a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board.
Also known as an acting ‘older sibling’ to children. Contracts usually range from 1 month to a couple of years, offering both the family and the au pair a cultural exchange.
The nature and amount of work done can be determined by the country, however it is ultimately a decision that must be agreed upon by both parties. The accommodation and meals are provided for the au pair, as well as a stipend.
There are families looking for au pairs from literally all corners of the world. The USA and Holland are popular options in South Africa. However, native English speakers are high in demand in countries where it is not the first language.
There are several agencies that offer au pair placement services. They charge a service fee and will assist the applicant with the application process and finding a family. Some also offer visa assistance. Although this is certainly possible, it can also be done for free.
Yes, for free. (Some families are willing to pay airfare too!) The largest au pair website, AuPair World, allows families and au pairs to create profiles and find matches based on what each party is looking for. A positive match is followed by communication and contracts can then be signed.
This is how I found my au pair family. The website is a really great tool to use and will help you find families worldwide. The family and I keep in contact on social media, with updates on the weather and arrival times etc. My job will primarily involve teaching the family English. I have a two month contract, which is in my opinion, a perfect amount of time. *This has since changed, as I endured a hellish experience for a month, before finding another family that have been incredible so far. Details to follow!
Tips for once you’ve found a family:
- Ensure that the expectations are clearly outlined
- The language barriers need to be manageable
- Most importantly: check references! It’s better to go to a family that have had au pairs before as they will be accustomed to living with others. The previous au pairs of my family also helped me get in touch with other au pairs in the area, which is so important!
- Agree on start and end dates, as well as payment
- Have an interview- video calls are great. You’ll be a part of their family unit for a while, so its best to take all necessary precautions when finding the right one to join
*Be careful when using websites; they can offer very little help if things don’t work out with the family once you’re there. Using a paid-for agency will offer you more support and piece of mind.