This is the second part of the article and I’ll respond the remaining frequently asked questions about these programmes. If you haven’t read the first part, please feel free to check it out here.
Do I need to pay taxes?
You have to pay taxes in the USA, I recommend you seek help with that from your agency or hostfamily. In the UK, I never needed to pay taxes, because over there it’s not considered a job, but a student programme. However, always check this information, as it can change.
What about health insurance?
The hostfamily pays for your health insurance while you are in the USA. However, that’s not the case for the UK. If you’ll need any kind of health insurance depends on where you are from, Europeans can use their EHIC. If you want to get additional travel insurance is up to your consideration. You should be able to get information from your insurance company in your home country.
Is it better to go to the UK with or without an agency?
Either way has its pros and cons. I tried both since I’ve been to the UK twice.
When I went for the first time, I chose to go with an agency, because it was also my first time abroad alone and I didn’t know how things worked. The agency handled all the administration and explained everything to me. I’d recommend you to do the same if your situation is similar. Needless to say that some agencies charge a fee for their service.
When I went for the second time, I had my experience from both the UK and the USA in my pocket, so I risked it without an agency. I had more freedom and didn’t spend anything, however building your profile and searching for a hostfamily took a lot of time and it wasn’t easy.
One of the most frustrating things was that some hostfamilies didn’t deactivate their profiles when they no longer searched for an au pair. So sometimes I thought I had found a perfect hostfamily only to find out they are no longer looking for an au pair. Other hostfamilies reject you without even talking to you saying they had way too many girls interested in that job.
BEWARE OF SCAMS! If you are looking for a hostfamily without an agency, you have to do so with caution. I’d recommend that you always run their e-mail address through the google search. When my friend was looking for a hostfamily, she got a reply that was just too good to be true and sure enough, after we googled them, we found some discussion forums where au pair posted their letter as a scam alert.
How to spot a scam:
They offer way too much money – in the UK, au pair’s weekly stipend is about £60-£80. If the hostfamily offers you £200-£300 per week, it’s probably a scam.
They want you to pay them money – justifying it as administration fees to bring you to the country. NEVER SEND MONEY TO ANYONE!
They are forcing you into signing a sketchy contract – now, the contract issue is debatable, but most families don’t require you to sign any contract, but if they do, you have the right to take your time signing it. If your English isn’t great, make sure you show it to someone who’s English is great and has some knowledge of the laws, so they can determine if it’s legit. Listen to your gut, if it feels wrong, it probably is.
How does it work with flight tickets?
If you are going to the USA, the agency is going to take care of the flight tickets and send them to you via e-mail. The flight ticket is paid for by the hostfamily. The agency also picks the date together with the hostfamily, as the training week in NYC is only about twice a month and au pairs get flown over there in groups. However, if you are going to the UK, you’ll have to book and pay for your own flight ticket, or bus/train, depending on where you live.
Should I bring some presents for the hostfamily? What should I choose?
That’s up to you, I’d recommend a small toy for the kids – depends on their age. If you want to bring them some sweets, discuss that with their parents first, as the kids might be allergic to something or the family has a special diet.
As for the host parents, I’d choose something that supports the idea of cultural exchange. Bring something from your home country, that’s going to teach them something about it. I bought books with lots of photographs and descriptions in various languages that showed off the beauty of the Czech Republic. Hostfamilies loved it and admired how beautiful a country I come from. Beware of alcohol, even though it might be a nice gift, bringing a unique liquor typical for your country, some hostfamilies may not appreciate it.
Hope you found these answers useful, please feel free to comment below if you have more questions.
Originally posted on the Czech version of this website ZivotNaCestach.cz.