When Au Pairs Prioritize Location

by cv harquail on April 23, 2011

“Location, location, location” — that’s all that matter in real estate. And for some au pairs, that’s all that matters in their match.

I understand that au pairs have ideas about where in the USA they’d like to live (e.g., California, Florida, and New York), and that they want to maximize the adventure of the year of au pairing.

Still, for me it raises a big red flag when an au pair candidate says s/he wants to match only with a family in a particular location. It makes me wonder whether s/he really understands that being an au pair means, and whether s/he is in it for the right balance of reasons.

beach girl.jpg When we lived in Charlotttesville, I wondered if any au pair candidates would want to come there. Sure, it’s a cute university town with a young adult night life, but it is 2.5 hours away from a big city (Richmond doesn’t count). Charlottesville didn’t have much celebrity to attract candidates, so I liked to assume that our au pairs matched with us because they liked our family situation.

For my sister, it seemed pretty easy to find au pair candidates who were interested in her family situation… after all, they live a block away from Central Park in NYC, and their au pair room has its own bathroom!

But I think that the appeal of my sister’s location is what sent some of the least responsible candidates her way– some were so desperate to be in New York City that they lied about their interest in childcare. So when one of her au pairs disappeared in the middle of the day, leaving her 5 year old at school and empty liquor bottles in the closet– without picking up either one– we concluded that my sister had been taken advantage of by an au pair who wanted to spend 4 months in NYC before returning home to Sweden.

The whole location thing is one where I really see the priorities of au pairs being in conflict with the interests of families.

While I understand that any au pair might have a strong preference for location, any strong preference for location means that for me as a host parent I am less interested in that candidate— even if what s/he wants is a nice, diverse suburb just west of Manhattan where people think Bruce Springstein is a god.

What do you think about au pair candidate who prioritizes location?

Here’s an email from au pair candidate Shakira, who has a location preference and wonders how that should matter:

Dear AuPairMom,

I’m Shakira (23) from Spain, an AuPair-to-be and I’m hoping your could give me an advice.

When I applied to an au pair program early in April, the agency told me I could not choose any particular state. But, my ‘counselor’ here in Spain -the girl who interviewed me at the local Agency- told me that with my qualifications, hobbies, and my daily life as such as I wrote in my ‘Host Family Letter’ I could get a host family in the West Coast as I want.

I was living abroad several times, the last one was in the States (almost 4 months in Brooklyn!), I consider myself very flexible, I’m in discussion with a host family from suburban NY and I don’t mind to live in NY again. But I’m not 100% convinced, if I have this wonderful opportunity to live in USA again, I would like to live in California. I spent the Spring Break ’08 in Riverside and I’ve fell in love with that State. I was taking a look at so many webs where families are looking for Au Pairs and California and NY are the states with offers more host families.

Since my profile was opened, 12 days ago, only 3 host families have written me, only one was from West Coast, in Washington State. The other two were from near NYC. However, since the first family needed me to be comfortable to drive on ice (it was the first and almost only question they ask for) so I had to say no.

I am from a coastal city, there’s no snow/ice here!)

Host families can see in my letter that I love doing water sports, going to the beach, playing with the kids in the park, walking around the city… and these three families only send me photos of them skiing, playing in the snow and they live in the countryside.

They told me the program only works if you’ve a great match with the family, and I already know that, I mean, it’s the most important thing, but I know myself and, if I don’t feel comfortable in the place where I’m going to live, the program isn’t going to work anyway. I was talking to my ‘counselor’ about this when I did the interview and she said, there’s no problem with it, I can’t go with a ‘perfect host family’ if I’m not going to be happy around there in that location.

What do you think? Do you think I’m doing all wrong?

I’m telling you this, because, first of all, I would like if you give me an advice about it and, if you could ask for (or may you know) any host family in California who needs an Au Pair. You don’t know how much I would appreciate your reply. I want to give all the best to live this chance, to study abroad and to meet a new family in the States, but am I doing it in the wrong way? What should I do?      Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to hearing you, Best regards, Shakira


(Ex) Au Pair in CO April 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

My agency let me request states/part of the country on my application, but I chose not to as I was afraid that doing so would put off families from other states. I ended up going to Colorado, a state I had never even though about before matching, and had the best year I could possibly have had here:)

Of course location is important, but the family is what’s going to make or break your year, so make choosing a good family your top priority, no matter how far away from the beach they live:)

My 2 cents April 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

You need to make a choice and only you can do it. If deep, deep down you really want to be in California — and by the sound of it — Southern California then stick with that and don’t deviate. You will need to accept that you may not ever au pair or may not for a long, long, time.

