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10 Things To Know If You Want To Work As An Au Pair

Becoming an Au pair sounds like the easiest way to leave your country and have the opportunity of visiting amazing new places in a faraway land. It is an amazing opportunity, but there are also things everyone should know before making this life-changing decision. 

Being an Au pair can potentially be positive, yet there is a big possibility that this experience ends up not being what you were expecting or looking for. Therefore, I decided to share my experience and to come up with a list of ten things everyone should know before starting the process to work as an Au Pair in another country.

First of all, What in the world means to be an Au Pair? An Au Pair is a young person (between the ages of 18-30), who moves abroad to live with a native family and learn or perfect a language in exchange for childcare. As an Au Pair, you have the opportunity to live abroad for a long period and experience the culture from within. It is a cheap way to get to travel to another country and it has become increasingly popular in recent years.

It all sounds nice, maybe too nice, right? In addition, it is true that when things sound too good to be true, they usually are not. With this article and I am definitely not trying to convince you of NOT becoming an Au Pair or to focus only on the negative side of this. However, I firmly believe that many girls -and boys- would have loved to know some of these things before making the decision of dedicating one year (or two) of their lives to take care of someone else’s kids.

Without further ado, here are the 10 Things to Know If You Want To Work As An Au Pair:

1. These people are not your parents

I was an Au Pair myself in 2018. It was awesome and I still have a nice relationship with my host family. However, to know and understand from an early stage of my relationship with this family that they were not my parents and that I was there to work saved me from many disappointments. I have seen it many times: a young girl that goes to work with this new family in another country, expecting to have an amazing connection and gain a new family in another part of the world. Just to get into the realization after a couple of weeks that these people -as nice as they are- are never going to consider her a real member of their family.

I am not saying that it is impossible, it has happened. However, it is an exception, not a rule. In addition, the reality is that most agencies manipulate the Au Pairs into thinking that they will be another member of the family once they get there, which in most cases is a lie.

2. The agency will always be on the family’s side unless something really bad happens

Agencies lie, even though there are some better agencies, there are also terrible ones, but they all have something in common: they all lie. We cannot forget that their job is to sell and generate money for the business and the Au Pairs are the product. Families pay a lot of money to get into these programs. Some of these families have good and long relationships with the employees and in most cases, they will protect the family even if that means that they stop protecting you.

Save money, make connections as soon as you get there, get a couple of loyal friends that could go to your rescue in case something happens, and make sure no one has access to your important documents and belongings. It sounds like I could be overreacting but trust me, I have heard experiences and creepy stories from my friends.

My point here is that you should not rely entirely on the agency, because they are always going to put their business over your happiness or well-being. Sounds harsh but it is true.

3. It is not an easy job

Many people have the idea of this job is pretty simple and easy. It is a simple job on paper, but it is not an easy one, and it can get harder or easier depending on the family, the time of the year, the kids, etc. I remember feeling exhausted by the end of the day. For me, that was perfect because I am always active, but it is important to know that even though it is a simple job, it requires a lot of energy and emotional intelligence. You will have to deal with the kids, but you also need to be clever enough to keep a good relationship with the parents, at the same time be professional enough to live where you work, which is no easy task.

My point with this is that besides energy and motivation, an Au Pair needs emotional intelligence and maturity to deal with the challenges of having this kind of job.

4. If you are planning on staying longer after the end of your contract, you better bring all of your documents ready besides money

My biggest mistake was to come to Germany with nothing but my savings. I knew immediately that I wanted to stay longer in the country, but I did not bring my documentation and that was a big mistake. If this is the first step into your immigration plan, you have to make sure you have everything you need on hand. Get your official documents translated with their official apostille, fix your CV, and start looking for a job or do some research on the university programs available for you as soon as you get into the country. 

There are many ways to stay in Europe, but it is important to be prepared in advance.

5. You must establish your limits and learn to say NO

It is important that we learn to set our limits. Many families use the “we are a family” card when it is useful for them. Do not let them manipulate you. Being a family member does not mean that you have to say yes every time they ask you to work extra hours, or to clean the house, or to do their laundry. You are there to do a specific job and you should stick to do the chores you were hired to do. Occasionally, it is OK to do some extra work, it is OK to be nice and help around the house, but do not let them take advantage of your kindness.


Your contract will be your warranty while you work as an Au Pair. There, it SHOULD be stated exactly what you are supposed to do at your host family home. The number of hours you are supposed to work should also be established in it, as well as the length of your contract and the conditions of it. Read your contract before signing it and make sure that it protects YOU. The contract should be your go-to document in case anything happens. Make sure that all parties sign it and read it thoroughly. Keep a printed copy and a digital version of the contract in your computer. I do not mean to scare you, but you will find yourself in another country, with different laws, and your main protection is your contract and the agreements stated there.

7. Do your homework and look for information about the agency or website you will be using for your process

Make sure the agency or the platform you want to use is legitimate. Doing research during this process is FUNDAMENTAL. Search on Google about the agency or platform, watch videos, read reviews, try to find as much information as you can. If you can talk with someone that has worked with the company, do it. You are spending an entire year of your life on this experience, and it could be a magical one, but it is important that we choose the best options for our safety and comfort. When we hire an agency, we as Au Pairs have to pay a considerable amount of money. We are also their clients, be careful and pick the right choice. Never sign anything before doing proper research.

8. Do not pick the first family you have contact with, be picky

I have seen some amazing cases in which the first family was the perfect match for the Au Pair. Yet again, that is an exception, not a rule. You will spend 70% to 80% of your time with the family. You need to like them, it is important to have chemistry, to feel comfortable around them. Three video calls will most likely not be enough to know that. You will have to follow your instincts, be aware of the red flags, and ask the right questions because the questions you ask and their answers are crucial. We need to learn how to read these signals. In my next article, I will share my tips and suggestions for these interviews. 

9. Do some research on the city or town you will be living in

Download a map on your phone so you can check it offline. Be aware of the distances from your house to the main areas of the city. Locate the nearest hospital, police station, grocery store, bus stop, train station, etc. Learn about the place that could become your home. You are better than anyone should know what to expect from the place you will be living. If you are a city girl, you most likely will not be happy in a rural area. Be aware of these things and be prepared for this adventure.

10. Enjoy!

I hope that my recommendations will not stop you from making the decision of living this experience. If you feel like this is for you, go for it. I cannot stress enough how incredible and eye-opening this experience was to me. However, we need to be careful; no one will take care of us better than ourselves. When going to another country we need to be clever and prepared. Do some research, learn about the culture, learn the language, and enjoy every second of it. You will not be the same person who left home once you lived this experience. You will learn a lot about yourself, and you will definitely meet amazing people along the way.


If you want to learn more about my experience, do not forget to follow me on my Instagram: 

@monie.violante and feel free to DM me if you have any questions.


Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash 


Monica Violante-Drost

A professional with a background as a language teacher and translator, also a traveler enthusiast currently living in Europe. Loves to recreate make-up looks and discover new beauty products. Her passions are learning and reading.

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