Today’s parents face the never-ending challenge of juggling the kids, work, housework and everything else in between every single day.

There are the twice-daily school runs, homework, meals to prepare, laundry and after-school activities.

Although daycare is not available to school-aged children and after-school care often works out too expensive, help is available. But this does mean that some families are turning to alternative childcare methods.

An au pair, or demi au pair, is a cost-effective, flexible way for families to get some help with the kids and around the home.

Although not a professional child care worker, an au pair is a young person who lives with a host family for a time. They help care for the children and perform light housework.

An au pair is an economical, flexible child care arrangement. An au pair will cost the same amount of money, whether you have one child or four.

They can be there to pick up or drop off the children at school, which means no more rushing to get to day care before the centre closes.

Vacancy.Care takes a look at what an au pair does, where you can find an au pair and what it should cost.

Au pair meaning – what is an au pair?


‘Au pair’ is a French term translating to ‘an pair’, or ‘family member’. An au pair is a young person who takes on a childcare role overseas with a host family. They are usually regarded as a member of the family – a big sister.

An au pair is employed to help the host family with care of their children, housework and other duties.

In exchange for their services, an au pair will receive:

  • A room at the host’s residence.
  • Meals at the family home.
  • A cultural and lifestyle experience in their host country.
  • ‘Pocket money’.
  • An opportunity to improve their English language skills.

What does an au pair do?


So what is an au pair expected to do? Their primary responsibility is to care for children aged 12 and under.

They also perform domestic duties associated with childcare, but this is always secondary to caring for the children.

The duties of an au pair include the below:

  • Morning duties such as waking the children, helping them wash, dress and brush their teeth.
  • Preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
  • Cleaning up after meals.
  • Taking the children to and from school and after-school activities.
  • Preparing the children for bed, including supervising bathtime.
  • Tidying the children’s bedrooms.
  • Vacuuming, dusting and other light housework.
  • Doing laundry, including washing, drying and folding.
  • Running errands.
  • One night a week babysitting.

An au pair works around 25-35 hours a week. They should be given two days off per week to allow plenty of time to enjoy the Australian culture,lifestyle and experience.

Difference between au pair and nanny


The main difference between an au pair and nanny is the level of experience with children. An au pair is typically required to have an around  200 hours of experience with children.

They are not required to have formal childcare qualifications and are not childcare professionals.

A nanny is certificate, diploma or degree qualified, but can also be working towards one of these. A nanny has extensive experience with children, including newborns.

Table 1 highlights some of the major differences and similarities between an au pair and a nanny.

Table 1

Au Pair Nanny
Is paid around $250 a week as ‘pocket money’. Is paid a salary or hourly fee.
Works between 20-40 hours a week. Is employed on a full time, part time, casual or contractual basis.
Not recommended as the sole carer for children under 2 years. Can provide care for children from birth.
No formal qualifications required. Must hold a diploma, certificate III or teaching qualification, or be working towards one of these.
Not recommended to provide sole care for children overnight. Can provide sole care for children overnight.
Can provide live in or live out care. Can provide live in or live out care.
Not required to drive. Required to drive.
Typically aged between 18 and 35. No age restrictions.

Live in au pair vs. Live out au pair


The fundamental concept of an au pair arrangement is for a foreign visitor to experience life in an Australian home.

Some au pairs, or their host family, prefer a ‘live out’ arrangement due to personal reasons or a lack of suitable accommodation with the host family.

A live out au pair tends to find their own accommodation, sharing with people of a similar situation, demographic or nationality. They travel to and from their host family’s home.

There are advantages to employing a live in au pair, vs a live out au pair. A live in au pair is available on hand whenever they are at home. A live out au pair will spend limited time at the home, meaning that extra pair of hands is not readily available.

A live out au pair may also command a higher rate of pocket money to negate extra living costs, such as bills, food and transport.

Demi-pair vs Au Pair


A demi-pair is a ‘part time au pair’. A demi-pair travels to Australia as a full time English student, meaning they work less hours at around 15 a week.

Like an au pair, a demi-pair lives with a host family and is expected to help with childcare and light housework in exchange for a room and meals, rather than ‘pocket money.’

A demi-pair is required to attend weekly classes as part of their studies. This limits their availability for childcare duties to before and after school.

For this reason, they are ideal for a family looking for extra help with the children before and after school.

A demi-pair may work beyond their 15 hours, but must be paid an hourly rate of around $12.

How much does an au pair cost in australia (pay rates, salary & wages)


Parents may wonder how much an au pair costs in Australia. Since an au pair is not a typical employee, but rather regarded as a family member, they are paid a set amount per week as pocket money.

An au pair working around 30-35 hours a week is paid, on average, between $200-$250 a week. This is negotiable between parties. Au pairs are not expected to pay for meals or board out of this wage.

This amount is worked out using the minimum wage in Australia, which is $18.93 x 30 hours, minus the average cost of room and board, $350. An au pair is paid the same amount regardless of how many children they care for.

Au pair and nanny agencies charge a placement fee for their services. This fee includes the cost of sourcing, vetting and screening an au pair, connecting the host family and au pair, plus the follow up service.

Live out au pair cost


The cost of a live out au pair is generally higher than that of a live in au pair. These extra costs are attributed to the au pair paying additional accommodation costs such as utility bills, food and transport to and from the family home.

The cost of a live out au pair may rise even further with high accommodation costs. Families will need to factor in these additional costs when considering how much to pay their au pair.

Cost of live in nanny australia


Unlike an au pair, a nanny is an employee and can be employed on a full time, part time, casual or contractual basis.

