I’m a housekeeper in Palm Beach earning more than I ever imagined due to the influx of young, wealthy families to South Florida

    Marta Magarelli has lived in Palm Beach for over 10 years but noticed that the market for housekeepers has changed since COVID-19.

    Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/BI

    Marta Magarelli moved to Florida from Brazil when she was 24. She started as a housekeeper before working her way up to running households with teams of staff.She now works in Palm Beach, where homeowners pay high salaries for the best housekeepers.

    This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Marta Magarelli, 60, a housekeeper in Palm Beach, where housekeepers are in high demand. The following has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has verified her employment.

    I left Brazil when I was 24 in 1987 and moved to America. I was meant to attend school in Florida for just a few months to learn English, but I fell in love with the man who became my husband, and we settled in Florida together.

    I began working as a housekeeper across several houses — cleaning, washing, and cooking.

    I’m a perfectionist, which makes me good at what I do. It’s helped me earn the trust of the homeowners, or, as we refer to them in the industry, “principals,” and foster close relationships with them.

    I gradually worked up to cleaning bigger and grander houses in South Florida, getting jobs through recommendations and newspaper ads. Now, I work as the executive housekeeper for a family in Palm Beach, earning far more than I ever imagined.

    Becoming an executive housekeeper

    Housekeepers are on their feet a lot. Once I had young children, I was too tired to keep jumping between different houses.

    In 2009, I moved to working in a more senior role for just one new household. The principals were seeking an executive housekeeper, so I stepped up. Even though I hadn’t had experience as an executive housekeeper before, I never let that stop me from taking on a new challenge. You can always learn on the job.

    Many principals want one person who can do a bunch of different roles rather than six different staff. That’s why executive housekeeping attracts higher salaries — you wear many hats.

    Beyond the responsibilities of a normal housekeeper, the executive has to be able to drive, cook, help with kids and animals, and support a personal assistant or a house manager. On top of cleaning, organizing, turning laundry, and ironing.

    I worked at that first household for nine years. You get close to the principals, so it’s hard to leave. But you need new challenges as you approach 10 years with a household. I like to push myself and not get too comfortable.

    I dreamt of becoming a chef, so I attended culinary school. I returned to working in private homes as a chef in my next household, but after a few years, the daily stress of cooking set in. It was too much for me, and I missed having variety in my working day.

    I returned to executive housekeeping with my new culinary skills and stayed in that household for six years.

    The day-to-day routine of an executive housekeeper

    I started at this household just a year ago. The family has young kids and pets, and they always love to travel, which presents new challenges.

    The day starts around 9 a.m. We’ll usually run through the week’s schedule if the principal is home. But ideally, the job of an executive housekeeper is to make sure the principal doesn’t have to think about the house: everything is clean and organized when they arrive home.

    The most important part of this job is making the principals’ lives easy. They pay for the luxury of an executive housekeeper to have a relaxed life.

    I’ll clear the breakfast kitchen, make the beds, and pick up the laundry. Two additional housekeepers come in twice a week to help with the cleaning so I can go grocery shopping and collect dry cleaning.

    I stop by their other properties to check that the pantry and fridge are stocked and everything is running smoothly.

    I spend lots of time with the principals’ dogs — whether walking them or just general pampering.

    My day ends around 6 or 7 p.m.; the good thing about this job is that when it’s done, it’s done. I can clock off, go to my local church, and spend the evening at home with my husband.

    Less staff means less drama and more traveling

    I work with a small team in this current household — just me and two housekeepers.

    The number of employees in these Palm Beach homes can easily rack up. I’ve worked in households with 13 people, resulting in more drama.

    Principals may want a housekeeper, driver, chef, sous chef, and additional housekeepers for each house floor. The last house I worked at even had a housekeeper specifically to arrange the principal’s closet.

    As an executive housekeeper, you manage all the staff and their opinions. In a small team, you have more roles, but I prefer getting on with things on my own rather than dealing with the drama.

    One difference between this job and my previous roles is the travel. I go wherever they go. The trips aren’t long trips, usually a week or so, but they’re frequent — my favorite is traveling to upstate New York.

    You have to be ready to travel at short notice. I have my passport to hand and my bags packed. I’ve not had to travel immediately, but you’re paid a high salary to be prepared.

    The market for housekeepers in Palm Beach has changed a lot in recent years

    Palm Beach is a very expensive ZIP code. It’s a beautiful place with fancy stores and restaurants.

    I’ve been in Palm Beach for over 10 years, and the market for housekeepers has completely flipped since COVID-19.

    We used to have fewer jobs and more workers. It’s now the opposite because many people moved to Florida after the pandemic. You can feel the influx in South Florida: more traffic, new construction sites, and more people crowding the streets.

    Principals are now younger post-pandemic. People in their 40s — younger families with younger kids — who want one all-encompassing household staff.

    That shift has brought more housekeepers to the area, but it’s caused a wave of unprofessionalism. Housekeepers attracted to the high salaries but lacking the proper experience don’t last long.

    People are desperate for good executive housekeepers, and principals are willing to pay higher salaries for peace of mind.

    The relationships make housekeeping so rewarding

    I’ve always been very close to the people I work with, and my relationships are why I’ve been so happy doing this job for so long.

    You form strong connections with people, and seeing your work help others is so satisfying. Even after I leave a household, I stay in touch with principals. They send me birthday cards, and we check in on one another.

    I didn’t come into this industry thinking I’d earn this kind of salary with these benefits. For me, it was always about finding a job where I could interact with people every day.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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