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Old 16.10.2011, 23:11
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Costs of an aupair

I'm wondering, who has an aupair and how do you manage to finance this pleasure?

My back of the envelope calculation shows following:

Health insurance, per month: CHF200
Monthly transportation card: CHF150
Language courses: CHF15x120=1800
Airfare: CHF400 and up x 2/ year
Pocket money: CHF700-800 monthly
Food: CHF300 monthly
Meals compensation for the days off: CHF300-640 monthly
agency fees CHF150-500
4-5 weeks of paid vacation time
room amortisation (utility, phone costs etc)

All items listed above are mandatory by law.

The girl is allowed to work 15 unsupervised hours per week only. Other 15 hours are possible only if one of the parents is present at home.

Those are only barebone, mandatory expenses, in real life you should add small pleasures like taking the girl to the family excursions/short trips, birthday celebrations etc.

I end up with a figure of GBP22-25 per each of her 15 hours of work. The other 15 hours make for me little sense because if I stay at home, I won't need an aupair.

(I'm also not allowed to take an aupair who has the same nationality or speaks the same native language like we do, to add to the challenge).

So, if you have an aupair, how do you manage the costs? It is not a rhetoric question, any frank answer will be very much appreciated.
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Old 16.10.2011, 23:36
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Re: Costs of an aupair

The guidelines are indeed very strict - but so often ignored, and many 'get away' with it. But in case of accident or complaint, not adhering to the regulations could land you in deep doo-doo.

Au pairs are supposed to be mother's help only and never have sole charge, especially of babies and very young children.
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Old 17.10.2011, 10:31
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Indeed we looked at this option as well. See this thread, it has some more details and some Cantons even have more rules, minimal salaries, etc. Rules and regs around Au pair / Nanny

Anyhow, I know a lot of people that complain about the cost of daycare places, if you can find them, yet when we did the maths, a private carer (au pair or nanny) was definitely more expensive and also gave rise to a lot more potential issues/problems, thus went the daycare route. All I can say is that there is a lot of unofficial nannies/au pairs in this area, a route which I do not suggest going down, and one in which the authorities are cracking down on due to all the abuses.

Last edited by runningdeer; 17.10.2011 at 11:55.
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Old 17.10.2011, 11:31
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Re: Costs of an aupair

I agree so much with you, runningdeer.

As for the illegal hiring, I'm completely aware that the authorities have neither means nor capacity to control the execution of those, no doubt, well-meant legislation pieces. So we end up with a deliberate criminalisation of the childcare field. I know firsthand families where they have, well, eh... slaves for gross EUR500/month and six 7am to 11pm workdays/week.

One can discuss endlessly how unfair the rules are and how hard do they punish the most loyal citizens
- but this is not an advice I am looking for. I decided that for us illegal hiring is not an option.

So I wanted to hear from families who have a legally hired aupair - how do they manage the budget and childcare options, what kind of benefits they see in having an aupiar. I assume that such families must exist, because there are couple aupair agencies alive in this country, so they must have clientelle. But who and how can hire an aupair under such conditions?

Do the parents work? If yes, what kind of work would allow so much financial and timing flexibility? Maybe I miss something in the whole story and I have to reconsider my budget and priorities?
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Old 17.10.2011, 12:01
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Re: Costs of an aupair

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So I wanted to hear from families who have a legally hired aupair - how do they manage the budget and childcare options, what kind of benefits they see in having an aupiar. I assume that such families must exist, because there are couple aupair agencies alive in this country, so they must have clientelle. But who and how can hire an aupair under such conditions?
I know of a family nearby that used one. The mother did not work, or only did some freelance in the evenings from time to time, and they needed the extra hands with 4 boy under the age of 10, ie. someone to watch the little one while the older ones were taken to school, activities, etc..

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Do the parents work? If yes, what kind of work would allow so much financial and timing flexibility? Maybe I miss something in the whole story and I have to reconsider my budget and priorities?
If both parents work, an au pair is not appropriate unless perhaps one parent works 10% or works from home. If both parents had full or near full time jobs outside the house, you would need a nanny perhaps two, or daycare arrangements, not au pair.
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Old 17.10.2011, 13:06
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Re: Costs of an aupair

I know of a family where both parents had jobs requiring long hours and shift work. They employed a full time nanny plus an au pair. The nanny was in charge, the au pair was there to help the nanny, and to help out when the nanny was 'off duty' but the parents were working from home.

They had three children, the eldest went to kindergarten, the middle one to part-time childcare, and the youngest was only a baby/toddler.

