Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
jkushne1
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:20 pm

Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by jkushne1 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:33 pm

Current situation: my wife and I currently have one kid at home but possibly another in the next year or two. My wife is currently stay at home but wants to get back in the working world at least part time. We've discussed daycare, hiring a nanny, etc... but one of my attendings mentioned how much of a benefit having an au pair was to her family. For those who have experience, I was wondering the following: 

1-What company did you end up using to find a reputable Au Pair? What was the "interview process like"?
2-Were there particular countries that you sought after and others you tried to avoid?
3-How much did it typically cost you in a year? I know there are payments to the company, to the au pair directly and then other things you need to provide (lodging, transportation, meals, bring them on family vacations, etc...). Maybe someone has records of their experience to give me an idea. 
4-How many hours a week did they typically provide of child care per week?
5-Do they typically do other jobs other than watching children such as cooking, laundry, feeding pets, etc...
6-Can you deduct the cost of childcare since it is allowing both parents to work?
7-We don't have a huge home. Were there any issues with privacy or other concerns?
8-Were there any administrative hassles before, during or after the au pair's tenure? Were they taken care of by the agency?

Ultimately, was the process worthwhile and would you consider doing it again?

mega317
Posts: 2555
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:55 am

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by mega317 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:11 pm

This is going to be like anything else--if you poll an online community you'll get some people saying it was great, others saying it was horrible, and you won't learn much. I think the downsides (basically you're volunteering to live with a teenager or near-teenager and all the problems that come with that, if it doesn't work out it's hard emotionally to fire them because you're sending them back home where they might not want to go) outweigh the benefits since there are plenty of other options to get those benefits.

We looked into it and decided against. We would have had to buy more house to fit the au pair so we bought a cheaper house and are using daycare/grandparents/babysitters.

xrvision
Posts: 74
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:23 am

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by xrvision » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:34 pm

I don’t (I have a nanny) but my best friend has had a few au pairs.
-she did skype interviews
-it seems very dependent on the person. As mentioned above, you’re agreeing to live with someone in their early 20s. Maturity levels vary. Her first nanny was sent home on day 1 for smoking. Her second nanny was wonderful and with her for 2 years. Her third nanny lasted 9 months or so- she was dating around a lot, stayed out late, etc (totally fine to do at that age, but not when you have to be up early the next day to watch the kids). I think they had curfews for the au pairs
-they had a third car that the au pair drove the kids in. Think about if you want them driving
-I believe they could do kids related tasks (kids meal prep, kids laundry, etc). But per contract could not do regular household tasks (parents laundry)
-You have to be ok basically having a near teenager that you don’t know living with you. So it’s cheaped than nanny. but less privacy + more responsibility of taking care of that person.

I went nanny route. Especially with really little kids, I wanted someone who would do more housework. Also I like my privacy.

User avatar
vineviz
Posts: 2027
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 1:55 pm

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by vineviz » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:50 pm

We had au pairs for nearly 8 years while my kids were younger. It was great for us, being two working parents, and I'd totally do it again. We have a large enough house that it wasn't claustrophobic and are in a city with lots of other au pair families so the au pairs never got bored.

Both agencies we used were great. I think we used Cultural Care for the first couple of years, and then switched to Au Pair in America when we needed fewer hours of coverage (they have an EduCare option that is less expensive in exchange for fewer hours worked, but the au pairs take 1 or 2 more classes than normal).

Thorough Skype vetting is crucial, but even then it's hard to judge the personality. Most of our au pairs were great. One left almost right away because she was overwhelmed, but most were extremely pleasant and well-disciplined. We eventually decided to screen exclusively for slightly older au pairs, both for maturity and because they were more likely to have held some sort of job before. Age 20 to 23 seemed to be the sweet spot for us.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch

Floyd1000
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:50 pm

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by Floyd1000 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:02 pm

Au pairs have been a good solution to our child care needs. We use Cultural Care Au Pair. My wife and I are both doctors, work weird hours and often both leave early in the morning. It is more economical and logistically easier to have a live in au pair run the show from 6 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 7 pm than to pay a live out nanny to work those hours. Costs are about 10k per year in au pair salary, 7 k per year in agency fees. About 2k per year in car insurance...very high rates even if au pair is a good driver and car is modest. We try to be fairly generous, we also pay for au pair cell phone and stock house with foods they like.

