Europe Expat Life

A Nanny Abroad – What Life’s Really Like as a Nanny in Switzerland

January 21, 2017
Nannying in Switzerland, living abroad

A lot of people think nannying is a glorified title for a babysitter – but with longer hours and slightly better pay. I also subscribed to this notion – that is, until I actually became one myself.

For me, nannying came about after I left a difficult job in Kuwait and found myself floating aimlessly about Europe, reluctant to return home to New Zealand with my tail between my legs.

While eating a sad, slightly soggy egg and bacon sandwich from a gas station in Lisbon one afternoon, I came across an international nannying website. I registered myself, chatted with their recruitment agents, had a few interviews and bam! I was moving to Switzerland in two weeks to start a brand new career.

I could see it all – I would be living in a mansion, looking after two adorably clad children dressed in Armani Kids, sitting watching them splash about in the pool in the sun all day with a cocktail in my hand, a complete Chanel wardrobe at my disposal and a white Range Rover to ferry them about to various equestrian events and etiquette classes.

Fast forward a year and I’m on my way home to New Zealand with fond memories of Switzerland, a penchant for bratwurst and hiking with poles, and a complete H&M wardrobe.

So, you’re thinking about doing the same?

Here’s some advice for anyone thinking about nannying overseas

Kids overseas are not like kids back home in New Zealand.

It’s easy to forget that not all kids play Saturday morning rugby and think that a marmite and chip sarnie is the answer to all of life’s problems. Children in other countries have different interests, different customs, speak different languages and enjoy different foods. Embrace them!

It’s not easy.

Being a nanny is hard work. It’s chaos. It’s even harder when you don’t speak the language, you don’t know how to use a German washing machine, you can’t read the labels on the food in the supermarket, you’re not sure how to walk the dog and you just don’t get what a grittibaenz is.

You’ll need to be extremely independent and resourceful.

Being a nanny will require you to take children to new places, and you’ll have no idea how to get there. You’ll have to drive them to sports lessons in a car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side (FYI – a smart 4×4 rather than the Range Rover I was hoping for). You’ll have to communicate with other parents and children who don’t speak a word of English. Your first full sentence of Swiss-German will probably be something along the lines of, “Sie sind nicht meine Kinder” – 0r, “They aren’t my children” in English.  You’ll probably have to cook weird vegetables that you have literally never heard of before but trust me, you too will become a veggie slinging pro in time. It can be difficult, and you’ll feel completely out of your comfort zone but always remember – Google is your best friend.

Some days, you’ll get homesick and want to quit.

It can be hard when you are in a strange country, your family and friends are back home and it feels like all you see on Facebook are weddings, new babies, parties, grandparents growing older….and it feels like you are missing out. And you may be tempted to trade your morning handful of goldfish crackers for a glass of wine and call it a day. But then someone will wet their pants, or the dog will escape from the back yard, or the fish fingers you were cooking for lunch will start burning – and you’ll be so busy fixing the mess that you’ll forget all about it.

You’ll fall in love.

With the kids, their pets, the way of life….and the country.

A little bit like suddenly deciding to go out for the night (when you’d really planned to stay in and nap), and then having one of the best nights of your life, nannying overseas received little planning, but turned out to be something quite fabulous.

Whether you are considering nannying, teaching, waitressing or working in an office, working overseas is something that will change you forever.

Maybe it’s time you gave it a go?


Nannying in Switzerland ended up being a surprising but fantastic option for Maria.  If you too are considering embarking on your own nannying job abroad, fire your questions down below and she’ll be happy to help!

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Maria shares her honest thoughts on the challenges and amazing benefits of nannying abroad in Switzerland. What an adventure!

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