Many host families who first embark on the journey of hosting au pairs look for an au pair agency local to them as they feel safe and comfortable in the knowledge that there is assistance nearby.Originally, many more au pair agencies were run by ‘host mums’ as a hobby. In today’s tougher climates however, it pays to consider a professional expert agency with a solid network of partners in Europe to supply vetted candidates and the ability to put your au pair in touch with others who are nearby, providing her with a social network from the day she starts.Register now
Local au pair agency versus professionalismOur au pair agency is members of the British Au pair Agencies Association and in fact, Nicole Kofkin, the MD is on the board of BAPAA and actively involved in the constantly changing International au pair industry. She is also on the committee of ECAPS, the European Committee of Au Pair Standards, funded by IAPA the International Au Pair Agencies Association.Where is the au pair agency based?Smartaupairs is an au pair agency based in England, so we have knowledge of the destination and understand the local culture. Our office is in Kent, in the village of Charing near Ashford and Canterbury. We have lots of host families in/near Ashford, Canterbury, Folkestone, Maidstone, Bromley, Bexley, Beckenham, Sevenoaks, all very popular as they have such easy access to Central London by train.How about au pair placements in other locations?
We place au pairs all over England and we are considered a specialist for the South East of England – about half of our host families are based in or near London. Very popular au pair areas are Wimbledon, Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth, Fulham, Twickenham, Putney, Richmond and we have a couple of host families in Chelsea and Kensington. We often find that once we have one host family in an area, they are often so impressed by our service, they tell their friends and then we usually have a few host families in the same area or from the same school for example. This is ideal because the au pairs immediately have a network of friends and a happy au pair is an au pair who will stay.As the au pair is live-in childcare, we often find that certain areas of London are more usual for au pair placement due to the size of the homes. The large family homes where an au pair can have her own bedroom are usually in the areas close to but not right in the heart of the city.We also have a number of other very popular locations for au pairs, where over the years we have gained many host families through recommendations. The most popular cities are Cambridge, Oxford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton due to the fact that there are lots of young people there from all over the world due to University and language courses.Many host families come to us from commuter areas, up to an hour or so from their work location in London, this means Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Essex,We have a number of host families in High Wycombe, Reading, Windsor, Guildford.What makes a popular au pair location?Many au pairs put on their application form that they prefer to be based in London. It is often the only city that they know by name and they may have been there before on a school trip or weekend break with their parents or even just seen it on TV. When the au pair agency in their own country explains to them that many families live close to London, allowing them to visit at weekends and go sightseeing they are usually fine with this suggestion.For an au pair to be happy, she needs to generally have social interaction. If you live in a town/city, walking distance from language schools, parks, cafes etc. your au pair will find it very easy to meet up with other young people, make friends and practise her English skills. If you live in a village and you know other host families, it can equally be easy, especially if there are good transport links into nearby towns or your au pair has access to a car.How can your au pair meet others nearby?In addition to introductions through language classes and local connections from your host family, Smartaupairs are part of an online ‘find a friend’ website www.aupair2aupair.com, which is safely shared between 25 BAPAA members and the ideal way to find other au pairs in your local area.Where would we not place an au pair?We do not place au pairs in remote locations where there is no access to language courses. Our experience has been that the au pair, even with the best intentions from the host family and the au pair candidate, finds it hard to make the most of their cultural experience, simply as there are no ways of meeting enough other people. We have however been able to place au pair couples successfully with families who live remotely but it is not really part of our core program as this is not truly a cultural exchange.We are also hesitant to place in locations in Wales and in the Channel Islands due to past experiences of au pairs finding it hard to get in touch with other young people. For placements in Scotland we now work together with specialist BAPAA agency to ensure that the au pair has a network of friends and regular activities to take part in.Go to Smartaupairs http://www.smartaupairs.com/family/