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Should You Become An Au Pair? Find out if being an au pair is right for you

Last updated November 22, 2021

An easy way to live and work abroad, becoming an au pair is an excellent choice. You get to live in a country with a host family and really get to know and become a part of the culture. It is such a rewarding experience, but to be truthful, it just isn’t for everyone. You may be here wondering if you should become an au pair, and these are a few things to take into consideration before making your final decision.

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A little background. I worked as an au pair in Melbourne, Australa. I was a nanny for 3 children, 4 year old twins and an 8 year old. I’ve written all about why I chose to become an au pair in Australia, and I still think this was the perfect choice for me. After having been a babysitter for years, I knew that I loved working with children and was thrilled to find a job that allowed me to travel while doing something I really enjoyed.

I worked Monday to Friday, leaving the weekends and holidays free for weekend getaways!

The Sydney Opera House at night.
A 3 day trip to Sydney? Count me in!

Should You Become An Au Pair?

Do you enjoy working with children? 

If not, becoming an au pair isn’t right for you. While this is a great job that gives you some time off to explore, your work week is taking care of children. I worked from when the kids woke up to when I dropped them off at school, and then I picked them up from school and had them until bedtime.

Day time was free, but due to heavy traffic there wasn’t any point in me doing much weekday exploring in case I couldnt get back in time to pick up the kids. This meant I usually didn’t go out during the week, only on weekends.

If you don’t enjoy working with children then you’ll hate being an au pair. If you’re curious, I’ve written a Pros of being a nanny post, as well as a Cons of being a nanny post.

Can you feel comfortable living in somebody else’s home? 

You will now be sleeping under the roof of strangers whom you’ve probably only Zoomed with a handful of times. What if they are religious, are you expected to participate? Do they have specific rules for you to follow? Will you be allowed to have friends over? Will you have a curfew?

These were questions I hadn’t considered prior to moving abroad, and had to figure out once there.

As every family will have a different set of rules, it’s best to ask these questions before accepting a job offer.

How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to get? 

Are you moving to a country where you don’t speak the language? Will you have to change your diet?  You will most likely be trying new dishes you’ve never tasted, let alone heard of, before.

I lived with a Jewish family and I really loved getting to see what foods they ate most (hello challah bread!), how they celebrated holidays, and learn more about the Jewish community.

Standing on a beach during a bus break on our Great Ocean Road tour.
A day trip to explore The Great Ocean Road on a day off is always fun.

Do you expect to make a decent salary?

You don’t earn much. For example, when I was an au pair in 2014, the average wage of other Au pair’s was $200 per week. I made a bit more at $240 per week and of course if you have an Early Childhood Educator certificate you could earn a bit more, but typically you will not earn much money.

This is because you live rent free and eat the food they provide, which really helps, but you won’t be able to save up thousands of dollars as an au pair like you could if you were to teach English in South Korea or China.

Can you handle living abroad? 

Moving to live and work abroad can be a lot. You are in a new country, you may not speak the language, the internet may not work that great (when I first arrived in New Zealand it cost me $30 for 30 minutes of WiFi at my hostel. It took about 27 minutes to be able to send an email to family to let them know I had arrived) so it may take a bit before you can FaceTime with family.

You are alone and need to put yourself out there to make friends. Thankfully there are lots of Facebook groups for au pair’s to connect all over the world.

So should you become an au pair? There are so many reasons that being an au pair may not be right for you, but I can say from experience that if you love children and want to work abroad, it is a very rewarding job and a great way to travel.

Have you ever worked abroad?

Would you like to be an au pair?

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10 Responses

  1. I thought about being an au pair during my summers off from university or when I graduated. In the end, I didn’t end up doing it and I think it was the right call for me. Given the questions you laid out here, I definitely don’t think I’d be comfortable in someone’s space and I don’t love kids all that much. That’s also how I talked myself out of teaching English! But it is such a cool opportunity, as long as someone thinks through the questions you shared.

  2. I’m not sure this would be for me, but it’s interesting hearing more about it. Back when I first wanted to travel this did seem like the thing to do, but I think a long as you understand the restrictions you might have (as with any job), have mutual respect, and (hopefully) match with a great family, I’m sure this can be a very rewarding job

  3. I think it’s a great way to see a new place and learn a new culture, just as you experienced, when you are young. I would definitely have done this except I was never into babysitting. I didn’t realize how little you actually make as an au pair. It’s about the experience and as you said, not to make a lot of money.

  4. Gotta say thats pretty awesome of you to do such a big move! Not sure I could ever get comfortable enough living in someone elses home.
    But sounds like an awesome experience!

  5. I’ve always considered the idea of being an au-pair as another way of travelling, since I love the idea of being able to learn more about the culture that way (especially food) but I definitely think I’d struggle living with another family as I like my own space too much now.

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Photo of myself standing in front of the 12 apostles, showing how windy it is

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn, a Canadian whose aim is to see as much of the world as I can, on my limited vacation days. I work full time, and want to show you how it is possible to do just that, while still making use of those precious vacation days.

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