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Au Pair Jobs in Europe

How and Where to Find Work

Watching over children, while working as an au pair in Italy.
Work as an au pair with children in Italy.

Au pairing (literally "living on equal terms") provides single women and sometimes men over 18 and generally under 27 the chance to study a language and culture while living as part of a family abroad. The demand for live-in childcare is enormous, especially for young women. The International Au Pair Association (IAPA), is a good source of agency addresses. However, some member agencies operate outgoing programs only (i.e., they send their nationals abroad, primarily to learn English).

Au pairs generally work for a maximum of a certain number of agreed-upon hours a week, plus potential babysitting evenings. In exchange, they are given a separate room, all meals, and pocket money per week — the amount depending on the country. Unlike nannies and mothers, au pairs generally do not sign a contract since the arrangement is informal (though some au pair agencies may ask you to do so). Au pairs should be treated more like family members than employees. An au pair has much less responsibility for the children's welfare than a nanny, and there is usually no expectation that you take sole charge of a young child.

Holiday au pairs usually work from July to September and accompany the family on their holidays. Since the children are out of school, there may be less free time than during the academic year and often no chance to attend language classes. Otherwise, the same rules should apply as for ordinary au pairing.

A summary of job prospects and red tape is given for many of the countries of Europe below. Note that the supply of au pairs has dramatically increased in Europe with the expansion of the European Union. Consequently, check up on the latest requirements for employment and residency in each country via the au pair site and the IAPA.

Searching the Web for Au Pair Jobs in Europe

Cyberspace buzzes with an exchange of information about live-in childcare. Many online agencies provide a database of families on the one hand and people looking for live-in jobs on the other so that they can match themselves up. Prospective au pairs register their details, including age, nationality, relevant experience, and, in many cases, a photo, all uploaded onto a website, which becomes accessible to registered families. Registration is usually free or reasonably priced for the job-seeker. In contrast, the hiring families usually pay an introduction fee to the web-based agency.

Before a prospective au pair decides to look for a family on the internet, it is worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of using the web instead of a conventional agency, as described below. Making the arrangement directly with a family sight unseen without agency backup carries potential risks. No doubt, many of the matches result in successful outcomes. Typically, a family contacts a promising-looking candidate, or a job-seeker contacts a promising-sounding family; they contact each other via email and telephone and decide whether they are compatible. All should be well if each party is upfront and keeps to their part of the bargain.

Without the support of an agency, it isn't easy to carry out any effective screening of either party. If relying on the Internet, you must ascertain precisely the nature of the situation and the expectations of your new employer. Work out what you will do if the arrangement does not work out. Suppose the agency functions primarily as a database provider. In that case, it offers little or no backup, though the competition has recently made agencies or "programs" more stringent.

If either side is not committed to the arrangement they have signed up for, the other side can be badly let down and have no recourse. For example, an employer might change their mind about inviting a young girl to come and the start date. It is common for families to issue several invitations and choose the one they like to look better after arrival. In this case, an au pair could be turned away on the doorstep without fluent English or much money. Similarly, families expecting an au pair to arrive on a specific date can be disappointed.

Listed below are some primary countries, though agencies and programs are available for many other locations throughout Europe.



The tradition of au pairing is well established in Austria, and prospective au pairs are served by several agencies (see below) that are accustomed to dealing with direct applications from foreigners. Requirements are moderate, and many inexperienced 18-year-olds are placed. The agencies can take a long time to reply and may need some follow-up emails and phone calls. The norm is for the agencies to charge their au pairs a fee equivalent to a week's pocket money.

Officially, au pairs from outside Europe must obtain work and residence permits. The employing family should apply at their local employment office at least two weeks before the start date. Before the permit can be approved and issued, the authorities must see an agreement or contract (signed by the employer and the au pair) and proof that health and accident insurance coverage has been obtained by the au pair.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in Austria


Au pairing has always been a favored way for young women to learn French and, increasingly, for young men too. The pocket money for au pairs in France is currently €80 per week, plus in some cases a contribution to language classes; in Paris families also provide a Pass Navigo (urban travel pass) which is worth more than €75.

North Americans can fix up au pair placements directly with a French agency. Still, they should bear in mind that high placement fees may have to be paid in advance and that, in some cases, little advance information about the family will be made available. Enrollment in a French language course is compulsory for non-European au pairs.

Several established agencies belong to UFAAP, the Union Francaise des Associations Au Pair, an umbrella group set up in 1999, based at present at Europair Services in Paris (listed below). Contact details for the member agencies are included on the UFAAP website.

Again, there are several placement global agencies that will place you in France to avoid some legwork and paperwork.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in France


Americans and Canadians do not need to apply for a residence and work permit before leaving their home countries; however, it is a general requirement that au pairs prove that they have studied German.

