When You Give Your Extension Au Pair a Raise, And She Wants More

by cv harquail on January 29, 2013

What a conversation we’ve been having about whether (or not) to offer an outstanding extension au pair a raise above the mandated weekly stipend!

This all was prompted by an email from the aptly self-named “Host Mom Who Wants To Be Fair”.bitofwhymsyprims.jpg

HM2bFair writes:

Dear Au Pair Mom,

I’m hoping to get some good advice from other host families!

Let me start with some background – our au pair is 22 and has been with us for 11 months. She has become fairly fluent in English over the course of her (almost) year here. We have one daughter and she is 1 year old. My husband and I both work outside the home and typically our au pair is working right at 45 hours. When we go over, we pay her an extra $10/hr.

Our current au pair is our first and we absolutely love her and so does our daughter. She is very responsible and takes great care of our daughter.

Here is our issue – our au pair decided to extend with us for a second year (and we are very excited).

But when we offered her a $50/week raise in addition to the existing weekly stipend, plus extra pay for any extra hours, she did not seem very happy with this.

In addition to the money, our au pair has her own bedroom, bathroom and private living space; full time access to a car; paid for cell phone; private laptop; several weeks off in addition to her official vacation when we’ve been out of town.

I’m looking for advice on what other HF’s pay their au pairs when they extend, if they’ve offered more money and how much. I just want to make sure we are being fair and any advice on how to broach this subject without sounding like “we give you so much, just be happy with the money”.

As you readers know, we had that conversation about whether or not we’d offer a raise, and how much we’d consider.

But while we were hoping to offer HM2bFair some advice, another shoe dropped: 

Since I wrote you, our au pair has come to us with her proposal of what she’d like to get paid…and it is almost double the normal stipend.

I do believe that someone is steering her, but I’m not sure who. My husband and I are now prepared for her to leave, as we are financially unable to provide what she is asking for. But, I’m sad that what was a happy relationship is now strained because we wanted to be generous.

I’d still like to know if we are way off base with our offer.

What would other readers do in this situation?


CA Host Mom January 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Wow. My knee jerk reaction is, no-way-no-how. And then after reading about the ‘other shoe’. Absolutely no way!

I feel for HM2bFair and her family (and the AP) because when things deteriorate like it seems to cast a sad hue over the entire relationship and, at least for us, we really develop strong bonds with our APs and love them dearly, most especially when they are wonderful with our children (which it sounds like this AP is).

It’s hard to know what would have given AP the idea that she a) could demand a raise at all (perhaps the offer by the HF?) or b) that she had room to counter the offer.

The one thing that I am slightly uncomfortable about is the “extra hours” that HM2bFair mentions … but we are a by the book kind of family and haven’t ever felt comfortable asking our AP to work more than 45 hours (though we frequently run into situations where we could use more help!).

In this case, based on what we know, I think it is time for HF and AP to part ways …

I’m interested to hear what others think.

American AP in Europe January 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

If you don’t want to pay what she’s asking, just tell her exactly that. Say you’re glad to have her but your offer is firm and you hope she will accept. What other people are paying wont really carry a lot of weight in her mind so I wouldn’t even mention it. I would, however, ask if there is a reason she is needing a lot. For example, my student loan payment of $225 is due on the 3rd of the month. I told my host mom this and she was happy to pay me early the first few months I was here (I’m paid monthly, not weekly). It was an enormous weight off my shoulders and her understanding my reasoning definitely helped her see wherein was coming from.

Do your best, but be prepared to part ways with her.

American AP in Europe January 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I just want to expand because it’s disappointing to read what other posters are saying… In your discussion with her, breaking her down and making her feel as if she’s being greedy will not be productive at all. If she thinks she’s worth more than you’re willing to pay, no one can tell her otherwise. You can simply say that unfortunately your offer is firm. Not “can’t”, not “won’t”, just that your offer is firm and you hope she’ll stay.

You could also give her a context and kindly point out that typical raises are around 2-10% in America, and that candidly–asking a 100% raise is very uncommon and you as an employer cannot agree to it.

If you do REALLY want to keep her…you mentioned that someone may be “pushing” your AP to ask for a raise. You can try to ask her about it. It IS likely she could have some financial strains. Perhaps you could give her a one time re-signing bonus if she has a bill to pay? Or advance her some of her salary?

The fact that she does have a good deal in the whole au pair scheme doesn’t really mean anything because she matched with YOUR family. She didn’t match with the family with five kids and one bathroom because she didn’t want to, so in my opinion, telling her things that contextualize the situation is really irrelevant. All that matters is your agreement with each other and your situation.

Please update what happens. I’m always curious how these things turn out but no one follows up!

A Host Mom January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

I kinda agree with this. Honestly, she is young and is overestimating her worth (I’m sorry if that sounds horrible). I don’t think its an immediate rematch situation, because her options are great: she’ll either rematch where she’ll receive what she is receiving now, or she’ll go home. If you still want her to stay, let her know that you can’t pay her what she wants (without getting into the perks she receives) and let her decide. Can you initiate the rematch and then call it off if she decides she wants to stay? I only ask because you may want to look at your other options while she makes up her mind.

A Host Mom January 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

One more important fact: ADDRESS THIS ISSUE BEFORE HER EXTENSION YEAR STARTS!!!! We extended and, two weeks in, she decided she wanted to go home (hence, we will never extend again). We lost about $2k because of this but if she had told us before the extension year started, I would have gotten a full refund.

Super Au Pair April 9, 2013 at 10:50 am

I cant believe that the au pair is asking for more money! Even if she does have finance issues its no excuse! My host family gave me a raise when I started my 2nd year with them and I was just grateful that they decided to give me a raise at all, the thought of asking for more money never occurred to me, how ungrateful is it to ask for more when host parents dont have to give you one at all! And I’m still paying off my student loan which is in pounds so is half my monthly amount of money but I have never and would never use that as an excuse to ask for more money.
I would tell your au pair that you dont have to give her a raise and that your offer is firm and that the two choices are she takes the raise or she sticks to the weekly stipend set out by the agency.

Anna January 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Tell her that most host parents don’t offer a raise in the second year. They pay exactly $195.75 and it is a stipend, not a salary. She is not a career au pair, but a part of the work/exchange program.

I am happy for you that you got lucky with your first au pair. But I want to tell you that you have a very enviable situation. Just one small sweet child with no special needs, a private bathroom, a car just for her… Most host families I know have more than one child; the average seems to be 3, and I have known au pairs who cared for as many as five. Working 45 hours a week is also typical with children of preschool age.

I am sure that you will have no problem finding another excellent au pair to replace her if she decides to leave. You will have your pick. You will be able to get a new au pair who is very fluent in English already, since you mentioned that your au pair has gained proficiency during her year here.

Your au pair however, if she decides to extend with a different family, will certainly not find a better situation. A new family most likely won’t offer her an increase in stipend, and may not have all the comforts and benefits you offer.

AnotherSeattleHostMom January 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I think unfortunately you have to part ways. If you turn down her offer she is bound to feel resentment. If she were asking for just a bit more than you were offering you could maybe try to meet her halfway, but it sounds like you have vastly different expectations.

In the future I think I will add something to my handbook about potentially extending (since my family is not opposed to extension but would only do so with a fabulous AP who we would want to give a little extra to each week in her second year). Something along the lines of how if we decide after the first year to extend together that she would be given a (%10?) raise. I’d have to think a little more about that actually number, maybe I’d actually go 15% but putting it that way sounds a lot better than an extra $20/week (or $30/week)…. I’ll have to think carefully how to word it though…don’t want anyone to think that extending is a sure thing in our house!

Should be working January 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Please, please, keep us posted on what happens, HM2bfair!

No way is her request reasonable. Your conditions are great and the raise you offer is generous.

I feel like AnotherSeattleHostMom might, sadly, be correct–that you will need to part ways because the AP probably can’t remain with you on your terms without being resentful, and that’s bad.

Is there a way out of that? If it were me, I’d try lightening it up or dismissing it really really quickly to see if she can go forward without resentment. As in a friendly laugh and responding, “Wow, that’s quite a raise proposal! Wish we could do that! So do think about it and let us know what you think about our proposal.” or, “Did someone tell you that was what you should ask for? Gee, what a setup if they did, because that’s really not how extension works!”

Maybe these suggestions feel off, but I am trying to figure out how you could offer her a face-saving way out of clinging to resentment, in case she actually does come to understand how ridiculous her counter-proposal is.

Should be working January 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

P.S. I agree that the ‘extra hours’ thing may have unforeseen effects in this context. If it’s a lot of extra hours she is doing, that may make her feel like she wants an official increase to cover that. Or maybe she figures that other APs wouldn’t agree to your arrangement (which may be correct) and so she is giving you a sort of special deal.

Southern HM January 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I would absolutely look for a new aupair. Her ‘demands’ are concerning, but you are still in a position to select another aupair. If you enter into an extension year, and things go sour (which it sounds like they will), you will have no recourse. You will be in a stressful rematch situation where you will have to find another aupair quickly from the rematch pool, and you may be hit with additional charges from the agency.

I thought our first aupair was amazing as well… but as a first time host mom, I did a lot of cleaning up after her, bending of my rules, all the while thinking I could never find an aupair as wonderful as she was… well, I have learned a lot since this time, and #2, #3, and #4 have all rocked. You have one child and offer the perks. I would stick with the state dept. regulated pocket money and start fresh. I believe this will prevent significant headaches for you.

HRHM January 30, 2013 at 8:53 am

I would second this sentiment. As a first time HM, you have no reference for how good (or fairly enough, how bad) other APs may be. I had a tendency to deify our first AP but after she was gone and a new one was in place, I realized how certain things she did drove me nuts! Of course, each AP does SOMETHING that drives me nuts (and likely me, them LOL) since living with new people is always stressful. But please don’t feel married to this AP just because she is doing a good job. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

WestMom January 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

ITA with both HRHM and Sounthern HM. Our first AP was amazing, but we were pretty soft with her as first time HPs. We expect a lot more now from #2-3-4. It was hard to let her go but it was the right thing to do. We parted in super good terms and have seen her twice since she left. All I can say is not to worry about letting her go. The next one will likely be great too (and who knows… maybe even better :).

I also agree about reconsidering going over your hours with your next AP (if you can). Once you start paying going rate for extra hours, it is very likely to affect satifaction level w/ the amount of the regulated stipend…

Emerald City Host Mom January 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I think the $10 an hour for extra might have muddied the water a bit. In her eyes, your raise is “only” 5 hours of extra work and depending how much you use her above the 45, the raise might not seem like much at all. However, that’s also a situation I am uncomfortable touching as we go to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I think your only hope it to be straight with her and let her know that was not a negotiating starting point, if she can’t accept that, then you both will have to move on. You could ask her why she felt that was a reasonable request.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Whoa! Don’t start looking for a new AP without sitting down at the table. Find a private time to talk. You think she is being coached, and that is likely.

Before you have a chat, be honest with yourself. Do you “occasionally” go over 45 hours (once a month, because you and DH really want an evening out for a couple of hours with someone who knows your child’s routine well) or “routinely” (1-2 times a week because something came up at the office or public transportation failed you, but never more than 1/2 hour at a time) or frequently (1-2 times a week because something came up at the office and it’s more than an hour at a time). Because if her 45 hours a week is closer to 60 a week, then she probably feels like a nanny and you probably need one.

Then, think about how you’re going to reject her offer. You want to be kind and supportive when you begin your conversation because you don’t want to alienate her. You offered her a generous $50 raise because you love her so much and wanted to show your appreciation. Tell her what you like about the job she is doing with your child. Then, move on to a discussion of how you must reject her counter, and how you don’t want it to ruin your second year together. Ask her if she could honestly feel positive about the position earning $50 more a week.

There are several scenarios here. Is the person who encouraged her to double her salary a local nanny? If so, point out all the things for which her friend must pay unlike her. Is it a boyfriend? If he’s American he needs to know that her visa does not translate to finding the next best offer. Try to be as open and neutral in your voice when you talk to her. Tell her that you don’t want money to poison her extension year. If she’s holding firm, then tell her you’re going to talk to the LCC about other options for you, and tell her that one your options is to cancel the extension. At 11 months, it will be up to the agency whether they attempt to help her extend for a second year with another family at her current salary. Ask her if she would like a mediated meeting with the LCC. If your LCC is halfway decent at her job, she will advise your AP to accept the generous $50 raise and to drop the attempt to double her salary.

Your AP may honestly feel that there was no harm in asking, so don’t give her the boot yet!

Calif Mom January 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

(YAY! aupairmom.com is no longer blocked from this computer! About time…. thanks, IT folks who are finally following the policy!)

Totally agree, TACL.

The OP doesn’t have enough info yet, and several possible reasons for this state of affairs could be resolved with a clear, calm conversation between the OP and the AP.

And hosts, please fight the “arms race” of raises! Show them you love another, legal way that doesn’t put us law-abiders in a compromised position!

Alex January 30, 2013 at 12:42 am

Most AP don’t even get a raise during their second year, I mean, when I was one it never crossed my mind asking for one. Yes, more money would’ve been great but, I don’t know… It just never occurred to me.

The one thing that bothered me while reading some of the comments in this & previous post were those saying it’s not a salary, it’s a stipend, and since it’s not a “real job” APs should not get a raise… I know it’s been worded this way by the state of dept, and I know it ~is~ an exchange program, but when we have to follow crazy schedules, watch 2 or 3 kids at time, do the laundry, help with homework and keep the house tidy some forget it’s an “exchange program” and only think of APs as employees.

It is a salary, because we work really hard for it, and I think sometimes HFs forget that.

Aupair again January 30, 2013 at 1:41 am

In my opinion a $50/week raise is more than generous! Your au pair signed up for a program where she knew the stipend would be the same if she extended for a second year. Asking for almost double her stipend is just cheeky…. The au pair sounds like she has a pretty nice set up with your family so finding a new au pair won’t be a problem.

Little M. January 30, 2013 at 3:09 am

50 dollars was a more-than-generous raise! If she doesn’t know how to appreciate that you are more than ready to part ways and look for someone else.

This is only going to cause you trouble.

Seattle Au pair! January 30, 2013 at 7:11 am

I´m going to read all the comments, but I had to first write my opinion abouty this.
Really ???? I mean, Really?????
You are offering extra $50,00 ( that you don´t have to do this) and she wants more??? Does she realize that if she move to a different family she will not get anything ? a family that pays for her phone and she just have to take care of one kid?
I get so mad with those kind of au pairs that don´t realize how lucky they are, and they will not get that if they match with a different family.
I´m sure you can find another girl that will appreciate !!!!

Calif Mom January 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I love you, Seattle au pair!

Super Au Pair April 9, 2013 at 10:59 am

I completely agree! They have no idea ho lucky they are, esp when they/we get given so much by our hf like phones etc and we dont have to pay any major bills etc so all our money is our own and then they still want more and arent grateful when they’re offered more. and then people hear about those au pairs and wonder if all au pairs are like that and most of us arent!

HRHM January 30, 2013 at 9:01 am

To the OP, I’m just curious as to how the “extra hours” factor into the equation. Is the assumption that she will continue to cover the overages that you incur at the 10 per hour rate? Or are the overages going to be covered at a new, higher rate (say 12.50 per hour since you offerred her a 2.5% raise?) Or are the overages now included in her new, higher stipend? This may also effect how she sees your offer vs her request.

I agree with TACL that is you are routinely going over the 45 work limit you really need to re-examine if APs are your best child care solution. Especially being at home all day long with a 1 year old, 50 hours a week is a longggggg time for a young woman and can lead to pretty bad burn out.

cv harquail January 30, 2013 at 9:21 am

The OP’s mention of “extra hours” seems to have hooked a few of us… My understanding from the OP is that she mentions the extra hours to demonstrate that she’s trying to be as fair as possible with this au pair— NOT because these extra hours add up to much. It’s 3 or so extra hours, once or twice a month. Extra, but not arduous.

That said– I wonder if the reason we are looking at ‘extra hours’ is that we host moms are looking for some way to legitimate the Au Pair’s request for an additional $194 per week (for a total of $388). The Au Pair would have to be working a heck of a lot of extra hours for them to be worth $194 (or $144 above the $50 raise).

What if what’s really going on is that

    The Au Pair is unappreciative of the actual raise
    The Au Pair thinks her host family is rich
    The Au Pair doesn’t have a good sense of the going rate for her job
    The Au Pair doesn’t actually like her family all that much and so doesn’t value the intangibles of her situation?

This are all likely interpretations, and to me much harder to deal with as a host mom who’s trying to be fair. My $.02. ;-)

WestMom January 30, 2013 at 9:13 am

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Sounds like you had a great year, but that the recent development could leave a blemish on your relationship. So unfortunate…

To be honest, I am sort of annoyed at your Au Pair’s behavior. How is it that she ended up thinking that the she holds the big end of the stick in this situation? As the host family, you graciously offer her to stay in your home for one more year. You (and the AP program) set the terms of the arrangements. Sounds like this extension negotiation went the other way around, and she thinks it is a privilege for you to have her stay for another year. The equity of this arrangement seems out of balance.

I personally would not offer a raise on an extension, and I think you offer is more than generous. That’s where the negotiation should end. As some others suggested, it is very unlikely she will find this 1 kid + free car + extra pay arrangement anywhere else. And if you end up paying nanny rates for your AP, there is not much value in being in the program. You don’t need to offer a nanny room + board, a free car and free cell phone.

I do think that your extra pay for extra hours might have influenced her actions. Technically, you are using money as a bargaining tool to go outside the rules of the program. And now she is doing the same.

Single HM January 30, 2013 at 9:54 am

I would find a new AP, too.

This will be a grey cloud over the rest of your time together and will not get better if either of you settle.

Sorry this is happening to you…it’s unfortunate after such a good year.

Nikki January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

I think it’s wonderful that you have truly embraced the Au pair program in having your au pair be more apart of your family and that you truly care about her well being. I know for me I would not pay any additional monies that I thought unfair and I could not afford. I am certain you could find many au pairs that you would grow to appreciate and your child would love. The only concern I have are the “additional hours”. Department of State is firm on the au pair hours. 45 hours a week 10 hours max a day, 1 1/2 days off per week and one full weekend a month. I think following the guidelines and finding an alternate babysitter for the additional hours is the way to go. There are some host families that are following the rules of the au pair program and having you write about not following them and paying your au pair additional funds for those hours makes it very hard on the families that can not afford to do that.

1mom2boys4fun January 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

Hello, I am new to this site, and this summer will have my first AP. Obviously I have no experience, but I see a few things here.
1- if she is taking advice from someone, remember, that someone will continue to give advice for the next year…
2- I received a 2% raise in pay this year, and a 6.5% raise in taxes. An increase in my current Nancy’s pay is impossible, and we have had that discussion
3- I think you’re headed down a slippery slope, I’d gate to see you get into a spot a few months down the line when you will have little choice but to give in.

Momma Gadget January 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Perhaps the au pair was just given misinformation.
Recently one of my AP’s friends became a full time (illegal) nanny. We were then approached if we would consider paying- 500$ week directly to the AP instead of paying agency fees. Our AP was under the mistaken impression that it would equal out to same amount we were paying now, and it would be a win win situation for everyone.
I explained that this was not the case. That this was about what we payed for a full time nanny when we had and infant in diapers and a toddlers… also back when the economy was booming.
I showed him exactly what the program fee’s were and explained we could not pay more than what we already were (even if we were willing to go that route-Though we would love for him to be able to stay longer. He completely understood, and we have seen no changes with him either in attitude or executing his responsibilities.
Perhaps your AP is on a fishing expedition. Maybe to her it looks like you have unlimited resources, so hey why not try for more. We struggle with our own (older) children to understand the the lifestyle we live is expensive and that we are not made out of money.
If it were me I would just sit her down and explain to her that you will not pay more. You have already been very generous especially given the program standards. Though you would really like her to stay, this is what you are paying, and if it is a deal breaker, then you wish her well. I think if you are honest and frank with her you can go on to have another successful year. If she can’t understand or sulks when she doesn’t get her way… then oh well, you will find another great au pair who is more appreciative.

JJ Host Mom January 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

At first glance, this is ludicrous.

However, it’s strange enough that I’m wondering if there’s more to it than just the money. Maybe she really doesn’t want to stay, for some reason (got a job offer back home, homesick, family needs) and is trying to find a way to save face and not extend even though she already told you she would.

I would sit down and have a conversation with her. One in which you assume nothing, and ask a lot of questions. Like:
– How is your time going here?
– What’s going on back at home?
– What are your future plans and how does this fit in?
– Is there some reason you need that much more money?
– What makes you think that’s an appropriate amount?
– Is there something else that we could do instead to make you happy?

Calif Mom January 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Good points!

She might not be as happy as you are–for unknowable reasons, even–and needs to save face.

We never really know.

AP-to-be January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

First of all, before I begin commenting on the issue I just wanted to say, that you are everything I hope to find in my future host family. You sound really lovely, fair, warmhearted and genuinely interested in having a happy AP and a great relationship with her. I personally hope to find a HF, who have younger children as you (too bad you’re not looking for an AP in July)

With that being said, I definitely feel as if this AP is being totally unreasonable, only knowing your side of the story of course. I wouldn’t even think of a raise and would probably be surprised and very overwhelmed, if my HF offered me just $10 more.
I, however, would rather have a really great HF whom I had a great relationship with and as mentioned in the previous topic, would pick up my favorite magazine or come home 20 minutes early one day, where they knew I was going on a trip or something.
That’s what I want out of the experience; a 2nd family, a give-and-take relationship. If you have that, I do believe money becomes a smaller and smaller factor

Georgiapeach January 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm

What is going on with the AP’s and their demands? HD and I are starting to feel frustrated. The AP’s sign up to the program knowing the stipend amount and knowing being an AP is not a career, therefore exuberant pay is not doable. Your AP, has a sense of entitlement worse than some of the AP’s my AP spends time with. What ever happened to working hard to pay your dues?

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

The stipend amount is a MINIMUM. We also only know one side of the story.

WestMom January 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I don’t think that’s accurate. The stipend amount is the stipend amount. I don’t think it is within the legality of the program to pay more. I would be surprised that IRS would let that fly without wanting a cut of it. Can anyone confirm?

Taking a Computer Lunch January 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

It is legal for HF to pay an AP more than the minimum. It is also legal for the IRS to extract more in taxes from that AP than those who were just paid the minimum.

EastCoast HM January 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Per federal code, and dept of labor regs, it is the minimum. There is no restriction on paying more. The IRS gets its cut from AP taxes (and they get a bigger cut than from lower wage US citizen/resident taxpayers bc APs can’t take the std deduction, and thus owe tax on a lower amount of annual earnings). You are correct, IRS doesn’t get SS/Medicare from either HP or AP (J-1 exchange program is exempt), but that isn’t predicated on not paying an AP more than X.

WestMom January 30, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Thanks for the clarification. Technically, doesn’t the family have to deduct taxes/medicare/social security over a certain amount?

EastCoast HM January 31, 2013 at 12:17 am

Not if the “employee” (= the AP) is exempt from being subject to such taxes. AP is not subject to SS, Medicare etc, so “employer” (=HF) doesn’t need to withhold. AP must, however, pay income tax, and file a 1040NR.

Dawn January 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I think it would be interesting to do a survey here on APM regarding how much families pay their APs. At first I thought it was *required* to pay only the stipend amount, but when I looked up the federal code that governs the au pair program, there’s nothing that prohibits paying an AP more. I’ve had 7 APs and have never paid more than $200 (for convenience) a week. APs who went above and beyond got extra perks, however (occasional gift cards, movie tickets and gifts equaling their stipends at birthdays and Christmas). I’d love to know what others have done.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm

DH and I round up. AP #8, who is so-so, makes $200 a week because it is easier (we pay in cash), but are considering direct deposit for next year. We tend to give a Christmas bonus of $0-200, depending on the AP (but usually $150-200) – everyone has received a number of small gifts. Everyone has received the empty box, which when filled, I send home airmail so it arrives before they do. APs who go above and beyond receive thank you treats, which might be favorite foods, theater tickets, extra days off, and the ability to have long-term guests. I do my best to bite my tongue with so-so APs, but if they aren’t going the extra mile neither am I.

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 9:32 pm

For the record, I will say that I have learned some thing that I originally thought was ridiculous, but now I can see how it will work. Lots of parents mention they give their AP’s “thank you” gifts. That is nice, but it bothers me that it’s directly tied to work performance.

My boss gives me perks, for example, she flew to the UK on business (we are not in an English speaking country) and brought me back books and magazines, but I feel as if she is doing these things not because of my work performance, but because she likes me as a “niece” or whatever. When I do things I’m not required to do, like fold laundry or pick up food or get the mail or whatever, I do it as a member of the household.

Something I really don’t like to do is work more hours with her son without being paid extra. I think this is my situation because her son has special needs and quite frankly, it’s EXHAUSTING. I have told her this so she knows where I’m coming from. I know she also is exhausted from caring for him, but he is her child and her primary responsibility, not mine. But something I am adamant about is that I do not work for free, period. That doesn’t at all mean I don’t spend time with him when it’s not “working”, but just that I don’t want my already round the clock hours to become even more so without compensation, because I definitely would feel resentful. My host mom is saving a few grand by having me here and I know they are independently wealthy, aside from her six figure job.

It doesn’t seem fair for HF’s to give the benefits you’re talking about just by being generous because it puts the AP in a position where she will workworkwork, go above and beyond, and where one family gives a performance bonus or movie tickets, another simply gives a warm “thank you.” I prefer my work contract to encompass all my compensation (which includes my metro card and cell phone plan, these things are not “special treats” from my boss), and I don’t expect my employer to give me anything more. Anything else between us is out of friendship and that is it.

I rarely see that attitude from parents on this site. The power dynamics expressed are so out of balance to me.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm

You have it wrong. Work performance is not about working extra hours (personally I think APs should be paid the going rate for working more than 45 hours in the USA – in my community that’s $15-25 per hour, depending on the age and number of children), but about attitude. Your folding laundry might make your HM happy to pick up that English-language magazine for you.

I’ll give you a for instance. One day AP #4 experienced 2 traumatic events. Child #1’s g-tube came out, exposing her stomach wall. She call me, I talked her through the procedure to put in a replacement “button.” She was totally grossed out and this task was above and beyond. Ten minutes later she called me again because child #2’s hamster was in a glue trap. Quick research told me that peanut butter undoes the glue, which was fine, except it made the AP gag. On my way home, I bought an expensive phone card (back when APs still used those things), a canister of cashews, a nice box of chocolates, and gave her a big hug and thank you. Because this was the kind of person she was, we totally looked the other way at some of her free-time behaviors that made us worry and cringe and opened our doors to her family for a total of 3 weeks and readily gave her extra time off. Because it wasn’t a one-day event, it was just who she was, rising to the challenges with a good sense of humor (I don’t read her language, but I did find her blog with a picture of her giving the hamster the peanut butter bath and it made me smile).

Of course the power dynamics are out of balance. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t give and take. (And by that I don’t mean APs give and the HF just take, although it may seem like that.) If you can’t see the power dynamics in your own HF-AP relationship, then you might just well consider that many APs in the US might feel the same way…

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I guess we’ll just agree to disagree :) Glad your kid is okay.

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm

But i do believe I said at the beginning that once I found this ridiculous but now see how it could work for some relationships. However, it doesn’t really work for me, in terms of translating hours into little “thank-you’s” when my boss feels inclined. Sorry if that was unclear to you.

Single HM January 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm


There actually was a post a while ago that had a voting/poll what HM’s paid.

Most paid the exact stipend or rounded up to $200.

Gianna January 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm

That’s me who suggested that LCCs tell their aupairs not to approach their host families for a raise. Frankly, this very interesting thread causes me to think that the issue of increases and extensions is much more prevalent that I had understood. Prior to reading this thread, I had thought that the story I had heard about an aupair who asked for an increase was an infrequent incident. Obviously , it is not an isolated situation and that is a great advantage of this site. This site allows host parents who would not normally encounter each other to share their successes and challenges. Since we are talking about someone who lives in our homes and takes care of our children, it is sometimes difficult for a host family to comfortably say ” an increase is beyond my means”. By the same token, it is unfair for host families to ask aupairs to clock a few more hours with or without extra money.How easy is it for an aupair to say no ? Many aupairs are afraid to say no to extra hours ; host parents do not want to anger someone who could carry resentment which will affect childcare. A thought about perks: whereas extra cash is taxable, non cash gifts like gift cards have real value and are not taxable. One attraction of this program(s) is the fact that there is a non-negotiable contract in place. I wonder why the agencies do not give guidelines on this – it seems to me it would make life easier. I also think that the host mothers on this site have been very thoughtful in attempting to assess the aupair’s motivation and perspective. I do not hear a lack of compassion for the aupair described by the original poster

EastCoast HM January 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Gift cards and all other forms of comp, are, in fact taxable. It’s just that they fly under the radar/only one in a million APs claim that comp on a tax return. But, “paying extra” in the form of gift cards is just as under the table as paying extra in cash “under the table”, if one wants to be truly technical about it.

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm

” I wonder why the agencies do not give guidelines on this – it seems to me it would make life easier.”

I think that would only make sense if every single family, child, and job description were also exactly the same. Or better yet, if every au pair was also the same as well. But since that isn’t the case, I think that’s why it’s okay to negotiate such things.

You don’t hear the lack of compassion?! Have you read this thread? So many are advocating that the HM whose AP is asking for a[n enormous] raise just immediately let her go. Only a few posters have actually said, “Why don’t you sit down and talk to her and find out where she’s coming from? There’s a possibility she isn’t just being naive and greedy, and that there’s more to the story.”

A Host Mom January 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I copied and pasted applicable provision from the Agreement. Here is a link to the actual agreement (see last page). http://www.aupairinamerica.com/pdf/form_application.pdf

This is all (both HF and au pair) have agreed to do, everything else is “gravy.” However, as you can evidently see from the posts above, most, if not all, HF provide a lot more than this. While it may not be terms you’d agree to, it is what these au pairs agree to, so telling us that we lack compassion or are greedy is not true and, the unfortunate reality it that there are probably a few au pairs out there that receive nothing more than this.

• Obligations of au pair/companion and host family. We understand that the au pair/companion we select will assist our family with dayto-
day child care duties [which do not include housework unrelated to the children], for a period not to exceed 10 hours per day for a
maximum of 45 hours per week (30 hours per week for EduCare in America), as outlined under “au pair responsibilities” defined in
the current program brochure. In exchange, we agree to provide the au pair/companion with:
• board and lodging [consisting of a separate room, which shall be approved by the local Community Counselor].
• a minimum weekly stipend established by Au Pair/EduCare in America.
• at least one full free day and one half free day per week plus one free weekend (Friday evening to Monday morning) each month.
• two weeks off to be taken at a mutually agreed-upon time during each 12 months of the exchange, two weeks for a nine-month
extension, one-week for an extension term of six months, with the minimum weekly stipend as established by Au Pair/EduCare in
• educational costs (to a maximum of $500 for the year for the standard and Extraordinaire program, $1,000 for the EduCare program).
Adequate time to attend a course(s) for cultural or professional enrichment (six hours of academic credit or its equivalent
for au pairs or 12 hours of academic credit or its equivalent for EduCare Companions); transportation to and from the place of
instruction. [Note: The educational component is currently under review by The Department of State and the sum for the educational
allowance may increase in 2013.]

Taking a Computer Lunch January 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

OMG – an increase in the allowance is overdue! The $500, which I paid for AP #1, actually covered the entire education requirements in 2001 (okay, this is before everyone and his brother offered half-organized tours of American hot spots at a premium price). Now, $500 in my city barely covers the cost of 1/2 of the requirements. Do I want to pay more? No. Should I pay more? Yes.

Host Mom in the City January 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm

While I’m not disagreeing that the amount could be increased, I think you and I live in the same city based on other threads and both my au pairs have been able to take classes for under $500. Again, not disagreeing that it frequently costs much more depending on what you want to take, but it can certainly be done for $500.

PA AP Mom January 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm


Have you read some of the other threads on aupairmom where host families talk about how to help au pairs with depression, home sickness, unwanted pregnancy, etc. There is a GREAT amount of compassion and A LOT of host parents go out of their way to make the year AWESOME for their au pairs.

You are making assumptions.

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

No, I really haven’t, perhaps you could point me in the right direction? The subject comment as of lately seems to be “I have a problem with my AP’s bad attitude/wanting more money/doesn’t want to swim on her period, what should I do?” and everyone responds by basically saying to put that girl in her place! I would love to read more about the warm relationships host families have with their APs.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

The entire Blog is open to you.

PA AP Mom January 31, 2013 at 12:31 am

Now you are just being confrontational. Look at any number of topics to the right and you will find thoughtful, compassionate host parents (mostly moms) asking for advice to help out their APs with difficult situations. Using a few very “controversial” money-related topics to color the entire host parent dynamic on this blog is both short-sighted and just plain incorrect.

Aren’t there any AP boards for APs in European countries that you could belong to and comment on? It seems that you think the American AP system is subpar compared to the European system and you are entitled to your opinion. I just don’t understand why you continue to comment on a site obviously populated by mostly host families and au pairs in the US, when you have nothing positive to add to the conversation….EVER!!!!

Should be working January 31, 2013 at 1:37 am

That last snarky comment, directed to someone who is possibly (if I may say) the most patient and generous HM on the blog, crosses the line into troll territory. Please no feeding trolls or troll behavior.

Melissa January 31, 2013 at 9:03 am

I agree with SBW. It seems obvious now that this is purposeful and completely unproductive. Ignoring troll behavior is probably best.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

Sarcasm often doesn’t play well in type. It can make an intelligent, quick and bright young woman appear to be petty and childish.
One of (the many) things I learned from my 1st AP is “Paper is patient”. If something is really irritating or annoying, it is well worth the effort to take a deep breath before responding. “Think before you post”.
It is always convenient to ignore any positive or valid points that are contrary to ones opinion. But overlooking them doesn’t give any more credence to that opinion.
HF on this site are genuinely interested in having successful relationships with their AP’s. Why else would they take so much time to post and read through all this?

AuPair123 January 30, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Au pairs know the situation they are signing up for before they match with a host family. I personally look after 1 child, have my own car, own bathroom, the family pay for gym membership ect… i have a friend who looks after 4 kids, share a bathroom with them and shares a car with her host mum. We both get paid exactly the same minimum stripend. I dont think this is unfair at all both of us knew the situations of our host families before matching. I would never ask for a raise and im sure neither would be friend. If it was offered then im sure we would accept… going back with a counter offer would NEVER occur to me though. In fact I think its rather rude to ask to be payed almost double the striped.

American AP in Europe January 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm

I think it is appropriate to ask for a raise in two scenarios:

1) The family has intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented the amount of work required. Then it is ok to ask within the first year.

2) When an au pair is considering extending and is welcomed to (but obviously don’t ask for a 100% raise, I personally wouldn’t even say a number, I would just bring the issue up.)

Amelie January 31, 2013 at 8:01 am


I’m a former au pair in the US.

According to the au pair program, it doesn’t matter if the au pair is required to work 20, 30 or 45 hours, the stipend is always the same. The only thing is that au pairs cannot work more than 45 hours (some do, as I did during my ap year, but then my HP payed me extra every week. It was agreed between us and I could have said ‘no, thanks’).

Even if the au pair started her year working 30 hours and, eventually, the host family needs her to work more, if it’s whitin the 45 hours, the stipend continues the same. (normally HFs try to be really upfront, and explain that during summer, for example, the au pair will be required to work more. but, sometimes, things change during the course of the year, an the au pair has to deal with it).

The money we receive while being an au pair is called stipend or pocket money because it is expected that au pairs will exclusively spend on things like shopping, travelling and going out. When you’re an au pair, you bills are all payed for you, you normally have access to a car (I didn’t, but it was my choice, I chose a family who lived in an urban area with lots of public transportation. and they gave me a metro card) and to a cell phone. Also, the HF is required to have a room only for you (the only thing that is ok to share is the bathroom).

It never crossed my mind to ask for any raise during my au pair year. I looked after three very young children and I can tell you it was a lot of work. I’ve never heard of any au pairs who have asked for a raise.

The reason I chose to be an au pair in the US was the possibility to live with an american family for one year, travel around the US, improve my English and meet new people. And I was able to do all of it, and even travel to Europe, with my 200 stipend. I could even save some money to bring back home.

It’s not a job, and although we work a lot as an au pair, we see it as a cultural exchange program. None of the au pair I’ve met considered childcare a career path.

We’re not naive girls being exploited either. When both the HF and the AP follow the guidelines of the au pair program, it is beneficial for both parts.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

Well said, Amelie!

HRHM January 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

While it may be appropriate to ask for a raise in scenario 2, in scenario one you should ask for a rematch. Any family that would misrepresent (and really I can’t think of any “unintentional” way to do so) what the job is, should be approached with caution. All APs know what the basic requirements are (45 hours, 1.5 days off, 2 weeks vaca, etc) If the family needs more hours that weren’t agreed on in advance, wants “extra” housework done, wants overnight care for days on end, etc. then rather attempting to negotiate more money, the AP should be placed in a family that is upfront about their expectations and is willing to work within the comfines of the state department regulations.

American AP in Europe January 31, 2013 at 11:40 am

Actually, on second thought, I guess I agree. Like I said, I’m not in the US and I was hired by one family. I personally don’t see the option of “rematching” for myself, but for the American programs I do.

As for unintentionally misrepresenting themselves, it happens all the time. People describe themselves and their kids and their home as they wish they were, not as they actually are. Sometimes, this translates into a lot more work for anyone working in their home.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I think you are right…there are HPs And APs alike who delude themselves about the amount of work there is/ or are capable of handling in child care.There are also HPs And APs who blatantly lie. Then there is the grey area that is subjective… for example I personally hate emptying the dish washer it seems like a lot of work to me: but it is just no big deal to my AP.
If one of our APs approached me to say the duties were too much, I’d sit down and figure out how we can work together to reduce them. If I was told “your not paying me enough to do this job”, I would most likely rematch… and reevaluate how we were presenting our family and the responsibilities.

AnotherSeattleHostMom January 31, 2013 at 1:38 am

So quite unexpectedly (and to our delight!) our AP has decided (just today!) to extend 6 months! Tomorrow was actually the deadline to decide and we are thrilled as she is so wonderful!

We do plan to increase the stipend…probably $30/week (this did not come up in our conversation today and I wanted to run it past my husband before saying anything to her..)

For those who have given raises…do you start the raise at the one year anniversary or at the time they sign on for extension? I think we will have the kids get her a little gift this weekend and increase the stipend April 1 (approx her 1 year anni)

American AP in Europe January 31, 2013 at 1:57 am

Congratulations. I don’t have answers to your questions, but would be very curious if a conversation was had, or if she just abruptly decided to drop her request for a bigger paycheck and extend?

Should be working January 31, 2013 at 2:00 am

Great news. Nice to have someone else on west coast time here! Your plans for the raise sound super.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 31, 2013 at 7:52 am

I give the raise at the one-year anniversary. In the past APIA codified the raise, which apparently they don’t anymore. There was one year that they raised the stipend for new Extraordinnaire APs but grandfathered the exisiting ones at the old rate – when I found out I immediately paid my AP at the higher rate. She was worth every penny and remains our favorite AP.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 10:44 am

She likes you, she really likes you! Congrats!
When our au pair approached us about extending, I had to abruptly stop my happy dance to ask ” You do mean with us, right?!”
Hope your next year is just as successful!

AnotherSeattleHostMom January 31, 2013 at 11:58 am

Thanks everyone!!! I seriously can’t stop grinning today. I think the 6 month extension is perfect too (I’ve heard horror stories of the full year extension burn-out, our LCC agreed that 6 months is the best!)

AAPIU, I’m not the original poster. This AP didn’t approach us at all about money. We are having family dinner tomorrow night and will let her know that she will have a raise starting April 1 and it will be an additional $30/week. My 3 year old also wants to get her a valentine :) I don’t think she’s expecting anything but does have a few AP friends in the community who have extended who I know have gotten raises in this range, so hope she is happy :)

Melissa January 31, 2013 at 9:35 am

I’m coming into this a little late, but the OP is in a tough spot. I would have a brief but frank conversation with her, letting her know that you were surprised at her request and ask her for a little more background as to why she made the request for additional salary. As others have said, it might be helpful to understand her reasoning, even if only for helping to guide your discussion with her. Who knows, she might have just searched the internet and found online ads for nannies that make $400/week and without giving it much additional thought, figured she would ask for that too. If that’s the case, maybe she just didn’t think about the differences in cost associated with live-in/live-out positions, educational background, etc. I would tell her you’re unable to pay what she is asking and briefly explain why. Regardless, this might be a difficult hurdle to overcome. I would want to be very sure that she would not be resentful of this if she is going to stay another year.

For my own experience, we’ve never officially had an AP who extended. Our first AP was here on a Summer AP program (I’m not sure agencies even offer this anymore) and we really wanted to extend with her and she really wanted to stay, but oddly enough, there is no option to extend on the Summer AP program. So, she applied for a visitor visa, stayed with us a few more months, and then traveled around for the rest of her time. I don’t think we paid her more, but we did give her a sizeable bonus at the end. We talked about this ahead of time so she was aware of it – I think it worked out well all around because it was actual money that she could count on, but because it was given as a bonus at the end, it was something of an incentive.

HRHM January 31, 2013 at 11:40 am

I realize this is off topic, but for HMs who have invited extensions in the past, how long do you give them to make a decision. Our current AP, who we really love and who does a good job, has indicated an interest in extending, but can’t commit. We invited her to stay,but we may very likely move in the summer and she seems to be waiting to see if we move to decide. She has an easy job, relatively (2 kids, in school all day, less than 30 hours per week most weeks) and seems to be happy. It appears that her main reason for staying though would be because she has made a best friend here (also an AP) and they don’t want to part ways. So if we move, she would most likely take a pass. I keep asking her is she’s decided and she keeps asking my if I know about moving. I may not know until May and I certainly don’t want to start looking for our July AP then! FWIW we matched with her in March so she knows we start early.

I guess I’m also starting to wonder, if her only decision point for staying or going is her bestie, do I really want to keep her? Is this a harbinger of things to come? Shouldn’t WE be the reason she wants to stay or not?

American AP in Europe January 31, 2013 at 11:52 am

I understand why you’re hurt because you seem to think her decision is dependent on the other girl, however, I bet it’s a lot more than that. I bet if she really likes you, your family and her friend are pretty equal in her mind.

I’m in a similar situation, in that my host family is multi-national and talks about moving COUNTRIES while I’m here. I REALLY do not want that to happen. They are great and all, but I like where I live now. I’ve learned the city and I’ve made friends here.

Plus, something you might not have thought of- moving is one of the most stressful life events there is. Perhaps she just doesn’t want to take part in that. I honestly probably wouldn’t. Everyone is stressed out for the first few months and establishing new routines, especially if the kids have problems adjusting, etc. It’d be nice of her to help you carry the burden but I wouldn’t blame her if she just didn’t want that to be part of her APing experience. People have their limits.

I think this is, kind of the point I’ve been trying to touch on but everyone snaps at me–you’re really not family. She may like you a lot and have a great time, but yes, maybe she’ll choose other things if push comes to shove. She can extend with another family and then live with them as a “family” just as you love all your APs.

I feel I’m yet again echoing the same sentiments that I brought up responding to this initial topic- respect her own reasoning and her boundaries. If you need to know by March, tell her that you need to know by March and you won’t know by then if you’ll be moving or not, but you hope she’ll extend either way. Don’t try to pick her reasoning apart or make her feel guilty that her friend is a very big part of her AP experience. Hopefully the relationship won’t be soured either way.

Melissa January 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

I would have a conversation with her about the two possible scenarios: is she interested in extending if you do NOT move? Is she interested in extending if you do move? If she clearly says no to the 2nd situation, then I think you need to decide if you will be moving sooner rather than later, or just decide to look for another AP and let her start to make her plans as well.

I can understand why she may be basing her decision on whether you move or not. Your family may very well be the primary radon she is considering extending, but it is reasonable that there are other factors that come into play as well. Moving is a big deal and can be very stressful and you both owe it to yourselves to not add to that by making last minute decisions about extending or searching for another AP.

Melissa January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Oops, meant “primary REASON” not “radon”. :-)

CA Host Mom January 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Hi HRHM, I tend to agree with Melissa. Perhaps you can have a sit down conversation with her and lay it all out. Let her know that you are sensing the hesitation. Ask about the reasons for that. Tell her that you understand if she wants to know about the move ahead of time and is basing her decision on it. But at least put it all out there so there’s no guessing about what is going on.

And as a HF who did move with an AP, it absolutely DOES NOT have to be the most stressful or traumatic experience ever … We moved with our AP and it was great. It was exciting for her to move to a new place, and of course it was nice for us to know we could count on her to help with the kids during the process.

Should be working January 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Similar question to HRHM: How long do you give an AP to decide whether she wants to extend?

I like to match very early. She wants to wait for a friend’s visit to sound out the friend for feedback. I get it, but I also want to know. Do I give up on matching very early? (If we wait for the visit we’d still be matching 5 months early.)

AnotherSeattleHostMom January 31, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I love to match early but this AP was totally on the fence and leaning toward not staying so we said we’d give her until January 31 to decide (it’s the deadline for our agency). I would otherwise have started looking for our AP in early January for a mid-April arrival. Last year we actually started looking in late November because our AP was firmly not staying. It turned out to be a bad thing to start looking so early. We had two girls we really liked that we had wanted to match with and both turned us down, hoping to find a match who wanted them to arrive in February vs April. All’s well that ends well, but we decided not to wast the energy of super early searching this year…

HRHM February 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

Just an update, I decided to start interviewing. I honestly will not know about moving until possibly April or May and that is really all she’s waiting on. I told her I need a firm answer by the first week in March, but I know that it will be “no” if I can’t promise we are staying here, so let the hunt begin.

Host Mom in the City January 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I just wanted to mention that sometimes it’s not as clear as family A has four kids and pays the same stipend as family B and that’s not fair. Or family C uses all 45 hours and family D only uses 25 but pays the same stipend and that’s not fair.

There are pros and cons to every family and sometimes that’s not entirely clear in the straight facts. Maybe family A has four kids, but has a ton of flexibility in the schedule or has a really nice house or a great city or the au pair has her own living space. Maybe the family with only one kid and 25 hours is really mean and treats the au pair poorly. Maybe the family is like us – two kids, uses only 25 hours, has lots of flexibility in the schedule, follows the rules to a “T”, very open and family-oriented, but tiny house, shared car, shared bathroom.

I get that on it’s face it seems like families should offer different stipend amounts depending on the level of work, but in any job the “compensation package” that each employee offers is going to be different. Au pairs are free to match with the families that are offering more of what they want and less of what they don’t want (in terms of #s or ages of kids, car use, house situation, family openness, etc), stipend held the same.

American AP in Europe January 31, 2013 at 5:22 pm

But the stipend does not have to be the same. Please see above. Many families change the stipend. If you offer the minimum, that is fine, but that doesn’t mean other people have to.

Dorsi January 31, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I don’t think many families change the stipend. Do you have a source for that?

In my five matches, I have never mentioned stipend during interviewing. In my house, it is not negotiable. I don’t think that APs see it as something that they can discuss, and I would be quite turned off if an AP brought it up (just as I am when they chafe at working 45 hours/week.) We stick with the rules — but we expect 45 hours of work for $195 (plus all the other things that we provide).

I am paying for a certain number of hours of their time. In many jobs, you are paid for your time, not the amount of work you do. (School teachers do not get more money for more students in their classes, a postal clerk does not get paid more on a busy day, etc.)

Host Mom in the City February 1, 2013 at 10:04 am

I’ve also never heard of anyone paying more than the stipend, nor have I been asked about it by any of the 15-20 au pairs we interview each time we match with a new au pair. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I actually didn’t even know it was a thing that was done until reading this site. And there are so many more au pairs than there are host parents, that I don’t think from an economic standpoint it needs to get more expensive.

For us personally, an au pair is already a lot more expensive than having both kids in before/after care, and is almost as expensive as having a nanny. I’m talking about total cash outlay from the host parent, not necessarily what goes directly to the au pair – I realize that it stinks that $8,000 of my money goes straight to the agency, but I’m talking about the money it costs me to have an au pair versus other options.

If having an au pair got any more expensive, we’d go with a nanny. At that point if au pairs were more expensive than a nanny AND we had to give up a room in our house and spend all the time it takes to get an au pair through the year, sadly even with the benefits of having an au pair just wouldn’t cut it.

