Becoming an au pair in European Union
Working as an au pair is amazing opportunity and experience. Especially, if you are so-called 'live in' au pair - it means you live with your chosen family in their house. If you live with another family, you get to experience a lot of new things - it can be different way of cooking and using ingrediences for cooking, different culture and habits, different way of dealing with problems. You will thoroughly experience that there is not only one way to live your life and you can learn tons of things from your new family.
On top fo that, weekends and evenings are mostly free, so you can get out and meet new people, visit various places, attend culture festival and events, sign for courses - possibilities are almost infinite. All of that can help you to improve your language skills, because you have to talk with people and you have to express yourself.
From my very own experience, I know that taking first step is always the most difficult thing to do. Especially, if you feel like becoming an au pair, but you don't know where to start or what you need to do in order to become am au pair.
There are few tipes that can make it easier for you.
Two Ways of Becoming an Au Pair
Of course, there are more ways of becoming an au pair, but let's divide them into two categories - becoming an au pair with help of agencies and becoming an au pair on your own. Every way has its pros and cons.
Au Pair Agencies
Becoming an au pair with help of agency is far more easy, because agency will solve most of the problems for you.
They will help you to find a host family and will also help with introduction to this family. Agencies also arrange a contract with the host family. Agencies will book flight tickets for you, arrange travelling insurance. If a problem pops out, you can contact your au pair agency and they provide help.
On other hand you have to pay for all of their services and some agency services can be really expensive.
Au Pair on Your Own
Very pleasant fact is, that you don't need an agency in order to become an au pair. If you don't want to use services of au pair agencies, you can always find a host family on your own - it'll be more difficult, because you have to arrange everything, but you will learn a lot of stuff while doing so.
There are many ways to become the au pair without agencies' help. There are some ways you can try:
- Ask friend - Do you have a friend who is/was an au pair? Ask her/him if they have any recommendation on a host family. You may be lucky and a family your friend is familiar with may be searching for another au pair right now.
- Facebook groups - Become a member of a facebook au pair group - there is an au pair group in every bigger town. A lot of host families look for a suitable au pair on these groups. Try to contact them!
- Au pair websites - If you search the Internet, you will find couple of websites, where you can register to as an au pair and you can find a family which is the most suitable for you.
When you decide to become an au pair on your own ...
First thing you need to do is to decide a country you want to be au pair in. Some countries as United Kingdom, Ireland or Spain are more popular among potetntial au pairs than others. And then your family searching can begin.
Now, if you decided for a country and a family and made arrangement with them (and maybe even agreed on the date of arrival), what remains is to arrange certain issues (the ones which usually agencies take care of).
These issues include:
- Booking a flight ticket (or bus/train ticket)
- Travelling insurance (or health insurance)
This is one of the most important things you need to do - and the sooner the better. Otherwise, there either will be no free place for you or it will be to expensive. All kinds of tickets are easy to book. I think most of the people are familiar with booking bus or train tickets.
Booking flight tickets is very similar. What you need to pay attentation for is month and day you want to flight on. Especially at flight tickets is better to book them as soon as possible - it gets more expensive when day of arrival is getting close. Also if you are free to decide the day of the arrival to your host family, choose carefuly. Some months are more expensive than others when it comes to flights (like July, August and December). Also some days are more expensive than others - especially Saturday and Sunday.
Before leaving for another country, be sure to pay for your travel insurance for the time you will be gone from your home country. Usually it is just a formality, but it is very useful in case anything happens. It is also good to be insured just in case you accidentally hurt someone (a kid) or someone gets hurt in your presence (can happen while being an au pair).
Another important thing to collect information about is health insurance. For example, in my home country if you are a student (under 26 age) you usually don't need to pay for your health insurance if you're going abroad to work as an au pair (check your country law just to be sure). If you are not a student, you have to pay your health insurance.
Among countries which are part of Council of Europe, there is no need to pay taxes while working as an au pair. According to its law, live in au pairs are considered to be foreigners who stay with a host family in order to improve their language skills and acquire better knowledge of the country. They get food, accomodation and pocket money (not a wage) for their children care and housework and for new experience.
If you found a host family on your own, there is also no need for a written contract (although, it depends on agreement between an au pair and a host family whether or not to have a written countract). Basically it means that without written contract the whole au pair thing is little bit tricky and everything depends on both sides being honest - because your host family can refuse to pay you for your work at some point, or if a problem pops out, but on the other hand, if anything like this happens, you are completely free to leave, nothing helds you there.
If you use services of an au pair agency, there is usually written contract between an au pair and a host family, so it is more safe, on the other it is more difficult to leave in case of any problem.
If you are thinking about becoming an au pair, I highly recommend you to do so. Although, if you have no experience with children at all. You can find a family where experience doesn't matter and what is more important, that is love for children and willingness to help and become part of a host family.
It is also unforgettable experience. You get to see so many thing and you will also learn so many new things. You can gain another point of view on living and solving problems and it will definitively help you to grow (in lot of ways). You also get to meet new people and you can make friends for life. And possibility to experience another culture and travel around many new places is just lifetime chance. You may not have another chance like this. So go for it.