Types of Domestic Helpers in Singapore: A Cost Guide

Gredel Shadroch
Last updated Jun 02, 2022

It’s always helpful to have an extra pair of hands for your home’s upkeep. With over 240,000 domestic helpers in Singapore, finding suitable domestic help shouldn’t be too difficult… Right?

Well, not necessarily. 

For starters, there are many different types of domestic helpers in Singapore to choose from. The cost of their service may vary from type to type. Thus, there’s a lot to consider before you employ that much-needed pair of helping hands.

Not to worry – this guide will help you navigate through heaps of information about the different types of domestic helpers in Singapore. Let’s also take a look at the cost factors and top picks for maid insurance policies.

Types of Domestic Helpers in Singapore

There are two main types of domestic helpers in Singapore: full-time live-in helpers and part-time live-out helpers. Let’s learn more about their requirements and scope of work. 

Full-time domestic helpers

Almost all full-time helpers in Singapore are Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs), as categorised by the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore. A MDW is a foreign national who has been recruited through maid agencies. While agencies are the most hassle-free way to hire a full-time domestic helper in Singapore, you may also hire help via online platforms.

As per the Ministry of Manpower’s law, MDWs are required to live with their employers through the course of their employment. So, if you decide to hire a full-time domestic helper in Singapore, you would need to provide them with food and accommodation in addition to their salaries. That’s a small price to pay for full-time help.

Countries that offer full-time MDWs include:

  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Thailand

Types of full-time domestic helpers

There are two types of full-time domestic helpers that you can hire – new maids and transfer maids. Here are some key differences between the two:

New MaidsTransfer Maids
No prior work experience in SingaporeHave been previously employed in Singapore
Higher cost of hiring (around S$10,000)Lower cost of hiring (around S$7,000)
Lower monthly salaryHigher monthly salary
Requires time to settle-in and getting used to living in SingaporeAlready well-acquainted with living in Singapore & being away from their home-country

The type of full-time maid you should hire will depend on your needs. If you need immediate help, then hiring a transfer maid would be preferable. It would take less time to orient them with how things work in Singapore as compared to new maids. 

On the other hand, new maids usually have lower monthly salaries than transfer maids due to their lack of experience. However, it’s important to note that their cost of hiring is higher. 

Scope of work

Full-time maids will help you with household chores, cooking, caring for children and the elderly, and even grocery shopping! By law, they have a six-day work week with one day-off. With their wide scope of work, it’s ideal for families who leave their home unattended on a daily basis. 

Who is it for?

While there is no dearth of full-time domestic helpers in Singapore, you do need to ask yourself if their wide range of services is what you need. It is quite a commitment cost-wise. Full-time maids would be best suited for you if:

  • You have a big family with kids or elderly parents
  • You own a big home and need help with the upkeep
  • You can afford the monthly cost of a MDW maid
  • You can accommodate an extra person in your home

Pros and cons

There are benefits to having a full-time helper, but some of their conditions may not suit you.

Pros Cons
Wide scope of workLimited privacy at home
Easily trainable according to your needs and standardsCostly hiring processes, salaries, and other monthly expenses 
Highly dependable especially for working individuals who spend time away from homeRequires accommodation 


Part-time domestic helpers

What do you do if you don’t necessarily need full-time help around the house? What if you have a small household with a limited budget? Well, in that case, a part-time domestic helper would be ideal for you.

Part-time domestic helpers in Singapore provide a limited yet essential list of services in Singapore. Just like full-time MDWs they can be hired through agencies or independently. However, remember that it is illegal for an MDW to work as a part-time maid. 

So before you hire a part-time domestic helper, make sure she is either: 

  • A Singaporean citizen
  • A permanent resident
  • A dependent pass holder

One of the best parts about hiring a part-time domestic helper is that they don’t have any of the additional hiring expenses of full-time helpers. You only pay for their service and their time. 

Types of part-time domestic helpers

As mentioned, there are two ways you can hire part-time helpers – through an agency or through independent platforms. Regardless of how you hire them, you can set their work timings according to your convenience.

Part-time helpers via agenciesIndependent part-time helpers
Hired through established cleaning agenciesHired through independent postings on online platforms or word of mouth
Experienced, well-trained individuals Can often be inexperienced individuals looking for part-time work
Immediate replacement (℅ agency) You need to find a replacement yourself
Agency fees No agency fees
Helpers are usually insured by the agencyNo guarantee on domestic help insurance
Thorough background checks are run by the agency itselfYou will need to run background checks yourself

Scope of work

While a part-time domestic helper won’t be there throughout the day for six days a week, she will be able to do quite a list of chores for your household. These are the services offered by part-time helpers:

  • Cleaning the floors – vacuum and mopping
  • Bathroom cleaning
  • Dusting 
  • Kitchen cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Emptying trash 
  • Ironing 

Some services like laundry, ironing, or washing dishes may incur extra charges. Be sure to check with the agency or your helper before assigning these tasks. 

Who is it for?

Part-time domestic helpers are ideal for:

  • Small households/families
  • Homes with limited needs 
  • People on a budget

Pros and cons

ProsCons
You get to set the date and time when their services are requiredThey require prior appointments every week and aren’t available ‘any day, any time’
They cost less than full-time domestic workersLimited time to orient/train according to your preference
They don’t require accommodationsYou may not always get the same helper each time (especially if you hire through an agency)
PrivacyAdditional charges may apply for other basic chores like laundry, dishwashing, etc.


