Cheap travel, cultural experiences, and bit of babysitting on the side.
Au Pairing and nannying overseas have long been popular options for young people, especially for those taking a gap year. It has been a way to travel overseas for an extended period without the financial burdens. Europe is the most popular place to nanny as it holds 87.9 per cent of host families in the world, with nannies coming from Australia, Canada, America and the UK. If you decide to go on the nannying path, before flying half way across the world to live with a family to take care of their foreign-speaking children, there are a few things to keep in mind.
There are several websites and agencies you can use to find an appropriate family to live with. Websites such as AuPair World and Great Au Pair are very popular as you can tailor your search to suit the country you would like to live in, as well as the type of family that would suit you. Agencies are another option, however you don’t get much of a choice with the families. You do, however, receive support if anything goes wrong. It is wise to avoid any websites that require a fee for their services; as they are not established agencies, you should not need to pay for anything.
It is important to make sure to choose a foreign family that can speak English, as this allows you to form a relationship with them. Language barriers can cause complications, and it makes it harder to establish a general rapport. It isn’t a huge problem if the children you are taking care of do not speak English as it is a good way to learn to their language. English teacher Sara Sanz said: “Children are quite good people to learn a language from as they speak quite simply and don’t often use words that would be confusing for a beginner.” Similarly, the children are able to learn English from you.
When choosing families via Au Pair websites, it is up to you to liaise with the families over e-mails and phone calls privately. Au Pair agent, Alice Malcolm said: “A very good way of speaking to a family is by Skyping them or talking over the phone so you can communicate with them in person.” A few important questions to ask are:
- What do the families expect of you as a nanny?
- How old are the children?
- How long do they expect you to work for?
- How much you will get paid?
- Where a bouts do they live?
- What is their house is like and where will you stay?
- Will you get holidays?
In figuring these out before you commit to a family, both parties know what is expected and the arrangement is treated like a professional working agreement.
If you’re considering choosing a wealthy family, think again. Yes, they may have a grand house, nice things and travel to exotic destinations, but often nannies get treated like a maid rather than a part of the family. Former Au Pair Susie Tuthil said: “Families with wealth often are wealthy for a reason – because they work so much. This means for you, as their nanny, that you will be needed a lot of the time and could be asked to stay behind longer than expected.” This is definitely not the general consensus for all wealthy families, but it can be common.
When it comes to choosing a country, you should have a general idea of the country or culture you want to live in. Be aware that of the type of city or area you live in is very important. Safety, accessibility and enjoyment are all crucial when choosing a place to live. Travel agent Katherine Kent said: “As most people Au Pair by themselves it helps if you situate yourself in a big city so you can explore and travel around without having to trek far.” A lot of cities will have Au Pair Facebook groups that you can join to meet people who are nannying within your city. This is a great way to meet new people and have people to explore the city with during your time off. Often, Au Pairs that are ending their time with their families will post on the Facebook groups in search of a replacement Au Pair, so this is another great way to get in contact with new families.
Financially, you will be paid in an exchange for rent and food by living with the family you are with. Depending on the family and the hours you work you will also receive an allowance, commonly paid in cash. It’s great to have extra cash, but don’t rely on it entirely; bring your own cash as extra spending money.
If you are planning on Au Pairing in Europe for longer than three months you must get a working visa. The EU is a government body in which the laws apply within certain countries in Europe, however countries such as Croatia and within the UK do not have these laws, meaning travel in and out of the EU is allowed as long as you don’t stay longer than three months.
Au Pairing overseas can be an amazing experience and an incredible way to experience a new culture. Living overseas is not always an easy option for young people, but Au Pairing is an easy and financially safe way of doing so. Au Pair Alex Gibson reflects on his experience: “Au Pairing in Spain is one of the best things I’ve done, I now have another family on the other side of the world and feel apart of another culture.” – Jacinta Scott
Top photo from Vanessa Chettleburgh’s Flickr photostream.