Kirsty is 31 years old, from New Zealand, has a qualification as a social worker and came to the UK in December 2015. She works as a live-in nanny in London and looks after two boys of the ages 9 and 11.
What made you come to the UK and work as a Nanny?
I wanted to come to the UK to experience the life here. I had been to the UK before, but only briefly in 2013. I loved it and wanted to come back.
I was able to take 8 months leave from my job in New Zealand, but I wanted to decide whether I stayed or left within the first 3 months to give notice to my job. Even though I didn’t have a job yet and I was actually quite homesick at the time, I knew there was more to come and therefore I decided not to return to New Zealand.
I´ve been a social worker back home, but I knew that I had the opportunity to work in other jobs too.
Did you know about the Nanny agencies prior coming to the UK?
No, I actually I had no idea. When I decided I would go for a nanny job, I just searched the internet and signed up with two agencies.
As you are a live-in Nanny, can you tell me what are the pros and cons to being a live-in or a live-out Nanny?
One of the main reasons I decided to be a live-in nanny, is because I wanted to save money for traveling. Due to the fact that you don’t pay for rent or food, you end up having more money to yourself than in a live out position. Living-in is also a great option for someone who is new to the city and enjoys being in a family-setting. Many families are located fairly central and have nice properties.
The downside to a live-in role can be the lack of separation between the job and your private life. You don’t leave your job when you finish in the evening. That can sometimes get a little intense. Also the hours can be anti-social. Most live-in roles are 7am – 7pm or 8am – 8pm, whereas most daily nannies finish around 5 or 6pm.
What are the differences between the UK and the NZ lifestyle?
New Zealand is very far from everything, so being in the UK gives me the opportunity to travel to other countries and it requires a lot less time. As I am living in London, I must say, compared to New Zealand, life is a lot busier and more hectic here. But that is also a good thing. London has its own vibe and there are plenty of events happening all the time. New Zealanders are definitely more relaxed and down to earth, but even though Londoners are a bit more fast paced, I do find that they are friendly and helpful.
Are kids raised differently?
As for the kids that I look after, the answer is yes. There is a heavy emphasis on manners and academic achievements. Since we are in central London (zone 2), the ability to go out and play or explore nature is fairly limited. It is also not as safe as back home. You do have to be aware of your surroundings to react to a situation if you need to. But even though saying that, I haven’t felt unsafe here.
What do you miss about home?
I miss my family and friends, the scenery, open spaces and the relaxed life style.
Has living in the UK/ living abroad changed you?
Yes, definitely. I am more self-assured, confident and independent.
What would you liked to have known before your departure?
Looking back, I wouldn’t have done much different, only one thing: more research on the different areas of London. I think I would have liked to live in a part of London that has a big “Kiwi community”. It just makes you feel closer to home.
What is your favourite thing about being a Nanny?
The relationship I have with the boys.
What is your biggest challenge being a nanny?
Maintaining boundaries as a live-in nanny.
What is the most important trait a Nanny should have?
The flexibility to be cool with it, when plans change. Because they change all the time. Children get sick, playdates are called off, ingredients for a meal are missing and so on.
What is your advice when it comes to finding the right family?
Ask lots of questions and be clear about what you want.