OK OK OK. I'm finally doing it. Sorry I've been a Lame Blogger lately, I guess I just had my doubts that anyone would actually still want to be an au pair after coming across my blog. I mean, y'all realize it involves CHILDREN, right?
But I digress.
SO. HOW MUCH IS THIS REALLY GONNA COST YOU? It seems like any other job, right? You go through the interview, do the paperwork, and start getting paid? Wrong. The dark side of being an au pair - the part they don't tell you - is that you're going to rack up some expenses of your own. And you thought the "dark side" was the kids..... Let's take a look at these, shall we?
1. Au pair paperwork. The French government will want a copy of your most recent diploma (probably high school, even if you have your college diploma already) and a "letter of motivation," i.e., why you want to be an au pair. But despite the fact that almost everyone in France speaks English, an English copy of these documents won't suffice. Oh no. You much have a translation of these documents. And not just any Google Translate hack job will work either. It must be done by a "certified translator." Cost for my HS diploma: $75. And I thought this was expensive until I called around and other translators wanted to charge as much as $200 for this. I went with $75 and called it a day. As for my letter of motivation, I don't believe this needs to be "certified." I plugged it into Google Translate (hint: this will become your best friend) and figured the bad translation would prove to them how much I really really needed to study and improve my French. Try to scan and email these documents to your host family to avoid international postage fees.
Cost: AT LEAST $75.
2. Visa. A long stay visa costs $141 according to the Miami consulate website. I have been told that since what you end up getting is a student visa, some consulates will charge you $71 instead. Mine didn't. Have $141 set aside just in case.
3. Place tickets, both ways. If you are arriving in August, expect to spend at least $800 on a plane ticket. Yes, that's one-way. In September they will get lower, I was able to find a ticket for $500 at studentuniverse.com. The same rule applies for coming home; July and August will be the most expensive times to return because these are France's vacation months. I would budget between $1600-$2000 to pay for both flights, but this will vary depending on where you are coming from and if you find better deals than me. Book your return flight early, they only go up. If you have leftover money, then you'll have extra money to spend in Paris, or on a flight home for Christmas (I was able to find a ROUND TRIP for around $700 since winter flights are cheaper). Worst case scenario, fly to Paris then tell your parents if they ever want to see you again they'll have to pay for your ticket home because you are now a broke au pair with no money. It worked for me.
TIPS: It will probably be cheaper to fly into/out of NYC, or a major city, than other places, but consider the extra cost of baggage on domestic flights that you don't have on international flights before booking 2 separate trips. Also, many people find cheaper tickets to London then take the Eurostar to Paris. If you do this book early, the Eurostar is notorious for raising ticket prices at the last minute.
Cost: Let's say $1600. May be more, may be less.
4. French classes. Some families pay for these, but most don't because they are told by au pair websites that they don't have to. They are expensive, especially in the city of Paris. They can be cheaper elsewhere. You theoretically have to sign up for a whole year, but most language schools don't even let you sign up for a year at a time. Mine, Campus Langues in the 19th arrondissement, has an au pair program which cost €455 for 10 hours a week, for 12 weeks. If you want to reenroll at the end of these 12 weeks (which you are supposed to do), double this. If you only enroll for 8 hours a week for one 12 week session and stop taking classes after that, it's only €395. No one from immigration will hunt you down if you do this, but it will probably be difficult to renew your visa if you want to stay a second year.
Cost: if you do what you're supposed to: €455 x 2 = €910 =
€395 = $
€25 = $36.63. You may need to buy another one of these later in your course as your French gets better.