But whatever you do, don’t string along or trick prospective host families not from that area. Don’t accept the applications or interview anyone with the notion that you will switch once you get here, or maybe extend after your first year, or somehow make yourself happy, other nonsense. You will end up regretting your decision and wreak havoc for them.

Calif Mom April 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Anyone who can spend time in Riverside and fall in love with it is definitely flexible! (Go Highlanders!)

I absolutely agree that you have a moral obligation to make sure that your fit with a family is good when considering ALL criteria, not just that they live in Calif.

Also, please be sure you understand that all parts of California are NOT like Riverside or Southern California in general. Berkeley is uniquely different. Sacramento and Fresno are each different–in different ways. Ditto San Jose. All are California.

But if you find a family you love, and they don’t live in Calif, please don’t string them along, either. Either wait for the perfect family who is also in Calif, or decide CAlif isn’t the most important thing.

aria April 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm

This is such a great topic. My 2 cents was so right- don’t try to convince yourself that it will be ok if you don’t match with a family in Cali if you REALLY want to go there. Because it won’t and everyone will end up miserable.

When I was looking for a family, I was immovable on location- they had to live in Paris. And then I matched with the first family who contacted me and, guess what, didn’t live in Paris. They lived about 2 hours away on a farm, in a converted barn. I *hate* the country- it was probably the stupidest decision I’ve ever made. Long story short- it was a disaster (to be fair, they were also dishonest in the info they gave me before I came) and I left after 6 weeks. I found a family in Paris and finished out the year there. I obviously learned a valuable lesson, but it was not a pleasant experience for anyone to get there.

I think it’s fine to search for families exclusively in an area you’d like to be- if you’re a country person, you probably won’t be happy in the middle of Manhattan, and vice versa. What use is an unhappy au pair out of her element to a family? Many host families search for au pairs exclusively from certain countries, or exclude countries known for bad driving, for example. I think it’s just good searching technique.

Former AP. April 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm

For a lot of girls I have met before I was an au pair , finding a family that connected with them, that made them feel safe and comfortable was most important than location.

Including me! Otherwise I wouldnt have accepted to live in the Midwest. But I felt the family would be a good match. As far as I know considering my experience and the girls I have met, finding a good family was more important than a good place.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 23, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I would rather have an AP say, “No thank you, I’d rather live in X,” then agree to have a telephone interview with me. DH and I go through hoops to organize telephone interviews, and we only want to speak with APs who are serious about joining our family. If you’re serious about living in another part of the country, then be honest (and as a previous poster wrote, be prepared to wait).

One thing I would recommend. If your agency permits you to see the address of host families that are interested in you, then do some research. After all, there are plenty of places in the US that offer the same amenities as Riverside that are not in California. (And you don’t want to match with a family in Marin County thinking you’re getting greater Los Angeles.)

HFs and APs match for all sorts of reasons. Location is a valid reason in my opinion.

My advice, however, is pay attention to the HF with whom you match – sometimes a great family can live in a not-so-nice location and give you a better AP experience than a not-so-great family in your ideal location.

JJ host mom April 24, 2011 at 12:20 am

And please don’t match with a family you don’t really like just because they happen to be in an area you want to be in.

Europair April 24, 2011 at 2:28 am

As most European countries regulate that Au Pairs must take language classes, I felt fine looking specifically for a family who lived in a location that would make that easier. Since my visa depended on it, it would not make sense for me to live in a small town with little access to education (or a long drive or bus ride to a school), if I could live somewhere with easier access. I even included it in my interview and profile; I wanted to be upfront that attending a language class was important to me (as well as government regulated), and that I would rather live in a city or suburb with more educational options.

