Have you ever pictured yourself sipping coffee in a Parisian cafe? Or beer in a German pub?
Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of living in South America, taking in the mountains and architecture of Peru.
Well, this lifestyle doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Working as an au pair could be the perfect way to achieve your travel goals.
Why become an au pair?
Becoming an au pair has many benefits. The job usually involves looking after children in their home. Every country on the planet has kids, which means there’s constant demand for au pairs all over the world.
Also, you don’t necessarily need experience to get started.
If you’ve always wanted move abroad but haven’t taken the plunge, becoming an au pair could be the best way to get your foot in the door. You can experience independence while still having a support network around you. As it’s usually a live in-role, you’ll receive a job and accommodation all in one.
Or if you’re dying to live in another country but don’t have the savings, working as an au pair could be your answer. It isn’t the highest paying vocation, but you usually receive accommodation, food and a wage. And you should have plenty of time off to explore the country.
Language learners, becoming an au pair could also be the perfect way to practice the language you’re studying. Living in your target country with a family can allow you to fully immerse yourself in the language and culture. Some families even offer to pay for local language classes. Soon you could be speaking like a local!
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Do You Want to Become an Au Pair? Here’s How!
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1. Consider the pros and cons
Before moving forward, you want to make sure being an au pair will suit you. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you like kids? Are you happy living with a family?
Would you be open to working extra hours when asked? How about working evenings or weekends? Can you get by on low wages if you have your accommodation and food paid for?
If you feel confident the pros will outweigh the cons, working as an au pair could be for you.
2. Decide where to be an au pair
You can work as an au pair in countless places around the world. Popular destinations include Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but you can also find jobs across South and Central America, Asia and more. Think about your own personal desires and requirements to narrow down your options.
If you’re already learning a specific language, look into working in a country where that language is spoken.
Or maybe you’ve always wanted to visit a certain place. If you love the food in South Korea, then why not take the opportunity to find an au pair job there?
You’ll find certain countries offer higher wages to au pairs than others. New Zealand, Australia and Canada often offer a good living wage.
European countries such as Sweden and Germany tend to offer more to au pairs, but every family is different. You might be able to negotiate a good deal in any country.
3. Find an au pair job
Find an au pair job with an agency
Agencies are trustworthy, so you might prefer to go through one if you’re nervous about working abroad. Using an agency ensures that everything is legitimate and that the family is safe.
Agencies also organize everything for you and help you with visas and travel details.
Generally, au pair agencies are based in the country you’re moving to. For example, check out The London Au Pair and Nanny Agency if you want to work in the United Kingdom.
Look into Au Pair Australia for placements down under or International Au Pair Italy for Italian openings.
However, agencies often charge a large fee for their services. These days, there are plenty of trustworthy, free online resources where you can find au pair jobs. So it might not be necessary to use an agency! In fact, most au pairs prefer to find jobs online.
Find an au pair job online
Finding an au pair job online is relatively easy and usually free.
You can browse listings of families seeking au pairs on numerous sites. Most websites allow you to search by country and narrow down results by dates of availability, language spoken and other stipulations so you can find an appropriate match.
Remember, you want to make sure this family is the right fit for you! (And vice-versa.) I recommend contacting them on Skype before signing anything to make sure they seem legitimate and you get along.
The following websites are the best for finding au pair jobs:
- AuPairWorld: Probably the most popular resource for finding au pair jobs, Au Pair World is technically an online agency. However, it works like other sites and is free to use for au pairs. Families posting their listing have to pay a fee, meaning the vetting process is more secure than some sites.
- AuPair: Like AuPairWorld, AuPair is an online agency. But it’s free for all users.
- Great Au Pair: This company is useful for finding more than just au pair jobs. If you want to travel on a budget during your time off, you can also use Great Au Pair to find jobs pet sitting or housekeeping in other areas.
- Workaway: Workaway charges a small fee to join but has many au pair options for a vast range of countries.
4. Choose the right family
Choosing the right family can make or break an au pair experience. You’ll inevitably end up spending a lot of time with whomever you choose. It’s best to find out before you start whether you’ll crack up at their sense of humor or tear your hair out with how disorganized they are.
As I mentioned previously, the best way to make a decision is to speak with potential families on Skype. Even though it can be a little nerve-racking, it’s a good way to see how your personalities mesh. It’ll also give you the chance to ask questions about what you’ll be doing and what the local area is like.
You should also make sure you’re clear on all work conditions before you go. Get the agreement in writing so you have something to refer back to if you have any issues later on. Ask them to provide clear details of the following things:
- Wages: How much will you be earning?
- Other benefits: Do they provide food and accommodation? Do they have a car you can use? If not, will they help you with local travel costs?
- Working hours: Will your hours be the same each week? When will you have time off?
- Expectations: Will you just be childminding? Or do they expect you to clean, cook or perform other household tasks?
- Accommodation set-up: Will you have your own room? Can you have friends around? Is there a curfew?
One last tip when choosing a family: Ask if they’ve ever had an au pair before. If so, request the previous nanny’s contact information. Who better to fill you in on the job than someone who has already walked in these shoes?
You can also ask the previous au pair if there were any major problems with the family and for helpful advice.
Once you’ve chosen your destination and family, it’s time to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!
Working with kids, receiving free accommodation and traveling the world… What more could you ask for?
Hanna Greeman is a language lover and global traveler. After graduating in Spanish and Italian from the University of Bristol, she has lived in Colombia, Peru, Italy, Australia and Thailand, and traveled across four continents. When not working as a freelance writer, catch her salsa dancing, reading or seeing live music.
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