The Cost of Domestic Helpers in Singapore

The monthly cost of employing a full-time and part-time domestic helper in Singapore may vary greatly. Full-time helpers base their fees on experience and country of origin. Whereas part-time helpers charge on an hourly basis or based on the scope of work.

Monthly cost of employing a full-time helper

Below are the minimum monthly salaries of full-time domestic helpers based on country of origin: 

  • Philippines: S$570 
  • Indonesia: S$550
  • Sri Lanka: S$497
  • Myanmar: S$450

Full-time helpers from other countries such as India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and others cost around the S$450-500 range per month. 

Since, transfer maids come with prior experience, their monthly salaries are higher. Their salaries can cost anywhere between S$800 and S$1,000 per month. All in all, the average salary of domestic helpers in Singapore is around S$600 per month. 

Please note that these salaries don’t include other monthly expenses such as accommodation, food, transport, medical check-ups, and other essentials. For a detailed breakdown of the initial cost of hiring a full-time domestic helper, then please head on to our cost guide in hiring full-time maids.

Monthly cost of employing a part-time helper

If you decide to hire a part-time domestic helper from a cleaning agency, then there’s likely going to be a one-time registration or agency fee. This usually amounts to S$250 on average. These fees come with added benefits such as guaranteed maid replacements. 

The hourly rate of a part-time domestic helper ranges between S$18 to S$30 per hour. Agencies as well as independent helpers may offer discounted monthly packages of anywhere between S$230 and S$450 per month. These packages include weekly cleaning sessions. 

With part-time services, it’s important to note that agencies have a required minimum number of hours per visit. 

All in all, a four hour cleaning session in a three to four-bedroom apartment can cost close to S$300 per month. This is excluding any agency fees that may apply. That said, this fee is far less than the cost of a full-time service.

Full-time vs. Part-time Domestic Helpers

Key ConsiderationsFull-Time HelperPart-Time Helper
CostMonthly salary: S$800 to S$1,000

Hiring costs: S$7,500 to S$10,500
Monthly salary: S$250 to S$500 
Additional costs for extra services charged according to workload and hours
Scope of workAny assigned tasks without exploitation. These include household chores, cooking, and caregiving amongst others.Limited to basic house cleaning such as vacuuming, mopping, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, etc.
FrequencyFollows a six-day work week Varies as per your demand
ReplacementsYou will need to go through the entire hiring process and incur the cost of hiring a new maid in order to get a replacementInstant replacements if you work with a maid agency or a cleaning service company
Hiring avenues Maid agencies, online platformsMaid agencies, cleaning, online platforms, word-of-mouth
Adjustability & customisationYou may arrange her schedule and services according to your needs and convenienceThey’re used to a certain way of working; limited to train them on how to do things


The Best Maid Insurance for Domestic Helpers in Singapore

If you’ve decided to hire a full-time domestic helper in Singapore, then you should know that getting maid insurance is mandatory. The Ministry of Manpower requires that every employer gets a maid insurance plan that offers two primary coverage benefits: 

  • Personal accident coverage: S$60,000 per year (minimum)
  • Medical coverage: S$15,000 per year (minimum)

Your maid insurance policy should be in place before they begin their first day of employment. You cannot, by law, expect your domestic helper to pay for the insurance. The compensation in the event that your help passes away or becomes permanently disabled, should be paid to her family.

In Singapore, maid insurance is valid for 26 months. The premium is calculated accordingly. In addition to this, most insurance companies will include a guarantee of S$5,000 Security Bond payable to the Ministry of Manpower on your behalf or as an optional rider. 

In case you’re wondering, you’re not required to insure part-time domestic helpers. However, it’s advisable to double-check with the agency you’re working with if they have been insured. For independent helpers, you may check with them directly. 

Here are the best maid insurance policies in Singapore.

Insurance PolicyPremium before discount
(26 months)
Hospital & Surgical SupportOutpatient SupportThird Party Liability Covid-19 Coverage
MSIG Maid Plus
(Standard Plan)
S$267.50S$15,000S$1,000S$5,000Add S$64.20
TIQ eProtect Maid (Plan A)S$260.96S$15,000S$1,000S$5,000Add S$52
FWD Maid Insurance (Essential Plan)S$335.02S$15,000S$1,000S$3,000Add S$55
AIG Domestic Helper Insurance (Superior)S$350.92S$15,000S$1,000S$100,000
HL Assurance Maid Protect360 (Basic)S$239.00S$15,000S$1,000S$0

Do note that the required S$60,000 death or permanent disablement due to accident benefit is available in all the policies listed above. 

There are many types of domestic helpers in Singapore. Hence, your first step should be to determine whether you need full-time or part-time help.

Be sure to consider your budget, the cost of hiring, and the monthly expense of employing a domestic helper. For the best maid insurance deals in Singapore, check out SingSaver’s exclusive maid insurance discounts


Read these next: 
How To Save Half The Cost When Renewing Your Maid’s Contract
Cost Of Hiring A Domestic Helper In Singapore – Cost Guide (2022)
Step-By-Step Guide To Hiring A Maid Without An Agency In Singapore
7 Most Reliable Maid Agencies In Singapore


By Gredel Shadroch
Financial writer, closet musician, and self-proclaimed Master of the Subtle Art of Cheap Living, Gredel is all about making money work for her. Budgeting is her forte & ‘splurge’ only exists when there’s a great deal on offer.


Gredel Shadroch June 2, 2022 90755