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What is an Au Pair?

What is an au pair? Where can you be an au pair? How can you become an au pair?

 

Glad you asked! After au pairing in Germany, I realized how the concept of au pairing is lost in the continental US. Considering I had a great experience with my au pair family, I wanted to share what I've learned with you.

So, first thing first - What is an au pair?

An au pair is a person who goes to live abroad with a family to help them with their childcare in exchange for a cultural experience and free room and board. 

It's the perfect chance to live abroad in a different country and learn about cultures. 

What are au pairs required to do?

Au pairs typically work about 30 hours per week and are paid from $300-$500/month. (Because you don't have to pay for room and board, nor several other expenses, it's really okay).

The daily life of an au pair can differ depending on the family, but typically, au pairs will help out around the house and with the logistics of the kiddos. My weekly 'chores' included: taking the kids to school, picking them up, biking with them to ballet/tennis, communicating and playing with them in English, setting the dinner table, cleaning up after dinner, and babysitting, amongst other activities. Honestly, you become a family member and participate in the family as you would your own.

Where can Americans au pair? I met my au pair family on greataupair.com. When signing up you can pick the countries you are interested in. Photo of au pair playing with kids.

Where and how do you choose a family to au pair with?

I met my au pair family on greataupair.com. When signing up, you're able to pick a handful of countries that you are interested in. 

After I created a profile, I had several people from all over reach out to me, including my (amazing) to-be au pair mom/best friend. After a few emails, the parents and I met on face-time alone, and then again later on with the kiddos.

This process for me took about one month, from me making a profile, to signing a contract. I've also heard of some people planning this process out more in advance, give or take six months out. (Tip: Most families are looking for candidates who are planning to stay for a full year).

After I signed the contract, the family and I would make a face-time appointment once a week to acclimate to each other before I even stepped foot on the plane. I highly suggest this for your future au pair family! It helped me get to know the family before I arrived, and it allowed them to meet my family and pets as well. 

What is an au pair? Playing with the children in your language, to help teach them by practicing.

What does an au pair do?

During one of our facetime calls, the parents and I were chatting about what they needed in an au pair. These tasks were laid out in our contract. One of the main reasons they wanted an au pair was to allow their girls to become more comfortable learning and speaking English. They also needed help caring for the girls since the dad worked out of town during the week. The parents also mentioned assisting with things around the house as they were needed. For instance, if I saw dishes in the sink, I would wash them or put them in the dishwasher, same thing you would do in your own house. These types of duties were to be expected, but weren’t included in my contract. While that was my experience, I know other families have other needs. Some families may need to help out around the house with laundry, vacuuming, making dinner, etc. It is best to clarify the extent of your job before you arrive. The main thing to keep in mind, is if you want the family to include you as a family member, that also means helping out where you can. 

Where can Americans au pair?

While au pairs are really popular in some countries, every country has its own rules and regulations on applicants based on citizenry and age. Each country has their own visa requirements and limits. Below is a list of the most popular countries for American citizens to au pair in. I've included the age limits, visas needed, length of stay, and pocket money amount.

 

American Au Pair Opportunities by Country

Country

Age Requirement

Minimum Pocket Money/Month

Hrs/Wk

Type of Visa Needed

Length of Visa

Extension Possible?

Australia

18-30

800-1000 AUS $

25-30

Au Pair Visa/Working Holiday Visa (Visa 452)

12 months

no*

Austria

18-28

475 EUR

18

Au Pair Visa & Residence Permit

12 months

no*

Belgium

18-25

450 EUR

20

Au Pair Visa & Work Permit for stays over 90 days (Long Stay Visa D)

3-12 months

no*

Canada

18-30

880 CAN$

25

International Experience Canada (working visa)

12 months

by case

Denmark

18-29

4150 DKK

30

Residence Permit

12 months

12 months

Finland

17-30

252 EUR

30

Au Pair Residence Permit

12 months

no*

France

18-30

320 EUR

25

Long Stay Visa

12 months

12 months

Germany

18-26

280 EUR

30

Au Pair Visa

12 months

no*

Iceland

18-25

60000 ISK

30

Au Pair Residence Permit for stays over 90 days

3-12 months

no*

Ireland

18-30

700-800 EUR

30

Long Stay Student Visa

unclear

yes

Italy

18-27

250-300 EUR

30

*None - no visa required for stays less than 90 days

2-3 months

no

New Zealand

18-30

600-800 NZ$

40

Working Holiday Visa

6-23 months*

yes

Norway

18-30

4000 NOK

30

Au Pair Visa

24 months

no

Portugal

21-30*

280 EUR

25-35

Au Pair or Student Visa

3 months

unclear

Spain

18-30

200-250 EUR

30

Student Visa for stays over 90 days

3-12 months

12 months

Sweden

18-30

3500 SEK

25

Working Permit or Student Visa

3-12 months

yes

Switzerland

18-25

600 CHF

30

Au Pair Visa (limited)

12 months

no*

The Netherlands

18-30

340 Eur

30

Residence Permit (VVR)

12 months

no*

UK

18-30

300-320 GBP

30

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, UK Ancestry visa or Student Visa

2 years

12 months*

 

***Please note that this research was done in February-July 2022 and that changes could occur.

If you have more interest in any of the above - the best websites that I found that had the most informative information were greataupair.com and gooverseas.com, as well as each country’s actual website on visa information, which I highly suggest including in your search.

I had an amazing experience while abroad and with my au pair family. I only hope the same is true for your experience! 

If you have more interest in any of the above - the best websites that I found that had the most informative information were greataupair.com and gooverseas.com, as well as each country’s actual website on visa information, which I highly suggest including in your search. Photo of au pair with au pair family.