12 tips on how to live with a host family ‹ GO Blog | EF United States (2023)

Becoming a foreign exchange student is full of adventures – everything is different and exciting, including your new (homestay) family. All of a sudden, you share everything with new people whom you’ve never seen before. It will take time to adjust and there might be some bumps in the road – you know, the stuff that happens when people live together. To get the most out of your time with your temporary family, check out our 12 tips – who knows, you might even be able to use some of them with your permanent family.

1. Be open and communicate

You are allergic to peanuts, don’t like seafood, and have a fear of dogs of all sizes? Tell your host family about it right away. They should know the most important facts about you from your paperwork, but some things cannot be stressed enough – especially when it comes to health issues. Plus, it’s better to discuss culinary preferences or dietary restrictions before you sit at the table and everyone is staring at you poking around in your food. (However, to be fair and polite, make sure you try everything before you say that you don’t like it.)

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2. Bring a gift

Gifts are awesome and a great icebreaker. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a little souvenir from your home country will give you some major brownie points. Plus, it will help your hosts remember what an awesome temporary family member you were.

3. Attend the family meals

Food brings people together – it’s a great social lubricant across cultures. Try to be at home for the meals and help set the table or do the dishes. Food is a fantastic way to get to know people and sitting around a dinner table is like a fun way to pick up new words and practice your conversation skills. If you know how to cook, feel free to prepare something from your home country and take the cultural exchange to the next level.

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4. Respect the schedule

Even though you paid for your stay, you’re still part of a family that is not yours – respect their schedules and curfews. If the meals are at 7 p.m.,make sure you are on time. If you are not home for meals or activities, let your host family know ahead of time. If you missed your bus and will be home late, tell them. Even though they are not your parents, they still worry about you, so basically just pretend that your mom is watching.

5. Accept the differences

You will probably have to get used to different food, to new ways of folding laundry, and to house rules that are not the same as back home. Remember: different, new, and not the same don’t have to mean bad. Things are done in other ways around the world and as long as everything works, this is a good thing and part of the learning experience. Let’s face it: it’s kind of what you signed up for. Noticing and accepting cultural differences is part of expanding your horizons and becoming a more open-minded and mature person.

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6. Mind your manners

You do not live in a hotel and your host mom is not your maid. Keep your room clean, don’t leave the dishes in the sink or the empty milk jug in the fridge. Help carrying the groceries from the car to the house. Don’t be a diva and use all of the hot water while blocking the shared bathroom from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Do not invite friends or visitors to a sleepover and only bring them to dinner if they were clearly invited. Do not sleep all day Sunday and complain that there’s no breakfast ready when you wake up. Long story short: Try to be on your best behavior and always say please and thank you.

7. Participate in activities

Of course you can and should spend time with your new friends from school, but why not spend some quality time with your host family as well? When you’re in a foreign country, going to the supermarket or watching your host sister’s soccer practice can be super exciting. Participating in everyday activities is a great bonding experience that lets you practice your language skills and helps you get to know a new culture. Plus, you didn’t travel halfway around the world to stay in your room and stare at your phone, did you? Who knows, maybe you even discover a new hobby or make new friends along the way.

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8. Benefit from daily conversations

The key to learning a new language is to get over your fear of making mistakes – and your host family is a great place to practice your conversation skills. They talk like ”real people,” so you’ll hear a lot of idioms, phrases, and expression that you might not learn in a textbook. Spend time in the living room or the kitchen, and ask them for help with homework. Be honest if you don’t understand something they said and just try to talk as much as you can. (Maybe not while everyone’s watching their favorite show on TV, but you know, talk when it’s appropriate.)

9. Get to know your host family

Be interested in what your host family works, eats, or does for fun. Ask questions, be curious, and try to learn about and from them. It’s the best way to discover a different culture and practice your vocabulary. But: respect personal space and don’t force a relationship with your host family. Inquiringabout their plans for the day while they’re in the shower is probably not the greatest idea – no matter how eager you are to improve your communication skills.

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10. Remember that it’s all temporary

There’s a chance that your mom makes better meatloaf, and that you don’t want to eat potatoes five times a week. If you don’t like the radio station in the car or the shows everyone is watching on TV, take a deep breath and don’t complain. This is only your temporary family and they have their own way of doing things – even if this involves a questionable taste in music. After a few weeks or months, you can go back to your old life – and have loads of good stories and memories to share.

