During college, I really wanted to study abroad in Europe. There was one thing holding me back: money.
I thought it would be way to experience to live in Europe…afford to travel…not to mention get a visa… It was all too much for me at the time. I decided that living abroad would never be a reality for me, but then I discovered the opportunity to live in Europe as an au pair.
Paying for food as an au pair
As an au pair, you are entitled to room and board, food, AND a monthly stipend or “allowance.” This is also sometimes referred to ask “pocket money. » All this in exchange for working 25 hours per week with the children of the host family.
The minimum monthly pay for au pairs in France is 80 euros, but many families pay more than that! Au Pair Butrfly Agency families have to pay at least 90€ a week.
I have now been an au pair for five months in the south of France. Just to reassure you that the finances are doable, I will walk you through a week of my spending with some tips about how to save money living in France as an au pair!
Living costs as an au pair
Part of the agreement of being an au pair is receiving room and board from the host family. This means that they are required to provide you with at least two meals a day! Take advantage of that!
Personally, part of my job is to eat breakfast with the children. For lunch, I like to eat any of the leftovers to make sure no food is wasted. If there is nothing left over, I like to buy a simple sandwich at the bakery for about 5€. Usually they are very filling and more than enough for a great lunch!
On the weekends au pairs are usually in charge of providing their own meals. Since I like to spend time with friends, I do find myself eating out a lot on the weekends. However, since many of my friends are also on a budget, we are happy with spending between 10 and 15€ on a meal. We also like to cook together, which saves a lot of money and can be very fun!
Can I afford to shop as an au pair?
When I packed to move here I took my favorite and most versatile articles of clothing. When I shop here in Europe, I try to remind myself that I am going back to the United States in 5 months and will have to downsize for the trip home!
This being said, I did have to buy some essentials here in France. For example, I arrived in August without a winter coat. In October I bought a coat that I thought would be great for the winter, but in November I found out the hard way that I was wrong about how warm it was, so I had to spend another 100€ to get a warmer coat.
After that experience, my advice is this:
when you have to make necessary purchases, make sure you spend a little more money to make sure the product is of good quality and will last for as long as you need it.
Can I afford to go out and have fun?
It’s true what they say about southern Europe: sometimes the wine is cheaper than the water! Here in France, tap water is free (another way to save money!) but wine is sometimes the cheapest thing you can order at the bar.
Skip bottled beer, and order a draft, or a glass of wine! If you’re not interested in alcohol, that’s even better for the budget!
What about traveling as an au pair?
Traveling can be expensive, but there are some good tools to use like skyscanner.com for flights. Additionally, Europe is really great for their train system! Make sure to consider all modes of travel.
You can do a lot on 80€ a week!
Before I started as an au pair, I thought it was going to be prohibitively expensive. Now that I’ve lived here for 5 months, I make more than enough to survive and I have not touched as much of my savings as I thought I would. If living in Europe for a short amount of time is your goal, au pairing is the best way to do it on a budget!
To register with a family for a free, go to our the Au Pair Butrfly Agency website and make your profile for free!