Here’s a post I wrote back in the summer, when I worked as an aupair for an Israeli family:
Aupairing is a risky business. First, the advantages:
Your family is a ready-made community and a wealth of in-country information. You get to practice the local language and adjust to the culture. Truly, the family-as-mentor aspect of this work cannot be underestimated. One of the most frustrating situations in traveling is not knowing how to access local resources: My glasses broke, how do I order new ones? How do I get a local phone, and which phone plan should I buy? Why, in Spanish/Hebrew/Finnish/etc, do you say (x) and not (y)? Your family can guide your path into the country.
It’s also affordable. If you live with your family, you don’t have to pay rent. You get a salary, perhaps transportation, and I even received a smartphone. You don’t have to pay for much food, since you’re often eating theirs, as well.
It’s easy to find a job. Most families want to hire a woman, especially a 20-something native speaker of English.
Now, the disadvantages:
Your entire experience relies on the family for whom you work. You have to be in near-complete agreement with the parent(s) concerning child-rearing, cleanliness, and scheduling. Often one factor tips the scale and makes the work unbearable. Sometimes, a disagreement is reasonable and can be tolerated.
It’s easy to be taken advantage of. An Israeli friend here told me that foreign nannies work grueling hours. Why? I asked. Because they will, she replied.
As a working foreigner, your community is your work. You have little option but to work, either because your visa depends on it, or simply because you don’t know what else to do. In addition to business issues, the personal side of aupairing can be difficult. You are unfamiliar with the culture and/or language, you don’t have a community to anchor you, and working full-time gives you little time to establish a community.
Tips for finding Aupair work:
- Set your limits – hours, salary, duties. Aupairing is amorphous; there are no unions, you’re often paid under the table, and there are rarely any contracts signed. Set specific boundaries at the outset and you’re less likely to be dissatisfied with the work or taken advantage of. Make sure you’re getting paid over minimum wage, working good hours, etc.
- Make sure you get along with the family – both the parents and the children.
- Make sure your nannying style matches with that of the parents. Check if you reward, discipline, and play in a similar manner. If you don’t check compatibility, you and the parents are likely to step on each other’s toes and create bad blood.
- See if the house is accessible – by public and personal transportation. If you have free time, but you can’t get out the house, then you may not be able to take advantage of traveling in-country.
- Check your benefits, and ask questions! Will you get a car or a phone? Will they provide health insurance? Will you have to pay taxes after you receive your salary? Will they help you get a visa? Will the salary be paid in cash, check, or electronic deposit? Will you live in the family’s house or nearby? Does the family travel, and will you travel with them? What are your duties in addition to childcare?
Sites for finding aupair jobs:
- GreatAupair: An international site in which nannies from everywhere can find employment anywhere. I’ve used it and found a very nice family – I didn’t end up taking the job, but it would have been a pleasure to work with them.
- Care.com: An American site in which nannies can search for jobs, and families can search for nannies. Other care positions listed are: senior care, tutoring, pet care, and housekeeping.
- WorkAway: All types of jobs are posted here, but also a lot of aupair/tutoring/childcare jobs. They all include room and (some) board. Most of the posts are largely volunteer positions. Costs $29 for a 2-year membership to the site. A really good site to find all types of work-travel opportunities.