The au pair also helped with cooking, light housework and chores. They may not be allowed to have 'sole charge' but they could be sent out to do the shopping...

I'd consider an au pair if I had the money. I have three children and we don't have any extended family, so the au pair would provide that 'extended family' time - my kids love having another person to play with....
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Old 17.10.2011, 13:29
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Yes! I suspected that an aupair may make sense only if you have 3-4 kids, then the costs are somehow "spread".

My situation:
The child goes for 2 days in a créche and for another 2 days to a childminder. I will work 3 days in the office plus 1-2 days per week at home, but my idea of a home office is that I DO really work (and do not change nappies, wipe noses and answer enquiries on kitties and puppies).

We've spent over a year on a waiting list in ALL daycare facilities within 15 miles from home, only to get a place in 45-60 min of travel time. It is a great créche, with marvellous staff. I would appreciate someone who will drop/collect the little one from the daycare, occasionally help with grocery shopping, jump in when I have overtime projects or am on an occasional business trip.
I found a wonderful girl who wants to take a break from college and spend a year in Switzerland. She would be happy with GBP125/week for 40hrs + 2 evenings of babysitting and I won't mind even less hours and higher pay, but the CHF2'200-2'500 per month for 60 hrs of work (plus fullboard) is something which doesn't sound feasible for me. I have Swiss friends in service and retail industry who make less money for much harder and longer hours.

We used to have a nanny and we tried to comply with all regulations - and ended up paying her even more than I brought home. I earned not a bad salary, even by the Swiss standards. But there were the nanny's transportation costs, per diems, overtime fees, pension fund dues and all that crap that has eaten up all my earnings after taxes. At the end of the day I still had to do all the chores and shop and cook and clean after her, too. And we had the additional work of doing the bookkeeping for all those nanny's AHV/ALVs.

Last edited by C; 17.10.2011 at 13:40.
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Old 17.10.2011, 22:06
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Re: Costs of an aupair

I think it's important to remember that an aupair is not intended to be a "cheaper" childcare - and as your numbers show, it's really not that cheap - but rather a cultural exchange.

Having been an aupair myself, and known many others who were, the only ones who were working in even a mostly-legal way were working mostly as mother's helpers and evening babysitters for school-aged children, who can benefit from the second language and culture, rather than babies and toddlers.

That said, I have no answer for the dilemma of childcare here in Switzerland - although you don't seem to be saying that you need someone to live in, so you might do better just advertise that you're looking for a part-time babysitter (or babysitter/household helper, if you really want help with the errands as well) with regular hours, and pay on an hourly basis that way. Many also do special arrangements occasionally to cover times when the parents were away overnight - so it really is out there.

Good luck!
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Old 17.10.2011, 22:35
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Perhaps one of the highest 'cost' of having an AuPair, which is often under-estimated, is the loss of privacy. An Au Pair is supposed to live and eat as part of the family, and that can be really hard to adjust to.
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Old 17.10.2011, 23:28
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Please understand me correctly, I am not looking for a "cheaper workforce".

I've just got to the point where an aupair costs seriously more than the average, living-out workers do.

So I'm wondering:
- how do the people manage it and
- what are the benefits that are worth all the hassle?

So far, I've heard about two main benefits:

- Flexibiliy. Yes, but how much flexibility can you get for 15 hrs/week? If the parents are away in the evening, bringing in a regular babysitter seems to me a more reasonable option than having someone around the house for a fixed (and high) amount of money.

- Cultural exchange. Again, aren't there more cost-effective and less inconvenient (speaking about the loss of privacy, for example) ways to foster that?

Interesting, but virtually all aupairs to whom I ever talked, were convinced that their work is cheap and that the families benefit enormously from them. They argued that Switzerland has higher income per capita and that the aupair costs are at par with those. The girls were very much surprised when I have shown them the figures (see above). After 6-12 months in the country they barely had an idea about the real costs of living here and the real wages.

I beleive that a "cultural exchange" implies that one learns about the life in another country and that this process is mutual. However, this fact shows me that I'm missing something.

As for me, I'm considering another opportunity: taking in a Swiss aupair.

Those girls do not have to attend a language course, they are allowed to work up to 40 hrs/week plus 2 evenings of babysitting, their health insurance is paid by their parents and on weekends they go back to their families, no meal allowance required. The actual costs are 2-3 times lower than those for the foreign cultural exchange.
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Old 17.10.2011, 23:54
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Re: Costs of an aupair

have sent you a pm, but will post this part here.

