As I said before, I was an au pair in 2016 in Germany, then in London and then again in Heidelberg currently.
Since my very first experience was not brilliant and I saw that it was the same for many people on YouTube, I decided to help the people that would like to be au pairs in the future writing down the most important questions to ask the hostfamily before to leave.
After that you talk to each other through messages there will be a point where a hostfamily, or even more than one – will arrange a videocall with you.
During that videocall you should ask all these questions below to make sure to know if they are or not the right match for you.
If you do not feel they might be, just tell them the truth and look for another hostfamily.
What questions you should ask your hostfamily:
1.What do you do for living?
I know that it might seem a nosy question, but I would like to remind you that you are going to live with complete strangers and it is good to know something about them.
Plus, it also helps you knowing how many hours you are going to work, since if their job is weekend free, then probably you will have free weekends as well since they can stay with their children.
2.What is your daily routine?
I would have never chosen a hostfamily where there are no timetables, since I have to plan everything, so if you are like me I suggest to choose a family with children that go to school.
If you do not care so much about having a timetable and you enjoy something different everyday a family without a daily routine might work for you.
I won’t beat around the bush and I suggest you to choose a family with children attending school anyway, since if you are at home and the children too, the parents will always take advantage of you.
3.What are my tasks?
I won’t beat around the bush again: an au pair is NOT a cleaning lady, so if you see want you to clean stuff that is not related to the children or to your room and bathroom, just do not choose them.
I made the mistake to not ask my first hostfamily ever and they expected me to clean a four floor house every week.
You should just do light housework. I have talked about an au pair’s tasks in this post.
4.Have you had any au pairs before?Could I talk to them?
If the hostfamily has had au pairs in the past ask for their contacts and ask them how their experience was.
If they have positive words for the hostparents you can be pretty sure that you will have a positive experience as well.
When you choose a hostfamily that has never had an au pair before you cannot be so sure about them.
I will be honest again, almost harsh, but I think it is better to not choose families without experience with an au pair, because they have no idea of all this thing works and they will take advantage of you.
5.How many hours per week do you expect me to work? Will you give me a free day? What day of the week?
It is almost impossible to find a hostfamily that respects the rules and does not make you work more than 30/35 hours per week, but if they tell you that your amount of working hours exceeds the 40 hours turn them down.
It is mandatory to have at least a free day per week, but when I had my first experience as au pair they NEVER give me a free day, so please make sure to ask and if they tell you that you won’t have any free day turn them down.
Not all hostparents are free on the weekends, so do not take for granted that your free day will be a Saturday or a Sunday.
When I was an au pair in London I was very lucky because my hostparents worked both in a bank, so they were at home on weekends and I ALWAYS had free from Friday evenings until Sunday night.
In my current hostfamily my hostmum owns a restaurant, hence she is really busy in the weekends and during the months her restaurant is open I have just Monday free, while during those months she has the restaurant closed I have Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday free.
I love that since I can travel a lot during those months and I do not care so much about the other months when I have just one Monday free.
My suggestion is to choose a hostfamily that gives you free weekends, because if you get a Tuesday or Wednesday as free day, you won’t be able to do much with other people, since other au pairs or your friends will be more likely free on weekends.
If you like to be by yourself it might work, but I think that this experience is also made by the people you meet.
6.Could I see pictures of my bedroom?
It is mandatory that they provide a room JUST for yourself, but since I have seen a huge amount of videos where some girls were provided with a storage room instead of a real bedroom, it is always better to ask.
7.Will you give the keys of your house?
If they tell you no, turn them down.
Their house will be your house as well and you should be able to come in even if they are not there.
Can you imagine if something bad happens, they are not home and you cannot go home?
8.Is there a curfew?
If they tell you yes, turn them down.
They cannot demand you to not go out at night, since you are an adult responsible for yourself.
Of course you should not be loud if you come back very late in the night or early in the morning, but it actually never happened to me in London or here in Germany to be loud when coming back after a night out.
My hostparents never complained about anything.
9.Are there any other au pairs or young people living nearby?
It is very important to have someone, even just one person of your age, since you will be away from home for months, or even years.
If the hostfamily lives in a small village, far from the city and with just old people or children, my suggestion is to turn them down, since you will feel isolated from the rest of the world.
10.Is there good public transport in your area? Do the busses/trains/tubes run during night? How far from the centre do you live? Will you financially support me with the cost of transpor?
