Thinking of being an Aupair Abroad? Think Again.

So I’m on my annual summer vacation with the family. I’m sitting by the pool, ice-cold Sangria in one hand and resting lazily on a wooden deck chair on the ground floor of our hotel resort in Malta.

Lazing about by the pool

Now some of you might say that going on holiday with your parents can be the most TEDIOUS affair, and yes sometimes that is true, but for the most part sitting aimlessly by the pool isn’t that bad. It gives you the opportunity for some of that all important personal reflexion.

Sitting here this afternoon in the mediterranean sun sparked memories of being an Aupair last year in France, and how challenging that actually was. Eventhough  I’ll be moving to France in a couple of months and still have nowhere to live, the thought of jetting off in a plane to Barcelona to work as an Aupair for six weeks seems to be even more unnerving.

Let me give you 3 reasons why you should think twice about being an Aupair abroad:

The Neighbourhood- So many of you planning on being an Aupair this summer tend not to focus on your location. This is a MISTAKE! I can’t emphasise how important it is for you to be comfortable in your environment, if you don’t like the countryside, DO NOT choose a family who live by a farm in the middle of nowhere! It took me a good hour to walk to the nearest shop for goodness sake!

The Money– Haha! Anyone who knows anything about the aupair industry knows that the money you make is pretty much pointless. I mean, with an average wage of around 50-80 euros per week, its practically one level above slave labour! This can be especially frustrating if the host family decide not to pay for your flights, so quite often you end up worse off financially. My advice? If your planning on working as an Aupair this summer to actually make some money then you’re better off working in a grocery store part-time. Trust me.

The General Awkwardness– Personally, I found this the most challenging aspect of being an Aupair. Living with a bunch of Randoms is definitely not easy. Part of being an Aupair is to behave like a member of the family, yet you always feel like the outsider no matter how welcoming the family is. In fact, there is no way that you would behave the same way as you would in your own home. Should I stay up and watch TV like I usually do, even though the rest of the family go to bed at 9pm? Can I really ask for more food even though everyone else seems to be satisfied with their meal? Now these problems may seem trivial to you but you’d be surprised how often questions like these play over and over in your head.

I know what you guys are thinking.….why on earth is she going to Barcelona to work as an Aupair if she finds it so difficult?!

Despite all the hardships involved, being an Aupair can be the most rewarding experience of your life! Yes, the money is awful. Yes, you can end up in a really ‘dead’ location and yes it’s going to be awkward sometimes but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. You get to experience a new culture, meet new people, improve your language skills and really get out of your comfort zone!

Am I nervous about my forthcoming adventure? ABSOLUTELY but I’m sure as hell excited too! Stay tuned to see what I get up to in the Catalonian city ;)

Lola xo

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20 responses to “Thinking of being an Aupair Abroad? Think Again.

  1. Love this post! I lived with a family during my time Italy and, though it wasn’t described as an au-pairing situation, it kind of was. I think you really struck the nail on the head with the last point about the general awkwardness. No matter how much you like the family and feel comfortable with them, there is always the feeling that you cannot be a member of the family unit. It’s difficult to know where to draw the boundaries, both for them and for you. I also agree that it is an incredibly rewarding experience. There is NO way to understand a culture and learn a language better than living with a family!

    Good luck and have fun in Barcelona :)

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  3. Come to Russia :) The location may suck but the money is insane. (The starting salary rate is around 800 GBP per week!)

      • I actually don’t work as a governess though I have considered it. I know lots of people who do though — crazy money, comped apartments in the city on days off. Lots of Russians have lots of money to blow!

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  5. I totally agree with your post. I am currently an au pair in Munich. I love it, but it comes to a point were you just hate it. I feel more restricted than when I lived with my parents. I can’t eat as much as I want, I can’t eat what I want, I can’t stay out too late, I can’t be lazy and just watch tv shows all day. The flexible schedule is horrible ! You end up working extra hours and having “alone time”is impossible in a flat. It really depends on your family. They are wonderful and I love them so much! But, sometimes I do not want to live where I work. If it weren’t for that I would be happy. This way you don’t work extra hours, you don’t become the maid, and you get to be yourself in your own personal private place :) I am so happy to live in the city center. I used to live out by the forest and it was beautiful but all the action is in the city ;) I love my girls and will miss them like crazy by the end of my stay. But, this is not a job I would love to do again…

    • I totally agree with you Carla, being an Aupair can be quite the challenge! I’m glad that you had a nice family as I’ve heard a few horror stories from girls who’ve not had very pleasant families. Thanks for sharing your experience as an aupair on my blog :)

  6. Ahhh okay I wanna offer a different perspective on the pay. I’d say it is fair because you’re also “paid” through free housing and meals. And wherever you are the money value of that is at least a few hundred euros a month. Its more often called pocket money because it’s not meant to be a wage, it just allows you to have two or three nice evenings out with friends in the week.

    Aupairing is most importantly about working with the kids and if that’s a secondary point to you, you’d be better suited to finding another way to live abroad.

    It’s totally fair to want to travel it’s a big part of the experience but that’s a perk, you’re already living in a foreign country and experiencing a new culture! You need to sort out whether you’re saving up before hand , just doing one big trip each month by saving a little each week, being prepared to do more work in a week for higher pay, or by super budgeting by using things like blablacar and couchsurfing to cut down costs.

  7. Hey! I like the advice you’ve given – I agree that thinking carefully about where you au pair is important but I had a great experience when I did it! I suppose it depends on the family and I managed to find a situation where the family rented a separate apartment for me so it pays to look around!
    I’m now running a collaborative blog about au pairing in Paris, if you want to have a look at other people’s experiences stop by and say hello :) http://www.ultimateaupair.com

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