Abbie here. When I first found out about au pairs, I thought that it would be really expensive. After all, the whole reason I had put my three pre-school boys in daycare in the first place was
In this article, we’ll start with the general overall cost per year and month (the exact amount will depend on your agency, where you live, etc.), and then go into detail of all these sub-costs:
- Agency fees
- Au pair wages (stipend)
- Additional fees such as education
- Cost of doing business (insurance, phone plan, etc.)
This article contains affiliate links. If you use choose Cultural Care (Abbie) or Eur Au Pair (Maddie) as your agency and use the referral links, they will receive an agency credit at no cost to you. Please read our disclaimer page for details.
HOW MUCH DOES AN AU PAIR COST PER YEAR? PER MONTH?
The short answer is “it depends.” The cost of an au pair can vary widely. This variance is based on factors such as the agency and program you choose and the cost of goods and services in your area. It also varies depending on how generous you choose to be.
…an au pair will cost about $19,000 per year, which breaks down to about $1,580 per month, or $360 per week (yearly cost divided by 52 weeks).
I budget about $1700-$1900 per month (including a car payment for a third car) and other random expenses.
The break down of our sample agency costs are later in this post.
Depending on which part of the country you live in, how many children you have, and what ages they are, this may or may not make financial sense for your family. We are a firm believer in doing what makes sense for you.
Abbie says: When my boys were in daycare, the cost for all three boys AFTER the family discount was over $2,800 per month. That was more than our house mortgage payment! And that wasn’t even infant rates.
Now that my boys are older, before and after school care would run about $1,500 per month. BUT I wouldn’t have someone at home who helps me get the kids up, dressed, fed, to school, into
WHAT ARE THE AU PAIR AGENCY FEES?
There are 15 au pair agencies licensed by the department of state. We have a free PDF download listing all the contact information and a small summary of each of them.
bbAu Pair agency fees run the range from just under $7,000 to about $9,000.
Most agencies require an application or registration fee (though that often gets discounted or waved) and possibly your initial interview with your local area coordinator before you can begin looking for au pairs
Are Their Special Fees Should I Look For?
Absolutely! The US Department of State requires au pair sponsors agencies to be transparent about fees and other potential costs. However, they do not limit the types or amounts.
In addition to the agency fee, you are responsible for $500 towards the completion of the educational component of the au pair program (more about that later).
You should also look for additional transportation fees, visa or “SEVIS” (US Homeland Security student database system) fees, background check fees, application or registration fees, etc.
The application fee can be often waived. You can look for online codes, ask for a referral from a current family, get a code from an area director, or belong to a discount category.
The good news is that most agencies also have lots of other discounts they offer families:
- New family
- Military family
- Military veteran family
- Repeat family
- Early match discount (for repeat families)
- Switching family
- Multiples (twins, triplets, or more)
We’ve put in the time and research to create a spreadsheet comparing all the costs and fees of all the agencies. You can download our spreadsheet for free! Once you choose an agency, visit their website to see if they’re running any seasonal specials or discounts.
Agency Affiliate Credit
Many agencies offer a credit anywhere from $250 to $500 or even $1,000 if you recommend them to other host families.
For example, if you were to sign up for Cultural Care through Abbie’s affiliate link (read Abbie’s story) or sign up for Eur Au Pair using Maddie Clark as your referral (read Maddie’s story), then Abbie or Maddie would receive a credit on their agency fees at no cost to you.
What Do Agency Fees Pay For?
The agency fees may seem spendy, but they cover a lot of things:
- Coordinate the J-type visa for the au pair between multiple governments.
- Interview the au pair, run a background check, and verify her experience.
- Interview and background check you as the host family to make sure you’ll provide a safe place for the au pair to live. (After all, au pairs are someone else’s grown child.)
- Provide training such as first aid, CPR, etc. for the au pair before she arrives at your home. For most agencies, this is one week of training at a center but can be online.
a localand regional area coordinators, who are your first line of help if you or your au pair have any questions or issues, and coordinates monthly check-ins.
