There are many reasons to au pair but here are some of my own:

  • Travel for an extended amount of time and for relatively very little money
  • Live “locally.” Experience a destination in more depth than you ever could have as a tourist.
  • Live somewhere new/different/more exotic
  • Learn a new language
  • Experience a new culture
  • Interest in children or child care
  • Adventure
  • Use it as a stepping stone into further travels

Like any decision, there are merits to consider. Consider the following:

Positives

  • Low cost of living abroad
  • All of the fun you may have
  • Learning and adventure
  • Casual lifestyle -it certainly isn’t a 9-5 grind
  • Amazing experiences
  • Meet new people, create international contacts and a second family abroad
  • Getting pocket money for relatively little and easy work
  • Travel to surrounding nations
  • Holidays with the family (Yes you get to go along! And no, you don’t pay -think of yourself as the eldest sibling in the family)

Negatives

  • Far from home (this isn’t a negative for all though!) or homesickness
  • Potential culture shock
  • Lonely periods (especially before meeting friends or integrating)
  • Feeling as if you are living someone else’s lifestyle or that you are a teenager again, living with your parents.
  • Having to learn a new language (so don’t go to a country that isn’t English speaking!?)
  • You managed to select a family who is incompatible with your lifestyle
  • Small towns -inability to meet any friends and the costs associated with getting out of town
  • Crappy pay that isn’t enough to cover your expenses

I’m a firm believer in that if you are self aware and openly communicate with prospective families, then most of the negatives can be avoided.

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