How I'm Saving More Money Than EVER With TAPIF

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I’m going to just come out with it: I work as a teaching assistant in France while JOINTLY working with a host-family as a live-in au pair. And I’m saving more money than I have in a long, long time. 

(Just a side note: this post will only involve housing options and won't deal with student loans. I'll post a blog specifically for that in the near future! As for now, just know that deferring those little devils (student loans) is what I'd recommend doing before coming to teach in France. Definitely takes away some of that stress! Carry on!)

The thing is, in living with a host-family, my rent and meals are covered. Think about it: renting an apartment costs (ball-park) anywhere from 300€ to 600€ per month. 

We make net 790€ per month.  

Read: Not a lot left for café-hopping, flea-market-shopping, budget-airline-gallivanting, wine- and cheese-hoarding, and all that fun French stuff. 

Another option to minimize your overall costs for living in France is to take advantage of the residences your school establishment offers. Monthly rent (that I’ve heard of) ranges anywhere from 0€ to 300€ per month, so it all varies. That, plus a near-non-existent work commute is pretty enticing. On the negative side, however, sometimes schools are located pretty far from the nearest city, so it can get to be somewhat boring after the novelty has worn off.  

(Pro-Tip: the overwhelming bit of advice from past assistants is to live in the nearest big- or medium-sized city and commute to work from there. Anything under an hour and a half commute would be good for this! In other words, don’t choose a two- or three-hour commute just so you can live in a city. In that case, go for the student housing OR a cheap studio!)

If I’m personally comparing a host family to living in student residences provided by the school, however, I would much prefer the comforts + coziness of a host-family.

But that's just me!

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ere are a few reasons why I'm obsessed with my particular situation:  


• The kids are freaking awesome + hilarious.
• The parents are freaking awesome + supportive.
• I have my independence while feeling like I belong in a warm + welcoming family.
• It's pretty flexible and works well with teaching assistant hours (my main work is before and after  school picking up the kids, and the brunt of it is on Wednesday, as it is half-day at school and my job  is to shuttle the kids to + from their laundry list of activities (read: English class, music, dance, etc). 
• Home-cooked French meals. Enough said.
• A first-hand glimpse into the French familial/cultural sphere! Utterly priceless for any self-professed  Francophile - BELIEVE ME.
• Connections + built-in opportunities to meet other French people  
• Support from the get-go to get you settled + acquainted with your new French city. 

•••


How I found my host family
(Or better yet, how they got stuck with me): 


I used a little site called Workaway and found my particular host-family back in 2015 wayyyy before I was even thinking of working as a language assistant. Actually, I just wanted to come back to France for a bit after graduating from college, and so I was delighted when they were the first profile I stumbled upon and were looking for an English-speaking au pair for a few months. The situation could not have been more perfect. We set up a rendez-vous via Skype and the rest is history. Long story short, I chose to apply as a teaching assistant mainly because I loved my host-family (and the city of Toulouse!) so much. 

After our Skype meeting, they sent me the email addresses of their past babysitters + au pairs and after contacting them and receiving positively GLOWING accounts from them, I knew I'd be a complete FOOL to not book that flight back to France. 

So with Workaway, the arrangement is typically an agreed-upon number of hours worked in exchange for room and board. In other words, there's no money exchanged - which I honestly find nice because money matters can sometimes get sticky (i.e. both parties feeling taken advantage of, tax confusion, etc.)

Other Resources:

• AuPairWorld - I have a friend here in Toulouse who used AuPairWorld to find a family to live with in the exact little suburb of the school where she was set to work. While I believe you are entitled to pocket money with AuPairWorld, she and her host-family agreed that room and board would suffice as they preferred to avoid the tax questions + complications that arise with money.

• Facebook Groups - Lots of parents and past assistants (looking to replace themselves) post looking for au pairs (live-in and live-out) for the academic year. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! If you can get a reference from the family's past au-pair(s), that would be ideal - get the low-down on what their experiences were like!

just saw a post from a woman in Paris looking for a teaching assistant to work jointly as an au-pair who was offering the assistant their OWN STUDIO in the 10th arrondissement with a monthly stipend. I mean………….

•••

//CONCLUSION:


have friends who rented apartments while working as assistants and, while that's awesome and fun, it really can get pretty expensive - and the CAF takes a long time to kick in (if it even DOES. There are some people who applied for it and never saw a centime of it! YIKES.)
 

Overall, I Highly recommend living + working with a host-family. Obviously, not all situations are perfect, but if you can meet via skype beforehand and find a family that you intuitively feel is “right,” then the situation can honestly not be beat.  

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