- Visa assistance
- “SEVIS” (US Homeland Security student database system) fees. This is variable between agencies
- Medical, travel, accidental death, and personal liability insurance for your au pair
- Airfare from the au pairs home airport to training and return airfare from your home airport to your au pairs home airport
- Provide transportation from the training center to your house. This is variable between agencies
- All the other infrastructure that goes into helping you and the au pair make a match, facilitating paperwork, building and maintaining the database of au pairs, etc.
Very few parts of the fees are refundable once you’ve made a match, so make sure you
If you have a child 3 months to 2 years old, your au pair must be infant specialized. To have an infant specialization, au pairs need to have 200 hours watching infants and some agencies require them to spend one more day in training than the other au pairs. The good news is that even though you have a higher agency fee, the infant specialization does not affect the weekly stipend.
Since it’s pretty hard for most people to just come up with all the fees up front, most of the agencies offer payment plans over 4-6 months. Even though the payment plan will add another $200-$400 onto your total agency fee, it does make the payments more easy to manage.
Abbie’s Payments with Au Pair Care
I have three children, a singleton and twins, that were in preschool and are now in elementary school. Here is a sample payment for agency fees for a new au pair coming in from out of country:
$50 Application fee (lots of ways to waive this)
-$50 Application fee waived as a twin mom
$1,000 Deposit fee
-$200 Multiples Discount (in subsequent years, I got a -$500 repeat family and -$250 early match fee but not the multiples discount)
$2,870 Down payment
$35 SEVIS Fee
$475 Airfare from Academy in NY to Seattle (This depends on where you live)
$1,170 1st Installment
$1,170 2nd Installment
$1,170 3rd Installment
$1,170 4th Installment
Here are my payments extending our au pair for a second year…so much less expensive!.
$367 DOS extension fee
$2,290 Down payment
$1,050 1st Extension installment
$1,050 2nd Extension installment
$1,050 3rd Extension installment
$1,050 4th Extension installment
Maddie’s Payments with Eur Au Pair
I have two children. The second one was born during the time of my third au pair. Here are a sample set of my payments for an au pair from out of
$350 Application fee
-$350 Application fee discount
$7,845 Program fee
$500 Domestic flight fee
-$600 Repeat host family discount
Our au pair extended for 6 months and then we had a new au pair from out of
$367 SEVIS fee
-$367 SEVIS fee discount
$3,475 Extension fee – 6 months
$8,325 Program fee
-$600 Repeat family discount
$500 Flight fee
$60 Payment handling fee (for paying in five installments instead of a lump sum)
$11,760 Total (18 months, which works out to $7,840 for the first 12 months)
HOW MUCH DO I PAY MY AU PAIR? (AU PAIR STIPEND)
What makes au pairs so reasonable in out-of-pocket costs is that most of their compensation is in room and board, and the money you pay them is considered a stipend.
They shouldn’t have to pay for any regular meals or utilities, though of course they’ll buy their own snacks, go out with friends, and buy some clothes in the first few months they arrive. (No one that I know can fit a full year’s closet into a suitcase or two.)
The Standard Au Pair Stipend
The standard au pair minimum stipend is determined by the US Department of State in accordance
It’s important to pay your au pair weekly as stipulated by contract, not bi-monthly or monthly.
$200 per week x 51 weeks = $10,200 yearly*
*Note: You only pay an au pair for 51 weeks because the first week they are in training.
One of the things you’ll do when your au pair first arrives is sit down and work out a mechanism and good day of the week to transfer
Abbie says: I pay my au pair $200 per week in cash until I can just transfer money electronically to her bank account, and my au pairs have usually chosen Friday as their day of choice to be paid.
Maddie says: I pay my au pair $200 per week on a rotating schedule. On week one, my au pair gets paid the Friday after the work is complete. On week two, my au pair gets paid early on
Pro Au Pair Stipend
While all agencies have standard au pairs, some agencies have various names for
per week depending on the agency.
For families with older children, you can have an au pair that only works a maximum of 30 hours per week. Educare au pairs are also required to take 12 credits (as oppose
d to the regular 6 credits) to complete the education component of the program and host families pay $1,000 towards their education (as opposed to the regular $500). The Educare minimum stipend is $146.81 per week.
