Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to find an awesome family

After a few interviews from hell (which I will probably post at a later time), I met my incredibly awesome French family who I am unbelievably excited to work for.  Finding a family can be difficult, but I tried to give my advice and tips to maybe make it a little easier for anyone out there trying to be an au pair in Paris. So here it is!

When choosing to be an au pair, you can either try to find a family on your own through non-agency websites or use an agency.

There are a lot of au pair services out there, and they are a great option if:

  1. You don't mind paying their fee (which can range from $150-$600)
  2. You're fine with getting matched up with whatever family the agency finds suitable
  3. You feel more safe with working for a family who has been screened by the agency
  4. You are willing to work for the minimum amount that France requires families to pay their au pairs
  5. You don't feel comfortable with doing the all the paperwork by yourself

I, however, chose to find a family on my own using aupairworld.net.  This site was much more professional and, for lack of a better word, legit than other websites I found.  I highly discourage anyone from using easyaupair.com because I received a lot of messages that turned out to be scams, and the website does little to nothing to deter scammers.

Speaking of scams, there are a lot out there targeted toward au pairs.  You are taking a big risk by moving to another country and living with strangers, so be careful and trust any gut feelings you may have.  A piece of advice - if someone offers you an extreme amount of money for very little work, it's probably a scam.  Especially if the "family" lives in England because Americans can't even au pair there. As a general life rule, if anything seems to good to be true, it probably is.  To find out if the "family" that is emailing you are scammers, I always Googled "the family name + au pair scam" before responding to any family.  However, I have never encountered this on aupairworld.

Anyway, I looked for a family for probably about two months, and I probably sent out 100 applications with only a handful of responses.  However, I got a lot more feedback when I mentioned in my intro message that I was going to be in Paris in November.  If you can, I would definitely recommend doing this because it allows you to better know the family and get a better sense if you like them rather than basing your decision solely on emails and Skype conversations.  Also, you get to see your living arrangements and see how you interact with the kids.  Finally, meeting the family in person gives you a HUGE advantage over all the other girls who sent them applications (I never realized how many girls want to be au pairs)!  Fortunately, I was able to go to Paris because when I studied abroad there, I met friends who I could stay with, so it wasn't too expensive.  And hey, I had an excuse to go on vacation, and who doesn't mind that?

Before I get too far, the most important factor in choosing a family is knowing what you want and what you expect.  Where do you want to live? What kind of living arrangements and working hours do you want?  How many kids do you want to watch?  What kind of weekly salary would you like?  What kind of lifestyle do you want?

These are all really important factors that you should know before you choose a family.  In my case, I have already lived in Paris before, so I wanted to be independent and preferably live in my own apartment. If you have never been away from home or feel uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar city, then maybe living with the family would be a better option.  This also factors into what kind of lifestyle you want.  If you live with the family, you're pretty much on call all the time, and I would imagine you might feel strange about going out at night and coming home late.  With a separate apartment, you can have a little more freedom, experience more nightlife, and not have to worry about work once you leave the house.

Fortunately, I  found a family that actually wants me to be very independent and has rented me a seventh floor walk-up studio... right across the street from the Eiffel Tower! It's a very good situation for me (I mean almost no one would pass up on the location) because both the family and I want a similar experience from me being their au pair. When I met them, I instantly felt comfortable and at home, and I fell in love with their daughter right away (so cute and funny).  So that's how I met my awesome family, and I hope this post helped in some way if you're currently searching for one as well.