That said, I would not have felt comfortable specifying a particular city or area. I do understand the urge, but unless you have a specific reason for wanting to be there (like a family member who lives nearby, etc.), then it really is a little silly. The best way to enjoy the activities you want (watersports, the beach), is to find a family who also makes that a priority, not just a state. You should open yourself up to any coastal state, as most of them will give you the experience you want, at least for part of the year. Also, as previous commenters have stated, the families you find in California may not be what you want at all, even though they live in your chosen state. Look for coastal towns, but widen your net. There is no reason to limit your options.

Jeana April 24, 2011 at 8:00 am

Our successful matches have been with aupairs that have given priority to the type of family they wanted to live with for the next year. I’ve looked for aupairs that have good relationships with their own families, are in frequent contact, and involved their family in their decision to become an aupair. Aupairs that give consideration to the counsel of their own family will give consideration to my counsel while they live with our family. I am still in contact with our former aupairs, and still give little reminders about staying safe.

I know our successful aupairs chose us based on our family, not living in the suburbs of Chicago. The winters were tough for them, and those that arrived in pretty, shiny boots with heels soon found out they needed to buy something else.

There are some tough times for aupairs, and personally, I don’t think that “location” would be enough for our aupairs to have made it through the year, in those tough moments. Each of our successful aupairs faced some type of significant stress/loss during her year with us. Our first Chinese aupair was here when there was a terrible earthquake in China, that killed thousands. Her neighbors were sleeping in the streets because of the after-shocks. She didn’t know for days whether friends were alive. One of our aupairs faced the very sudden and unexpected death of a young family member. Elderly family members were ill and in the hospital. Life keeps happening during the year that the aupairs are with their families, and I think a good family match is what will help an aupair get through the challenges she may face. Our aupairs have shared information about other girls that matched with families with far more financial resources than we have, with cars, great trips, and easier schedules. A lot of their friends spent time at our house, and our aupairs repeatedly said they were very happy they matched with our family. We couldn’t offer the cars, great trips, or easy schedules, but we did offer a lot of time, attention, and support.

Eurogirl April 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

For me it was important to be in a major city – I au paired in Paris, Berlin and Vienna. My main reasons for that were social. I turned down a family at one stage who sounded like great people, beautiful home, four adorable children, great recommendations from their previous au pairs…because they lived in the middle of the Swiss countryside. Hours from the nearest village, let alone city. Now I’m from a relatively small city in Ireland but I have never enjoyed the countryside, and for me, being able to make friends and spend time somewhere exciting and beautiful was important. I would have been miserable stuck in the middle of nowhere with no friends and looking at mountains! I’m sure they found someone wonderful, but someone more outdoorsy and less sociable than me!

The reasoning here is…have an idea of what TYPE of area you want to au pair in, rather than a specific area. I interviewed and seriously considered other families, but only in areas that I knew would have the amenities I enjoy – and city life suits me far better. In your case I would say “I want to be somewhere coastal and preferably warm climate” because of the activities you enjoy. Rather than pinning all your plans on one town alone.

Gianna April 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I think it is understandable for an aupair candidate to want a specific location. The US is huge and saying Boston versus Cincinnati or Des Moines or Dallas is like saying I prefer Spain to England or Germany to France. Many host families want an aupair from a specific country for all sorts of reasons that make sense from a family point of view.
What is not reasonable , kind or decent is to accept a family in one part of the country with the idea of looking on your own for another family once you get here or making up some bogus story about your working conditions and throwing yourself upon the resources of your sponsoring organization to find you a placement in another area ( or the same area with school age children, a nice car , etc ). But specifying a location prior to placement – why not ? After all, host families do it in terms of nationality which is the same thing .

Raquel (former au pair) April 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

That’s such an important matter. When I decided to be an au pair, I wanted to go to Boston area. I was obsessed by having a chance to take a course in Harvard. I talked to my counselour, as the au pair above did, and she said “if you want to restrict the area, you can; it will take much longer to match with a family, but it is possible. But you will kill the chances to meet a nice family on any other one of the 49 states remained.” So I decided to keep my choice open and ended up matching with a family in New Jersey. They are everything for me!! My boys, my hostmom and hostfather are my true american family. I spent one year in there and I was their last au pair, as the boys were already six and ten. I had the chance to spend the second year in Boston and fulfill my dream of studying in Harvard. Three years later, I went back to the states for two years, and they welcomed me are their daughter again. We speak often and always exchange gifts on birthdays and holidays. Deciding to match with a family instead of with a place was the best thing I’ve done. When I advise future au pairs, I always tell my storie and try to make them understand that family is what matters. I would live with mine again even in Alaska. AU PAIR MOM ROCKS!! :o))

Raquel Amarins April 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Sorry, just correcting: I went back to the US, after three years, to spend two weeks, as a vacation, when I stayed with them again.