The Massachusetts Au Pair Stipened
If you live in the state of Massachusetts than your au pair is considered a domestic worker. This means that you have to follow the federal au pair laws and the local laws. See our blog about the Massachusetts Legal Decision for more details.
OTHER REQUIRED FEES
The education costs are a little weird as it’s not really an agency fee. It is required by the federal government through the agency, and usually paid on behalf of the au pair.
The $500 goes towards tuition and books for your
Some au pair agencies have programs where the au pair can earn all 6 credits in one long four-day weekend retreat. Our au pair did two 3-credit community classes, one in
We paid the full tuition and books for the first class, which was about $290, then the remainder of the $500 for the second class ($210). Our au pair paid the rest of all the costs for the second class.
Another required fee is the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee. This expense is separate from the visa
WHAT ELSE WILL I HAVE TO PAY FOR?
If you require the au pair to have something to watch your children, you need to provide it!
Here is the summary of Abbie’s increased expenses:
$2,880 per year Car payment for
$1,200 per year Car insurance increase (for the added car and driver)
$200 once Cell phone
$240 per year Cell phone plan ($20/mo to add her to our plan)
Abbie here: Because we live in the suburbs without the best public transportation, we needed a third vehicle. My husband has his truck, I had my van, so we got a used Prius. I use the Prius to commute to work while the au pair drives the van so she can take the kids to school, pick them up, and take them to activities. Then on the evenings and weekends, the au pair and I switch: she drives the small car and I drive the kid-carrier.
And then because she drives my kids to and from school and activities, I also put her on our auto insurance as our “nanny.” The insurance company said that was pretty common.
You also need to consider the cost of gas for your au pair when she is working. Because of the fuel savings we gained by purchasing the Prius this was not a consideration in our budget. Another note here is that our au pair covers the cost of the gas she uses when she is on her own time.
Because your au pair needs to call you or 911 in case of an emergency, you need to provide her a cell phone and added her to your plan. Do you require your au pair to drive? If so, you will also need to pay for some amount of data for GPS navigation if it is not available in the au pair’s vehicle. You may also want your au pair to be able to take pictures and send them to you at work.
Cell phones can be expensive. The cost of the phone, the accessories, and the usage plan really add up. But there are a few ways to keep these costs in check. Our blog, 3 Tips for Controlling Au Pair Cell Phone Expenses, covers the details on cell phone costs for your au pair. Above everything, good communication is key! You need to talk to your au pair about cell phones before they arrive.
When my first au pair arrived, I took the opportunity to get myself a new phone and reset my old phone to factory settings for the au pair. You can also get a decent phone on amazon.com, gazelle.com, or other sites for $150 to $200. If she breaks or loses it, she should replace it. When our first au pair left, she gave back the phone for the second au pair. We have unlimited data, so I just paid the extra $20/month for an extra line.
Food and Utilities
There are two different types of vacations you need to consider: the
Au pairs are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of paid vacation during their program year. Typically the family chooses the timing of one week and the au pair chooses the timing of the other week so long as it works for the host family. Also, this vacation time does not have to be taken a week at a time, your au pair can choose to break the time up if desired.
For family vacations, if you choose to bring your au pair along and she will be on duty at some point on the trip (dinner out while she watches the kids in the hotel pool!) you will need to provide room, board, and transportation.
Combining all the fees together, this is how we get our estimate at the beginning of the article of $1,580 per month of just au pair expenses, and our budget of $1,700 – $1,900 per month.
$6,800 – $8,800 Initial agency fees
$10,200 Au pair salary
$800 – $4,520 Extras and incidentals (phone, auto insurance, car payment)
$18,300 – $24,020 Total
$1,578 per month averaged out on a second year au pair without counting a car payment
$1,984 per month averaged out, INCLUDING a car payment.
How does this compare to the cost of your current
If you have two children, the cost may be similar but it might be worth it to have an extra driver and more flexible schedule.
If you have three children (multiples make that happen real fast!), then this is probably a great cost
What works best for you? If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below or jump on over to our My Au Pair and Me Facebook Community. We’d love to chat.