Travel and Work Abroad as an Au Pair or Nanny
Becoming a nanny in London way back in 1991 was my introduction to the world of child care. I had just got back from a jaunt around Europe and needed a job. What I discovered was that most nanny and Au Pair jobs are live-in so I landed on my feet with a job and a place to live. After a year in this position it was time to move on for more travel and work adventures. I had learnt a lot and gathered information that I will share with you now about travelling and working abroad as an Au Pair or Nanny.
This post updated July 2022.
What Child Care Positions are Available as You Travel and Work Abroad?
There are a number of names you will hear when it comes to child care positions. You will hear the words nanny, mother’s help, au pair and babysitting. These names are mostly interchangeable though there are differences.
What is an Au Pair?
The word Au Pair is a French term meaning ‘equal to’. So in effect, you are living equally as a part of your host family! An Au Pair is someone, usually female, who is untrained and is going to another country on a cultural experience. To learn the language or immerse yourself in the local culture. You will assist the parent/s to look after the child/children on a part-time basis (sometimes longer) and spend the rest of your time experiencing the culture of the country.
What An Au Pair is NOT
When looking for a host family, ensure you discuss what your duties and responsibilities will be. The main duty of an Au Pair is to look after the child/children. I have heard of some families exploiting their Au Pairs by making them do cleaning, ironing and other household things. This is not what an Au Pair does.
What is a Nanny?
A nanny is usually formerly trained or has extensive experience with children. Many travellers who have had experience in other professions like teachers and nurses often apply for nanny jobs. A nanny will undertake full-time (sole charge) care of the child/children in the parent’s absence. All duties will revolve entirely around the children. So you will make their meals, tidy their room/s, do their washing and take them to activities.
What is a Mother’s Help?
A mother’s help usually has no formal qualification, may have some experience and can be young. As the name suggests, you will be helping the parent look after the child/children and often undertake light housework.
What is Babysitting?
Babysitting is just that, looking after a child/children while the parent/s go out. And they don’t have to be babies, they can be of any age but usually under 15 years old. Many a traveller has picked up this type of work. It is often cash in hand which comes in useful to help you continue your travels.
Benefits Of Becoming A Child Carer
I don’t know many child carers who have become rich from looking after children. On saying that, being a nanny did allow me to save enough to further my travels because of the benefits of doing this type of work. The benefits I have found are:
- Jobs are live-in. That’s right! You should have your own room within the house. So the biggest benefit of becoming a child carer is that you find a job and a place to live in the one go.
- Meals are provided. Well, you may be making most of them, but food will be provided.
- You will receive a wage. Yep! A wage that is all yours. Wages can vary as to what your title is and your duties.
- Other perks like travel may be included (even if you are there to look after the kids). Playing with kids in the snow can be a lot of fun!
- Possibly a language course if you are there to improve your language skills.
Be prepared to make a commitment of a certain period. Anywhere from three months to one year and do sign a contract to confirm your duties.
Being a child carer means you need to interact and do things with the kid/s you are looking after.
What are the Working Conditions of Child Carers?
Hours of Work for Au Pairs and Nannies
Each country has its own regulations as far as payment and hours of work are concerned. For instance, in Europe an Au Pair is usually expected to be on duty for 25-30 hours per week with a day or two off. However, in the United States, an Au Pair is expected to work about 40-50 hours per week with a couple of days off, usually the weekend. But get the hours confirmed before you accept the position so you know what to expect. And speak up if you feel you are being taken advantage of.
Duties of Nannies and Au Pairs
As mentioned previously, duties will depend on what child care position you are doing – Au Pair, Nanny, Mother’s Help or Baby Sitting. But all revolve around looking after children, of all ages, from babies to teens. Just remember, you aren’t a slave so discuss your duties and agree in writing to them before you take on a position.
Payment is centred around your job. Au Pairs usually receive ‘pocket money’ while fully-qualified nannies could receive an hourly rate or weekly rate. If you visit the Aupairworld website they have useful information on the pocket money you can expect when you Au Pair in different countries around the world. Some employers may pay you in cash while others will require your bank details to put your pay into. And they should pay your tax and other things such as superannuation.
How to find an Au Pair, Nanny or Child Care Position Abroad?
