Housekeepers in Palm Beach earn $150,000 a year due to overwhelming demand

Housekeepers in Palm Beach earn $150,000 a year due to overwhelming demand

The mass migration of wealth to Florida from New York and other high-tax states has created record demand for domestic employees in Florida’s elite enclaves – especially Palm Beach. Demand has soared for butlers (now called “hospitality managers” or “property managers”) as well as nannies, cooks, drivers and personal security, according to recruitment agencies.

However, it is the shortage of housekeepers that has created the biggest chaos for wealthy homeowners. Many wealthy immigrants to Florida had bought large homes and now needed people to clean them. Hotels, resorts, and businesses are also looking for cleaning staff. The result: The typical wage for a housekeeper has risen from about $25 an hour in 2020 to $45 or $50 an hour today, according to some agencies.

“I’ve been hiring for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said April Berube, founder of The Wellington Agency, which hires in-house staff in Palm Beach, Miami, New York and other locations. “We’ve seen such a boom of people moving, especially Palm Beach and Miami.”

In Palm Beach, housekeepers with experience in affluent homes typically make between $120,000 and $150,000 a year, along with 401(k) plans, health care and benefits, including overtime.

“For a housekeeper, it’s great,” Berube said. “For us, it is very difficult. It is an acute shortage.”

Melissa Psitos, founder of Lily Pond Services, said she recently had a client from Florida hoping to hire a housekeeper for $75,000 a year. They ended up paying $110,000, which was a reasonable amount for the market. An executive housekeeper, who often helps direct the staff of other housekeepers and laundresses, can accomplish more. Psitos said she knows a house manager in Palm Beach who makes $250,000 a year, including overtime, and travels with the family to their various homes.

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“There are not enough supplies,” she added.

Bidding wars between wealthy homeowners have become common. Employment agencies post “help wanted” ads all over the web and throughout West Palm Beach. Customers are feeling increasingly frustrated.

“At first they were in shock, saying: ‘There’s no way I’m going to pay that much,'” Berube said. “It’s even uncomfortable for me to give them numbers. But when they try to hire someone for less, with less experience, they always come back to us and say, ‘I’ve learned my lesson.’ We are willing to pay the price for this experience.

Wealthy housekeepers need very specific skills — from how to move quietly and unnoticed throughout the house, to how to carefully clean antiques, tableware and fine art, to how to properly wash and press delicate linens, Berube said.

“There are specific tools and skills you need to work in good homes,” she said.

With so few qualified candidates, Berube said, she is considering launching a school to teach advanced homemaking skills and generate more housekeepers.

“I would love to, but I don’t have the time, because we’re busy trying to find employees.”

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