I get asked this all the time. Is ‘au pair’ just a fancy name for a nanny? And it’s easy to see why it’s confusing, but au pairs and nannies are not the same. I’ve outlined some of the key differences below.
If you are a Nanny…
An arrangement with a nanny is often very formal. More often than not nannies are required to have qualifications for working with children, previous experience, current police and background checks and they usually work through an agency. Often they get paid holiday time, a regular and predictable timetable and a set hourly rate with overtime pay, along with work cover and insurances. It is more of an employer/employee relationship. It can be quite an expensive option for a family, but so is daycare. And parents want nothing other than peace of mind when leaving their children in the care of someone other than themselves. Arrangements are often long term and depending on the family quite inflexible when it comes to hours and what is expected of the nanny. Nannies can range in age from 18 to middle-aged and maybe even older. It just depends on the preference of the family.
Maybe you want to be an Au Pair…
Having an au pair, on the other hand, is best described as a cultural exchange. Often au pairs are aged between 18 and 21, and are on holiday from their home country. Most often they are looking to meet new people, learn another language and explore a new country. Families seeking an au pair will often pay a small weekly allowance in exchange for light housework, occasional baby-sitting, and sometimes teaching the family to speak the native language of the au pair. Food and board are usually provided by the host family.
So really in the question of au pair vs nanny, it depends what your preference is. Are you looking for a job with a stricter schedule and more money in your pocket? Or are you looking to mainly explore a new culture and make friends while making a little money on the side?
Do you think I’ve covered everything? Let me know below!