This post is about all the important questions to ask your host family if you want to become their Au Pair.
You might have a few potential host families or you have already found your perfect match. Regardless, I’m sure there’s a lot of questions going through your mind and I hope you’ve already found the time and courage to ask them. It’s crucial that you don’t start your journey with too many question marks or worries, cause trust me, there will be more coming. So make sure to ask everything you gotta ask to feel more confident about your choice.
I’ve been an Au Pair twice and I lived with two different families. Therefore, I’d like to help you out by pointing out questions to ask your host family that you may not have thought of yet, as well as adding a few things to very common ones.
* I want to note that I was an Au Pair in the US, so the questions below will be based on that experience and in some cases might be specific to that country.
The family will obviously (or rather hopefully) talk a lot about the kids and your responsibilities with them, your schedule, and whatnot, so let’s move on to a few other things.
Here are the most important questions to ask your host family:
I’m sure you’ve already talked about ways you can get around the city, whether it’s public transportation or using the family’s car. Well, now you need to establish what’s important to you and ask about the details.
When it comes to public transportation make sure to google what you can, but also ask your family:
– How far away from the house is the closest bus/metro/tram stop?
– How often does it go to the city center/park/mall/lake (or whatever spot in your area the family boasted about)?
– Does it work at night and is that safe for you to take?
– How much is the ticket?
– Would they be willing to buy you an annual pass?
Your family most likely owns a car, or two, or three… and said that you’ll be able to use it in your free time. Sounds great, I know. But don’t get too excited, too quickly. Make sure to, again, get into some more details (of course, only if you think you’ll actually want to use their car). Questions to ask your host family about their cars:
– Can you use the car on the weekends? (Some host parents make separate plans for the weekend, one takes the kids, while the other does their own thing and so they might use both cars most weekends)
– Do you have to bring the car back at a certain hour?
– Super important! How far away from the house can you drive? Can you go on road trips and take your friends with you? (If you’re going to the US ask if you can go to another state)
– Do you have to pay for gas? If so, how much is it?
– What would they do if you had an accident or damaged the car in any way?
(Of course, when it wasn’t your intent, you were sober and all that, plus no one was really hurt and basically, it could have happened to anyone.) Make sure to reassure the family that you’re a confident driver and it’s not very likely, but things do happen, so you want to know if that would be a deal-breaker. Also, who would cover the costs of the repair, and would you still be allowed to use the car?
* I know girls who had a small accident and it wasn’t a big deal at all, the host family covered all the costs, and also made sure the Au Pair felt ok. And others, where the family got really upset or even asked for rematch. So once you get to know your family a bit, make sure to ask those questions to get a feeling for how they would react and what’s truly important to them.
For Au Pairs going to the US – You can figure out the following things once you’re there, but if you’re a planner and it makes you feel calmer you can also ask:
– Will I be allowed to drive before I get my (state) driver’s license?
– When (after arrival) should I take the driver’s license test?
– Is there a manual I can already print out to study for the theoretical part?
– Will one of you come with me to the practical test?
Make sure to once again, reassure the family that you’re a good driver, but that for example tests, in general, make you nervous, and ask when the time feels right:
– What would happen if you didn’t pass the test the first time? Is it ok if you try again? Would you have to pay to retake it? How much?
*Some families let Au Pairs drive without a state driver’s license, while others really want you to get it as soon after your arrival as possible and only feel ok with your taking their car if you pass the test right away.
– Does Uber/Lyft work in the area? Which one do they recommend?
Bike, skateboard, etc. – depending on your area, it might be super fun to use those. Ask your host family if they have one that you could borrow or if they would help you get one for yourself. (That also gives them a good idea for a welcome/ birthday gift.)
2. Family activities/ holidays/ events/ travels
The way you ask questions in this category really depends on what you want to participate in or whether at all.
– Are you welcome to join them on family outings/events when you’re not working? Is there a special day/time when they would prefer to be alone with the kids?
Or you can tell them that you’re very independent and would love to explore as much as possible, so would it be ok for them if you spent most of your free time doing your own thing?
Nonetheless, mention that you look forward to becoming a part of their family and being there for the kids. What events/holidays would they like you to join for sure? If you join them in your free time, should you cover your own expenses (tickets/food…)?
Ask all the questions you can about traveling with your host family
Most likely, one of the reasons you want to become an Au Pair is so you can travel. Make sure to ask about the family’s trips. Not just, if they travel, where to, and if you would join, but also:
– Would your schedule be different?
