I moved to the Middle East 8 years ago. I had not long returned home to Australia from The Bahamas where I worked as a nanny for 3 years. It was only home for a week when I started looking for another international position. I wasn’t ready to settle into Aussie life just yet.
By pure chance, I found an ad in the newspaper for a VIP nanny position based in the Middle East. I wasn’t sure it was the job for me but I applied anyway. Within a week I was flying over for an interview and upon landing back in Australia I received an email asking me if I would like the position and could I start in three days! It all happened so fast. 8 years later and here I am still in the same job.
There are so many things I love about being an expat and being a nanny. I love that I am able to experience another culture in a way that coming for a holiday just wouldn’t allow. I love the travel. I go to many places most people wouldn’t even dream of. I love guiding and teaching the children to become globally aware citizens of the world. But mostly I love that I’ve been able to meet people that I would never have met if I had just stayed working in Australia. I love that I have so many new friends from all over the world who have become like family. I have been so lucky to have so many amazing experiences that I sometimes need to pinch myself!
It’s not a glamorous job though. It’s hard, hard work, it’s long hours, it’s being on call 24/7, although you have days off you are never really ‘off’, it’s having half an hour to pack suitcases for yourself and the children and not knowing which location you are headed so best be prepared for all weather, it’s not being able to make it home for important occasions because you simply can’t take the time off, it’s saying goodbye – lots of goodbyes, as living internationally means a revolving door of friends and other staff coming and going.
Advice for the expat nanny
My advice to those out there interested in a position like mine would be first and foremost you need to genuinely love kids and love being a nanny, you won’t last if you are only in it for the travel or the money. Generally, you need around three years of experience working as a nanny in your home country to be able to secure a good international position. You have to be highly organized. People who know me well would tell you how disorganized I am in my personal life, which I’m embarrassed to admit is true but when it comes to my professional life everything has to be organized – schedules, activities, travel itineraries, winter clothes, summer clothes, occasion clothes, homework, meal plans, toys, books. Everything has to be in order. You also need to be extremely professional, you never know what situations you may end up in or who you may meet and you have to be able to represent the family well no matter what the situation is.
Finding the right family fit isn’t always easy either. I have been lucky to find families that I fit with well. Don’t get me wrong you are always going to have ups and downs (it’s a job after all) but having the right fit usually means the ups far outweigh the downs. Do not take a job with a family you think will be hard for you to work for – no matter what travel opportunities and experiences you think you might get its never going to work out if you don’t gel with the family. Before I went international I worked in the Outback, far from all my friends and family, to test myself and prove I could be self-sufficient and cope without my usual support system. It is worth considering pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in your home country before you head off internationally.
How to find a position working internationally as a nanny
There are a lot of agencies around that specialize in nanny placements and which one you chose will depend on exactly what kind of job you want and your current location along with your passport. It is almost impossible to give you an idea of packages as it varies greatly but when assessing a package keep in mind your job description and the number of hours you are expected to work along with what other benefits that are offered. Benefits could including things like housing, medical insurance, travel allowances and extended holiday time. There are a lot of international jobs out there for nanny’s with the right qualifications and experience so don’t rush into it. Take your time and apply for jobs that appeal to you and only accept a job if you feel 100% comfortable with the situation – the location, the family, the children, the job description and the package.
When I was fresh out of high school and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life I would never have dreamed that I’d be travelling the world experiencing the many weird and wonderful things that I have. It’s been such an amazing experience that I’m so grateful for.
Due to confidentiality agreements, we can not publish the name of this contributor. You can follow the author on Instagram at jetsetnanny.