Now I know that not everyone living in Germany has a big, old farm like we do. But if you own a home here, there is likely going to be a time when you could use some extra help around the house. You may have enough work to keep someone busy for weeks cleaning things up, you might need someone to take care of your garden or yard when the grass is actually green and growing, or you might just have a bug one-time project that you need help for.
We would personally prefer to have someone to clean the house on a weekly basis (you know, do the stuff like washing windows and scrubbing hard-water buildup off the shower glass which few people actually enjoy) and would certainly enjoy someone coming at least once a month to sweep the courtyard and help us trim back certain plants. That would free up a lot of time for us to finish bigger projects and plenty of time for me to work while still being able to play with Mackenzie. Not to mention we’d be even happier since our house would be looking so lovely. But even when cheap labor is available, it’s just not always in the budget.
So if you do need to find some help and have the money, regardless of where you live, there are a few general places you can always look for help in your area. Yes, some of these even apply if you’re living in the US or other places — or at least they used to work when we lived there!
- Do you have a local farmers market or grocery story nearby that has a bulletin board space? What about your local post office; is there a place there where people hang up fliers? We constantly see ads up from cleaning services, garden helpers and others offering to do just about anything you need. You’ll probably also find a lot of pets and baby/kids stuff up for sale too!
- Do you get any local free newspapers? We get three every week plus another small local magazine every couple of weeks and there are always tons of people and small business in the classifieds looking for new jobs to take on. I’ve seen everything from building contractors to gardening help to painters in there.
- Have trees you need cut down? Here in Germany you can contact your local fire department. Many times they will come out, cut down the trees, chip up the small stuff (giving you mulch) and remove the large pieces (or leave it for you if you want to turn it into firewood) all for a minimal donation, some sausages on the grill and a few cases of drinks. You’ll save a bundle versus what you’d pay to have a commercial tree cutting service do the work.
- Is there a free local telephone book? Have you tried DasOertliche, the online phone book? They’ve got a good yellow pages section for companies. Just type in the sort of business you are looking for and your areas or postal code and up it comes (hopefully). Need help figuring out what something is called? Leo.org is never more than a few clicks away!
A few words of caution
Yes, many of the individuals you will come across who just put up a flier will not have companies and they will expect you to pay cash. They’re working for “black money” (Schwarzgeld) and they won’t be paying taxes. So if you want to be strictly on the up and up, you’ll want to find someone with a real company who actually issues written bills. And naturally, you are also going to be paying more since you’ve got to contend with 19% tax on top of the labor charges.
We’ve used everything from master painters to independent contractors to guys who do random odd jobs. Some of them are great all the time, some are great only part of the time, and sometimes you just get what you pay for. We’ve thankfully never had any workers that just took our money and ran…but we have had to seriously lean on most of them to get the job done the way we wanted it. So you’re going to need to be able to communicate with each other well. And in our experience, almost everyone who is working for payment under the table is from somewhere like Croatia. They’re often very hard workers and will cut you a great deal, but sometimes they also cut corners and totally flake out on you for a few weeks. So be warned.
Does that mean that trained professional German workers are far superior and worth the heavily inflated rates that they charge? Again, only judging from our experience, no. But we’ve only dealt with one master painter and that was just a botched job all around.
On the other hand, one of our next door neighbors is German and a basic contractor who seems to do just about everything when it comes to work. He’s not only great and gets the job done quickly, but he’s also very inexpensive.
How do you go about finding workers? Have you ever used any online services? We’ve done that with our babysitter so far and it was fabulous, but never found the need to try it with workers thus far.0