– Would you have a separate room?
– Would you be able to use the car/rental car?
– Are there any special rules that you might not have to follow otherwise, like a curfew?
– Are there any costs that you’d have to cover?
3. Your room and privacy
You will have your own room, that’s part of the rules if you applied via an agency. To make sure you have a place where you can actually relax, ask about the details, maybe they can show you pictures or give you a house tour during your video call.
Questions to ask your host family about your room:
– Where in the house is your room located? Is it quiet there? Does it get particularly hot/cold/ bright/dark there?
– Are the kids allowed to enter the room without your permission/ when you’re not there? Are they good about letting the Au Pair have her/his privacy or did they struggle with that before?
– Will you have your own bathroom or who will you share a bathroom with?
– Can you decorate the room?
– How is the phone reception and the house WiFi connection in your room?
– Are there any “special” rules they’d like you to follow like not playing (loud) music, taking short showers?
Ask for anything that’s important to you, they might be happy to get it for you, whether it’s a big mirror, fairy lights, or a picture frame. Don’t ask for crazy things, but remember, a family that will really treat you like a part of their own, one that wants you to feel safe and happy will do what they can to make your time more enjoyable. They will make sure that you have all you need to feel right at home. That’s also true after you spend some time there. They can’t read your mind, so if there’s something essential missing in your room/bathroom make sure to address that.
4. Your family and friends
– Can your family/friends from back home visit you? Who, how many, when and where would the sleep, etc.? (only ask a lot of questions if you know they will come for sure)
– Can your local friends visit you? Can they stay overnight? How many people can come at once? Can you use the kitchen to cook something together?
– Can male friends visit you, whether it’s a boyfriend or just a male friend that would come with a few other girlfriends of yours?
If you have a boyfriend back home, make sure to introduce him to the family via video call if they’re open to it. If he’s planning on visiting you, make sure to ask if he can stay at your host family’s house and if he can be with you during your working hours.
– Can you organize your birthday/ a holiday with friends at your host family’s house?
– Can you go back to your home country in case something would suddenly happen? Will they be able to take care of the kids or find childcare on short notice?
In case you’re already thinking about extending, ask if you can go back home in between your first year and the extension period without it counting as your holiday.
5. All the other things that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask
– What happens in case you get sick/injured and can’t work? Will they help you with getting to a doctor? Will you still be paid? Who will pay for your medicine if you need some?
– Will you get a phone? Can you use it in your free time? Will you have to cover a part of the cost?
– Will they help you get a bank account?
– Can you add things to the grocery list that you like but they might not usually get?
– Do they have any memberships/discounts that you could join? (Gym/Pool/Spotify/Netflix … )
– Is there a good____ nearby? (dentist, hair/nail salon, pharmacy, pool, skatepark, you name it)
Additional tips for asking questions
+ Make sure to find out if they have any special/weird rules for you like:
only taking a certain amount of showers, how often you can do laundry and if you’re allowed to use their detergents, if you can store your own food in their fridge, etc.
Just by seeing their reactions to those kinds of questions, you’ll know if they’re super chill and welcoming or just pretending to be. It’s all about finding common ground, about open communication, and mutual respect. Of course, you’re expected to be polite and use common sense, but it’s important you make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to basic, daily life things.
+ It’s always good to ask if there’s anything particular you should know about: your street, area, house, the kids (of course), the family’s relatives, and so on.
+ Also super important- pay attention to how they describe things and how much into detail they go. If they mention something, that leaves you with questions- ask those questions!
+ If they ask if it’s ok for you if they “sometimes” do this or need that, make sure you know how often “sometimes” is and all the details about that circumstance as well as your part in it.
Just to give you an example, if one of the host parents “sometimes” works for home, or they “sometimes” go on a date night and you’d watch the kids all night, or the grandparents “sometimes” come for a longer visit and would share the bathroom and closet with you.
+ Same if they answer a question that’s important to you with a “maybe” or “we’ll see once you’re here”. Ask again, ask for details, express that it’s important to you.
With all that being said…
At the end of the day, just listen to your gut feeling when choosing a host family. They can all promise you great things and then disappoint you later on. So make sure to listen to your heart not just decide based on what looks good on paper.
This post was all about questions to ask your host family.
You might also want to check out my post about 10 reasons why you should become an Au Pair.
Some examples of Au Pair Agencies are: Cultural Care, Au Pair in America, Au Pair Care, InterExchange.