Most child care positions can be found through a specialist child care agency. A good agency should match you with a family. Some may charge you a fee for doing so. The agency will have vetted the family and found out their requirements. And they will vet you too to ensure you are agreeable to the family. If possible, a face-to-face interview via Zoom with the family should be organised before you accept a position.
You can answer ads placed in newspapers, magazines such as www.thelady.co.uk directly however, be careful. Or find a position through reputable sites like Au Pair World or Au Pair.com. Au Pair America.
My Personal Nanny Experience
I found my position as a live-in nanny through a child care agency in London. It was with a family of four living in the London suburb of Notting Hill. The kids I looked after were of school age – 9 and 6, and my weekdays went like this. Up in the morning around 7am. Get kids up, give them breakfast and dressed for school. Drive them to school. My day was my own however, I did have house hold jobs like the kids washing to do. In the afternoon I would pick the kids up from school. Take them to activities and help them with home work. Then cook their dinner (and mine). Sometimes I would get them bathed and into bed, although their parents liked to do that when they got home from work. I had my weekends to myself though sometimes I was asked to babysit so the parents could go out for a night. I didn’t mind.
Friends of mine who also had nanny, mother’s help and Au Pair positions had similar tales to tell. One friend was a mother’s help for a lady who just had a baby. She mainly helped the mum around the house as she became accustomed to having a new baby. Another friend, her family she lived with had two teenagers, one 17 and the other 14. The 17 year old was a bit of a handful and didn’t want any ‘looking after’ while the 14 year old was a lot more accepting. It was the parent’s who really needed the help!
As you read, there are so many different child care situations. It is a constant theme from families all around the world. And being an Au Pair, Nanny or Mother’s Help is a great job to do as you travel and work abroad.
Some Best Places to Travel and Work as an Au Pair or Nanny Abroad
If you are keen on the idea of working abroad as an Au Pair or Nanny here are some countries that have opportunities on offer. They are listed in alphabetical order and not in any order of preference. I have tried to include nanny and Au Pair agencies to find a job through also. Though a quick search on the Internet will reveal more agencies.
Australia is a wonderful country to find a child care placement. Most placements are in the major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth however, positions become available in rural areas. If you qualify for the working holiday visa, aimed at people aged 18-30 (sometimes 35) you could find an Au Pair or Nanny position. Check out agencies such as Australian Nanny Agency.
Canada embraces Au Pairs and in fact, has a special visa for Au Pairs to come to the country. So if you want to discover Canada and live in a city like Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto. Then consider Canada. It also has a working holiday visa for some nationalities. A number of organisations offer programs to be an Au Pair or Nanny in Canada. Check out IEP or Au Pair World.
Interested to learn about and discover the Chinese culture? Then consider applying for an Au Pair job in China. There are many positions for foreigners, even if you don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese. They could be with families who have been transferred there for work. So if you fancy living in a major city like Shanghai, Hong Kong of Beijing consider an Au Pair or Nanny role in China. Check out Aupairia for more information and jobs.
Europe embraces Au Pairs and nannies – well the name is French! It is quite a status symbol for a family to have an Au Pair or nanny in Europe. And who wouldn’t want to live in a fabulous city such as Paris in France, Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Rome in Italy, Madrid in Spain and so on – I think you get the picture. And along with the excitement of living in Europe you will be improving your European language skills and getting into the local culture. Some agencies to contact include Au pair world and Find au pair .
The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the most popular destinations to travel and work abroad as a nanny, mother’s help or Au Pair. This is because of the working holiday visa available plus it’s relationship with Europe. Many families have a live-in child carer with Surrey being the ‘nanny capital’ of the UK. If the UK is calling you check The Lady – it is an online job board.
The USA has a special J1 visa available for people wanting to Au Pair in the USA. Jobs can be found all over the country however, there is something special about being an Au Pair in New York. Recommended agencies to contact include Au Pair.com or Au Pair in America.
Are You Ready to Travel and Work Abroad as an Au Pair or Nanny?
Becoming a child carer whether that be as an Au Pair, Nanny or Mother’s Help can be one of the most rewarding and safest ways to travel and work the world. Having a live-in job will save you loads and let you save your money to keep on travelling, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. If you have any questions about this type of work, or have done it already yourself, I would love to hear in the comments following.
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