The cost to hire an au pair ranges from $25,000 to $30,000 per year, which is up to around $2,500 per month or $577 per week. Below, we explain the au pair program in the U.S., answering questions like “How much does an au pair cost?” in detail to help you determine whether an au pair is a good fit for your family.
What Is the Au Pair Program in the U.S.?
In the United States, au pairs work under the Department of State’s cultural exchange program. The program, through designated sponsors, matches qualified candidates ages 18 to 26 with host families. The au pair will typically live with the host family for one year, with an option to extend their stay by 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 allows the au pairs to experience the U.S. culture in a family setting, earn a steady income, and complete at least six hours of academic credit at the post-secondary level. In many ways, au pairs are part of the host family, participating in meals, holidays, and outings, when possible.
According to the U.S. Department of State, an au pair must:
- Be proficient in spoken English
- Be a secondary school graduate or equivalent
- Be between the ages of 18 and 26 years old
- Pass a personal interview
- Pass a physical
- Pass a background investigation
- Be able to stay with the host family for at least 12 months
How Much Does an Au Pair Cost?
The total cost of an au pair ranges from $25,000 to $30,000 for 12 months — which is about $2,083 to $2,500 per month or $480 to $577 per week. Note that this is higher than the average per-child cost for daycare; however, au pair costs do not change based on the number of children in the host family. The cost of hosting an au pair can be broken down into four categories:
An Au Pair’s Weekly Pay
Host families pay au pairs a federally mandated minimum weekly stipend of $195.75. 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 an Au Pair’s College Coursework
In addition to a weekly paycheck, host families are also required to pay up to $500 toward the cost of the au pair’s post-secondary coursework.
The Program Sponsor’s Fee
The U.S. Department of State oversees a list of officially designated au pair sponsor organizations approved to arrange placements. Host families pay the program sponsor to cover all expenses related to screening, training, and bringing an au pair to the United States.
Program sponsors typically charge host families between $8,000 and $9,000 for this service. Sponsor organizations provide protections for au pairs and host families alike, monitoring work conditions and compensation.
We detail three of the large, well-known agencies below to provide insight on program sponsor fees:
Agent Au Pair
- Agency Cost for One Year: $8,895; extended payment plan (six payments) available for $9,145
- 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: Visa processing fee ($35) and transportation from Connecticut to your home
- Other notes: Discounts of $500 to $1,000 are available for applying early, repeat hosts, and families who refer others to the program.
- Find out more about Agent Au Pair
Au Pair in America
- Agency Cost for One Year: $9,085
- Services Covered: Recruitment, interviews, screening, international travel to the orientation site (from select cities), orientation and training, partial visa processing, partial medical insurance, personal liability coverage, support services throughout the program, and re-matching services (if needed)
- Services not covered: Partial visa processing, a matching fee ($450), and transportation from the orientation site to your home
- Other notes: An extended payment plan is available (fees apply).
- Find out more about Au Pair in America
Au Pair USA by InterExchange
- Agency Cost for One Year: $8,990
- Services Covered: Recruitment, screening, visa sponsorship, international travel to the orientation site (New York), orientation and training, and program support
- Services not covered: Match processing fee ($190) and domestic travel (from New York to your home)
- Other notes: Discounts of $250 to $1,000 are available for qualified families, such as military families, those who switch to Au Pair USA from another agency, returning families, or those who refer others to the program. For families who wish to continue their au pair’s stay beyond 12 months, there are also extension plans available at a reduced cost.
- Find out more about Au Pair USA
Daily Living Expenses
The cost of living for an au pair is an important expense host families should take into consideration.
While you are not required to provide your au pair with a cell phone, your au pair will need a way to communicate with you — particularly in case of emergency — and may use a cell phone for other purposes like navigation. In general, plans range from around $35 to $90 per phone, per month. However, costs will vary depending on the provider, phone, your au pair’s data allowance, and whether you can bundle the au pair’s phone into your family cellular plan.
You are required to provide three meals per day for your au pair, whether or not the whole family eats together. The average food cost per individual is about $250 per month.
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 vehicle. 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 set aside funds for public transportation.
You are required to provide a private room for your au pair. If you would otherwise be renting out that room or if you need to move to a larger house or apartment to meet that requirement, count that into your costs.
Outings and Vacations
Family outings will often include your au pair, and you may wish to take him or her 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.
An au pair provides a host family with full-time, live-in childcare, while a host family provides an au pair with the opportunity to live, work, and study in the U.S. The cost of an au pair includes a weekly stipend, education expenses, program sponsor fees, and related living expenses; program fees are around $9,000 per year, but the total cost may be up to $30,000 per year. For many families, an au pair provides a unique and positive cultural experience that is well worth the expense.
I am hosting my 5th au pair and have really enjoyed the experience. I found that my food expenses actually went down where I started hosting au pairs. We were eating at home more and my au pair is much better at sticking to the grocery list.
Another cost to consider is a cell phone and service for your au pair. She will need to communicate in case of emergencies. Also, if she is driving she will need data in order to use navigation.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Maggie, and thank you for the suggestion regarding cell phone costs! We have updated our article to include information about cell phone plans.