AU-PAIR: Q&A: The basics of becoming an Au-Pair (definition, organization, costs)

A few weeks ago I asked you on my Instagram account (@booksandpeonies) if you would like me to answer a few questions about my Au-Pair stay in Canada. I got more questions than expected and am going to start my Q&A series with this post today.

I really hope you enjoy it and I can help some of you with my answers. Please, feel always free to ask me questions! That’s why I am here 🙂

But now, let’s jump into this first Au-Pair Q&A.


A U P A I R  –  W H A T  I S  T H A T ?

First things first.

None of you asked me this question but I thought I am going to answer it anyways. I am always talking about my Au-Pair life and all that fun stuff but what is an Au-Pair actually?

As an Au-Pair you are living with a host family under one roof, most likely in a different country, and experience a foreign culture while improving your language skills. In return you take care of the kids and do light household.

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W H A T  I S  E X P E C T E D  O F  Y O U  A S  A N  A U P A I R ?

The main task of an Au-Pair is taking care of the host kids. It depends on the different ages and the number of kids you have to take care of, which tasks you are supposed to do, of course.

My two host girls are six and three years old. I have to get them ready in the morning, do their lunch-kits sometimes, take them to school, pick them up, make them snacks and entertain them in the afternoons. I am usually working six hours a day but it can change from time to time when one of them (or both!!) gets sick or they are off earlier or when my host parents need me on the weekend or evenings. I have to say though that my host family always makes sure that I have lots of free and quiet time and I never have the feeling of over-working.

I think the main qualities of an Au-Pair should be flexibility, patience, honesty, open – mindedness, reliability and having fun working with kids.

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H O W  D I D  Y O U  D E C I D E  T O  A P P L Y  F O R  C A N A D A ?

Since I was little I always wanted to go to the United States and work there as an Au-Pair. But during the last three years I developed the wish of having the opportunity to stay in a country for less than one year. In the US the visa you’ll have to apply for is for minimum one year.

I wanted to be more flexible and be still able to learn English and experience the American way of life. That’s when my Dad said I should have a closer look at Canada. Smart Daddy!

Canada was perfect for me. The Canadians are kind of American, even though they don’t want to hear it. They speak English which was very important for me, the country is the epitome of pretty, the people are unbelievably nice, it’s easy to travel to the US, you have the opportunity to stay 6 to 12 month and it’s not as mainstream to travel as the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to travel to the US (which is next month!!) but for a country to live in for a decent amount of time, Canada was simply the more convenient choice for me.

I would recommend everyone to make a list and write down all the aspects you are expecting from a country and then have a look at the different opportunities. I mean, I didn’t plan to come here at first, simply because I didn’t know it was an opportunity and now, see where I am!

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W I T H  W H I C H  O R G A N I Z A T I O N  D I D  Y O U  C O M E  T O  C A N A D A ?

One of the first steps of becoming an Au-Pair is to decide with which organization you would like to travel to your preferred country.

It has always been very important for me to travel with an real organization. It is more expensive, of course, but it is also so much safer and you always have someone qualified you can go to with questions. They should always have your back. You should be aware that not every organization might have an exchange program to the country you would like to travel. Research is the A and O.

I would definitely recommend you getting information brochures from different pages because often the magazines are more detailed than the websites. Little side tip from me 🙂

I heard and read a lot about AIFS and always considered it my number one organization. I did a lot of research about different organizations which included watching YouTube videos, reading articles, asking people who did the Au-Pair program before etc. I compared different organizations but my feeling always said that AIFS was the best choice for me. The one with which I felt the most comfortable and the safest.

AIFS works together with the Canadian organization International Nannies with which I am super happy as well. My contact person here in Canada is super nice and caring and they did a good job preparing us for our time with the host families when we arrived in  Vancouver.

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H O W  M U C H  W A S  I T ?

A lot. At least for my understanding. Canada is more expensive than the US because you have to pay for many ‘little’ things and have to prove at least 2,500 CAD on your bank account to enter the country and I think that host families in the US have to pay for their Au-Pair’s flight but not in Canada.

Let me explain which costs you can expect in addition:

  • The costs, your organization will charge you for. My bill included the program costs and the two flights. You can look up the prices of AIFS for this upcoming season right here. To be honest, I can’t remember how much I payed exactly but it was around this price, I would say.
  • The insurance. You can take your own insurance or the one, the organization is recommending. It is expensive either way and you have to have one. I decided to take the organization one since the costs were as high as the costs our insurance would have charged us for.
  • The visa costs. They were around 170 Euros, I believe. You have to pay for the actual visa you are applying for (which is a very time – consuming and nerve-racking progress, BTW) and then you have to pay the costs for the visa doctor you have to visit, in order to apply for it. The visa doctor is quite expensive. I think I had to pay around 250 Euros. Unfortunately, there is no way to go around them because you aren’t allowed to go to your family doctor.

Again, that is just the case for Canada and my organization. I don’t know how other countries and organizations are handling it.

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And that was the first part of my Au-Pair Q&A series. How exciting! Can’t wait to answer all the other questions and I hope you’ll be there the next time again!

If you have any other questions, just ask me here or on instagram 🙂

xo Franziska