By: Rosalind Prather
Why hire a nanny when you can hire an au pair for less money?
This is actually a question we get a lot and so we thought we could offer some guidance.
In short, an “au pair” is a foreign person (between the ages of 18-30) that comes to provide household and childcare services in exchange for room and board. An au pair is seeking a cultural experience as are the families who seek this type of arrangement. It can be a wonderful option when your top goal is to provide a unique cultural experience to your children. But, if your main priority is to find a highly-qualified child care professional that can stay with your family for years to come, you might be disappointed if you take the au pair route in order to save some money. An au pair is usually a less expensive option than hiring a private nanny. However, it might be well worth the cost difference to employ a nanny through an agency.
A nanny hired through an agency is going to come with extensive experience and a proven track record of serving families with professionalism. Their primary objective is to provide high-quality childcare services using their knowledge of child development and care. An au pair on the other hand, may not have any childcare experience and/or may only have a limited skill set when it comes to caring for children.
Our agency will help you hire a nanny that is truly a solid fit for your family when it comes to multiple aspects of compatibility. Each candidate is hand-selected by an expert matchmaker, thoroughly vetted, and throughout the process you will have ample opportunity to meet the nanny in person and virtually and see the nanny “in action” during a working interview/trial period. Having the opportunity to work with the nanny for a few days in your home prior to making the commitment and hiring her is a huge benefit to you. You likely won’t find out that an au pair is not the right fit for your family until it is too late and she has already moved into your home.
Speaking of living in your home, this is another major consideration. Many families opt for a live-out nanny because they want to maintain their privacy and not have an employee residing under their roof. While live-out au pairs are an emerging trend, most do live in their host families home. Easier and continuous access to support can be helpful but it can also be stressful to cohabitate especially if you aren’t getting along.
When you hire a nanny through an agency it is an inherently more secure process. In many cases, the agency knows the nanny well and has potentially placed her previously. The nanny is a seasoned professional who has committed to caring for your family for a year or more and breaking this commitment would result in burning bridges with the agency and losing access to future placement opportunities. In the rare event of an unsuccessful placement, the agency is able to quickly replace the candidate, reducing the impact on your family. Au pairs are often younger and, from our experience, don’t have as much to lose from a reputation/professional perspective. We often hear from families who have been left prematurely by an au pair due to home sickness, personality conflicts, etc. Since the au pair placement process is a few months long, when things go awry, families are often left scrambling to find back-up coverage. Our clients can rest assured knowing that our Sitter Service is always available if their nanny becomes unavailable.
Many of our clients dream of hiring a nanny that becomes part of the family and stays to care for the child for years. Nannies typically come with more longevity whereas an au pair is generally a much more short-term arrangement. Our team of local experts are happy to walk you through the decision making process and get all of your questions answered whether you decide that a full-time nanny or part-time babysitter is the right solution for you or not. We actually have created a simple guide for families who are unsure about which direction of childcare they are needing.
Give us a call today for your complimentary consultation!