What is the difference between agencies and au pair websites?
When looking for au pair positions in Germany there are 2 main ways to go about it.
1. Au Pair websites
2. Au Pair agencies
What is the difference between them? 1. Au Pair websites are usually free to use, or charge you, as a potential au pair, a very small fee for using their services. Families usually have to pay a bit more to upload their profiles and contact potential au pairs. This is very tempting of course. You get to do everything yourself, it doesn't cost much, you feel you are in control of everything and can make up your mind yourself. That is true, but there are also downsides.
If you and your host family do not get along once you get to Germany, you have to figure everything out yourself. During your stay as an au pair your visa is only valid with an au pair contract. If you leave your family and terminate your contract with them, your visa also ends and you need to return home or find a new host family very fast. This can mean a lot of stress and uncertainty about your future. 2. Au Pair agencies are companies and non-profit organisations, that help match au pairs with their host families to find the best possible solutions for everybody. They charge both au pairs and host families a lot more than the regular websites do, but also give you more guarantees for your stay. Some of them interview families in person and also check up on you after a few weeks to see, if you are ok and happy with your family. If it turns out you are not a good match with your family, they will help you find a new one - it is still a very stressful time, but you will have someone to help you with it. Agencies also provide information and help with visa process and requirements, some of them recommend language schools for your basic German language certificate (if you need a visa to become an au pair you have to have A1 level certificate in German) and other things you might need help with. Always try to reach out to people already doing their au pair year in Germany, or people who have recently finished theirs for information. If you contact an agency they should be willing to put you in touch with their current au pairs (it is a sign they are a good and responsible agency). If you are looking for a position on your own, reach out to Facebook groups for au pairs in Germany and ask about their experiences.Sometimes you even find your host family through someone who is about to finish their year with them. This video is one example of a Kenyan girl coming to Germany as an au pair.