Perhaps one of experiential travel’s best hidden secrets, marked with a tinge of exotic French language flair, is the au pair. If you’ve ever dreamed of being adopted by a European family in a financed, long-term adventure abroad, then you’ve fallen upon the right article. Year-long homestays without worrying about exams or grades? Yes, s’il vous plaît.
Au pair jobs in Europe let you experience life abroad and cultural immersion in exchange for your help with childcare and some housework, all while living with a genuine European family. Host families benefit from immersing their children in English conversation starting young and having an extra hand around the house. For those who thrived off the babysitting life back in the day or are seasoned experts in sibling management, working as an au pair in Europe isn’t too much different. Looking to sprinkle some English language love on the youth of the world?
Here are a handful of pretty tantalizing reasons why you should au pair in Europe.
Awesome reasons to seek au pair jobs in Europe
You probably thought the benefits of working with a European au pair agency were all about chasing adorable children with even more adorable accents through the Swiss alps like Julie Andrews. Let’s number that perk as an honorary zero and start our counting at one. These are a few of our favorite things…about au pair programs in Europe!
- Get paid and a free place to stay
Who doesn’t like free things? While you’ll probably have to provide for your own airfare and a modest fee to apply to be an au pair in Europe, the usual major expenses of living abroad are completely covered. A part of the au pair exchange includes free housing with your host family, cooked meals, and even a small stipend. You’ll be able to enjoy the occasion coffee and cake at the local cafe with friends and even a trip here and there with the pocket money. All these financial savings truly add up, especially compared with other long-term options abroad like studying abroad!
- Build transferrable career benefits
If only building cross-cultural communication skills and cultural competency were as easy as spending a prolonged period of time living with a family abroad. Luckily it is. Au pair jobs in Europe come bundled with a secret host of career benefits. Whether you’re looking into a gap year after college or just want some time to explore the world before seeing where the next chapter in life takes you, au pair challenges you to step outside your comfort zone. Flexibility, language skills, and leadership skills are a few traits that you’ll build–and that employers love to see.
- Meals are included
Free meals are already a gift, but throw on a healthy serving of Freshly baked croissants from the local bakery or paella made with a family secret recipe and you have the mother of all foodie dreams. When you au pair in Europe, you’re setting yourself up to have a mouth-watering pantry and access to some ingredients that would make professional cooks back home jealous. While you may be responsible for preparing meals for the little ones from time to time, it’s not coming out of your pocket.
- Cost-effective alternative for long-term stays abroad
If you’re looking to nanny abroad for a year or even just do a summer au pair in Europe, you’re looking at an extended stay overseas. Travel always involves some base costs like airfare and shiny new suitcases, but the longer you’re away, the more you’ll have to eat and pay up for a place to stay. For those who are looking for a long-term, cost-effective path into cultural immersion, au pair is definitely one of the cheapest options. Like other jobs abroad, you’ll be receiving payment rather than forking it out. However, unlike other jobs abroad, you get free room and board, which isn’t a shabby offer at all.
- Teach English without the formalities
A popular bridge into the expat life for culturally curious individuals is teaching abroad. While there are a bazillion reasons why you should get a certification to teach English abroad, not everyone has the time or resources to devote. Besides, the formal classroom life isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal for those who enjoy spreading the wonders of English around the world. Through au pair programs in Europe, you can live your educator dreams on a more low-key level just through daily interactions with your host family. Say goodbye to structured lesson plans and hours of grading. How about a baking demonstration of pumpkin pie instead?
- Learn a new language
Your host kids won’t be the only ones learning a new language as you au pair in Europe. As a genuine member of the family and community, you’ll be right in the thick of the language learning experience. Because au pair responsibilities only take up 30-40 hours a week, you’ll still have plenty of time to catch a local conversation class, join a club, or catch a coffee with the neighbors. The long-term nature of au pair also gives you a leg up. Skip the stuffy grammar lessons and dive right into the real stuff!
- Have free time to travel
Oh, the joy of tiny countries in Europe!! Come on, we all know you’re looking at this continent for a reason. Perhaps the legendary convenient travel has something to do with it. You’ll have plenty of rendezvous with exotic groceries in the supermarket during your stay, but expanding your horizons to further lands is part of the adventure. The occasional venture will also restore your vigor so you’re ready for any confusing foreign parenting moment your host kids throw at you.
- Instantly become a part of a new community
The great thing about appearing one day inside the home of complete strangers means you get to cut all the awkward corners of building a community on your own. A host family grants you a built-in network of extended family, family friends, trusted neighbors, and maybe even a mailman. Your family will already know where to get the best coffee around, where to meet up with other young people, and which seedy parts of town to avoid. Meeting locals won’t be much an issue, because…well, you’ll live with some.
- Build lifelong relationships
Even though you are employed through a European au pair agency and have job responsibilities to fulfill, at the end of the day you’ll become a member of another family. You’ll participate in another family’s birthday celebrations, and witness tantrums and special moments. This special lifelong bond is perhaps the biggest perk you’ll get out of an au pair experience. Outside the home, you’ll also grow close to other au pairs from around the world. Basically, getting quasi-adopted by a new family and community means twice the love and a bigger international network.
- Choose from a variety of high quality au pair agencies
The role of a European au pair agency is to match potential au pairs with the right family. Think of it as a matchmaking service that screens both sides to ensure good fit for both roles, then provides the tools and support for you to connect.
As you begin to find potential families, you can meet them through video calls and ask any question your heart desires to see if it’s a mutual match. Agencies set guidelines for both host family and au pair, square away the legalities, facilitate the meeting process, and provide support throughout the whole process.
Apply to be an au pair in Europe!
Each au pair family will come with a very distinct experience. The best way to get a clearer idea of what to expect as an au pair is to apply and start browsing potential families that are itching to welcome a new member of the family into their home. By starting the process early, you’ll get to interview a wide range of families and formulate a list of what characteristics you like about a family. At the end of the day, you’re interviewing for a job and new home, so it’s okay to be picky!
While you can’t turn back the clock, you can relive the sights, sounds, and smells of a childhood across the world. A walk to the park or attending a child’s birthday party will remind you that the
foundation of any culture starts in the home. Experience a country by slipping into a new family as an au pair in Europe!