I wanted to make sure I was ready for a long-term relationship before I committed to getting a cleaner. I tried one out for a few months who did a good job, but our schedules weren’t compatible and she ended up not showing up on the day that I really needed her, as I had a guest coming the next day and I needed the guest suite done. So we agreed to part ways.
Having the cleaner for a few months showed me where my own cleaning routine was failing and got me into the habit of tidying up the house thoroughly at least once a week. By the time friends told me that their fantastic cleaner was looking for a client for Tuesdays, I was at the point where my home was normally pretty tidy, so there wasn’t much to do before the cleaner came. I just seemed in a better place and routine to have a cleaner. I was also much more comfortable with the idea of having dishes left in the sink for her to clean and having her dust and deep clean part of my office (please don’t touch my desk!).
My cleaner and I negotiated her daily rate based on the distance she has to travel (an hour each way if the buses cooperate, sometimes more!), the workload/size of my house, and hours worked (6 to 8 depending on what needs doing and her energy levels). I was super happy that she preferred me to pay her a little extra beyond that and that she would bring her own lunch, rather than my having to come up with a lunch for her. I do make sure I have cold Coca-Cola in the fridge as well as water for her. The total I pay her is in line with market rates. Some people would say I’m cheap, some would say I’m overpaying, but we’re both happy and that’s what counts!
Because of the distance she has to travel, I told her that she has a window of time to arrive in the morning, rather than being expected at a set hour. As long as she thinks she’ll arrive during that window of time, she doesn’t have to message me. She thought that was unnecessary… but yesterday, she had a hard time getting a bus! She said that she really appreciated not having to stress out about that and my being chill when she finally landed.
My hope is to establish a long-term relationship with a cleaner who might follow me to my next home and to increase duties as I feel comfortable to add them, like perhaps putting on a load of laundry and switching out towels or maybe even running errands and cooking a meal, more like merging into a housekeeper rather than just house cleaner role. I can see this happening with my current cleaner, even if we’re in early days. I’m super optimistic that this is going to work out.