Limit of 40 hours per week but you determine the schedule. Au pairs are not meant to be housekeepers, but our au pairs do kids laundry and clean up after kids. We pay separately for cleaning service. Au pair watches kids, helps with driving to activities, helps with homework. Because we treat au pairs well they often go above and beyond of their own volition, helping with grocery shopping, etc.

We choose au pairs with good English and driving experience. Also look for maturity and no boyfriend, since missing a boyfriend can cause problems. Overall our experience has been very good. If you have one bad experience it can cloud your perception. We did have one au pair who did not work out, and it sucked for a month while we awaited a replacement, but such is life.

We submit daycare bills for tax purposes. We do not address au pairs in our taxes. Au pairs do have to pay taxes.

arsenalfan
Posts: 659
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:26 am

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by arsenalfan » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:37 pm

HCOL area. When kids young we used one nanny who had flexible hours (could come at 6am if we were called into work etc). This was good when the kids were younger, and couldn't report reliably any weird stuff. $40k for 45 hours per week. This was a very reliable 50yo woman with grown college age kids, we were her 3rd family, and she cooked/taught us to mellow out in certain parental situations new to us.

When kids 6 & 9, reliable historians and we just needed AM and PM help/driver, easily under 40hrs/week. Au Pair in America was great. On our 4th. You see their little videos and then skype with them to see if a good fit/english decent/interests/diet/lifestyle match. Most fears unrealized. Total cost is about $20k + car insurance + their food. As mentioned above, 40hrs childcare only. Can do kids meal prep and help with their laundry. They aren't to do your housecleaning/petcare/etc...we often pay her extra for that if we're in a pinch; often because they like to cook they will cook dinner if we mealplan. But everyone is different, the guidelines are that they're not to be your chef.

Potpourri:
1. They will be driving and possibly bumping your cars. No major accidents (knock wood), but we haven't upgraded our 2008 Odyssey because it's mostly driven by an 18yo AP. One scrape on a 2008 is fine; I would be miffed if it were a 2018 model. You also have to add them to your insurance.
2. You meet the regional cluster coordinator for your area. S/he scopes out your home, and is a resource for you and the AP. Ask if there are lots of APs in the area - we have a TON of APs within a 10 mile radius, and our last AP's BFF was across the street. That is rare.
3. Ideally have a bed/bath for their own, and their own space. Ours is in the finished basement. They're 18, they don't want to hang out in your space - they skype in their bedroom, hang with their friends.
4. Food - only horror story we heard was of a pretty muscular AP who did crossfit, she ate her family out of their home. Our 3 have been normal, no problems.
5. My firm accepts the AP program receipt for annual dependent care savings account.
6. You're supposed to have them for the major cultural holidays - Halloween, Christmas, 4th July, etc. It can get a little weird to be travelling with an AP back to your sister's house for Thanksgiving - we adapted pretty quick to it. Sometimes they've gone with us on family vaca to Florida, other times we've told them they're free that week.
7. It's like having an employee, you have to train them. These are 18 year olds who cannot read your minds/anticipate your needs. Being kind and gently direct about what you want works just fine.

Xrayman69
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:52 pm

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by Xrayman69 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:28 pm

We used one from A of America when our daughter was 2 years old. Wife was stay at home and we were looking for the cultural exchange experience and not really of true need for child care but saw this as an added adavantage.

We had certain Specific criteria of French speaking and college educated. We wanted someone who wanted a cultural experience as well and not a “job”.

We interviewed the young lady by Skype. She had completed her degree and was in a transition period before graduate school. We also interviewed her parents to reassure them we would make sure their daughter was going to be in a good environment and that we would not necessarily keep an eye on her but help guide her as her family would at home. We were fortunate in that our au pair was well traveled and mature at age 22.