Dorsi April 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm

While I agree that an Au Pair can legitimately restrict herself to certain areas, there are significant downfalls to that idea. The problem is that most Au Pairs know very little about American geography. California is a great place to live, but has many different areas and climates. It is not all water sports and beaches. I knew few people there (when I lived in LA county) who did anything in the water on a regular basis). On the other hand, living in a mountain state, I knew many families that spent every week with the jet boat out on the reservoir.

There are realistic reason to want certain locations — weather, urban vs suburban vs rural. However, I think many Au Pairs have a vague notions of why they want to live in New York or California (it is never Oregon or North Carolina). If you love big urban areas, Chicago is great, as is Boston. If you love the sun, what about Arizona or Nevada? Unless you really know the US well, wanting to live in a certain state is unduly limiting. I think it also shows a certain lack of adventure and a limited imagination. I live in what is considered a very cool city, but not one that people know well if they don’t know the US. I am fortunate that no one wants to match with us because we live in such a great place — we find people who fit with our personality.

This is a year of your life and I do think it might be best to open yourself up to new and interesting experiences that you have never had before.

CO Host Mom April 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Dorsi, I couldn’t agree more. I’m interviewing now for AP #4, and I’m talking to plenty of candidates who seem to think the U.S. consists only of California, Florida and NYC. And that’s where they want to go. I get a lot of rejections because we live in Colorado, which I think most Americans would agree is a really beautiful state and a great place to live. Still, it seems very few AP candidates know anything about the State at all.

Michigan Mom April 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

If it’s any consolation, we were once rejected because the candidate had her heart set on Colorado! Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s anyone out there dying to live in the Detroit suburbs.

MommyMia April 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Ah, but the poor transition au pair currently residing with us temporarily would gladly go anywhere to a nice family, as her dreams of a year in the US are coming abruptly to an end after she was taken advantage of and lied to by the host family she was unlucky to have matched with! If you’re by any chance with our same agency, gAP, let me know!

MNTwinsPlusONE April 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

How was this au pair lied to? I don’t understand why people aren’t completely truthful and honest when going through this process? Why on earth would people set themselves up for disaster????

CO Host Mom April 26, 2011 at 9:53 am

Nope, we’re with a different agency. And looking for an August arrival. Our current AP came to us as a rematch AP from a family that also wasn’t fully honest with her. She’s been a great AP, and we consider ourselves lucky to have her. I have no problems at all considering rematch APs.

MommyMia April 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

MNTwinsPlusONE: They told her she would have access to a car during her time off, but won’t allow her to drive (allegedly because she hasn’t gotten her local DL yet, but it’s impossible for her to do so since they don’t give her time off to schedule an appointment to get a SSN (required in our state) nor for the test during the DMV open hours. She has a valid Int’l License, which our state accepts and most insurance companies do also, although they advise applying for state license asap). They lied about her schedule and have had her working more than the legal limit, when she questions it, she’s told she’s disrespectful and promised “time-off” another day, yet never given it. The HF didn’t include her in their activities, basically IMHO, treating her like a servant, rather than an AP. Then when she spoke to the LCC about possible re-match after sticking it out past the two-month requirement, asking for advice about what to do, she was immediately put into rematch without being told until the two week period was almost up, and told she must pay a huge amount for her plane ticket home, since *she* initiated the rematch! Due to our intervention, she was given a tiny extension to try to rematch, but it sounds rather iffy at this point, as the current/former HM was called by the prospective HM, who was too upset at this point, I feel, to give a subjective analysis of the situation. I advised the LCC that HM2 could contact me for a personal reference, but doubt that will happen. Our agency is rather small, so there aren’t many families looking for rematches just at this time, unfortunately. To answer your last question, I think the HF lied because they were desperate to find an AP, and had previously experienced another nanny leaving, and knew that if they spelled out everything, they’d be unlikely to find someone.

