Hey Au Pairs,
It’s Hanna here with another edition of ASK APOP. You asked us some questions over on our Instagram account and here are our faves! We put our heads together to answer these, but let us know if you have anything to add or disagree!
This blog post was inspired by the fact that we recently published a podcast all about money! It’s one of our favourite topics to talk about. Although it may not feel like you earn a lot as an au pair, (around 80€ per week) remember that you’re not having to pay for rent, food, travel, or school (depending on your agreement!) So, this money is purely for enjoying yourself or for squirreling away for your studies after your au pair year, it’s your choice!
1. How Much Should You Save for Your First Year as an Au Pair?
Honestly, this totally depends on you! Edwina and I regularly change our minds on the best course of action. We both arrived with very little money. BUT, we’re recently had a conversation about how money is power.
Edwina says she wishes she had saved up more before she moved. Her host family was treating her BADLY, check this video out, of course, money would have helped her leave and stay in a hotel while she figured things out. Instead, she was stuck with the family who she hated, and eventually things got so bad that they kicked her out. She had to sleep on friends’ couches. Not ideal!
As a result, we suggest saving up between $1,000 – $3,000. This way you can have a plan B if things go wrong and can travel if they don’t! If you are American, you can enjoy being in Europe. This may be the best time of your life to explore this new continent and vice versa.
Of course, if you DON’T have the ability to make this much money, no worries. This is one of the best ways to live abroad for a year without spending much money at all. After all, neither of us had any money when we first moved and still had a wonderful time.
2. How Do You Travel on a Budget?
Edwina I travelled the world without much money at all. It involved removing a LOT of luxuries. We slept in airports instead of booking hotels for six hours, we took LONG bus rides, we ate food from supermarkets instead of out at restaurants. But it was WORTH IT.
Edwina also suggests going to the places where your friends are. You need to reach out to family connections, new friends, old school acquaintances, anyone that is happy to host you. We had some amazing trips in the Philippines, staying with Edwina’s family and her family friends, and Copenhagen, staying with a friend from Edwina’s school. But, remember to pay back the favour! If you are hosted by friends or family, make sure they know they’re also welcome to stay with you. If this isn’t possible, take a thank you present or send one afterwards!
Next, pick your countries wisely! We managed to fly to Norway for around $99 but when we got there we realised it was WAY out of our budget. We ended up shelling out quite a lot of money for accomodation and spent a LOT of time walking in the rain. Although it was a great week, we overspent. Instead, choose cheaper countries to enjoy. This means doing your research. A country I have LOVED visiting recently (well, not recently! Before lockdown, of course) was the Czech Republic. I stayed in Brno, the second biggest city, and loved being able to go out for drinks, food, to museums, and bars. If you veer away from the main tourist routes, you may be surprised to find that the next biggest city is a lottt cheaper.
Finally, get in your mind that this is your ONE TRUE GOAL and make it happen. You need to be saving money into your account FIRST. Put away as much as you can afford every month and, instead of buying things you don’t need, you’ll be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
3. Top 3 Things to Spend the Earned Au Pair Money on?
Okay, our number one answer is coffee. Edwina and I were obsessed with going out to coffee shops, doing « work », but essentially sitting and chatting all afternoon. I seriously don’t know what we thought we were working on. We went to hundreds of new areas, scoped out the best coffee shops and got to know the city so well.
Travel is our second favorite thing to spend money on! Check out this post over on the APOP blog about how to travel on a small salary.
Finally, events! It was so nice spending money on going out for different meals, to museums, art galleries, to the cinema. (Basically, we didn’t spend much money on clothes and lived in scruffy leggings or jeans all year, but it was fiiiine because we were au pairs not business women.)
4. Do You Think What You Get Paid to Be an Au Pair Is Enough to Go to Parties With?
Now, the answer is yes if you prioritize. In my second year as an au pair, I was loving going clubbing but it cost around €10 to enter. So, I picked the best nights out and had a group of friends who did the same!
If you’re super outgoing, then check out the local ERASMUS parties which should be free or cheap. Better yet, you’ll then make friends with lots of local Europeans who you can hang out with. This is another transient community but one that will help you travel around the world later in life!