If you’re interested in a full-time nanny, an au pair (a term for a live-in nanny from another country) may be the solution. Au pairs take care of your children and provide a unique cultural experience for you and your family. But hiring an au pair isn’t for everyone, largely due to the costs involved. Keep reading to find out if an au pair is a good fit and of course to get the answer to, “How much does an au pair cost?”

In This Article:

  • What Is the Au Pair Program like in the U.S.?

  • How Much Does an Au Pair Cost?

    • The Au Pair’s Weekly Pay
    • The Cost of the Au Pair’s College Coursework
    • The Program Sponsor’s Fee
    • Daily Living Expenses

What is the Au Pair Program in the U.S.?

In the United States, au pairs work under a cultural exchange program run by the U.S. Department of State. The program, through designated program sponsors, matches qualified candidates ages 18-26 with host families, typically for a period of one year, with an option to extend for six, nine, or twelve months.

The au pair arrangement provides the host family with up to 45 hours of childcare and light childcare-related housework per week. It also gives the au pairs an opportunity to experience the U.S. culture in a family setting, earn a steady income, and complete at least 6 credits of education at the post-secondary level. In many ways, au pairs are part the host family, participating in meals, holidays, and outings, when possible.

How Much Does an Au Pair Cost?

The total cost of an au pair ranges from $25,000 to $30,000 for 12 months. That is about $2,083-$2,500 per month, or $490-$588 per week.

The cost can can be broken down into four categories:

The Au Pair’s Weekly Pay

Host families pay au pairs a federally mandated minimum weekly stipend of $195.75. This is based on the federal minimum wage for 45 hours per week. The stipend is the same, regardless of the number of children in the host family. It includes 1.5 days off per week, one weekend off per month (Friday evening until Monday morning), and two weeks of paid vacation per year.

The Cost of the Au Pair’s College Coursework

In addition to a weekly paycheck, host families are also required to pay up to $500 of the cost for an au pair’s post-secondary coursework while in the program.

The Program Sponsor’s Fee

The U.S. State Department oversees a list of officially designated sponsor organizations approved to arrange au pair placements. 

Host families must pay the program sponsor to cover all expenses related to the cost of bringing the au pair to the United States and overseeing the program. Program sponsors typically charge host families between $8,000 and $9,000 for this service.

The agency fee covers candidate screening, the cost of travel, training and orientation for the au pair, all related expenses, and sometimes the au pair’s J-1 visa (a requirement to participate in the program). Sponsor organizations provide protections for au pairs and host families alike, monitoring working conditions and compensation.

Three large, well-known agencies are listed below to provide insight on program sponsor fees:

1. Agent Au Pair

  • Agency Cost for One Year: $8,295
  • Services Covered: Recruitment, screening, training, orientation, international travel to the Au Pair Training School (Connecticut), visa filing documents, year-long program support.
  • Services not covered: Actual visa filing, transportation from Connecticut to your home.
  • Other notes: Discounts of up to $800 are available for applying early, repeat host families, families who refer other families to the program, and others. Payment plans are also available (fees apply).
  • Learn more about Agent Au Pair.

2. Au Pairs in America

  • Agency Cost for One Year: $9,100
  • Services Covered: Recruitment, interviews, screening, international flights  for the au pair to the orientation site (from select cities), orientation and training, partial visa processing, partial medical insurance, personal liability coverage, support services throughout the program, re-matching services (if needed), and more.
  • Services not covered: Partial visa processing, transportation from the orientation site to your home.
  • Other notes: An extended payment plan is available (fees apply).
  • Learn more about Au Pairs in America.

3. InterExchange Au Pair USA

  • Agency Cost for One Year: $8,490
  • Services Covered: Recruitment, screening, international flight for the au pair to New York City, orientation and training, program support, and more.
  • Services not covered: Visa processing fee ($35), transportation from the orientation site in New York to your home.
  • Other notes: Discounts of up to $650 are available for qualified families, such as military families or those who refer other families to the program. An extended payment plan is also available (fee applies).
  • Learn more about InterExchange Au Pair USA.

Daily Living Expenses

The cost of daily living for the au pair is an important expense host families should take into consideration:

Meals: You are required to provide three meals per day for your au pair, whether or not the whole family eats together. The USDA estimates this cost at $164.20-$303.90 per month for a woman or $185-$368.60 for a man of au pair age.

Transportation: If you’re providing your au pair with a car to drive, you will need to factor in fuel, insurance costs for an extra driver, and wear and tear on the car. This will, of course, vary greatly depending on the type of car used and the amount of driving your au pair does. If you are not providing a car, you will probably need to provide money for public transportation for your au pair and children.

Private room: You are required to provide a private room for your au pair. If you would otherwise be renting out that room, or if you have to choose a larger house or apartment to meet that requirement, count it into your costs.

Outings and vacations: Family outings will often include your au pair, and you may wish to take them on any vacations you take, as well. If you do, you will need to supply the costs of tickets to area attractions or events, flights, meals, and other expenses.

In Summary

An au pair provides a host family with full-time, live-in childcare, while a host family provides the au pair with the opportunity to live, work, and study in the U.S. The cost of an au pair includes money paid directly to the au pair, education expenses, program sponsor fees, and related living expenses. For many families, an au pair provides a unique and positive cultural experience that is well worth the expense.