MsA April 25, 2011 at 2:51 am

I would have loved to go to Colorado for my second year (I am an Return Au Pair) but mostly had families from Illinois interested in my application.

Should be working April 25, 2011 at 3:40 am

We do live in one of the highly-desired areas, and I consider that a disadvantage for matching–because the onus is on me to weed out candidates who will say ANYTHING to come here.

Calif Mom April 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hear, hear! And they do…

boysmama April 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Third! Believe me, that show The OC ruined 6 months of our lives. Think uninterested in children, over interested in men twice her age.

JJ Host Mom April 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Yes, we do too and I attribute our high rematch rate partially to this. I wish there was some way I could omit the location in our profile so I could only attract people who were genuinely interested in matching with us and don’t care about the location.

Busy Mom April 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

For the same reason, we don’t mention until we’ve pretty much agreed to match that we have a 3rd car. Our family letter states that our au pair has “access to a car,” but I don’t want candidates be influenced by the prospect of their own car.

NHM April 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I think it is legitimate to want a certain location … I also think there are all kinds of families in all areas. If it is a dream of yours to live in California then go for it. As you match with families just make sure that you consider whether they are a good match for you (other than location).

E2 April 25, 2011 at 12:46 am

I think an au pair should specify location in their application/host family letter if it is very important to them. We are not currently in CA, and have gone through the screening process with au pairs just to find out that they wanted to be in CA (or somewhere where it is “sunny all the time”) and, as a CA girl, I find it superficial and annoying! I do have to say, though, if this au pair thinks Riverside is glamorous, they’d probably be just as happy in some other states (Arizona, Nevada…). With all due respect to au pairs, I think many are naive about CA being all beaches and celebrities. I have to admit I giggled about Riverside being a spring break destination. Where is the beach in Riverside?

Calif Mom April 25, 2011 at 10:13 am

Seriously! You can’t even drive to the beach in an hour from Riverside, the way you used to be able to, because of the traffic. At least the air is better now. Maybe she was struck by the Mission Inn, where Gone With The Wind was filmed?!

Sadly, it isn’t just au pairs who are naive about Californians! But that’s a post for another blog…

Interesting the the au pairs feel like they have a limited time window to match in. Is there a deadline set by the agencies? Or is it like houses for sale, if something hasn’t ‘sold’ in the first few weeks everyone wonders what’s wrong with it and doesn’t bother trying? It would be terrible if au pairs were looked at like commodities this way. How long someone has been registered in the system isn’t really a factor for me. But then again, with my track record, I wouldn’t follow my own advice on recruiting au pairs from out-of-country! :-)

MsA April 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

The agency does not set a deadline (unless it’s an Educare who can only depart on certain dates throughout the year).

The Au Pairs mostly have a time frame in which they want to match because of semester start in the following year (if they want to go to university), for example. And some APs don’t have deadline at all and take their time matching.

an ap April 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I was told by the agency in my country we had a deadline of 6 months to mathc…after that we would be removed from the program and only get a part of the money back

xp April 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

In Brazil the agencies have a 12month limit for the au pair to match with a family or they are removed from the program.
I’d say most au pairs have plans on what to do once their au pair year is over, and it usually involves going (back) to school, so I don’t think it’s wrong to have a desired date to travel…but yes, it’s wrong to match a family only because your time is expiring, even if you don’t really like it. It’s bad for the ap and it’s bad for the family.

OPleaseNotCaliforniaOrFlorida April 25, 2011 at 1:08 am

I am an Au Pair in California right now. I definitely did not see myself ending up on the west coast, but since the family was always more important to me and my guts told me to come here, I did. I did not see myself taking care of 4 young children either, but here I am. So my point is, even if you really want something specific, consider your options still. What you want is not necessarily what is best for you. Stick to what you want, but make sure you want it for the right reasons. It does rain in California as well and Au Pairs wouldn’t believe how cold it gets out here. Make the family your priority and then decide if you can love the location as well.
I am so happy with my family and learned to love California su much, that I will stay for another year.

MsA April 25, 2011 at 3:00 am

A friend of mine planned to be an Au Pair in the US 2007. She had the preference to go to Michigan because she had a friend living there. She has gotten a ton of families interested in her but none were from that state, since her limitation was set to MI she never made it to be an Au Pair in the US.

