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First things first. You may be thinking “What is an au pair? How is an au pair different from a nanny?” Simply put, an au pair is an individual from abroad who performs childcare in exchange for room and board. Some programs, like the one Andrew and I used, help the the au pair immerse themselves in the English language and culture.
Childcare is expensive, and hiring a live-in nanny will cost you around $40,000/year. I have no idea how I even found out about hiring an au pair. Some previous coworkers of mine had them, but I never knew the details.
How Do I Find an Au Pair?
I learned that the US government has a list of vetted agencies which you can choose from when hiring an au pair. There are numerous websites that will help you connect with available au pairs, but these sites do not provide the assistance an agency does; so things like insurance, visa applications, safety, background checks, interviewing, booking travel, and much more would be your responsibility. We ended up choosing Agent Au Pair, and it’s been a great experience from the start (If you happen to reach out, mention our name)!
How Much Does it Cost?
Each agency has slightly different pricing. I’ve heard that Culture Care, a popular agency, is slightly more expensive than the agency we went through. It is free to apply as a host family. If you match with an au pair, you are required to pay a program fee. The Agent Au Pair program fee is currently around $9,000. You can split this up into multiple payments if needed.
Through our program, the au pairs are required to be paid a minimum of $200/week in addition to receiving free room and board. You can always choose to pay your au pair more. Moreover, you are also required to provide $500 towards English courses at an accredited school. You can view the Agent Au Pair pricing breakdown here.
There were so many reasons we choose to hire an au pair, and so far, it has been a great experience! Andrew and I have crazy schedules, and I often work late into the evening and on weekends, so flexibility was key for us. We also really wanted Ryan to be introduced to the Spanish language at an early age! Another huge perk is no drop off and pick up at daycare. That adds a quality hour back into our day, which I’m always looking to do!
What are the Required Accommodations for an Au Pair?
The program does require that au pairs have their own bedroom, so space in your home is another important factor. We converted an old TV room into a guest bedroom for our au pair since it has an attached full bathroom. Another bonus is that the room is located on the first floor, and all of the family bedrooms are on the second floor; so both our family and our au pair have evening privacy.
How do You Manage an Au Pair’s Schedule?
The agencies have very strict scheduling requirements set by the government. This is for the health and safety of the au pair, so I am more than okay with it! The first couple of months, it was a little tricky trying to make sure our schedule met all of the requirements, but now we have a rhythm and scheduling is easy.
Your au pair is able to work up to 45 hours per week, not exceeding 10 hours per day and will not extend over more than five and a half days. You are required to give the au pair one complete weekend off each month (Friday evening to Monday morning).
You can give them their schedule no less than two weeks in advance, but we like to do one month at a time. I can make changes to week three and four if something important comes up, but for the most part, this has workout out better than expected for us.
Andrew has Tuesdays off from work, so we try to have a family day and a date night once a week. It’s made all of the difference in our marriage! I am so thankful to have reliable childcare that allows us to focus solely on our marriage every single week without missing beat.
Does the Au Pair Travel with You?
Well, that depends! Can they, absolutely. Do they have to, no. If you want your au pair to work on your family trip, they are required to have their own person bedroom, plus you are responsible for paying for their travel expenses. However, if you invite them along on your vacation and they are not being required to work while you are away, then you have more flexibility on accommodations and travel.
Is it Weird Having Someone Live with You?
My answer to this question is no, but I know every family has their own experience. When they first arrive, it’s A LOT. A lot of emotions, new places, sights, sounds, smells. It takes awhile to get into a comfortable flow of day to day life with another adult in the house.
We have been so lucky with our au pair. She fits right in. Is always willing to help around the house and is so sweet and kind. Our house is large and there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out. Our au pair is dating someone and has local friends who are also au pairs, so she typically hangs out with them on the weekends and we get some alone time.
Shop my Baby Essentials:
6 Reasons to Consider an Au Pair:
- Flexible scheduling
- Cultural experience
- Providing an educational opportunity
- Enhancing your own foreign language experience
- In-home childcare
- Help with additional baby/child related tasks (meal prep, laundry, washing bottles/pump parts etc.)
I completely understand that an au pair might not be the best fit for everyone. Sharing our home, groceries, household supplies, and cars with another adult can pose challenges. Thankfully, our au pair has been amazing to live with and made the transition a breeze.
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It truly feels like our family has grown. We are so thankful to have the opportunity to host someone from outside of the country and provide them with an opportunity to improve their English skills. Plus, having someone who feels like family taking care of our little babe makes leaving her during the day much easier! Andrew and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity.