Being an Aupair is Basically Human Slavery

I’m sure I say this often but I cannot stress this enough. After living in Paris for 6 years I’ve learned a few of the ropes. Not everything because there is a lot that I learn from others everyday, but one thing I have learned over the years is that aupairing is a scam. 

A lot of the websites make it sound glossy and idealic “live with a family and get the ‘real’ experience”. What they fail to mention is that living with the family just blurs the lines between when you’re supposed to be on the clock, and when you’re off. People will take advantage of other people. It’s just a fact of life. 

Living in Paris is a bit different from other cities because most people have separate apartments. Usually these people own an apartment that comes with a chambre de bon. Chambre de bons are the tiny little storage closets usually located on the 6th floor of their buildings. Back in the day this part of the building housed the servents, hence the lack of an elevator, and the death trap sized small staircase. Now a days they’re just extra storage space (along with a cave) thrown in when someone buys an apartment. Usually they will come with a shower. The bigger ones will have a toilet, but the toilet might also be shared with the other rooms on the floor. Most of these broom closets are about 9sqm. Sometimes more, and sometimes I’ve seen them at 7sqm, which is illegal. According to French law you can’t house someone in less than 9sqm. But this is Paris and no one cares.

Anyhow when they bring this up; “your own studio!”, they fail to mention that by French law anything less than 12sqm cannot cost more than 400€ a month. Do you know how much a nanny costs? If you’re an Anglo, the base hourly wage asked in Paris (as of 2020) is 16€. Some people will still try to pay 11€ or 12€ (run). Do the math. Unless you’re only working 8 hours a week, you’re worth a lot more than that aupair salary of 80-120€ a week. 

And yes that includes the “taxes” they have to pay on you. I love when a family brings up “but we’re paying your social charges”. Guess what? Any employer in France has to pay that. They’re not doing you a favor, that’s the law. 

Sometimes the families will even try to make the deal sound sweeter; “we’re paying social charges, your food, Navigo and we’ll even throw in a SIM”. Stop them right there. The Navigo is something every employer pays half for. It’s the French way. The SIM would be another necessity for the job. The parents have to be able to contact you after all and Free charges 5.99€ a month for cell service. Honestly there isn’t anything special they can give. They’re just trying to make the deal sound sweeter, when in fact it’s just what aupairs should get. 

One aupair I met once tried to argue with me that she gets dinner in her deal. FYI they’re supposed to feed you. Which would you rather have, a livable wage or free dinner? You don’t even get to choose what you eat. The family does the grocery shopping, and you’re expected to eat what the children eat. Does pasta with butter every night sound more favorable than being able to buy your own food?

My advice, if you really want to do this nanny thing, ask for an apartment exchange. They deduct the cost of the apartment from your wages. It’s much more fair than being an indentured servent (aupair). And always know your worth. Anytime someone tries to argue with you about your asking price, move on. There are thousands of families out there looking for English speakers. They need you more than you need them.