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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Finding an AYI in Shanghai

If you are living in Shanghai then one of the things which you should definitely consider is to find an AYI.

An AYI is a woman who comes to your house and do household chores for you. That is, clean up, laundry, wash dishes, or even cook for you. It is possible to ask her to take care of your kids but prior arrangements is necessary.

The best thing about AYI's is that they come really cheap. Our Ayi charges 15 RMB (around $2) per hour and she does her job perfectly well. I heard that there are some who can get better bargains at 10 RMB per hour.

If you live in an upper-class subdivision like us then it is quite easy to find an ayi. Here are some tips:

  • First, go to the security guard and ask him if he knows any Ayi who service other tenants on that subdivision. Chances are he is familiar with everyone who enters the premises regularly. It is best to ask people in the morning and late afternoon. Those on night shifts are probably not familiar with ayi who works during daytime.
  • Tell the security guard your address and leave him your phone number so he will contact you if he found anyone available. The Ayi might also contact you personally.
  • Ask the Ayi to come to your room so she can check out the place and for her to assess what she will need. Keep in mind that you need to buy all cleaning utensils and detergents, so if you don't have these things ask the Ayi to buy anything she might need and then give her some cash for them. Afterwards, you may ask for the receipt although they would probably ask less than 30 RMB ($4) for everything.
  • Set an appointment and make sure she understand when she is coming. With this, you must be able to memorize the days of the week and keywords like "today, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, next week" in Mandarin. Here is a list:
  • Monday to Sunday: 星期一 (Xingqi yi),Then add (Xingqi) on all: 二 (er),三 (san),四 (si),五 (wu),六 (liu),天 (tian)
  • Today: 今天 (Jintian),Tomorrow: 明天 (Mingtian),Day after tomorrow: 后天 (Houtian), Next week 下个星期 (Xiage Xingqi)
  • Make sure that you also know how to say what time. Examples: 7:30 七点半 (Qi dian ban), or how long you want her to clean : 2 hours 两个小时 (Liang ge xiaoxi).
Keep this in mind on you will have an easy time dealing with your ayi and take advantage of this great luxury that is hard to find anywhere else.

5 HIT back:

The Chic Housewife said...

Nikou~ Thanks for finding me! Your blog is so great... I totally need an AYI! Over here in Washington State they are called Merry Maids and they cost between $25 & up per hour. Plus, I don't think they do everything your AYI's do.

a H.I.T. said...

An AYI sounds delightful. I wonder if I can find one in NYC without the Dept of Labor finding out... We spend $75 for about 1/2 a day. Needless to say, she only comes twice a month. Phewy.

Mos and Nikou said...

Chic Housewife,

When I was a student in Ireland, I remember that have to do part-time baby sitting jobs because it just pays so well. But here, help is almost free.

Thanks for commenting by the way.


Kelsey said...

We have something similar here in Korea. They charge about $5/hr to clean, etc.

czanandrie said...

HI! My name is Callie Zanandrie. I'm a producer for HGTV. We are coming to Shanghai to shoot a new show about American Expats. I love your blog and wanted to see if you might be interested in applying for the show. Maybe you could even post something on your blog about our casting call. Following is a press release. Please let me know if you or any of your Shanghai American Expat friends are interested in participating with the show.


Home & Garden Television (HGTV) is launching a new international series that features American expats telling their stories about what it’s like to live abroad.

HGTV Producers want to hear from fun, outgoing, enthusiastic Americans Expats who are living in Shanghai RIGHT NOW!

In each episode, our host will experience Shanghai through the eyes of expat families. From the design of your space (what features of your home are typical of properties in Shanghai?) to the lifestyle and culture of the area (what major life changes have you experienced as a result of your move? What do you do for fun?), the American Expats will give viewers a first hand look at what it’s like to live overseas.


HGTV International is a voyeuristic look at the stunning home properties and lifestyles of American expats. This program showcases home design, set within the hottest places to live around the world.

About the HGTV

HGTV, America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming, is distributed to more than 89 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks. is the nation’s leading online home and garden destination that attracts an average of 5.2 million unique visitors per month.


High Noon Entertainment, located in Denver Colorado, produces HGTV International. In addition to HGTV International, High Noon produces many other shows including VH1’s Tough Love; TLC’s Cake Boss; Food Network’s Unwrapped, Challenge; HGTV’s My First Place, House Hunters; You may learn more about High Noon at

If you’re interested or if you have any friends that might be in applying, please contact me immediately and email photos of you and your family along with photos of your home to: Callie Zanandrie – Producer