How to Find the Right Au Pair

HHiring the right Au Pair can be a time suck.

But hosting the right Au Pair can be totally and wonderfully life-changing for a stressed-out family.

If you’ve ever hired an au pair you probably, like most families, dread the yearly au pair search? It’s tough to say goodbye to Au Pairs who become a trusted member of the tribe!

If you’re new to the au pair game, maybe you’re full of optimism and see your colleagues and friends have great relationships, and you want the same?

Or perhaps you’ve heard the frightful legends of unhappy au pairs disappearing in the middle of the night? Only to be replaced by a different surly teenager who lugs themselves around your house, at less than the speed of the average sloth, unable to assume responsibility for even the simplest of household tasks?

Sound familiar?

It’s a big old task choosing the person who is going to help you keep all the plates spinning – in our sometimes dangerously overloaded, juggle of work and family.

And when you find the right au pair for your family, I can promise you, your home will be calmer! You’ll be more relaxed.

This was most definitely not me in the beginning stages of being a Host Parent – because I was clueless!

And I would LOVE it if you and your Au Pair didn’t have anything other than a fantastic experience!

I’ve spent three years now (almost four) researching Host Families and Au Pairs all over the world, and I wanted to meet and listen to the families who were getting it right.

They seem to navigate, efficiently and beautifully, through the sometimes tricky maze that is hiring and managing an au pair in the sacred refuge you call home.

What Successful Host Families Do Better

I was one ok au pair relationship in and another incredibly stressful, energy-zapping partnership down. It was then I realized there had to be a better way to hire and manage an au pair.

So I wondered what veteran host families, the ones who’ve had more au pairs than Donald Trump’s had twitter outbursts, do better or differently than other struggling host families?

Do they all use expensive agencies and get to chose from the stellar pick of the au pair bunch?

Do they pay their au pair in gold bullion and gym memberships?

Do they hire a professional interviewer and a private detective to separate the wheat from the chaff?

Or do they know something, cultivated from years on the host family front line that the rest of us don’t?

Yes, they do.

After three years of research with veteran host families around the globe (who’ve hired and managed over 310 au pairs and counting), I discovered something straightforward.

I made some shocking, exciting and ridiculously simple discoveries that led me to understand why the repeatable strategy many victorious host families employ works like a charm.

And it’s a system that goes beyond even what the agencies can provide.

What I discovered, allowed me to add more, structure and clarity to the relationship. Resulting in six years worth of happy, calm and inspiring au pair relationships in my own home.

And that’s no easy task in a household with two busy professionals. One of whom is also married to the endless, news cycle as a broadcaster, working all sorts of strange hours, in sometimes deeply unfamiliar places.

The good news is that any family can do it right! It doesn’t matter if you are new to the au pair game or more experienced. Using an agency, going it solo or searching online. We can all learn something productive, maybe even life-changing, from adopting this amazingly repeatable and straightforward system.

So how can you get started?

Well, here’s a list of 7 things you didn’t know about hiring an au pair, that should help you find the girl or boy that’s going to make your family sing and not whimper.

Is it even possible to find an au pair who can make your home and your kids look this good?!

1. The Au pair market place is shifting

Are you currently hiring an au pair in the UK? Then you’ve possibly already noticed that it’s been much harder to find an au pair this time around than in previous years.

If you’re not in the UK, you can skip to the heading – Expectation Gap.

European Au Pairs used to be able to hop on a plane and stay for as long as they liked in the UK.

Not now.

While they can still come and apply to stay longer up until December 31st 2020, many are already choosing to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The government has promised more youth mobility visas. Still, there’s a whole load of shenanigans to be worked out around trade deals, and so right now we don’t know what’s gonna happen after the end of 2020.

So we’ve got the Brexit effect to thank for the bottom nearly dropping out of the au pair market place in Britain

Plus a growing expectation gap for both au pairs and host families, relying on a relationship that doesn’t always feel fit for purpose.