I think it is good to have an idea of what kind of area you want to live in, e.g. city, country side etc. I prefer to be in a city than in the middle of nowhere. But when it comes to matching with a family I go with the feeling my gut is telling me and not which location they live at. If something feels off then I’ll friendly decline a matching offer no matter where the family lives.

It is important to be open for other areas if an Au Pair sets a location preference.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 25, 2011 at 7:34 am

It is also possible to travel to your preferred destination as part of your vacation days. My current AP is careful with her money so she can travel where she wants to on her days off (I give most of the federal holidays off, so my APs have several three-day weekends a year).

I would think if an AP candidate limits her location to the point that she never matches with a family – then how much does she really want to be an AP in the US? Better to visit on a tourist visa!

Steff April 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Sadly I kinda do see this often. On the one hand I think it’s completely respectable to have some kind of preferences as to where you want to spend your AP year. After all, I do agree, families sometimes screen APs based on their homecountry, so I don’t see the problem on an AP knowing more or less where she would like to go, too. Then again, I think those should be *informed* decisions. Not saying I want to be in Cali or NY(keeping in mind NY is a big enough State with a whole lot of places far too different from NYC ofc) based in what you’d seen in movies and TVShows alone or what your conception of a place has been from one reason or another.

I think that girls should really just do a little research before saying ‘no’ to a family only because they aren’t from the State you wanted to go. I DO think the location should be ONE of the criteria AuPairs should have when in the matching process, but *definitely* not the most important…knowing the family, the children- ages, your childcare-experience, HFs interests and hobbies, the “chemistry” you may or may not have with your potential “bosses” for a year should be more important than whether you like to be a place close to the beach & sunny-all-the-time I think…

I for one, in one interview when I was asked what part of the States I wanted to go, I did say California without even thinking, and I guess that’s an honest mistake if you are willing to try to emend it (I know I did lol) I said I wanted to be there because I am interested in the whole film-industry- always been and just loove everything that happens behind the scenes and stuff, which is why I said California.

Now, after I already matched with an amazing family for me (far enough away from Cali) I can’t even envision myself there with a different family. I ended up in a place far too close to an amazing college of Arts that would be just perfect for me to go further into that love for film & music & art overall, chance I wouldn’t have had have I match with a family in the WestCoast. I’m also barely an hour away from the location of a pretty great TVShow I love, and close enough to Florida where there is also an UniversalStudios… & Plus, there are always off days and vacations were I’d be able to go to all those places I envisioned going when I decided to become an AP…

So anyways, I guess my point with all this is that…I just wish some girls weren’t SO closed-minded when they get matches from places they don’t know. I’ve heard all sort of stories from APs letting go real great families & places too, and it just makes sad, because sometimes they don’t even take into account the family and far too many other perks they may have if only they thoroughly went through the HFs application and gave them a chance to get a real “feel” of them before saying ‘no’, you know? — So I dunno…I just guess they should make sure the place they are going is right too, but just not the MOST important thing … :)

Steff April 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Oh & a small afterthought…The UnitedStates has 50 States- 50!!! Closing your criteria just to NewYork or California is just missing out on SO much! I’m just saying… ;)

chithu April 27, 2011 at 1:15 am

Though I love NY and Florida as much as the other person (and have lived there too a few weeks), f I want to au pair in US, these states would be my top 5 choices to live
1. Oregon (forests, oceans, mountains, waterfalls… this state has everything!)
2. Georgia (want to see why they say that about southern charm…)
3. Colorado (The Rockies!)
4. Texas (Proximity to spanish culture and the beach + hot weather, reminiscent of my home country)
5. Vermont (last choice for their bitter winters, but still i would love to see the foliage)

I am too old now to be an au pair, but I guess I can dream…!!!

chithu April 27, 2011 at 1:18 am

oops, sorry i meant mexican culture and food, not spanish!

Steff April 27, 2011 at 9:49 am

Oh well…I just gotta say then how I’m very much glad the state I’d be living in is one of the 5 you mentioned :D For what I have read & heard, it was a great place to live in, so I guess you were just yet another good thing to add to the pros list hehe :)

PA AP mom April 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

We are dealing with this today.

We found a candidate for next year that we LOVED! She was perfect. We received an email from the agency this morning that she won’t match with us because she wants NYC or Los Angeles or Florida.

