top of page

Nanny or AuPair: What Are the Differences?

There is currently a moratorium on au pair J visas, and families familiar with the Au Pair Program may be considering a nanny. Aren't they the same thing? While both positions provide childcare in the home, it’s important to understand what the differences are between the two. Knowing what they are will help you determine what the right choice is for your childcare needs.


A nanny is a very commonly used term that describes someone who provides childcare services for a family in their home. Nannies can either live outside of the home and work regular shifts, or they can live in your home. There are no work visas or other government screening required for a nanny to work, but families are responsible for insuring that  background checks and reference checks are conducted to determine what kind of history the prospective employee has. Many families prefer to outsource the recruiting and vetting to experiences household staffing agencies. The staffing agency will pre-screen candidates and forward the best to their client families  to interviews with the candidates.  Ultimately the family chooses the caregiver  to hire and which one they feel is the best fit for their family and their children.

Nannies, unlike au pairs, can work any number of hours and a schedule that works best for the family. Nannies are employees and are subject to all tax and labor laws. Nannies may live in, however most live out. Nannies are also at will employees, meaning you can continue to employ them for a long or as short of a time as you would like. Perhaps of the most immediate concern, a nanny will be 2x - 3x the cost of an au pair. Families need to budget between $40,000 and $60,000 a year - and higher in some instances - for a full time nanny.

Au Pairs:

Au pairs enter the United States on a J-1 Visa and the program is currently on hold through December 31, 2020. . Because they come to the country as part of a cultural exchange, they are often likened to foreign exchange students, but they are paid a stipend for being a childcare giver. Au pairs are hired through approved government agencies. Au pairs must live in the home of the family they work for and they are generally paid every week. Because this is a live-in position, the family must have a designated area for the employee and responsibilities should be discussed immediately, so there is no confusion. Au pairs cannot work more than 10 hours a day or more than 45 hours in a week and they are not employees subject to payroll taxes.  Many families choose to hire an au pair for a year or sometimes longer and have found that it is a great way to introduce children to a new culture or language. Au pairs may only stay a maximum of 24 months. Au pairs will cost the family approximately $20,000 when transportation, insurance and agency fees are all factored in.

While au pairs and nannies both have a multitude of benefits for busy families on-the-go, you will need to take some time to consider which one is right for you. Highly qualified au pairs and nannies can provide an extra set of hands and are often a wonderful addition to your family that can enrich the lives of your children.

Reported with a permission of Home Work Solutions

Recent Posts

See All

Nanny Tax Threshold Increases for 2024

The Social Security Administration recently released next year’s Employment Coverage Threshold for household employees. The 2024 nanny tax threshold increases by $100 to $2,700. This is the fifth cons


bottom of page