Agencies as well report to being downright freaked out by the au pair Brexit effect. Some of the agencies who contributed to our research told us they have never seen things so bad. Despite their decades of experience in the business, many had even decided to throw in the towel reluctantly.

A London based agency told one of our contributors that two things are happening. The first is that the quality of candidates applying to be au pairs in the UK has dropped. Secondly, those who do apply only want to stay for six months.

Au pairs we spoke to felt forced to consider other au pair destinations instead of Britain in case they became unwelcome guests.

Just outside UK borders in the Republic of Ireland something else has changed. Newish regulations on minimum wage requirements for au pairs have seen au pairs who used to want to come to mainland Britain, happily heading for Southern Ireland.

Families there say they are being priced out of the marketplace for flexible live-in help. They are only entitled to deduct €54.13 a week for board and lodging which leaves a net wage for many au pairs below the minimum wage. This arbitrary figure is in stark contrast to the average monthly rent of €1,111 at the end of December 2016.

And the upshot of all of this for you and for me?

Competition for Au pairs in the UK just intensified a little bit more.

Who could possibly have guessed that trying to get out of the door to be a taxpayer would be this damned hard?

( I do have a solution so keep reading…)

Incoming European au pairs are worried about what might greet them here in the UK. That means different tactics in snagging that all-important, au pair are now required.

Look for a Non-EU Au .pair.

My first suggestion is to look for an au pair who is coming from outside of the EU. Try other sites outside of the seemingly oversubscribed ( I have hired great Au Pairs here – but don’t advise you rely only on this site)

I swear by Kiwi, and Australian au pairs, who are down to earth, hard-working, native speakers and they are already used to driving on the left-hand side.

Check out this link, if you are unsure of which other countries an au pair can come from to work in the UK.

The best sites to find these au pairs, according to our host families is and

I have had lots of success with, which has a slightly complicated dashboard, but the applicants we have met and hired from there have been fantastic.

During our last search, we were also approached by candidates who wanted to come to the UK next year. So we now have the contact details for four au pairs who liked the look of our family and whom we will start chatting to ahead of our current au pair leaving.

These sites encourage you as the host family and the au pair candidates to include much more information about yourselves, helping both you and them to get a better match.

It’s also worth noting that candidates coming from outside of the EU are often much less wedded to the ‘European Au pair’ model. They can often be much more open to designing a relationship that works for both parties (as long as they are paid fairly, and the job list is made clear at the start).

Several of our host families also found that by using, they were also able to search candidates who were a step beyond the au pair role. You can specify weekly pay on the site and advertise for a nanny-au pair. So if your needs go beyond that of a ‘traditional au pair,’ you can chat with candidates who have much more experience but want more free time than a regular nanny.

You will also find many more candidates here beyond the age of 25 and who are EU citizens or those with visas or passports, allowing them to come to the UK. So if you are looking for a more grandmotherly figure, then this could be your ideal fishing ground.

Also, check out

Likewise, if you’re a family looking for a bit of help here and there then the place to look for your next au pair is As long as you are genuinely committed to giving your candidate a cultural experience, then this site is a brilliant resource.

This site is about providing bed and board for a ‘homestay with duties,’ and it’s the kind of place where you’ll find eel tagging projects in Scotland, or working at a winery in Southern France.

Increasingly, host families are using this site to find their au pairs. Promising a genuine cultural experience and in most cases offering pay on top of bed and board for their au pair. You’ll find people of all ages and backgrounds here, and our host families who have used it rave about the site.

Some of the success factors are again down to the fact that by searching off the ‘au pair grid’ they have to put real thought and structure into their relationships with their au pairs.

So if you do decide to avoid the Brexit effect and opt for a non-European au pair. Here’s my advice – make triple sure you both know what you want from the relationship. Put everything in writing, well before the boarding pass is uploaded to their phone.

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