Demand leads to Palm Beach housekeepers earning $150,000 annually

The influx of wealthy individuals relocating from high-tax states like New York to Florida has led to a surge in demand for household staff in exclusive Florida neighborhoods, particularly in Palm Beach. Staffing agencies have witnessed a significant increase in the demand for positions such as butlers, now commonly referred to as “hospitality managers” or “estate managers,” as well as nannies, chefs, drivers, and personal security personnel.

The shortage of housekeepers has caused a significant problem for affluent homeowners in Florida. Many wealthy individuals who relocated to the state have purchased large homes and now require assistance in maintaining them. Consequently, there is fierce competition amongst hotels, resorts, businesses, and homeowners for cleaning staff. As a result, the wages for housekeepers have skyrocketed from approximately $25 per hour in 2020 to a staggering $45 or $50 per hour today, as reported by certain agencies.

“I’ve been in the staffing industry for 30 years, and I must say, I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this,” remarked April Berube, the founder of The Wellington Agency, a renowned agency specializing in placing household staff across Palm Beach, Miami, New York, and other prominent locations. She further added, “The influx of people relocating, particularly in Palm Beach and Miami, has been nothing short of incredible.”

Housekeepers in Palm Beach who have experience working in affluent households can earn an annual salary ranging from $120,000 to $150,000. Additionally, they are provided with benefits such as 401(k) plans, health care coverage, and overtime pay.

Berube expressed that the current situation is beneficial for housekeepers but is posing significant challenges for them. The shortage of housekeepers is becoming increasingly severe.

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According to Melissa Psitos, the founder of Lily Pond Services, she recently had a client in Florida who wanted to hire a housekeeper for $75,000 per year. However, they ended up paying $110,000, which was considered a reasonable amount for the market. Psitos also mentioned that executive housekeepers, who typically oversee a team of other housekeepers and laundresses, can earn even higher salaries. For instance, she knows a head housekeeper in Palm Beach who makes $250,000 annually, including overtime, and accompanies the family to their different residences.

She said there simply isn’t enough supply available.

Wealthy homeowners frequently engage in bidding wars, causing frustration among clients in West Palm Beach. Staffing agencies have responded by posting numerous “Help Wanted” ads online.

“When they first receive the price quote, they are often taken aback and exclaim, ‘There’s no way I’m going to pay that!'” Berube explained. “Even for me, it can be somewhat awkward to provide them with the figures. However, when they attempt to hire someone with less experience for a lower cost, they invariably return to us and admit, ‘I’ve learned my lesson. We’re willing to invest in expertise.'”

Housekeepers for the wealthy require a unique set of skills, according to Berube. They must be adept at moving silently and discreetly throughout the house, as well as possessing the expertise to clean delicate antiques, flatware, and fine art. Additionally, they need to know the proper techniques for washing and pressing luxurious linens.

According to her, working in fine homes requires specific tools and skills.

With a limited number of qualified candidates available, Berube is considering the possibility of establishing a school aimed at teaching high-end housekeeping skills. This initiative not only aims to address the shortage of skilled housekeepers but also seeks to generate a larger pool of qualified professionals in the field.

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“I’d love to do it, but I’m currently swamped with our efforts to recruit new staff.”

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