How Much Does an Au Pair Cost?

Written by: Staff

An au pair, much like a nanny or babysitter, can offer you a consistent live-in situation from someone who is experienced and loves working with children.

This professional, often found through a verified agency, will provide 50+ hours of childcare a week based on your child/s needs for up to two years, regardless of their age.

Girls on a Mission by donnierayjones, on Flickr
Girls on a Mission” (CC BY 2.0) by donnierayjones

How much does an au pair cost?

If you’re considering an au pair, the costs will depend on the agency you plan on working with as all will have its own pricing structure.  In general, an agency will charge an application fee, a program fee, usually split in two, and a mandatory weekly stipend, all of which will vary.  To help break down the costs, we included the averages we found online in the table below:

Program Placement FeeThis fee is usually broke down into two payments -- about $2,500 at first to match you with the au pair and the remaining fee will be due when the au pair arrives in the United States.$8,000~
Au Pair StipendThis stipend is mandated by the U.S. Department of State and all au pair must receive this weekly, even if they do not work the full 45 hours.$200+ a week
TuitionA $500 educational stipend, again, is required by the U.S. Department of State as the au pairs need to take academic courses as part of their working year. These educational courses allow them to learn about the U.S. culture and educational system.$500~
Room and BoardAs you will have another person living at home, you need to factor in the food and some bill increases.Varies
Misc FeesDon't forget to factor in the use of your car, extra groceries and even a cellphone bill in some casesVaries

NOTE:  These are the averages we found at some of the agencies we researched.  To budget, plan on spending about $20,000 for the “all-in” costs if you reside in the United States., on its official website, notes the payment breakdown if you were to hire their agency.  The program fee down payment, which is due upon matching, is $2,500, while the remaining balance, $5,790, is due upon the au pair’s arrival to the United States.  The agency does offer a six-month payment plan for families who need the help splitting up the payments.  Lastly, a SEVIS visa processing fee of $35 will apply as well, bringing the grand total to $8,325 just to get the au pair to your doorstep.  From there, you will be required to pay your au pair $195.75 a week, a minimum stipend which was set by the U.S. Department of State by multiplying the Federal Minimum Wage by the maximum number of hours worked per week, then subtracting 40% for room and board.

The program costs, as per, is $18,514 a year, which equates to $1,543 a month, $356 a week or $7.91 an hour.

CV Harquail at broke down the costs of her au pair, and while the post is old, it can offer some insight as to how much you should expect to pay for one.  According to her numbers, she averaged $11 an hour based on a 50 week year, and these costs did not include the costs of training, maintaining her room and the wear and on the vehicle.  In the table breakdown, the final costs for the year were $25,519 for her New Jersey-based family.

What’s included in the agency fees?

A background screening and detailed interview process

J-1 visa sponsorship in order for an au pair to legally arrive and work in the United States

All travel expenses in order to arrive in the United States

Accident/sickness insurance

A local representative from the agency you use to represent you during the time of hire, often offering 24/7 support

All training and orientation to be a successful au pair for your family’s situation

Monthly au pair activities organized by your agency

The extra costs to think about

Some agencies will charge a SEVIS visa processing fee, which can cost upwards of $50.

Domestic travel, even though it was mentioned in the inclusions above, may not be included in fees.

If you plan on allowing your au pair to use your vehicle, then you may want to factor in the insurance increases.  You will be responsible for all travel when they are residing at your home.

The additional room and board expenses as you will be feeding another person, etc.

What does an au pair do?

They can help prepare meals and feed your children throughout the day.

Infant care responsibilities including bottles feeding, diaper changes and even cuddling.

Assistance with any dressing, bathing, grooming and managing a bedtime routine.

Organizing activities, playtime and driving your children to school and extracurricular activities.

Aside from babysitting, they will be able to help do laundry, tidy the home and even help with homework.

The requirements for the hosting family

A reputable agency will always ask for a private, suitable bedroom and meals.

All applicants must be a legal U.S. resident and will agree to speak English inside the home.

Families must always agree to a background check in which they should pass.  An at-home interview will often be conducted as well.

References from family members and non-family members must be submitted.

Agree to comply with the agency rules which dictate how often the au pair can work and when he or she can take time off.  Most au pairs will work no more than 45 hours a week and will receive at least one full weekend off a month, with a two-week vacation annually.

Sign the placement contract and agree to the weekly stipend for the au pair.

Most agencies will want the family to support the au pair in their educational program, often paying money towards the education.

Agencies will often ask you live within its service area, but this can vary from one agency to the next.

The process of hiring an au pair

Most agencies work in the same way, but some may vary in some regards.  The first step, in most cases, will be the application process where you and your family will fill out an application, usually via the official agency’s website and talk to the agency about your expectations.

If approved by the agency, you will then choose an au pair from the agency’s database based on your recommendations.  Most agencies will ask you choose a handful so you can interview them to see if they meet your demands.

Once you find a match, you will schedule an arrival date with the agency, pay the necessary fees and sign a contract in regards to the agency’s rules.  In most cases, the arrival date will need to be about six to eight weeks out, and during this arrival time, the agency will book the flights and assist with the visa process.

When the au pair finally arrives, your agency will assign you a coordinator who will be able to help you with the process, answer any questions you may have and even check in to see how things are going.  Most au pairs will work for 12 months but many families will extend this contract if the au pair allows it.

Is an au pair tax deductible?

Host families, according to are not required to withhold taxes from the au pair as your au pair is responsible for declaring their own income and submitting a tax return.  To find out if you can the child and dependent care credit the IRS offers, you can use the official “Am I Eligible to Claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit?” via the IRS.  Depending on your circumstances, your fees paid to the au pair directly may qualify as dependent care in the eyes of the IRS.  For any tax-related questions, refer to your attorney or the IRS directly for more information.  From what we researched, an au pair, as long as living with you, can be deducted, including food, transportation and anything else you pay for them.

Au pair vs. a live-in nanny

Culture.  An au pair, unlike a nanny, can bring their culture directly to your home.  This can include their music, food, crafts and interests.  While a live-in nanny may be able to offer it, most are often from the United States, meaning they will more than likely share the same views/interests.

Costs.  Since an au pair intends to live in the United States and views this as a benefit, this can mean a lower cost when compared to a live-in nanny.  The average costs of a live-in nanny can be closer to $750 a week versus $350 a week for an au pair when all expenses are considered.

Flexible.  With an au pair, you can create a schedule which your au pair can accommodate, seeing they have to commit to 45 hours of childcare every week.

Experience.  A nanny, most of the time, will have more experience, hence, the higher costs.  In most cases, an au pair is looking for the U.S. experience for a few years, while a nanny may want to make a career out of it.

Language.  As mentioned, you’re essentially hiring an au pair from a foreign land, meaning they may have a hard time with the language occasionally.

No in-person meeting.  While you can screen your au pair and talk with them over the phone, you will not be able to get that in-person vibe until they arrive in the United States.

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