You’re in a strange city. You don’t know anyone. You don’t know where to live or who to live with. And you don’t have a job. We suggest you kill a shitload of birds with one stone by getting a live-in job.
Working as a nanny is a great way to gain a ready-made family. “I felt pretty isolated when I first arrived in London,” admits Australian Lucy-Anne Chambers. “When I finally found work as a live-in nanny, it was so lovely being surrounded by the dynamics of ordinary life. Plus I get to live in a seriously nice house in Chelsea, rent free – my friends are really jealous about that!”
You’ve obviously got to be good with kids, and you will need qualifications such as Cache Level 1, 2 and 3, NVQ 2 and 3, BTEC, NNEB or a degree in early childcare. Criminal record checks are carried out, which cost £60 and can only be obtained through an agency. You will also need references from your previous employers.
Sadly, live-in roles for nannies have significantly dropped recently. “Families are having to cut back and prefer to hire nannies before and after school only,” explains Christina Stanbridge, The London Nanny Company’s managing director. “Having said that, we are hopeful the upturn is around the corner. And quite a few families express a keen interest for Antipodean nannies as they are very good workers.”
If you do manage to bag a role, you can expect to earn £350-£450 a week on top of your food, board and travel – with some families providing a car. Providing primary care for the children, though, does mean you will be working 10 to 12-hour days.
Usually, the role of housekeeper tends to be combined with nanny duties. You will probably only need to look after the little ones for a few hours either side of school, though, so you primarily take care of the house.
Sally Harrison, director of Best Bear Childcare, an introduction agency which specialises in housekeepers and nannies, points out that most expats start on a live-in basis and then, once settled, move on to daily live-out roles. Again, thorough background checks are carried out. The pay is around £400-£500 per week, with food, rent and sometimes even an annual plane ticket home covered.
For a housekeeping role, experience is valued over qualifications, plus, echoing Stanbridge’s earlier comment about those coming from Down Under, “Aussies and Kiwis are known as easy-going, hardworking people, so they usually don’t have trouble securing a role – even with little experience.”
In truth, if you are a raging party animal, being a live-in carer is not the job for you. You are effectively on duty 24 hours a day, and you need to be there at night in case you’re required.
“You need to have a calm, friendly nature, and be someone who enjoys others’ company,” says Stephanie Isaacs of Otus Live-in Care Ltd, which matches carers with live-in roles.
“You also need to be passionate about independent living for the elderly or those suffering from chronic illness or a disability.”
Pay is around £455-£735 per week depending on experience, plus free board, lodging and travel. You need a few qualifications, such as a certificate in ‘Moving and Handling’, a background check and face-to-face interviews, plus you must have personal liability insurance. In addition to that, Isaacs says, “Care and empathy are the best qualifications you can bring to the job.”
Sorting your visa
As a nanny, carer or housekeeper you need to sort out your own visa as you’re basically self-employed. This can be arduous and confusing, and there’s no guarantee your visa will be approved.
Try using a visa consultancy, such as Global Visas. They guide you through the process, and can increase your chances of approval by monitoring the constantly changing government legislations that may affect your application.
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