Honest Truths about Au pairing
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an Au pair abroad? If you’re wondering what it’s like, I plan to go through the pros and cons of being an au pair, using my own and other Au pairs personal experiences.
What is an Au pair?
An Au pair is a young person who wishes to travel abroad whilst gaining a true cultural experience with a local family. Au pairs tend to be aged between 18 and 30. Au pairs are expected to become a full member of the family unit, contributing to light household duties and childcare. In return, the au pair will receive pocket money, free meals and board. Some host families will offer an au pair other benefits but these are the minimal requirements.
Whilst, you can go to a country where they speak your own language, the idea of an au pair is to travel to a foreign speaking country and improve your language skills. The host families have to give you time to attend a language course during your stay.
Au pair positives
Free meals and board
Well, it’s not free but you don’t have to think about it, which is great! The minimum requirement is to provide an aupair with their own room. Sometimes host families can offer ensuites, own flats and other styles of accommodation.
Au pairing is a fantastic way to experience living in a foreign country. Your host family will introduce you to their way of life and their friends.
If you’re wanting to improve your language skills, Au pairing is perfect for you. Your family is expected to make time for you to attend a course. The family household and the locals will also help you improve those language skills.
Au pairing is a great way of securing yourself a place to stay, work and play abroad. It’s a safety net. It was my safety net upon arrival in Australia. Your family will likely pick you up from the airport, show you around, sometimes even provide you with a car.
Au pair Negatives
This will affect you if you’ve ever lived alone or, away from your parents. When you work and live in the home of your ’employer,’ expect to start asking for permission for basic things. This includes asking to go out, sticking to a curfew, having people over etc…
Adult to Child
This is a difficult one to explain. You are an adult in regards to looking after the children, but you become a child, in terms of the above. Meals are often made together as a family, you don’t have to worry about rent or bills and, of course, the permission scenario.
Pocket money is your pay. I was personally quite shocked at the pay but ultimately understood why it was so low. Due to your accommodation and food being covered for by your host family, they deduct those costs from your pay. For example, in Australia, you get A$200 a week. Therefore, add A$150 (average) for a room in Australia, A$10 for utilities, A$50 for food/supplies and you’re looking at a total of A$450 a week. That’s roughly £255 or €290 per week.
National Employment Standards states that au pairs cannot work more than 38 hours a week, but this can often get extremely confusing. Due to you living with your host family, you’re expected to help out, therefore your ‘hours’ may seem fuzzy. I personally didn’t feel like I ever stopped working, due to always being around the children. This may not be a problem for some people, but I sure like my own personal space, which is difficult to get in this arrangement. Also note, that you can work for 25 hours one week and 30 the next and still get the same pocket money. Some host families do have different outlooks though, some pay-over-time etc…
Is Au pairing right for you?
This may be a question you’re asking yourself and with everything you do in life, there are always pros and cons. Personally, Au pairing didn’t work out for me. It wasn’t the family, more the conditions of the au pair job. I loved when I nannied because I adore children but equally enjoy being able to go home to my own space. Au pairing didn’t provide this quality, ultimately leaving me feeling trapped.
Fortunately for me, I was in an English speaking country with newly found friends who were able to help me with the transition to another job. Please note that if you are going to go to a foreign speaking country, you may not have this luxury.
Always have a backup plan!
I cannot express how important this is. I knew of an au pair who got stuck with a family, in the country. She wasn’t offered a car and somehow ended up working for free in exchange for her accommodation and food. These exchanges are possible, but only when agreed priorly.
Many people love their Au pair experiences
Many people love their experiences, and could possibly disagree with me on my points above, therefore take these from one perspective. Make sure to do your research on the family, the location and the country. There will no doubt be surprises along the way, both negative and positive but there is no way to be overly prepared for an au pair lifestyle change.
There are other ways to earn money abroad, check out afentures guide here.
However, if you’re still keen to Au pair, the best free website tool is Aupairworld.