Fortunately, it’s never been an issue for us, so we’ll keep at the stipend. Honestly, we cover literally everything else for our 20yo au pair – I’ve never known a single other 20yo HS graduate that has $800/month just to spend on entertainment. So I personally think it’s a pretty sweet deal already.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm

…and many families do not change the stipend.
The au pair always has the right to choose to match or not.
Also take a look at the advertisements for any of the Au Pair agencies… One of their major “hooks” for host families is that it is the same cost no matter how many children.

oranje_mama January 31, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I asked our old AP to extend – we did not offer more $, and she did not ask for more $. She decided not to extend because of a boyfriend back home. I’ve talked about the possibility of extending with our current AP – not to that point in the year – but I plan to handle the same way. I will not offer a raise, and to be honest, I think I would be taken aback if she would ask for a raise. We offer a lot of perks – extra vacation time, scheduling around her plans/family visits, etc when possible, very flexible with her use of our shared car (I think in the whole time we’ve had both APs, we’ve said no a grand total of once), generous gifts, real inclusion “as part of the family.” I’ve taken her to the doctor. Talked to her mother when she was worried! Been a shoulder to cry on!

There is certainly work involved, that is true. But this isn’t a typical employer-employee relationship. I actually think the stipend is quite generous. Straight out of high school, who has $850/month of disposable income?! With no rent, phone bill, utilities, food expenses to pay. They are not doing this for the money. The money is there to ensure that they are able to do things independently, have $ for their travel month.

Can I ask – these APs that have asked for raises – where do they come from? I would find this surprising behaviour for a German. Germans tend to adhere to the rules and I find this actually a great plus since the AP programs spells out the rules very clearly and makes things easier for both of us.

Gianna January 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm

This is an extremely informative and interesting thread. I think strong cases have been made for offering an aupair who is extending with her first family an increase that is within the family’s means. I wonder if this applies equally to an extension aupair who is changing families. When a host family interviews an extension aupair who has spent her first year with another family, is there an exspectation that the interviewing family will pay above the minimum ? Another thought comes to mind that has not been explicitly raised in this thread. We have talked about how schedules differ from family to family as well as the size of the family. How about the fact that it is more expensive to live in certain areas of the US ?

Should be working January 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Interesting about the expense level of different areas. You seem to ask if maybe APs in more expensive areas might require more money for the same ‘buying power’ of au pairs in cheaper areas. Of course, HAVING the au pair (e.g. monthly mortgage for a house with an extra bedroom) costs a lot more money in high-expense areas. And the desirable areas are, precisely, desirable to au pairs even with a regular stipend. Not so many au pairs would trade higher stipend on the countryside for regular stipend in NYC or Los Angeles, I’m imagining.

Should be working January 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I meant trading in the opposite direction, of course.

Momma Gadget January 31, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Don’t forget car insurance costs are much higher too!
I asked my Au pair if his friends were being paid above the usual stipend. He said that only one (that he knew of)was paid more. Coincendentally she was also one of the few who decided not to extend.

HRHM February 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

And for APs, living in more “expensive” parts of the country has much less impact and may actually be cheaper in some regards. Buying plane tickets from major metro areas for travel is usually cheaper. Other typical AP costs like chain restaurants and Starbucks don’t vary much from place to place. Nightclubs generally let girls in for free :). Clothes in the mall don’t cost more or less. It’s things like housing, utilities and groceries that swing wide and the AP never sees these costs.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

I think most APs do lives in the more expensive areas of the U.S., especially since the State Dept. requires that they live within 100 miles of a cluster meeting. In my experience, with friends who live in rural areas within that distance, the majority of APs don’t want to live isolated in rural areas. Of the 8 APs I have hosted in the past 12 years, 6 were active in the cluster for the entire year, attending meetings, participating in events. I’m not saying APs won’t live in rural areas, but my guess is that if there were a map of where APs live in the U.S. most would be within 20 miles or less of major city centers.

HM2bFair February 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Hello everyone, wow, thank you for all of your responses. This has been more helpful than you know. Our AP basically went through her list of “expenses” and things she wanted to accomplish during her second year and that is how she came up with her counter offer. My husband and I have stood firm and explained for many reasons that we cannot change our original offer. We also gently discussed that if she were to find another family to aupair for, she may be caring for 2, 3, 4 children. I don’t think this was something she had previously considered when comparing salary/stipend with other AP’s.
She is now deciding what she will do. She did indicate that she knows aupairs that make 250+ during their first year, so there may be HF’s out there negotiating the price from the beginning. This is really not fair to our family, as we both decided to engage in this agreement based on the terms of the normal stipend.
Our relationship has remained surprisingly good, despite this “elephant in the room”. I fully expect her to leave us, whether she tries to get rematched here in the states (with someone that will pay more) or goes home. Will keep you all posted! Thanks again

Should be working February 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Interesting way for her to come up with her counteroffer: here’s what I want to do and this is what I need to do it! Can I try that at work? :)

It sounds like you know where you stand, feel really comfortable with that, and made her see the downside of switching HFs. Do keep us posted!

Emerald City HM February 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm

No kidding! I’d love to try that at work too!

HRHM February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

Dear Boss,

I’m finding my house a little small, DD8 wants to start horseback lessons, DD5 wants a purebred dog, DH has been begging for a BMW and I need a new Coach bag. I’ll need you to double my salary next year.


Taking a Computer Lunch February 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm

$250 is what Extraordinnaires make. Since I usually host Extraordinnaires, they become well-aware that they have more money to spend than their friends. Some of those APs had friends who were nannying (in 2004 one was making $15 an hour – when my AP wanted that salary, I pointed out to her that she had a place to live, access to a car which we maintained, a cell phone, we paid 100% of her full-time student tuition, and she worked less than 45 hours per week. I told her to calculate her “wage,” and get back to me, because I could pay her $15, but then she would have to pay her tuition, rent, utilities, cell phone, and buy a car. (Which her nanny friends, who were live-out, had to do.) End of argument.

Host Mom in the City February 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

I have also found that au pairs don’t really know that host families pay $7-8,000 in agency fees on top of the stipend, food, insurance, phone, etc. So while I completely get that that money doesn’t go directly to the au pair, it is money that is included in a childcare-seeking parent’s budget when comparing childcare options. So cost of a nanny is going to equal just her salary (basically). Cost of an au pair is equal to fees, stipend, food, all those other costs. At some point if total cost of an au pair (to the host parents, not necessarily what the au pair is “making”) is greater than (or approaching) total cost of a nanny, the au pair option is less attractive, especially since au pairs need a room in your house and require a ton of the host parent’s time.

Au Pair February 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

We also give our repeat host families a large discount for extending their term with the same au pair, it would be $2,000 savings if you extend for 1 year. For our host families who choose to host a new au pair from overseas, the savings are $1,000.

KatGirrl - Host Mom in Chicago February 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Our current AP is extending for 6 months. We took the savings that we had by doing an extension, divided by two and gave our AP 1/2 the savings. We saved about 1200 and she picked up about 1200 divided over the number of weeks she was going to be staying with us (26 extra weeks). It amounted to about $44 a week increase. We explained how we came up with the amount and we are both happy! Our household is similar to yours – one child, own private apt, paid cell phone, access to car at all times and I work from home 100% so I am always to here to help in a pinch!

With your AP I would suggest a conversation to discuss what you have offered and why. I think talking about what the rate increase is (percentage wise) might help. If the conversation doesn’t seem to be breaking thru, you will probably need a new AP. It is hard to part (this is our 2nd AP), but there are some fabulous APs available and your young child will come to love them very quickly!

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