Most families offer monthly pocket money and give their au pairs a monthly travel pass, including other benefits such as a contribution to course fees for language school and sometimes money for return travel at the end of the year. For these perks, au pairs will be expected to do hard work and probably undertake more housework than most au pairs generally do.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in Germany


It is possible to apply independently through an Italian agency, but first, ensure you won't be liable to pay a hefty registration fee. There are many opportunities for au pairs during the summer holidays when most Italians who can afford au pairs migrate to the coast or the mountains and take their helpers with them. The weekly pocket money for au pairs is average or above for Europe, starting at with Italian au pairs receiving about €260-300 euros a month, though many families in the big cities pay more than this, not including paid vacation time.

Non-European nationals are must spend 20 hours a week learning Italian, and go through a fairly involved paperwork, and often-changing process described in this article on au-pairing in Italy.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in Italy


The au pair system is gaining popularity in Scandinavian countries even though relatively few foreigners are keen to learn Swedish, Norwegian, or Finnish. More agencies that send Scandinavian au pairs abroad also place young foreigners (18-30 on average) as au pairs in Scandinavian homes, providing one of the few ways to afford an extended stay in this expensive region.

Denmark is another country where the general population's English level is exceptionally high. Conditions for au pairs are congenial: on top of the monthly pocket money in Danish krone, you should be given health insurance and be entitled to free language courses in Danish.

Interest in au pairing in Iceland is increasing. The private employment agency Ninukot specialized initially in agricultural and horticultural jobs throughout Iceland but has branched out to offer other jobs, including babysitting.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in Scandinavia


The chance of arranging an au pair placement in Spain is good. Most jobs are in the cities and environs of Madrid and Barcelona. However, jobs occasionally crop up in glamorous resorts like Marbella and Tenerife. Several au pair agencies in Spain are associated with language schools.

There are also opportunities for young people to stay with Spanish families in exchange for speaking English with the children without having any domestic or childcare duties. Americans and Canadians who wish to work as au pairs should apply for a student visa before leaving home. Officially, the embassy requires both an offer of employment from the family and a letter from the school where the au pair is enrolled (or will enroll) to study Spanish for at least 15 hours a week.

See More Websites for Au Pair Work in Spain

Useful Au Pair Websites
  • is an agency helping you to find jobs in Europe and online, with resources about the background of every country, requirements for au pairs, and other important information such as direct au pair reports.

  • AupairWorld is an agency helping you to find jobs in over 20 European countries, with plenty of resources about the background of every country, requirements for au pairs, and other important information.

  • FindAuPair is a full-service agency that matches au pairs and families in 10 countries worldwide, even taking care of visas in many cases.

  • GreatAuPair offers jobs worldwide, including in Europe, with choices in its massive database of worldwide possibilities.

Au Pair Jobs in Austria is an agency that provides an excellent overview and registration with

Au-Pair World: Austria


Au Pair Paris is a unique program for smart, young Americans to become au pairs in Paris and benefit from a rich international experience. Being an au pair entails living with a French family, taking a class, and experiencing la vie francaise. We personally match au pair candidates with welcoming French families in Paris and the Paris metropolitan region.

Au-Pair World: France

Les Ateliers FL offers a customized curriculum and the opportunity to live everyday life with a French family that will help accelerate your language learning and allow you to immerse yourself in authentic French life and culture.


Au Pair in Germany is an agency that provides an excellent overview and registration with

Au-Pair World: Germany

Diakona: Verein für Internationale Jugendarbeit (in German)


Au Pair in Italy is an agency that provides an excellent overview and registration with

Au Pair World: Italy

Roma Au Pair emphasizes cultural exchange, with positions involving placement as an au pair and more active roles in teaching English to children and sometimes adults while living with a hospitable host family.


Au Pair Spain is the leading au pair placement service in Spain that is rigorous in providing information and checking documentation.

Au Pair in Spain is an agency that provides an excellent overview and registration with

Au Pair World: Spain

Work, Travel & Study in Spain
Four different programs allow you to stay working as an au pair or tutor. An agency with 45 years of experience matches you with the best family match based on your detailed application. Student visa provided. Airport pickup. Accommodation. Full board. €250 placement fee. Weekly allowance.

Scandinavia (and Iceland)

Au Pair in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland is an agency that provides an excellent overview and registration with

Au Pair World: Iceland

Ninukot Employment Agency provides au pair opportunities in a beautiful country where nearly everyone speaks fluent English.

Scandinavian Au Pair Service Center

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Au Pair Work in Italy

SUSAN GRIFFITH is author of the classic Work Your Way Around the World. See her bio to order a copy. She was also co-editor of the groundbreaking editions of Transitions Abroad's Work Abroad book.

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