Oh well. Her loss.

CO Host Mom April 26, 2011 at 10:00 am

We’re dealing with this right now as well. What I tell myself when we get rejected because we live in Colorado is that if they are really so focused on being somewhere else (NYC, CA or FL) is that they really wouldn’t have been a good AP anyway. I’d much rather find someone that feels a connection with our family and is thrilled to join us, regardless of where we live.

HM Pippa April 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

One criteria I use to exclude APs from consideration is a preference for CA/LA, FL, or NYC (and not just because I don’t live in one of them;-). To me, a preference for one of the big three potentially indicates a stereotypical vision of Amerika, a closed mind, and a lack of flexibility and sense of adventure. I am annoyed to no end when I observe an AP seek out examples to reinforce his/her preconceived ideas about the US. I nearly choked on my burger when AP2 leaned over to me and whispered, “Would it be mean if I said that they are so typical American? Look how FAT they are! ” as she pointed to the one family (among 50 other typical weight families) at the restaurant who was obese. The US is more than fat people, Mickey Ds, the Big Apple and sunny beaches. Those APs who seek out their stereotypes are missing the bigger, more nuanced picture.

I appreciate an AP who is self-aware enough to know that a particular environment (whether urban, rural, or suburban) will not meet his or her social needs, but I also think that an enormous benefit of the AP year is the opportunity to step out of one’s comfort zone and experience something new.

NorCaMom April 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Oh, this rings a bell for me! We recently finished matching for our next au pair. One candidate, who didn’t even do a telephone interview with me (I believe after seeing my young kids) – suddenly emailed me urgently, asking if I knew of any families in Southern CA (we live in Northern CA). Barring that, she wanted our LCC’s contact info to ask her! When I asked why / if everything was ok – she stated it was because she had a match offer from a family out east, but would turn it down if she could find a family in Los Angeles.

This was my first experience with it, and I found it sad for all involved.

CA mom to twins April 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

If the au pair is set on being in a certain location, I think it’s important to make sure s/he is aware where the family lives in relation to cities/beach/points of interest. We live in suburban Norcal and public transportation is not fantastic. I wanted to let our candidates know exactly what they are getting into so there are no misunderstandings.

On the other hand, I think the candidates should not be so narrowly focused on location. There are fantastic families who live in the boonies but include au pairs on wonderful vacations. And there are nightmare families who live in big cities.

Candidates have to think whether they can live in a particular location with a particular family for an entire year, a decision not to be made lightly because there are other people involved (kids, especially) whose lives are impacted.

former scandinavian aupair 23 April 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm

ok all you hostmoms out there are gonna hate me after this but i will be very honest and say that a huge reason for my wanting to become an au pair in the first place, was living in Southern California. mainly because i had been watching too much tv. when i signed up with the agency i wrote that “it would be really nice to find a family who lives near the ocean because ive lived near the ocean my entire life” but what i really meant was “pleeease find me a family in southern california”. the agency couldnt find me one so i started looking myself, and signed up with many au pair websites, looking for a SoCal family. 20 days before my “departure day” that the agency sets, i finally got a positive reply from a mom from LA who was also looking for someone asap. after 2 emails back and forth we decided to match. we spoke on the phone once and that was it. i will be honest and say that i probably wouldnt have wanted to match with this family if it wasnt for the fact that they were from LA. the agency told me i shouldnt make up my mind this quickly and say yes only based on location. seriously, i didnt care about the schedule, the family rules, the fact that i wouldnt have a car, i would accept ANYTHING just because i wanted to go to SoCal SOO badly. you probably think im gonna say that this was the worst decision i ever made and that i had set myself up for disaster. but i was EXTREMELY lucky. i got the best family ever and bonded SO well with the kids. i got used to the schedule, found out i got to use the 3rd car eventually once they trusted me, and i ended up LOVING the area so much that i stayed for 3 years with the same family. best 3 years of my life. was not perfect, but i learned SO much and even though we had our differences, i love every member of that family to death.

im sure i could have found an equally great family in rural Arkansas, but I dont know if I would have enjoyed my stay as much as i did in SoCal or stayed for that long. location was a big deal for me. i absolutely LOVED los angeles and that place will be in my heart forever. i never stopped appreciating that place and, no kidding, every day i got up in the morning, i felt lucky to be there.

my point is, you can easily set yourself up for disaster by saying you only want to go to CA, NY, FL, but if its your dream and a big reason as to why you are becoming an aupair, go for it and wait for the perfect match.

