Au Pair 101

When I decided to be an au pair (way way back in April 2014) and began telling people about my new plans, I was surprised by how many blank stares I got. Yep, that’s right. Many people have no idea what an au pair even is let alone how to find an au pair job or what said job entails. Perhaps you’re one of those people, and that’s perfectly alright! Somehow someway, you found this blog, and I’m here to (hopefully) answer all your au pair questions.

First and foremost, what is an au pair?

An au pair is a young person, usually a woman, from a foreign country who lives with a family and helps to care for the children in return for room and board as well as the opportunity to learn the family’s language. In addition, the family usually provides the au pair with some “pocket money” each week. By no means are you going to get rich, but it usually suffices to fund the au pair’s free time activities. Most au pairs work part-time and often study part-time as well.

Where can au pairs work?

Any place they can find a family willing to host them! Popular destinations for au pairs include European countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Other destinations include the USA, China and Australia. Really though, families in many countries all over the world are interested in hosting au pairs. The concept has not, however, gained popularity in most developing countries.

How long does an au pair stay with her (or his) host family?

Prior to accepting a position with a host family, the au pair will discuss her length of stay with her host family. Many host families ask that the au pair stays for the duration of the school year (September – June) as it is more convenient when organizing a schedule for the children. Some families ask that the au pair commits to an entire year. Still, many families are flexible and willing to work with the au pair. In my case, my family asked how long I’d be willing to stay, and I told them four months. Another popular option for college students is to be a summer au pair which allows them to enjoy the experience of being an au pair for a few months before having to return to their home country in the fall to resume classes.

For more information about au pairing, check out the links below. If you have a question that I have not answered here or in a post, please send me an email at ealexiswittman [@] gmail [dot] com or leave a comment. I will post the answer here because chances are if you’re wondering it someone else is wondering it too!

Check out these posts:

How I found an au pair job

Five questions to ask yourself before au pairing 



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