May 22, 2023

Top 10 questions about au pairs

We answer all your FAQs about au pairs, hosting, and more!

4 minutes
About au pairs

Hosting an au pair can be an incredible opportunity for families looking to welcome a new culture into their home and secure a flexible childcare solution. If you’re considering hosting an au pair, it’s natural to have questions about how it works and what to expect. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 10 questions about hosting an au pair to help you make an informed decision. 


  1. What is an au pair?

An au pair is a young adult between 18 and 26 years old who travels to the U.S. to live with your family on a legal visa for up to two years. They provide childcare in exchange for a weekly stipend, room and board, and an opportunity to become part of an American family.  

  1. What is the difference between an au pair and nanny?

There are some important distinctions between au pair and nannies. Au pairs are young people with prior childcare experience who come to the U.S. on J-1 visas to join their host family and immerse themselves in American culture. The U.S. Department of State provides federal regulation for this cultural exchange program, which means that there are specific rules that au pairs and host families must follow. The term “nanny,” on the other hand, is a more general term that can be used to describe both professionally trained caregivers and those with less formal experience who care for children as needed as domestic employees. 


  1. How much does it cost?

The au pair program costs an average of about $1,760 per month, paid annually. This includes a weekly stipend for your au pair and a yearly total of $500 towards their educational requirement. As a host family, you may also incur additional costs, such as room and board for your au pair, additional insurance (if applicable), and any other “extras” that will help make your au pair’s time in the U.S. more enjoyable.  

  1. Where do au pairs come from?

Au pairs come from all over the world! Cultural Care Au Pair specifically recruits, screens, and interviews au pairs from over 30 different countries—so your family is sure to have a unique cultural exchange experience with whoever you choose to welcome into your home. 

  1. How long do au pairs stay?

Au pairs agree to join a host family in the U.S. for a minimum of one year—but they also have the option to extend their term for 6, 9, or 12 months either with the same family or with a new host family. 

  1. Do au pairs cook and clean?

Au pairs can help with household duties directly related to the children, including the kids’ laundry, meal preparation, and room tidying. Your au pair can also pitch in, as any family member would, with chores that everyone shares, like helping to load the dishwasher after a family dinner and picking up after themselves. Au pairs’ responsibilities around the house should be reasonable and cannot be exclusively assigned to the au pair. 

  1. What ages of kids do au pairs care for?

Au pairs can care for children up to 18 years old, although they cannot be the sole caretaker of infants under 3 months old. If you have a child with special needs, your au pair must also have special needs experience. 

  1. What qualifications do au pairs have?

Au pairs have at least 200 hours of experience (usually many more) as babysitters, tutors, kindergarten assistants, camp counselors and sports instructors in their home countries. They also complete a training program that prepares them for their time in the U.S before they join their host families. 

  1. Does an au pair need their own bathroom/car?

No—au pairs do not need their own bathroom or car. Host families  are only required to provide a suitable private bedroom in their home. However, many families rely on their au pairs to drive their children to school and activities, so they often give their au pairs access to a car for their free time as well. This is especially helpful when good public transportation isn’t available in the area.  

  1. Do au pairs provide overnight care?

Au pairs can technically provide overnight care—but we don’t recommend this as part of their regular schedule. The U.S. Department of State allows au pairs to work up to 10 hours a day within a 24-hour period—so, for example, if an au pair is scheduled from 8pm – 6am starting on a Monday night and ending on a Tuesday morning, they cannot work again on Tuesday until 8pm. An overnight schedule is non-traditional for most au pairs and would need to be clearly communicated and agreed upon during the matching process. Remember: au pairs want the opportunity to fully experience American life, so many will prefer a schedule that makes it easier for them to attend classes and get together with friends in the evenings.