She “worked” 40 hours a week Tuesday - Saturday during the daytime from 10 am - 6:00 pm unless she or we needed something different. She had traveled with our family on vacation etc. we really incorporated her into our family. It has been 6 years since she was with us and our only experience. We have traveled to France to spend time and visit with her over the years. We truly love and loved her as she helped us strive to instill her adventurous spirit into our own daughter.

She stated to us she had a wonderful experience and had multiple friends with whom she spent much of her time also from the Au pair agency around her age and interests. Some of those other young ladies in my opinion were used strictly as “labor” and in turn engaged with the family and children similarly.

We paid her a stipend every week which was minimal in my opinion. We had a large enough home in which it was inconsequential for added household cost for housing and food.

When writing about our experience I can say we had a wonderful experience with the intent of cultural exchange and benfitted from a lot of flexibility for my wife and I to maintain a high quality of social life without worry about child care. As I write this I will remind my wife that we need to call her this weekend. My wife communicate with her mostly by Facebook but our daughter likes to FaceTime with her but the time differences makes it challenging sometimes.

ResearchMed
Posts: 7445
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:41 pm

Xrayman69 wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:28 pm
We used one from A of America when our daughter was 2 years old. Wife was stay at home and we were looking for the cultural exchange experience and not really of true need for child care but saw this as an added adavantage.

We had certain Specific criteria of French speaking and college educated. We wanted someone who wanted a cultural experience as well and not a “job”.

We interviewed the young lady by Skype. She had completed her degree and was in a transition period before graduate school. We also interviewed her parents to reassure them we would make sure their daughter was going to be in a good environment and that we would not necessarily keep an eye on her but help guide her as her family would at home. We were fortunate in that our au pair was well traveled and mature at age 22.

She “worked” 40 hours a week Tuesday - Saturday during the daytime from 10 am - 6:00 pm unless she or we needed something different. She had traveled with our family on vacation etc. we really incorporated her into our family. It has been 6 years since she was with us and our only experience. We have traveled to France to spend time and visit with her over the years. We truly love and loved her as she helped us strive to instill her adventurous spirit into our own daughter.

She stated to us she had a wonderful experience and had multiple friends with whom she spent much of her time also from the Au pair agency around her age and interests. Some of those other young ladies in my opinion were used strictly as “labor” and in turn engaged with the family and children similarly.

We paid her a stipend every week which was minimal in my opinion. We had a large enough home in which it was inconsequential for added household cost for housing and food.

When writing about our experience I can say we had a wonderful experience with the intent of cultural exchange and benfitted from a lot of flexibility for my wife and I to maintain a high quality of social life without worry about child care. As I write this I will remind my wife that we need to call her this weekend. My wife communicate with her mostly by Facebook but our daughter likes to FaceTime with her but the time differences makes it challenging sometimes.
This isn't an "au pair" situation, but otherwise similar.

IF you can keep in touch with her, that would be great, especially for your daughter.

The cross cultural experiences are so important, and the USA is somewhat isolated, including geographically. Because the USA is so large, many residents don't even get to Canada or Mexico (and don't even have passports).

When I was in the 11th grade, I had a foreign exchange "sister", someone from a foreign country who shared a bedroom with me for the full school year. Put two teenaged girls together, and the bonding can be intense. We truly became like sisters, which was probably especially easy (and beneficial) because neither of us had any other "sister".

That was more than half a century ago.
We've kept in touch.
Now our husbands are friends, too.
They've visited us, and we visit them. We've just made plans to visit again after we take a Mediterranean cruise next Spring.

(DH and I each had done a post-doc in Europe, but separately; we didn't know each other then. He kept in touch with someone from his lab there, and we most recently saw him 2 years ago.)

These relationships, when started early, can be especially positive and powerful.
And very educational.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

LovingLife
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:31 pm

Re: Anyone have experience with an Au Pair?

Post by LovingLife » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:41 am

Is the cost of an au pair tax deductible? If so, which costs and what are the limitations? Does it phase out at certain AGI?

Post Reply