Our Journey to Becoming a Host Family and Still Remain Au Pair-Less in 2020

Re: Au pair search, childcare in CA, Covid 19 impact

We love to host friends and family, and parties (before Covid), but we’ve never hosted a stranger from another country, who is under the age of 26, has to take “classes” for credit, and responsible for our children at the same time. Oh, and we committed to hosting for at least a year, even though we’ve only met them over video chat a few times. That might have sounded like a disaster in the making, but I swear we made the decision with sound judgment…except, the person we finally matched with was to fly out of WuHan Airport on March 11, 2020.

Let’s start with the bottom line: Childcare for ONE kid in Santa Barbara, CA, costs about $1300 - $1850 monthly, even though we share the care provider and the extra germs that come with daycare. An au pair costs about $1760 monthly (including agency fee, $500 education stipend, and incidentals), and they generally have no problem taking on up to THREE kids. They are in-house, so no running around coordinating drop-offs and pick-ups every day around the childcare provider’s schedules…and it lowers the rate of passing around germs. To summarize: Au Pairs are cheaper for parents of 2+ kids, more convenient, work around our schedule, and have a higher probability of keeping our kids healthy.