I agree with Odile - having been an aupair, I would never hire one. I value my privacy and alone-time too much, and committing a stranger to be a part of the family is awfully complicated.

i assume the benefits are similar to hosting an exchange student, except that you get 15 hours of independent work and 15 hours of guided work a week, and they make benefits + 200ish francs a week cash.

It probably doesn't meet the needs of someone with a single child working 80%. For someone has more than 2 children and stays home, and needs the help an extra pair of hands and eyes can provide, and wishes to have a 2nd or 3rd language to expose the kids to, it might come closer to being an ideal situation.

as for the money/overwork issue, I addressed a couple of very specific examples to you in a pm, and will say for sure that for every family who does it legally, there are dozens more who don't, and leave children in the hands of young girls who feel resentful and overworked - and often young girls who are away from home and exploring their freedom for the first time. Again, I've seen the results, and I wouldn't do it.

Just seriously consider what it is that you want before you commit, write it all down - every tiny little thing, and choose carefully - even if you end up hating them, your child will likely get attached to anyone living in the house.

most disjointed reply ever.

but from the position of been there, done that, it's not a great situation for anyone unless everyone goes in on exactly the same page about expectations AND you get a great personality match.
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Old 18.10.2011, 00:08
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Re: Costs of an aupair

We actually had 3 Au-Pairs in the UK when I started to work when the kids started school. They were both at school, but needed taking there and picking up, and 'entertained' until I got home. So no babies, and no sole charge for long hours. My OH was working very long hours and couldn't play is part- and they needed to be taken to gymnastics, swimming lessons, etc. The main reason though, was as an 'insurance' in case of illness, as I just never wanted to have to take off many days off to look after runny noses. As it happened, both got chicken pox, one after the hour - so would have had to miss several weeks. The Au Pair was great (Swiss- still a good friend 35 years hence) and agreed to take sole charge for those weeks - and we more than paid her back later on, lending her my car to go on hols, and giving her free days in lieu. We had 3 in all, 2 Swiss, 1 German, still in touch with them all. It was much much cheaper then, but still a good part of my salary - for me, it allowed me to get on the ladder and within a few years I was making very good money having climbed the ranks whilst the had au-pairs. The loss of privacy was an issue- especially as many of the other AuPairs they met at language course were so unhappy and treated like dirt, so they were always at ours! Two of them actually moved in with us until we found another, more suitable family where they were treated properly. I am so sorry if I sound harsh- but I would never ever trust very young children to an unqualifed and young au-pair. (remember the Louise Woodward case?)
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Old 18.10.2011, 00:19
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Re: Costs of an aupair

I once encountered three tiny tots walking along the Limmat River-edge, in Zurich and began to wonder where their mothers might be. It was so very dangerous. Suddenly, I saw the three "au pairs" casually walking about 30/40 meters away. They were so engaged in their conversation and did not notice the situation. Cute girls, but totally unprepared to understand the seriousness of their jobs.

For this reason, I suggest you question the costs of youth and inexperience. Undoubtedly, your children's lives are price-less.

Perhaps you should hire me....I am sure to be a better grandmother, than mother. (just kidding...I'll stick to cleaning teeth)
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Old 18.10.2011, 11:04
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Re: Costs of an aupair

I can't agree more with you, ladies.

I am well aware about the career benefits and other good things that are possible with a nice helping hand at home. In fact, it was my older US professor colleague who advised me to get an aupair. As she said, she would never be able to rise her two sons and achieve what she had without her aupairs.

My problem is that we are neither in the UK nor in the US - and the Swiss regulations are much tighter and stricter.
I do not complain, I just try to figure out, what is the right way to act under given circumstances.

As for the aupair qualifications, I was stunned about the quality of canidates one may find today! There were only trained and experienced (3+ yrs, checkable refs) university graduates with recent full CRBs on my short list, some of them OFSTED-registered, most have worked in children centers or nurseries.
It never occurred to me to take in a not-trained 19 yo for a baby and again: I was not looking for a cheap solution.

But after this discussion it seems that having a legal aupair is indeed a luxury for families with lots of kids, high disposable income and a burning desire to broaden its cultural horizons.
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Old 18.10.2011, 13:03
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Hello!I also have the opinion that there're both sides of having an au pair.Apart from financing issues, I think that the main thing is that there's a personality match and that you have the feeling that this girl takes a good care of your kids. You can ask her for few days of trial to get this impression.Only if the au pair somehow fits into your family, you won't feel that you have not enough privacy, or there're some misunderstandings.I have been an au-pair 3 for times with both good and bad experiences.The best impressions I had in the family, where I could have a really frank discussions with the mother so I could somehow figure out what she is looking for. Also, it's very important the the family makes an effort to make an au pair feel like at home. This is like you have a new member in your family.I know that the every day life can vary and you can't schedule a detailed plan that SHE is working exactly from 8 to 17. She will understand it. However, if it happens more than usual, it will built a "wall of pression" that is gonna make her feel explored. And in most cases, she is to shy to remind you of that because she doesn't want to ruin your good relation. That's the way it is.Personally, I would consider hiring an au-pair and as I have been one - I would definetely pay attention to some details that I sometimes suffered from. And of course, I would hire the one from abroad to allow my kids to pickup the language.Besides, it can be a good company in everyday problems when your husband is not there :]cheers,karina
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Old 18.10.2011, 13:42
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Re: Costs of an aupair

