One of the most frequently asked questions au pairs have when deciding on an English-speaking European destination is “Which is better: the UK or Ireland? I have been an au pair in both countries and, in this article, I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each destination.
🇬🇧 Being Au Pair in London
United Kingdom was my first destination as an Au Pair. I chose the city of London because it was the place I wanted to be. I had a WONDERFUL experience, so much so that I went back the following summer.
At that time, about four years ago, I was still at university and could only have this experience in the summer.
In this article I will list the pros and cons of being an au pair in London. However, some of them can be extrapolated to almost every city in the UK.
- Improve your English: You will be speaking, writing and listening to an English that you know and that you will learn very easily.
- Many language schools: In almost every neighbourhood there is usually a centre that teaches English to foreigners. In addition, in the most central areas of the city there are plenty of language schools.
- You never get bored: As it is a big city, you can take the underground to any point in London. Besides, London is such a big city that in three months you won’t have time to see half of what you wanted to see.
- Good transport links: From any point you will have buses, trains or subways to take you to the centre of London.
- Cheap flights: From London you can find cheap flights to almost anywhere in the world.
- Visiting the UK: One of the advantages of living in London is that there is public transport to visit other parts of the country such as Bath, Oxford, Manchester or Birmingham.
- Meeting other au pairs: London is a favourite destination for au pairs. There are usually groups in almost every area, and if not, you can always meet in the centre 😊
- It’s a big city: It has all the advantages that a city can have, but all the big disadvantages such as crowds, queues, etc.
- It can take more than an hour to get from one end of London to the other by tube.
- Public transport is expensive.
🇮🇪 Being Au Pair in Ireland
When I moved to Ireland, it was the third time I was going to be an Au Pair. I had already repeated two summers with the same family in London while I was studying. Now I had finished university and I thought that Ireland could be a great option.
I lived in Ireland for 6 months. The experience was not as amazing as the first one, but not because I didn’t like the country or the family any less. On the contrary, Ireland is one of my favourite countries – in fact, I am now going back to live there – and the family was a complete delight.
However, after a few months I realised it was time to end my time in Ireland and start a new life. With a real job and closer to home.
- The people are extremely nice: Irish people are very open-minded. Always with a smile. They greet everyone. And they are always willing to meet new people.
- Life is very quiet (if you don’t live in Dublin): Irish cities and towns are very quiet.
- Ireland has incredible landscapes: It is not a country with many museums, but it is an island with fascinating places like the Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher. Or towns like Cobh or Kinsale.
- There are direct bus connections from Galway, Cork and Belfast to Dublin Airport.
- To visit most places in Ireland you will need a car: The cities have good connections with each other, but it is very difficult to organise a trip to visit villages without a car.
- You can live in a remote village: It is very important that if you are planning to go to Ireland you ask your family about this. Many villages have very few connections to the city or to other villages, so you will need a car. And the family is usually the one who has to bring you there or take you there.
- Ask if they have wifi: there are rural areas where there is no wifi, or very little connection.
Tips for future Au Pairs
Both countries are good choices; each with their own pros and cons.
If you are going to London, I advise you to look carefully at the area. There are some areas that are best avoided. There are also areas where you will need to take a train to get to London and it will cost you £18 for a return journey.
If you are going to Ireland I recommend you to ask the exact place where you will live so you can see if there is public transport and how often it is available. Also if you will have a car. And if there is wifi.
Even though families try to do their best to allow au pairs to socialise and get out of the house, in the long run I think it’s a big disadvantage. In the long run I think it is a big disadvantage. I personally haven’t experienced it. But I think it can be a bit overwhelming for you to have to adapt to the family’s schedule to be able to go out or come in. And for the family to have to take you or pick you up with the car every time you go out.
In short, ask A LOT of questions to find the right family. In the end, the important thing is that you enjoy the experience and that it is a great adventure for you.