The most important thing when looking for an Aupair home is of course the family you’ll be living with. It doesn’t matter if they live in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower and your own private balcony. If you don’t like the kids or don’t get along with the parents it’s not going to work. So first pick your family and then think about these 5 items before committing.
Some people hate the snow, others hate humidity, others hate the rain. Seasonal Affectedness Disorder is real and can greatly influence how happy you are during your year abroad. Find a weather pattern you can live with. Yes you can buy warmer clothes or rain gear but if it’s going to depress you for an entire year maybe you should look somewhere else.
Do crowds bother you? Do you hate running into people you know in the supermarket? Do you need green space or are you happy in the concrete jungle? This question is VERY important. I live in a decent sized city, it isn’t huge, but it’s isn’t a village with 4,000 inhabitants. Personally I never would have been happy in Vienna. I know that because I lived in NYC and hated it. For me that city is too big. But I know a lot of people that would not be happy in the city I’m in now. They would be bored. For me it’s perfect though. Decide what will make you happy. I would not recommend living anywhere super small though. Personally I think it should have an airport and a train station.
How does the public transportation in the town work? Are there busses, trams, and the Straßenbahn? How close is the nearest stop to your host family’s house? I am lucky and I have access to a car, but most au pairs don’t. You could be completely reliant on the bus schedule to get anywhere. If it’s going to take 45 minutes to get into the city maybe that isn’t something you want to do every day. Or 45 minutes to get the kids to school and back at 7:30 in the morning.
How easy will it be to travel to other locations?
I never really pictured myself on the Eastern side of Europe. I think I more saw myself in the Netherlands, or Ireland, or the UK. And I wanted to see Paris, Rome, London, and Amsterdam. So when a family from Austria contacted me I had to really think about it. It’s more eastern than I expected but I realized it’s pretty close to a lot of places. I looked up train and bus trips to different locations across Europe and made sure I’d be able to go for the weekend and see what I wanted to see. I’m actually very thankful I didn’t end up in the UK because it would have been much more difficult to get around. For me Austria is perfect because it’s close enough to the big cities I’ve always wanted to see but it also opens up a new area I hadn’t thought about. I probably never would have gone to Prague or Budapest on my own. But they are so close to me now I thought why not?
I never in a million years thought I would be learning German. Even when I knew I was moving to Austria it was only a vague afterthought that they speak German here. I figured I could get by with English. And for the most part you can. Almost everyone speaks English, but when you go to a store or eat in a restaurant having to tell the workers you speak English is kind of annoying… for everyone. Also standing around 5 people speaking another language and having no idea what they are saying isn’t fun either. So you will learn the language even if you don’t really intend to. Most countries require at least one class once you arrive so you’ll learn at least some basics, but if you really want to be happy you’ll learn more. So once you find your host family and know what language the speak do a couple of lessons on Duolingo. See if you can handle it. It’s not mandatory to love the language but if you have no interest or desire to learn a different language you shouldn’t be an au pair.