Xinmu Domestic Service (Shanghai)
Provide service for more than 5,000 expat families in Shanghai

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HOW TO…Find an ayi in Shanghai


Everything you need to know about hiring a Chinese housekeeper

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In Shanghai, it's not unusual to have a bao mu(housekeeper) or ayi (auntie), as they are commonly referred to. Hiring a housekeeper and childminder can provide huge support for your family, but it's critical to find the right person to suit both the job and your home.

The best way to recruit a trusted ayi is via word-of-mouth through friends and school networks. They are more likely to have expat and family experience, but if you've only just got here, that may be difficult. Classified ads are often posted on the forums of Shanghai Mamas or Shanghai Expat, but for an added sense of security, go through an agency. They can help bridge language and cultural issues, run security checks, organize ayi insurance (which is required by law), and find replacements. Some even run training.

If you speak Mandarin and don’t need an ayi who can speak English, you can find ayis that charge very little (sometimes as little as RMB25an hour) on Chinese sites such as and If you do require an English speaking ayi, Xinmu Ayi Service is a favorite among international families in the city.

Before you start, identify what you want your ayi to do. Mainly childcare, housework or both? Do you need someone part-time, full-time or live-in? Hourly rates vary from RMB 20-30. For a full-time ayi, the salary can range between RMB 3,500 and 6,000 per month, depending on skills, experience, language ability and job requirements... so take this into consideration when you hear people comparing ayi salaries.

It’s worth doing a couple of trial days, but in the end, you just have to trust your instincts. Take the time to train your ayi and demonstrate how you like things done. Repeat and repeat again. Be patient: it will take time for them to become familiar with your home, habits and ways of doing things. And never assume!

Managing an employee in your home, with only basic communication, can be stressful. There are several useful resources to help you both get off to a good start. The Ayi Survival Guide is a popular book written by two expats found in local bookstores.Shanghai Community Center runs English classes and cooking courses for ayis, and theAyi Academy offers a range of classes from housekeeping to infant care.hanghai nanny,shanghai ayi,shanghai housekeeping,filipino nanny, English speaking ayi

Many expats end up developing a close, almost familial relationship with their ayis, and fully embrace them in their lives, but if it doesn’t work out, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not uncommon to change ayis a few times before you figure out exactly who and what suits your family’s needs best.

Useful Chinese Phrases: Ayi Talk

 阿姨 A yí

Please clean this.
Qǐng bǎ zhège nòng gānjìng.

Please tidy this.
Qǐng zhěnglǐ yíxià zhège.

Please wash this.
Qǐng xǐ yíxià zhège.

Do not put this in the dryer.
Zhège búyào fàngzài gàn yī jī lǐ.

This needs ironing.
Zhège yào yùn yíxià.

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