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As for the aupair qualifications, I was stunned about the quality of canidates one may find today! There were only trained and experienced (3+ yrs, checkable refs) university graduates with recent full CRBs on my short list, some of them OFSTED-registered, most have worked in children centers or nurseries.
It never occurred to me to take in a not-trained 19 yo for a baby and again: I was not looking for a cheap solution.

But after this discussion it seems that having a legal aupair is indeed a luxury for families with lots of kids, high disposable income and a burning desire to broaden its cultural horizons.
The candidates you are describing are not the intended participants in au pair programmes, they are overqualified and probably prepared to undersell themselves so that they can travel or live abroad. If you get one of those then great, but when you talk about 'au pairs' this term is intended to describe the young people that you say you don't want.

From everything you have said it's clear that you ARE looking for a cheaper childcare solution - there is nothing wrong with that, but it's also clear that the au pair system does not meet your needs. It's not true that they are a luxury for rich families - for many people they are a more affordable and appropriate home help than a nanny or a kinderkrippe. But not suitable for you.
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Old 18.10.2011, 13:54
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Re: Costs of an aupair

Rules for au Pairs are just as strict in the UK I can assure you. Check with all the agencies, they are exactly the same. No sole charge, no same language, languages classes paid for, very limited hours, only light housework.
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Old 18.10.2011, 14:11
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Re: Costs of an aupair

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From everything you have said it's clear that you ARE looking for a cheaper childcare solution - there is nothing wrong with that, but it's also clear that the au pair system does not meet your needs. It's not true that they are a luxury for rich families - for many people they are a more affordable and appropriate home help than a nanny or a kinderkrippe. But not suitable for you.
I said: I am not looking for a CHEAP solution. But you are absolutely right, I do look for a CHEAPER solution than those CHF2200-2500 per month (GBP23-25 per hour) that an aupair programs want me to pay.

Sorry, but I still have troubles figuring out how can an aupair be cheaper than a kinderkrippe (CHF120 per day)? Please explain it to me, because this is exactly the point of my thread. Thank you!
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Old 18.10.2011, 14:22
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Re: Costs of an aupair

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Rules for au Pairs are just as strict in the UK I can assure you. Check with all the agencies, they are exactly the same. No sole charge, no same language, languages classes paid for, very limited hours, only light housework.
I trust you in that, but for example, the Tinies say about 25 hrs/week and up to GBP150 allowance.
http://www.tinies.com/parents/hiring...ldminders.html

Such conditions (25 hrs and GBP150) would be perfectly suitable for us. I would gladly pay additionally for the monthly transporation, health insurance and one roundtrip airfare, too.

But the Tinies didn't say anything about 4-5 weeks of paid vacation, meal allowances for the days off (up to CHF80 per day) and TWO roundtrip airfares. Those are exactly the costs which I find not realistic and over-the-top.
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Old 18.10.2011, 14:29
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Re: Costs of an aupair

2 round-trip airfares seems unreasonable. But you could get a girl from Italy, France, Germany, Slovenia, or even the UK with very cheap travel especially if booked at the start of her (his) stay for Christmas and say Easter. Our Au-pairs ate with us on days off, and if they chose to go out that was their 'problem'.

I really feel for young families trying to find solutions for child-care, here or in the UK, or anywhere else. It is heart wrenching, full of guilt and angst, and a financial nightmare. Our daughter has a fully qualified Nanny near London and it costs a GINORMOUS amount of money and takes a great part of her salary. She sees this as a way to stay on the ladder and continue the slow climb- so that one day it will reap benefits, in the long term. Not easy- and I feel for you. I couldn't work when mine were very young as OH's job just had to take precedence, and it would have cost me a lot more to work than not. But when they started school, it worked very well- and like my daughter, gave me the chance to start that professional career climb, with the security of back-up. Initially ate a big part of my salary, but paid out after a few years.

Last edited by Odile; 18.10.2011 at 14:49.
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