The vast majority of people in Singapore use agencies to hire a foreign domestic helper ( FDW -we don’t call them maids). People are busy and can’t be bothered with all the paperwork. So they cough up the huge fees that agencies charge (anywhere from $500-$900) and a helper appears at their door.


However, I’ve been meeting more people who don’t want to go through agencies. Why? Mainly because they want to find a helper themselves. They want recommendations and references, or they want to hire a specific person who they already know, who maybe worked for a friend or acquaintance who’s now leaving Singapore. This is very common.

This was the case with us, but 3 different agents deterred me from hiring a ‘transfer’ FDW, believing that something must have “gone wrong” with their previous employer for them to transfer. They advised I hire someone from outside the country (The Phillipines, Indonesia and Malaysia are the 3 most popular countries)

I thought it was better to hire someone I’d met and even seen in action, rather than paying to fly in a stranger who I’d never spoken to before, based only on a one page Biodata document.


So I decided to keep asking for recommendations and keep interviewing. I found someone I liked, and I certainly wasnt going to fork over hundreds of dollars to an agency when I’d done all the hard work! Most people would still use an agency at this stage, to issue the work permit (WP), but I wanted to see this scary paperwork for myself.

Well, after a couple bumps along the way, I had a WP issued and my helper has been with us for a few months now. Things are going great, so now seems a good time to share how to sort out your FDW’s work pass and some common pitfalls to avoid.

See Part 2 for my 10 tips!



4 Comments Add yours

  1. M says:

    That’s really interesting to know. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to Part II


  2. Laura says:

    Just went through this myself! It’s amazing how much the agencies charge. My helper told me it would cost her $2000 to come to Singapore through an agency if she left. And on top of that they charge the employer too? SMH, there’s usually a reason for the high pressure sale!

    I definitely prefer to work with someone who has experience in Singapore and understands western families and their culture. Having two solid recommendations from previous employers was an added bonus for us!


    1. Kehinde says:

      $2000, that’s nuts! Such a money maker. Thanks for reading Laura! I 100% agree about the recommendations, it can save a lot of hassle down the line. xoxo


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