Working in Canada as an AuPair | How to Get Work & Find a Host Family
Updated: Apr 20, 2019
I've recently started work as an AuPair with a family on Vancouver Island in Canada. Working overseas as an AuPair is a great way to experience living in a different country and to earn money while you travel. Surprising, I found that getting work wasn't that difficult - in this blog post I detail my experience and the steps I took to get work as in AuPair in Canada.
An 'AuPair' is basically defined as a young adult who comes from a foreign country to participate in a cultural exchange with a host family in a chosen country. This cultural exchange involves the AuPair becoming part of the host family and helping with tasks such as housework and childcare in exchange for lodging, meals and pocket money. However, the specifics of the role can vary from country to country - e.g. some countries require you to take language courses.
I am currently living in the region of Saanichton on Vancouver Island in Canada and working as an AuPair for a lovely family with 3 kids. I got really lucky and absolutely love where I'm living, the kids I'm looking after and how the whole experience has turned out. I found the whole process of finding a host family quite simple and would highly recommend AuPairing to anyone!
However, working as an AuPair may not be for everyone - I have heard stories about people who have not enjoyed their experience so it's important that you take your time to do your research and suss everything out before committing to anything!
To work in Canada specifically you will need to have a working visa - I wrote this blog post detailing how I got my Canadian work visa. As the visa can take some time to process it's ideal if you have the visa already before you start looking for jobs.
Different countries have different visa/work permit/insurance requirements for AuPairs. AuPair World has this handy section on their website with tips about AuPair regulations for different host countries.
GETTING A JOB
To get my job I went through the website AuPair World. AuPair World is a platform that lets both AuPairs and host families publish profiles and helps you find a suitable match that aligns with your search criteria. AuPair World is free to use for AuPairs and is the most popular website of its type on the internet so there are heaps of potential host families using the site! I would avoid going through an agency as they most likely will charge you fees and you don't have the flexibility of arranging everything yourself.
1. Creating a Profile
The first step to becoming an AuPair is creating a profile. When creating a profile it's important to have an idea of the sort of family you're looking for and would like to attract to your profile. AuPair World allows you to stipulate whether you are willing to work with a family who smokes, want to help with housework, be with a single parent family or look after children with special needs and asks you to determine the age of children you would like to work for e.g. I said 3-18 years as I'm not comfortable working with babies and didn't want to work in a smokers household.
You are then able to write a bio introducing yourself - hobbies, interests, personality and detail 'why do you want to be an AuPair?'. It's important to highlight all your experience with children e.g. babysitting, working in childcare, volunteering and mention anything specific a potential host family would need to know upfront.
My profile on AuPair World
2. Contacting Families or Waiting for Families to Contact You
Once you have published your profile you can either start contacting families or wait for families to contact you. You can use different search criteria to narrow your search or be more flexible regarding your start date, duration of stay and the age of the children. I was so surprised with the amount of families that contacted me - I had over 30 families message me which was great as I was able to be fairly picky and ensure that the family I went with was exactly what I wanted.
It's important that you have an idea about what you want from your AuPair experience/host family and think about factors such as:
Location - do you want to be close to a big city or are you happy living further out?
Time commitment - are you willing to commit for 3 months/6 months/1 year?
Hours Per Week - how many hours are you wanting per week?
Pay expectations - in Canada most AuPair work pays minimum wage (and the minimum wage in Canada is a lot lower than Australia!)
Access to transport - are you going to be able to access are car or will you need to rely on public transport?
Time-off - will you have regular days off? What is there to do in the local area on your days off?
To me the most important factor was a good location - I wanted to live somewhere really beautiful and close to nature but also not too remote and have the ability (e.g. use of a car or easy public transport access) to explore the area in my time off. I got so incredibly lucky and ended up living on Vancouver Island, with a view of the ocean from my window and in close proximity to Victoria and a ferry ride away from Vancouver.
3. Organising an Interview
After chatting with a host family, it is likely that they will want to organise an interview to get to know you better - either in person (if you're able to) or a phone call or FaceTime. I did three interviews with different families before I decided on my current host family. In my experience, they might just been keen to chat about the role and their children or ask you job interview style questions.
An interview is a really great opportunity to get a feel for the family and to clarify any questions you make have. It's really important to ask lots of questions! AuPair World recommends you seek clarification to all these questions:
What do they expect from you?
What will your daily life be like in this family?
What will your duties be?
What are the family's habits and hobbies?
What do they do on their weekends?
Are you expected to prepare meals for the children?
Ask the parents what you should know about their children: are there any particular hobbies, friends, special characters? What are their preferred meals and games? Is there anything else you need to bear in mind?
Will you go on trips together?
When will you usually be working?
When will your host parents be working?
Will you be expected to babysit in the evenings? If so, how often?
On which days and evenings will you have some time off?
How far is the nearest city from your host family's home?
Can it easily be reached by public transport?
Are you expected to be a good car driver?
What and when do they typically eat?
Does the family follow a special diet?
Will they take you with them on their holidays? If so: what will be your tasks during that time?
Will you have your own room?
Will you need your own laptop in order to use the Internet?
How much pocket money will you receive each month?
Have they considered taking out an AuPair insurance policy for you or will your own health insurance provide full coverage throughout your stay in your host country?
When will be the best time for you to attend a language course?
Will your host family be able to help you find the right language course?
Who will pay for it?
Are there more AuPairs close to your host family's home?
If the family has had previous AuPair's you can ask for their contact details to find out more about their stay with this family. The AuPair host family may also ask for references from you.
4. Job Offer / Signing a Contract
Once you and a host family have come to a mutual agreement and the host family have offered you a position they will need to present you with a contract. The contract will likely stipulate your start and finish dates and details about your expected duties, remuneration, accommodation, confidentiality and termination.
Before you sign a contract you need to make sure you are 100% about your commitment as you can really inconvenience a family if you drop out at the last minute.
It is important to note that there is a certain level of risk involved with arranging something like this online as you most likely will not get to meet the family in prior to arriving. To me it was important to find a host family that wanted to be legitimate about the whole process - if someone offers to pay you in cash or neglects to develop a contract it might be a sign that they will be dodgy/unreliable. This section of Au Pair World has advice on safety and security.
My Experience as an AuPair
I am really loving my experience as an AuPair so far. I look after the kids 4 days per week and have taken a part time job at a local cafe 3 days per week. I love that I'm able to have the balance between spending time with the kids and being able to meet/work with people in the local community and earn some extra money in my own time! I've also been taking Spanish lessons to prepare for my upcoming travel!
Being able to live in another country and experience day to day life with a different family is something so unique and rewarding. AuPairing allows you to develop close and life-long relationships with your host family and is something I'd recommend to all young travellers.
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Check out my other adventures in Canada here!