South asia: Domestic help eases transition

domestic help is essential and considered the norm for families who are
relocating to South Asia. Helen Rowe reports

in South Asia can expect to encounter a whole host of cultural differences and
their ability to navigate through these will largely dictate the success of
their stay.For this reason, nothing should be taken for granted when relocating
staff to the region.

staff will find marked differences in the way their life is organised with
changes in everything from getting to the office in the morning to buying and
preparing food. As a result, companies employing expatriates in the region will
be required to foot bills for a range of services. What’s more, these services,
if not properly organised, can result in such waste of time that it will become
extremely difficult for an employee to get on with the job they were sent to do.

middle-class professionals in south Asia make do without a substantial amount
of domestic help. A cook, driver, and security guard, as well as cleaning and
housekeeping staff are indispensable and considered the norm.

experienced and reliable driver is particularly important to minimise the risk
of a road traffic accident. Accidents in the region frequently end in drivers
being rounded on and attacked by angry mobs, and road signs tend to be in local
languages making it difficult for foreigners to navigate routes.

home, employers will need to provide round-the-clock security and servants to
cook, clean and run errands. Dealings with bureaucracy over essentials such as
telephones, for example, can take days of waiting around and are likely to
quickly wear down any expatriate attempting to negotiate them alone, especially
if they do not have language skills.

one British expat, Andrew Goode, puts it, "People think I must be pampered
because I have people to help on the domestic front. But you have to remember
that here there are no supermarkets. I can’t just go to one shop and buy
everything I need for the week in an hour. The fact is that many apparently
simple things can be very time consuming."

schooling will also be required for any children and language classes are
recommended for all members of the expatriate’s family.

Putaux, project manager at the relocation services portal,
stresses the importance of a well structured employee assistance programme
which she says will go a long way towards avoiding problems that directly or
indirectly affect an expatriate’s performance at work.

also recommends creating a forum for expatriates and their families to exchange
information and advice with others who have been – or who are going – through
the same experience. "It must always be remembered that the family is the
key to a successful expatriation," she adds.

underestimate the concerns of either the spouse or the children. It really is
important to provide as much assistance 
and reassurance as possible, especially during the first three months of
settling in."

Goode, vice-president sales for the European telecommunications company ETT,
who recently relocated to New Delhi, recommends a meticulous approach to detail
as the key to successful relocation. "It’s a very different set up here
and things that you would take for granted often turn out not to be so

example, I was told I had a phone but when I moved in I found out it wouldn’t
allow me to make phone calls outside Delhi. Also, I didn’t appreciate that air
conditioning is absolutely essential, especially if you are in a top-floor
flat. All these things take time to fix so itis better to make sure they are as
you want them in the first place. You need to make a list of your requirements
and then go through it systematically making sure every detail is in place."

Putaux advises companies to plan an employee’s future even before they set off
on their international assignment or risk an expensive loss at a later date.
"An expat is an investment for a company," she says. "For the
employee to leave to join a competitor after three years just because his
future was not agreed on earlier is both unnecessary and highly undesirable."

in South Africa

costs across south Asia vary. According to, someone earning
£100,000 ($141,697) in London would need to earn £114,966 ($162,871) to
maintain a similar standard of living in Bombay, now known as Mumbai. For an
expatriate moving to New Delhi, the comparable figure would be £83,673
($118,532) with £72,109 ($102,146) needed in Dhaka and Islamabad and £71,429
($101,189) in Colombo.

staff: Monthly salary – around rs2,550 ($54.20)

fees: At the Ecole Francaise de New Delhi annual fees are:  nursery – rs116,575 ($2,478); primary –
rs160,762 ($3,417); secondary – rs176,463 ($3,750)

with general practitioner/specialist: rs300/900 ($6.37/$19.13)

double room – rs4,600 to 8,400 ($98 to $179)

meal: rs700 to 1,200 ($14.88 to $25.51)

tuition: rs300 per hour ($6.37)


costs of a three-bedroom furnished apartment in a moderate/expensive area of:

Delhi, India: rs128,100/130,220 ($2,720/2,765).

areas: New Friend’s Colony, Defence Colony/ Chanakyapuri, Golf Links, Vasant

Sri Lanka: 60,000 to 72,150 Sri Lanka rupees ($666 to $800). Recommended areas:
Colombo 3, Colombo 7/Colombo 4, Colombo 5)

Bangladesh: 82,225 to 125 250 Takas ($1,440 to $2,193).

areas: Banani, Gulshan I/Baridhara, Gulshan II. Unfurnished only available

Pakistan: 37,500 Pakistan rupees ($589). Recommended area: Clifton

fees are likely to be about two months rent for each 12-month period of lease.

all the above are given in Indian rupees unless otherwise stated.


– Omni –

International Remuneration and Compensation Consulting –

Employment Conditions Abroad –

Organisation Resources Counselors –

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