The cost of a live in nanny in Australia depends on how many hours they work, their hourly rate of pay, plus any additional employment benefits or entitlements and superannuation.

An experienced nanny will command top dollar for their services. A relatively new nanny is entitled to the Australian minimum wage. A casual nanny is also entitled to penalty rates for working weekends, nights, public holidays and overtime.

Families must also factor in any additional household running costs when considering a live in nanny. These include electricity, gas, water, fuel and other transport costs and food.

Au pair Australia reviews


There are three main avenues for finding an au pair:

  • Through an au pair agency.
  • Through word of mouth.

Families looking for a reliable, trustworthy au pair in Australia should seek out reviews before entering an au pair contract.

A credible, reputable au pair business will post reviews and testimonials on their website.

Smart Au Pairs, for example, has an extensive range of testimonials from families as well as the most important people – the kids.

Aupairworld number of testimonials from families and au pairs from around the world.

Families looking to employ an au pair privately using websites such as Gumtree, should look for credible, honest reviews by other families or employers. If none are available, check references.

Au pairs recommended to families by friends or associates will probably come with rave reviews from their former employer. It is for this reason families need to remember to do their own research before employing an au pair.

Just because the au pair was a perfect fit for one family does not mean they will slot in easily with another.

Au pair visa in Australia (Subclass 462 Visa)


Australia does not offer an ‘au pair visa’. Au pairs enter the country on a 6-month Working Holiday Visa, which can be extended to 12 months and in some cases, 18 months.

Depending on their nationality, an au pair travels to Australia on a Subclass 462 Visa or a Subclass 417 Visa.

Subclass Visa 462 is for au pairs from the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uruguay
  • USA
  • Vietnam

Au pair visa in Australia (Subclass 417 Visa)


Subclass Visa 462 is for travellers from the following countries:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

 Table 2 is an overview of the differences between each visa.

Table 2

Restrictions Subclass Visa 462 Subclass Visa 417
Age Available for 18-30 year olds. Available for 18-30 year olds, and 18-35 year olds from Canada, France and Ireland.
Length of Visa 6 months, with 6 month extension available. 6 months, with 6 month extension available.
Study Visitors can study for up to 4 months. Visitors can study for up to 4 months.
Language Subject to English language prerequisites Not subject to English language prerequisites
Education Subject to educational requirements Not subject to educational requirements
Letter of support Some applicants are subject to a letter of support from their government Not subject to a letter of support from their government
Other requirements Visas are subject to other requirements, including health, financial and character requirements. Visas are subject to other requirements including health, financial and character requirements.

Au pair tax australia


Visitors to Australia

In January 2017, the Australian Government introduced new tax regulations for visitors to Australia, including Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) and Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) holders.

Under the new regulations:

  • Visa holders must apply for a Tax File Number (TFN.)
  • Will be taxed 15c of every dollar up to $37,000.
  • Host families must register with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) as an employer with an employee on a Working Holiday Visa.
  • Visa holders may face higher taxes if they do not hold a TFN and the family is not registered with the ATO.

Au pair contract australia


An au pair contract is an agreement between the au pair and host family. It covers basic expectations of duties and behaviour, conditions and payment.

The contract should also outline what action families should take if an au pair fails to perform their given duties, is ill-disciplined, or does not fit well with the family.

A contract is not a requirement for employment in Australia, so some families may choose not to use it.

Families who use an au pair agency will be covered under a contract with the agency. It will outline the terms and conditions, pay rates, living conditions and what action the agency will take if the au pair does not adhere to their duties.

Au pair contract template australia


Australia families who employ an au pair or demi-pair can use a contract template. Simply print and sign as is, or use it as a base for a tailored contract.

Best Australian Au Pair Agencies


The best Australian au pair agencies provide families with access to quality, vetted and verified au pairs. They have done all the work for families and will match hosts to the ideal au pair based on their needs and circumstances.

For their services, au pair agencies charge families a fee. This covers the cost of attracting, screening and vetting potential au pairs, matching them to families and any administration costs involved.

Their service also covers termination of contract and replacing an au pairs for any reason, if required.

Best Australian Au Pair Agencies:


Smart au pairs

Smart Au Pairs has one of the widest ranges of Australian au pairs. For their placement fee, they provide the gold standard in screening, matching, applicant shortlists, support and aftercare.

They organise meetings with au pairs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, otherwise families can engage in a video or Skype interview once they have a shortlist.

Smart Au Pairs organise au pairs throughout Australia. The first step is to organise a Host Family Consultation, which takes around 35 minutes. It will give potential host families an opportunity to see if an au pair is for you.


AuPairWorld connects au pairs and families all over the world. Once the family is matched with an au pair based on their needs, they can get to know each other better using a messaging system.

This system helps families and au pairs contact each other directly and decide if they want to pursue the arrangement or find a better match.

Not only is AuPairWorld a resource for connecting families to au pairs, it is also comprehensive guide to au pairs for host families.

‘AuPairWiki’ is a glossary of keywords related to being an au pair or host family. It is a valuable tool for any family who wants to learn more about life with an au pair.

Aifs au pair

AIFS Au Pair has operated in Australia since 1999. They are a Childwise accredited service, with au pairs undergoing strict child protection and safeguarding screening guidelines.

AIFS’s au pairs are also some of the most experienced with children. Au pairs are required to have a minimum of 200-hours experience with children, but many have over 1000. They have a tiered payment structure.

In Summary


There are clear advantages and disadvantages to employing an au pair.

The cost, flexibility and familiarity of having a live-in carer may outweigh the lack of childcare experience for some families.