An au pair is a valuable addition to your family. They provide quality child care, saving you time on household chores and freeing you up to spend more time with your children.
But like any other family member, your au pair has some expenses. This is why it’s essential to understand what you’re responsible for and when.
Regarding childcare, au pairs are usually less expensive than nannies. However, host families should be aware that the costs of hosting an au pair go beyond the minimum weekly stipend (based on federal minimum wage) and housing. The program fee, which covers the cost of interviewing and screening your au pair, their flights and training, and year-long support from a local Area Director, are additional upfront costs.
These fees are often a big chunk of change you’ll need to pay upfront, but many programs offer payment plans. Other expenses include a phone or mobile data plan for your au pair, utilities and essential household items (towels, mats, toothbrush holder, etc.), clothes and bath products, and activities when not with the family (gym, concerts, sports, etc.).
An extra set of hands in the house means you’ll spend fewer nights ordering takeout or running to the store for last-minute baby food or wipes. And you’ll have someone to drive the kids to and from school, lessons, and activities, giving you back time for work or to relax.
As a busy parent, finding quality child care is critical to your family’s well-being. Hiring an au pair may be a solution that fits your budget and enriches your children’s cultural experiences.
Many families host their au pairs in their homes, making them a live-in household member. While this can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, it can also create unexpected expenses.
A standard au pair cost typically includes room and board and a weekly allowance for childcare services. Families can add other benefits like extra pay, insurance, and participation in family outings or cultural experiences.
Other costs you might encounter are the au pair program fee, paid to the agency and helps cover their administrative cost, and the educational stipend of $500 to help your au pair complete six college credits. You might also be responsible for paying for personal items like a cell phone, laptop, and utilities if you have au pair’s bedroom. You might sometimes be required to pay taxes like Social Security and Medicare.
If you’re considering an au pair for your family, it’s essential to consider the program’s total cost. Choose an agency that offers fees and weekly stipends that are affordable, or that offers a payment plan to avoid getting sticker shock at the upfront costs.
Before your au pair begins work, they must attend the agency orientation covering CPR and First Aid training. If your au pair will be driving as part of their childcare responsibilities or for personal reasons, you must provide them with a vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll need to arrange for them to get around town using public transportation or taxis. In addition, your au pair will need a cell phone with a data plan to communicate with you and the agency during their stay.
If your family wants to take an au pair on vacation, the extra costs for their room and board may add up quickly. Also, if you need to pay for alternate childcare during the family’s vacation and travel, or if you choose to buy them an expensive item that will be used daily (like a new laptop), these additional expenses should be included in your budget.
A one-time program fee is required to join the au pair program through an agency. This fee covers recruitment, screening, paperwork processing, some travel expenses, the visa, and training. Many agencies waive registration fees, offer coupon codes or discount categories, or provide other options for families to lower their overall costs.
Other au pair-related costs include an au pair’s weekly stipend (which is legally required to be at least the federal minimum), the cost of alternative childcare while your au pair is on vacation or away from home, household expenses like toiletries, and sports/recreation/travel expenses. Because these items are not recurrent and can’t be easily calculated, it is best to address these costs at the beginning of your relationship with an au pair so you can plan accordingly.
If you’ve been on the childcare hunt, you know how much it can cost to find quality childcare. Au pairs offer a cost-effective alternative to daycare centers, babysitters, and nannies. They also provide the opportunity for cultural exchange and improved quality of life!
The Au Pair Program provides au pairs with a private room, meals, a minimum of one and a half days off each week, and full weekends off every month plus two weeks of paid vacation. The Host Family may cover some of the au pair’s expenses, such as clothing, bath products, and a gym membership.
Taking your au pair on vacation in a non-working capacity is a great way to make them feel like a part of the family. Just be sure to discuss your plans with your au pair and set clear expectations to avoid confusion.