In this article, I will show you how you can have a great time as an au pair without an agency and even for a short time!
How to start
Before becoming an au pair for the first time, I informed myself years before about the different possibilities of traveling alone. However, until then, I thought that as an au pair, you had to stay with your host family for at least half a year. Then, at an information event at my university, I learned that working as an Au Pair for a short period is possible. For example, during the semester break. So, no sooner said than done, I started my first au pair adventure during my summer semester break. In the meantime, I have already been an au pair twice during my college semester breaks.
In which countries can I become an au pair without an agency?
You can work worldwide as an au pair. You don’t even need an agency in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand! However, Switzerland and the USA are excluded from this. In the US, you can only become an au pair with an agency, staying for at least one year. In Switzerland, a special visa is required as well.
What are the Pros and cons?
In the following, I will list the possible advantages and disadvantages of an au pair staying without an agency. Then, it may be easier to decide whether you could imagine this free way of being an au pair.
Many au pairs who have already had experiences with agencies have the opinion that they would not want to do it a second time. Often the costs for an agency are very high, whereas the services are relatively low. Some au pairs could not easily change their host families in case of problems or did not get the desired help if they had issues or questions. Others got along great on their own and did not need any help during their entire stay. They realized that they could have had a great time just as well without an expensive agency and could have saved the money. Nevertheless, the whole thing has, of course, advantages in terms of security. Ultimately, everyone must decide for themselves what they feel more comfortable with.
- You do not have to be female!
- There is no maximum age to become an au pair.
- you do not have to pay expensive agency fees
- you do not need a driver’s license
- you do not need to have previous experience in childcare
- you are flexible & can decide for yourself how you want to arrange your stay
- you can freely choose your host family & change if necessary
- you are free to decide about the duration of your stay
- through independent planning, you will learn to handle situations & conflicts independently and maturely, stand up for yourself, and to deal with unfamiliar situations
- you have to organize everything yourself, and you have to secure yourself (contractually)
- you will not get any help or support in the destination country if you do not feel comfortable with your host family or if problems arise
- you do not have a direct contact person for questions or problems
- language courses and au pair meetings have to be organized by yourself
- Pocket money and vacation days can vary from family to family here you have to negotiate & agree with the family yourself
How to get started
First, you can research different sites that offer private au pair placement on the internet. My recommendation is the site aupairworld.com. Through this website, I found my host families and organized my own au pair stays. In the meantime, however, there are also many alternative websites. For me, AuPairWorld worked the best.
The site is user-friendly, and both au pairs and host families can create a free user profile with which to introduce themselves. To unlock certain features, you can also buy a premium version. However, in my experience, au pairs looking for a host family do not necessarily need to purchase a premium version. Searching host families have to pay a fee sooner or later to get in contact with you. In my opinion, this makes the whole site much more severe. Only those interested in an au pair will invest money in the search.
How to create an Au Pair profile?
On the site, as on most other au pair sites, you can now create a user profile. On this profile, you introduce yourself in a few sentences. For example, you could describe what kind of family you are looking for and point out any previous experience with childcare. You can also indicate your language skills if you want to work in a country with a different language.
The profile is usually divided into different sections, and you automatically get a rough guideline of what information to provide. In addition, you can show if you have a driver’s license (this is not mandatory) and if you would be able to take care of disabled children. There is also an option to indicate if you would be willing to take on individual household tasks in addition to childcare. Finally, you can upload one or more pictures of yourself and, if applicable, proof or certificates in childcare. However, it does not matter if you have no previous experience.
Finally, you can select how many children you would like to take care of in which age group. In addition, you can note in which country or language and from when to when (duration of your stay in months) you would like to be an au pair. Once you have filled out everything carefully, you can put your profile online, and the search can begin.
How to find a suitable host family
If you have activated your profile as visible, not only can you search for families, but host families can also search for you. It’s best to first click through individual profiles and compare them a little. So you get a rough feeling of which family could fit you. Often you can tell by looking at the pictures and the writing style if you like a profile or not.
After a few days, you will probably get the first requests. If you only use the free user profile, you can mark families as favorites, but you cannot write to them yourself. So you have to wait to be contacted. However, the families can see that you are interested in marking you. When a family writes to you, you can also write them messages. Also, you may already exchange contact details.
The first video calls
If you already like some families, it will not take long until you can introduce yourself to your potential host family via video call. This is an excellent opportunity to get a first impression of the family and their lifestyle. Often you can get to know the children directly and talk to them. However, some parents want to talk to you alone at first. If you like the family, you can ask if you can meet the children on another call. Then there is time to ask all the questions. It is best to write down essential questions in advance. This way, you will seem well prepared.
If you would like to take a language course in your host country in addition to your stay as an au pair, you should also discuss this with your host family. You should also talk about the financing and, if possible, arrange a contract for it.
When you have already written and phoned a couple of times, you can start to make a selection. Ideally, you have at least two families that are on your shortlist. So you are not disappointed later if a family cancels or decides on another au pair.
After you have found your perfect host family
If you haven’t done so, you should also consider your payment and agree on regular pocket money with your host family. I can recommend every au pair sign a contract with the host family in advance, which defines all working conditions and the amount of pocket money. No matter how much you get along with your host family, it never hurts to have something in writing in your hand. There can always be misunderstandings or unforeseen problems that this can avoid. Aupairworld.com also offers a template for this on its website.
What else is essential?
Then, if necessary, you should take care of a valid passport, a visa, international health insurance, and accident or liability insurance. You can also find out whether you need an international driver’s license and apply for it.
Once you have clarified all this, you can arrange with your host family when exactly you can start. Now it’s time to book your flight! My favorite website to find cheap flights is skyscanner.com.
Now it’s time to pack your bags. An ultimate packing list for your au pair stay is here: How to Pack – Your top Au Pair packing list for 3-6 months!
I wish you a lot of fun with the planning and a great, unforgettable time as an Au Pair!
Lots of love