If you don’t drive or if your hostfamily won’t give you their car you will have to use public transport, so it is better to know in advance if there is any and if it is good.
Ask how far the closest bus/train/tube stop is and if they run during the night as well.
I think it is also important to know how far from the centre they live, since if they live in a village or very far away from the center and they do not pay for you card you have to keep in mind that you will spend a lot of money on it.
I want to make clear that the hostfamily should pay your train/bus/tube ticket whenever you are taking or collect the kids somewhere, since you are doing that for work and not for your pleasure!
11.How much do you offer? Will you pay me in cash or via credit card? Will the payment be weekly or monthly? Will you give me the salary at the beginning or at the end of the week/month?
In some countries it is up to the family deciding how much your salary is going to be, but I suggest to never accept less than 80£ per week, especially if you live in a city like London.
In some countries, like Germany, it is mandatory to open a bank account, so they will open for sure a bank account for you.
If you are going to do live in another EU country and the hostparents do not want to open you a bank account you can get a debit card online in few minutes with N26. You can even open N26 right in Germany, since I think it is better to have a debit card rather than a girokonto, since you cannot use a girokonto for online payments.
The delivery of the card is very quick, plus it is completely free and you can transfer the cash to the card into a supermarket or any of the N26 affiliated shops, like DM. (If you use this link we will get both 10€).
In other countries, like the UK – at least before Brexit – it was not mandatory.
If the hostfamily does not want you to open a bank account in the UK, you can do it by yourself online with Monese for free and you can always transfer the money to the card into a post office or an Off License.
It is also good to know if you will get paid weekly or monthly.
In London I was paid weekly every Friday, while in Germany I get paid monthly, but my hostparents have always been so lovely to always transfer me the whole salary at the beginning of the month.
As soon as I came here almost two years ago my hostdad took the details of my card and sent me the money!
I would suggest to ask to be paid at the end of the week if the salary is weekly, while at the beginning of the month if the salary is monthly, since being a whole month without a salary at the beginning does not seem very good.
12.How many holidays will I get? Will you pay me for these?
If you stay with a family for one year you should get at least 4 week holidays and they should be paid, while if you stay less or more you should make an agreement with your hostparents before to leave.
13.Have you got any pets?
If you are scared by dogs or cats or some other animal or simply you do not like the idea of having an animal in the house where you are going to live, ask the hostfamily if they have got one, so if it is a problem you can turn them down and look for someone else.
14.Have the children got any allergies?
It is essential to ask this question, since you might cook something the kids are allergic to and it is better to know in advance in order to be really careful.
Make sure that the family knows about your allergies as well.
15.What are your children’s habits? What do they enjoy the most? Should I know about any special need?
Your hostkids might enjoy sports, some others board games or maybe even playing by themselvers.
It is also important to know if the kids have special needs and what you should be very careful of.
16.What are your eating habits?
The hostfamily might be vegetarian or vegan, or maybe just for religious beliefs they do not eat some kind of meat and it might be possible that they do not want any meat inside their house.
If you feel this might be a problem for you, do not choose them as well.
Their house, their rules.
17.Can I attend a language class? Will you financially support my language class?
In Germany it is mandatory for the au pairs to attend a language class and the hostparents should financially help the au pair with 50 extra on the salary.
In other countries it is not mandatory, but if for you it is important to improve the language ask the hostparents if they would give you time to attend one, or even if they can financially support you.
18.What language do you speak at home?
Do not take for granted that a family that lives in a country speaks the language of that country,
When I was an au pair in London my hostdad was from London, while my hostmum was from Minsk-Belarus so whenever she was at home she spoke Russian with the children.
It was no problem for me since when the kids and I were by ourselves we always spoke English to each other and also because I was already fluent in English even if I had never lived in any English speaking country before.
If you want to do this experience to improve your language and the hostfamily you talk to speaks another language, it is definitely better to pick another family.
19.What language do you expect me to speak with the kids?
Do not take for granted that the family wants you to speak their languages to the kids, especially if you are an English native speaker.
Here in Germany there are planty of families that hire an au pair as soon as they get a baby just because they want them to be fluent in English.
If you are interested in improving the language rather than the abroad experience itself, choose a family that wants you to speak their language instead than yours.
20.If you go on vacation can I stay home?
It seems almost ridiculous for me to put this question in the list, but since there a lot of strange hostfamilies ask this in order to book a flight home or a trip somewhere else in the days where your hostfamily is on vacation.