Au-pair in Germany
An au pair stay is possible for young people from 18 to 26 years of age, or from 17 to 30 for au pairs from EU/EEA countries and from Switzerland. It offers many opportunities to get to know a new culture. But you will also have to do your bit and get good information.
As an au pair, you can live with a German host family for a maximum of one year: you are a temporary member of the family! Your job: taking care of the family’s kids and helping with light household duties.
The host family and the organisation will take care of your stay: you will normally get your own room, a monthly allowance and free meals. It will contribute a certain amount to your language school and make sure that you are covered by a health and accident insurance.
- General Information
- Your rights and duties
- Cost, Insurance and Visa
- Information for parents
Shuangshuang Liu from China
Shuangshuang Liu from China spent a year as au pair close to Frankfurt/Main in 2010. She sent her application to VIJ Darmstadt, and they quickly found her a host family, a family with four boys: a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old and three-year-old twins. The parents knew China very well and were looking forward to have a Chinese girl stay with them to play with the twins and teach them a little Chinese.
“I first heard about au pair in Germany through the Internet and from a friend. It all sounded great: au pair means to live with a German host family, to take care of their kids and do housework, to attend a language course, to find new friends, to get to know new places, beer and bread, summer festivals... Because I am curious by nature, I did not want to miss this opportunity!”
“At least at the beginning, the situation was difficult: the fact that I lived with a family, which I had not known for 23 years. And their cooking is different, they speak and think differently. There were many misunderstandings. I had a lot of fun with the kids, especially the twins. But it was difficult at the beginning, as I was the third to join their playgroup. The twins did not only have clearly distinct faces but also a completely different character. They always had the same opinion to keep me at a distance. But the children accepted me, the new girl, so quickly that I was the centre of their group after a week.”
“The two older kids went to school, the two little ones to kindergarten. After kindergarten, I took the little ones to the playground. My daily working hours were approximately from 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. in the morning and from 3:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. in the afternoon. In my free time, I attended a language school where I had many foreign friends; many of them were au pairs, too. We got along very well. The teachers taught us a lot of grammar, structure and many new words which I forgot again quickly. I could only get the new German language into my head by talking to my fellow students and my host family day after day. The supermarket was my favourite place, as I could learn new words about food twice as fast as at home on paper.”
“After returning from Germany, I worked in a German mechanical engineering company and translated for the German managers and their Chinese staff. My stay in Germany, understanding the other mentality and my good listening skills of everyday German were a great help. And I have returned to Germany in 2013 to further my career and to enrol in an M.A. programme in business studies.”
Vera Boyajyan from Armenia
Vera Boyajyan is 24 years old. She is from Armenia, where she graduated with a degree in German studies. Three years ago, she came to Germany as au pair; she is now enrolled at university and lives with her former host family.
“It had been my wish for a long time to spend time in Germany. An au pair stay was quite a good opportunity for me to take a break after my studies and to gain some experience abroad.
I came to Germany three years ago through a placement by a small au pair agency. The agency did not require a test. But there is a six-month language course for those who do not know the language. And there is an interview at the German embassy. You have to demonstrate basic language skills. From applying with the agency to getting the visa from the German embassy, it will normally take 6 to 9 months.
My first au pair agency did not really want to support us comprehensively, and unfortunately I could not pick a host family myself. This means that you have to be lucky. First time around I was definitely unlucky. I gave notice to my first family after 18 days. And these days were very hard for me. This was my first bad experience in Germany. I then thought that all families in Germany were unfriendly, that there was no warmths and, above all, that they were poor hosts. But now I will never say that again! Because afterwards, fate sent me into a much better family. We are satisfied and happy with each other even today. I feel right at home with this family. I got help from my friend, and I only joined the VIJ Darmstadt club thanks to this family. I really liked our meetings, as you feel above all that you are protected and taken care of.”
“There was no typical au pair day for me. I was like a family member. I helped the kids with their schoolwork, cooked lunch and tidied the house. The children are very well behaved. Even when they are at home alone, they all know what they have to do. There are two girls in the family, 14 and 10 years old, and an eight-year-old boy.
I love my host family, as as their existence is based on love and they set time aside for their children. In my own family, I find the same love. But the difference is the freedom of opinion. Individual freedom and a self-determined life are responsible for the difference in mentality in Armenian and German families.
My parents and relatives knew that I worked as au pair. I often talked to my parents on the phone or via Skype and told them about my life in Germany. For my parents., it was nonetheless difficult. They were in favour of me working as au pair, as this was my own wish.”