Calif Mom April 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Yep, you were lucky. And you probably have a strong instinct about people, And you’re probably also flexible enough to work with a range of people. Not every au pair candidate sports these qualities!

LA without a car is impossible unless you’re right on the beach and never go anywhere besides the coffee house, farmer’s market and beach. (Oh, please sign me up!!!)

Carlos April 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I think your story is amazing. I’m applying right now and they’re trying to find me a match and I want to go to those citys because I want to study filmmaking and I know that the best schools are around there.
Somehow that’s why I looked up for this website, to find someone on my own because the agency backsup telling me that they’re having a hard time trying to find me a family because of my hours of experience and that nobody want’s a “manny” but when I read stories like yours I get excited and I know I’ll do my best when I’m there.

Former au pair April 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I agree with a lot of the things said here already. I think deciding on location due to weather and urban vs rural is a good idea. When I was placed in Germany, I really wanted to be somewhere close to a city, because I am exceptionally outgoing and I like to be able to go out and make friends and be social. Luckily for me I matched with a family in Munich. The family was great and the location was fantastic. With the amount of free time in the European program, it was a great thing to be so close to the city. If I had been stuck out in the country I would have had a really hard time adjusting.

AuPairToBeFromGermany April 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I’m from Germany & when I applied to the AuPair programm with my agency, I couldn’t chose a state or area. When I decided to get an Account on GreatAupair.com, I knew I could add a prefered state and city but I didn’t. For me it was clear that I would chose my family after how I feel conected with them. If there is a sympathy or not. Because what is the best location if you don’t have any conection with your host family?
I know many AuPairs who firstly only wanted to go to California as AuPair but now they’re located at different places and are happy there because the family is a great match :) I wouldn’t say “no” to a host family because of the location, if there is another reason…for example that you don’t feel comfortable when you talk to your HostParents to be or whatever else it is okay, but to denie because of the location is wrong in my opinion. If the family really is a match the location doesnt’t matter.
I would have loved to be located in Seattle as an AuPair but I’ll be located close to DC (which is really awesome) so I will travel to Seattle, I already found a couple of girls who’ll travel with me :)
So if you feel the Family is right for you, “the family” so to speak, location shouldn’t be a matter :)

HMinWI May 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm

As a HM in Wisconsin I have a lot of experience with AP candidates who don’t even know where the midwest is let alone want to come here for a year. Over our 5 years of interviewing APs we have had several decide against joining our family because of where we live. I have always figured it was better that they admitted that they didn’t want to go through a midwest Winter before they got here. So, when an AP really became interested in our family and told us that they didn’t care where we lived it was a huge step in the right direction. None of my APs have loved Winter, but they all have had experiences here that they will likely never have again. And, all have been thankful for them.

If you want a specific location, go ahead and look, but my advice would be to be open to exploring other places. You may find a family in a location that is just too good to ignore. Good luck!

Tanya May 22, 2011 at 6:55 am

I am a first and last and only time! wanna-be au pair and that is why location is so important to. I only have 3 months to be an au pair as it is during my university holiday, before I enter my final year of studies. I visited Boston and New York last year and loved both. So because I do not have the time to fall in love with a new place, I have to go with a place I know I can be happy in. This will be my only opportunity to do this so I have to be as sure as possible that it will be a good one. As for other conveniences like use of a car, beach holidays etc, not an issue . I hope this doesn’t put off potential HF’s but I will be clear about the reasons for those particular locations in all my communication with them.

Dorsi May 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

It doesn’t sound like you are going to become an Au Pair — there are no 3 month programs in the U.S. I think you are coming here on a tourist visa to illegally work and extend your previous vacation by visiting places you love? That is an entirely different situation.

MommyMia May 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Ah, but Tanya will have no shortage of families wanting her, if her qualifications are good! Many (East Coast, in my limited experience) families do in fact hire “summer au pairs”, who do come on tourist visas. You can find families advertising on AuPair-world.com for 3-month jobs, and yes, it is totally illegal!

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