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In Singapore, we have transfer maid and new maid. And, we've been asked which is better. But first, we have to understand what do transfer maid and new maid mean.

New maids are helpers coming in from overseas to work in Singapore for the first time. After they have arrived here and have worked for a day, a month or 2 years and so on, they are defined as transfer maids when they are seeking to be transferred from their current employer to another employer.

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In other words, the new maids are simply new to Singapore, but they can have work experience in their home country. Whereas, transfer maids can have work experience in their home country, and in addition, there is the time period of how long they have been working in Singapore and what is their employment history like.

So, is transfer maid or a new maid better? Let us not pre-judge, but look at several factors.

New maids are simply new to working in Singapore. They may have work experience in their home country and may have undergone training in the training centre. You’ll probably have to interview her over the phone or the webcam and get feedback from her trainer, which could be biased.

Transfer maids are already working in Singapore. You can meet them for an interview in person. In addition, you can request for the Employment History of the transfer maid. In fact, the maid agency has to give it to you as it is a requirement of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

In terms of screening, I would say that transfer maids allow for better screening and matching because you can meet them in person and the employment history will allow you to gauge her work performance better. Any helper with a “job hopping” employment history may not be a good candidate, much like in any other occupation.

With the new regulation on giving weekly rest days to maids, there is also the issue of the girls “mixing” with bad company. New maids probably have no fixed routine on weekends and may start off wondering around.

Transfer maids, who have a few years experience, probably have a routine – meeting friends, going to church, going for courses, etc.

At 121 Personnel Services Pte Ltd our strategy has always been to properly match the helpers to the employers. That is why we have so many happy testimonials from clients. While we have many expat employers, we are also getting more local employers coming to us for help.

We promote our services based on the strength of our testimonials and through word-of-mouth. The fact is we actually lose money by not properly matching helpers to employers. This is because we have to “re-do” the matching and rearrange interviews for the clients and we do not get paid again by the clients because of our free replacement (depending on package). In addition, we lose goodwill and standing in the industry. Moreover, Singapore is our only market. As such, we never re-export our girls.

Oh yes, another question is that of cost. The agency fee of getting a new maid is around $800 to $1,600 (depending on package and agency). I believe there are some agencies charging $88 or $288. These agencies are basically passing all the costs to the new maids, and that is probably illegal. You see, the MOM has mandated that the maids be charged a maximum of 2 months salary for a 2 years contract. However, these “rogue” agencies will put this as the expenses the maids have to pay the overseas suppliers. So, as the new employer, your total expense will be in the region of $2,800 to $3,600, with a 6-9 months salary deduction on the girl.

In the case of a transfer maid, the agency fee should be in the region of a few hundred dollars. And that’s it! The transfer maid will pay for her own transfer fee. Or, if the employer chooses to help her pay first, there is only a 1 to 2 months salary deduction on the girl.

One important point I have to mention is that the maids of this generation (compared to 10 years ago) are much more demanding. Don’t forget that their home countries have improved economically and there are jobs back home. However, the pay overseas is still better.

Relatively speaking, new maids are probably less demanding than the transfer maids who have been in Singapore for a few years. On the other hand, transfer maids have more to lose if their jobs don’t work out. After all, these transfer helpers are so used to life in Singapore and their families back home are expecting their monthly remittance for household expenses, schooling expenses for the children and so on. For the new maids, working here is a new experience and if it didn’t work out, most of them are quite prepared to go back to their home country, in a worst case scenario. They may come here on a “try it out” mentality.

I know that the above factors may look biased towards transfer maids, but these are the facts that I know. I hope you’ll think about what I’ve written above and think for yourself. Do these factors make sense or am I writing nonsense?

In conclusion, a new maid or a transfer maid may just work out for any employers. We don’t really know, but only on hindsight. Nevertheless, the above are just factors for your consideration and I hope it helps.

Are you looking for a maid and want sound advice? Expat Choice suggests you contact 121 Personnel Services Pte Ltd


24 June 2019
Very interesting article! Thanks for sharing.


28 May 2019
What are people saying about 121 Personnel Services: We definitely made the right choice. You listened well when I told you how my maid should be..." "I always wanted to thank you for your service. With your help I found a very good maid. My husband is travelling a lot and I sometimes want to travel with him. We have our youngest son (aged 16) with us in Singapore. I don't want to leave him alone when I am travelling. So we decided to look for a live-in maid. I wanted someone with some experience and not too young. I told you what I needed and was soon afterwards invited to interview some candidates in your office. One of them I liked best. I invited her to our apartment and my son liked her as well. We definitely made the right choice. Maria now works for us more than half a year and I am very content with her work. Besides, she is a pleasant person to live with. We have a lot of visitors from Germany and everybody likes her. I can rely on her to manage the household alone when I am not in Singapore. Once again, thank you for your help. You listened well when I told you, how my maid should be, and made a good choice. Your service was fast and reliable. I already recommended your agency to different friends and will continue to do so. Mrs Sabine Leppkes "121 Personnel Services was highly recommended to me upon my arrival in Singapore..." "121 Personnel Services was highly recommended to me upon my arrival in Singapore. Hiring a maid was a new experience, and I was feeling a little anxious. Joy and Helen were very supportive and patient while I asked questions and learnt about the hiring process. They worked diligently to understand the needs of my family and subsequently choose well-suited maids for the interview stage. Throughout the whole experience, Joy and Helen were professional and supportive. I frequently sought their advice while making this important decision. I felt I could trust their assistance to be honest and act in everyone's best interest. I was very impressed by the exceptional level of communication I received throughout our time working together. I am now enjoying the fabulous lifestyle here in Singapore in large part due to the wonderful maid I have hired. Thank you Joy and Helen for making hiring a maid such a positive experience." Mrs Shelley Merkel