So maybe you’re thinking about becoming an au pair abroad or perhaps you’re just interested in my story. Well, here you will find everything you could ever need to know about my story as an au pair and au pairing in general.
-Finding a Family –
There are a number of great websites that connect au pairs with host families. Here are my two top picks:
Personally, i went with Au Pair World purely because i liked the simplicity of the website. It is almost effortless and completely free to create a profile and connect with families around the world. I would suggest being as honest and simple as possible in the creation of your profile. Most families who are seeking english speaking au pairs are not fluent english speakers themselves. For this reason, communication should be simple and straightforward. Native english speakers are highly sought after, therefore, choosing a family is almost entirely going to be in your hands, choose wisely. For example, if you’re not entirely confident with children it’s better not to choose a family with five children under the age of 12. If you consider yourself a “girly girl” it is obviously going to be a better experience if you are the au pair of a young princess in the making. At the end of the day you want this experience to be mutually beneficial. Choose a family that is 100% right for you and you will have the most amazing experience.
-My Horror Story-
I originally left Australia to become an Au Pair for a family living in a small Tuscan village. From the moment they picked me up from the train station i had a terrible feeling about the family and also about the location. Stupidly, i did absolutely no research about the town i was moving to because i had this idea in my head of a perfect surprise. A perfect surprise was the case but in all the worst ways. I felt a deep sense of regret and questioned why i moved my life there. Why was it so bad? Well let me tell you…
My work as an au pair began at 12pm and finished at 9pm all for a low 50 euros a week. The mother yelled at me over minuscule things e.g. if i hadn’t cooked the pasta exactly before the children came home. Now i am certainly no master-chef but i’m a person and i couldn’t be perfect in just 3 days of being with the family. I was barely able to eat any food and i was only allowed one coffee a day because it was “too expensive”. This was not the fairy tale i had imagined. I lasted one week in Tuscany, i found a beautiful family in Milano and i became their au pair…
I wish i could say it was as simple as that but let me tell you, it was far from it. I found myself in a living hell, the Tuscan family treated me like a slave and my flight mode kicked in. With the help of my family (shout out to mum) i began searching Au Pair World for a more suitable family. I found a family with two girls living in Genova, a seaside city in the north of Italy. I tried to sneakily pack all my bags and escape to Genova purely for the fact that i was physically scared of the Tuscan host mum but, that didn’t happen. The host mum in Genova got in contact with the Tuscan host mum, unbeknown to me, through a Facebook group. I really have know idea about the conversation but, when i left the house in Tuscany and was on the bus to the train station i got a message saying, “our circumstances have changed, we won’t be able to host you at this time.” At this point i couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I was a 19 year old girl, alone in a foreign country with no idea where to go or what to do. I called my mum panicking and at this point, hysterically crying. It was the next phone call that i was going to make, thanks to the guidance and support of my mum, that would become my saviour. A single mum and school teacher named Sara came like wonder women to rescue me. She didn’t know me from a bar of soap yet, as i tried to speak to her through my tears she told me to come to Milano. I’d been in contact with her during my search to find another family but unfortunately, she had already organised a girl that would arrive in two weeks. I spent a lot of money on a train ticket to Milano but that money was the best euro i have ever spent. Sara was standing at the train station with a sign that said “Abbey Francis” and that instantly put my mind at ease and my eyes set about creating more water works. I went with Sara back to her home with the expectation that i would have to find another family within two weeks. However, the next day the other girl rang her to say she wouldn’t be coming to au pair for Sara. This was the next best phone call. Now i am the au pair for the most beautiful family and i have never looked back.
Finding a host family can obviously be a real case of “hit and miss”. So, to avoid the “miss”, do your research and get all the necessary information from your potential families.
Money! It really does make the world go round. The salary as an Au Pair in Italy is generally between 75 and 100 euros per week. You should not be getting paid any less!! I get paid 75 euro a week and my host mum also paid for my yearly gym membership. I have found this to be a perfect amount of money to live off. I’m usually able to save 20 euros from this money per week. Different families offer different salaries and payments. One of my au pair friends in Milano gets paid 120 euros a week but she is expected to spend a lot of time with the children and her tasks are far more challenging then mine. You should be aware of your monetary value… I was selling myself way too short in Tuscany, 50 euros a week for nine hours work per day, six days a week. Please don’t make this same mistake!!
If you’re anything like me and live for travel, you will want to earn some extra money for those additional trips. As well as being an au pair, i am also an english teacher. I was able to get clients through old fashioned posters as well as advertising on the internet. I charge 15 euros for a private hour and a half lesson. I’ve found this to be a great way to earn some extra money.
Time is always of the essence, therefore working a nine hour day as an au pair is utterly ridiculous. In my case, i start work at 4.30pm and usually finish at 9.30pm. However, i know some au pairs who work an hour in the morning as well. On weekdays you shouldn’t be expected to work any more than five hours a day. Weekends should generally be your own free time. In some cases you may be asked to work a couple of hours on the weekend but this is something that you should organise with the host family before you agree to be their au pair. I consider my host mum a friend so i’m always happy to help out for a couple of hours on the weekends but, it should be your decision.
I like to spend my weekends travelling, exploring Milano, hanging out with friends and of course, partying. You will have plenty of time to do these things as an au pair.
-Should you become an Au Pair?-
Being an au pair abroad is such an awesome experience. I am honestly so happy, i genuinely feel that i am living my best life. I’m experiencing complete cultural immersion, i have made new friends, i get to travel the world and make money all at the same time.
I really hope this helps you guys and gives you an insight into the life of an au pair abroad. If you have any questions you can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– The time is always now! – Abs!