People often contact me to ask how they can live in another country, and being an Au Pair or a nanny is not one that many people think of. I lived in Spain and France as an Au Pair, and while living in Paris I perfected my French and got to know Paris like a local. It’s a truly viable way to live oversees and this is the first of a series which will showcase women who also made or are making their living as a nanny or an Au-Pair.
What’s the difference between the two? An Au Pair is between the ages of 18-26 when working in the United States (I was 29 when I was an Au Pair in Paris). An Au Pair is usually looking for a cultural exchange for a short period of time (generally a year) while a nanny is usually doing this as a full time job and can be older (think Mary Poppins).
I’m happy to introduce you to Brie, a woman who is making her living as a nanny and traveling the world doing it!
Become A Nanny And Travel The World!
1. How did you start your career as a nanny? I started my career as a nanny while attending Spelman College helping out 3-4 families after school. During my junior year, I discovered that I could be a career nanny with normal career benefits and began to make plans to pursue that post graduation.
2. What qualifications do you have for your job? Are qualifications necessary? I have 8 years of nanny experience, bilingual, CPR/First aid certified and a bachelor’s degree that includes a minor in early childhood education. Qualifications are not necessary to start as a nanny though for most travel nanny positions or positions abroad, a bachelor’s degree and certifications such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are often desired. TOEFL Online Dashboard – FREE TOEFL Preparation
3. Do you live in the same house as the families? Are you expected to become part of the family? I do normally live with the families or often on their property in the staff home. US families tend to want someone to become part of the families and international families often prefer a more formal arrangement where I am viewed solely as staff.
4. What countries have to lived in since becoming a nanny? I have lived in Spain and Japan as a nanny.
5. Do you travel with the families you work for? Have you been able to be part of any amazing experiences since being a nanny? I travel frequently for the families I work for. This year, I was able to fly private and ski in Aspen and afterwards I flew to work in the Bahamas. One of my most memorable experiences would be taking helicopters to and from Disneyland and Legoland on the weekends with an international high net worth family visiting LA for the summer.
6. Do you know what the average salary is for your job? What are some of the best perks you have gotten so far? Degrees, experience, certifications, language abilities and most importantly location play a huge role in pay. Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates tend to have the highest paying positions ($1300-2000+ per week with 4-6 weeks of paid vacation). In the US the average ranges from $15-40 an hour with places like San Francisco, LA and New York paying on the higher end.
There are a plethora of rotational nanny jobs abroad for those who prefer to work anywhere from 1-4 weeks on with matching paid off time. Often nanny jobs positions abroad come with a separate apartment, driver or car for your off days and the salary may be tax free!
The best perks I’ve gotten so far would be 5 star chefs that prepared my meals, a personal trainer, driving a Maybach as the nanny car, and great seats to many NFL/NBA games and concerts.
7. Have you ever worked for a family that you didn’t enjoy? How did you handle it? I’ve worked for a number of difficult and demanding families. Some of the challenges I encountered with difficult families included children who were used to being catered to by a team of nannies and thus made my attempts to improve their independence very hard as well as often being expected to work 24/7 to include sharing a room with children.
A motto I learned very early on is “it’s their vacation, not yours” so things like the fact that I spent 2 weeks in New York but never left the hotel room tend not to bother me anymore.
I am very laid back so I tend not to let many things bother me along with reminders that I am being paid to do a good job and the children deserve the best care I can provide. Yoga also helps 🙂
8. How often do you get home to see your family? Is being away from them difficult? I tend to fill my vacation with travel nanny positions as I’m trying to pay my debt off as soon as possible so I don’t get much actual vacation time. It is difficult on my family and fiancé but thankfully he works for an airline so we make it work.
The average PTO package is around 4 weeks for nanny jobs based abroad. There are also heavy travel nanny positions based in the US but they tend to offer 2 weeks PTO (paid time off).
9. If you’ve lived in a foreign country, what were some of the challenges you experienced as an expat? My biggest challenges as a nanny while living abroad were learning the cultural differences. In Japan, I had a very strict routine for picking up the child from daycare that I had to do in Japanese.
The routine in Japan involved inputting a code in to get in, knowing exactly which shoes wore for the day to grab, and listening to the teachers explain what they learned for the day followed by a bow. This was explained to me in Japanese during my second week in Japan. I had limited knowledge of Japanese at the time so I messed up a few times and the parents were sent a note each time which was embarrassing for all.
Being a nanny also adds an additional layer of isolation. I’m with the children most of the day so I don’t have co workers to build friendships with or learn from.
10. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to move abroad but is hesitant to become a nanny? I would say the number one thing would be to ensure you have recent experience as a nanny, au pair, governess or teacher. Most agencies don’t consider parenting or daycare work as nanny experience. Also, obtaining certifications such as TEFL, CELTA, Montessori, newborn care specialist training, CPR are very beneficial.
It’s often the most requested thing I see second to everyone wanting a bilingual nanny. Overall, it’s a great way to live or travel abroad, save money and I highly recommend anyone who loves kids to consider it. There is even a market for mannies (male nannies) especially in Russia!