11. Be fair and honest when problems arise

Whenever people live together, there’s room for conflict – it’s not fun, but it happens and usually blows over. In case you do not get along with your host family or there’s a major issue that bothers you, try to talk to the family first. If that’s not possible, talk to the organization that arranged the host family. Make sure you provide constructive criticism, and don’t just complain about things that are different but not necessarily alarming. Be aware that it might take some time to get used to each other – not just for you but also for the host family.

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12. Stay in touch

Friendships cannot be forced, but hopefully, you and your host family will get along – and stay connected even after you say goodbye. After all, you were part of each other’s lives for a while. And everyone who has seen you early in the morning on a bad hair day deserves a birthday card.


How much does a host family get paid in the US? ›

But generally speaking, host families can expect to make anywhere from $30-$60/day, sometimes more, sometimes less. StudentRoomStay Concierge typically compensates our short-term families in this range. Long-term students stay with you for an entire academic semester or year (usually a year) - about 10 months.

Is staying with a host family free? ›

There are no fees to pay to a middleman, so it's cheaper than a language school or an agency. It's an effective way to learn because you live with your host family, practising the language all day and avoiding the temptation to speak to other students in your native language.

Do host families get money? ›

No, host families are not paid. However, you will be entitled to a tax deduction each month that an AFS student stays in your home.

What excites you about living with a host family? ›

Host families are typically invested in delivering the best experience to their guests. Aside from touring the city, you can truly learn to live like a local and learn what they do in their day-to-day lives. You see where they go to grocery shop, what activities they participate in, what foods they eat, etc.

How much are au pairs paid in USA? ›

Au pairs must receive a weekly stipend from the host family that is at least $195.75 per week. The weekly au pair stipend is a minimum payment requirement and host families and au pairs are free to agree to compensation higher than this legally applicable minimum.

How much is an au pair in USA? ›

Program Fees – 2022
Au PairEducare
Match Processing Fee$475$475
Annual Program Fee$9,395$8,500
Minimum Weekly Stipend* Paid weekly$195.75*$146.81*

How long do you stay with a host family? ›

It depends on the student, host family and group programs. Typically ranges from 1 month to 3 years. The average length of stay for a long term student is 6 months to 1 year. Both the student and host family must enjoy living with each other.

How do I bond with my host family? ›

Enjoy your program and read this advices to get along with your host family abroad !
  1. Be polite! ...
  2. Don´t be afraid to ask questions! ...
  3. Try to communicate! ...
  4. Discuss issues! ...
  5. Take time to get to know your family! ...
  6. Help with housework! ...
  7. Spend time with your family! ...
  8. Show interest in your familys habits, way of living.

Is living with a host family awkward? ›

While living with a host-family can be challenging, awkward, and uncomfortable at times, it's worth it. Here are a few tips to get past the small talk and build a stronger relationship with your host-family. 1. Pay attention to what they're passionate about, whether it's hobbies, ideas, dreams, or past experiences.

What does a host family have to provide? ›

Host families are responsible for providing their exchange student with their meals, transportation and a clean and safe living environment. At first, it may feel awkward trying to balance treating your student as a member of the family, while also expecting them to pay for their own personal expenses.

What does a host family do? ›

A host family is a very special group of people who are able to welcome a young person into their home and allow the student the chance to enrich their lives while also enriching their own lives.

Do exchange students get paid? ›

Do host families get paid to host an exchange student? For students who come on an F-1 Visa program, yes families do receive a monthly stipend for hosting an exchange student. The stipend varies based on the location of the family and the program.

What should I ask my host family? ›

Your Host Family
  • What do you (the parents) do for a living?
  • Where do you work and what are your work hours?
  • What kinds of activities does your family do together?
  • Would you say you are an active family?
  • How do you spend your weekends or free time?
  • Do you like sports, film, computers?

What is it like to stay with a host family? ›

Living with a host family means getting very familiar with each other and spending time in each other's personal space. Add different cultural norms and perspectives on what personal space is (in some places, it's not a concept at all), and you're sure to have an awkward moment or two.

What is it like being a host family? ›

By living with a host family, you get to experience more than the typical tourist. Your host family will teach you more about their country and culture. You'll get traditional home cooked meals and you'll get to build a bond which will be cherished for many years to come.

Do au pairs do housework? ›

The U.S. Department of State agrees: “While the primary responsibility of the au pair is to care for the children, au pairs can perform some household duties that are child related (meal preparation, light housekeeping, etc.).” It goes without saying that if you ask your au pair for help with household chores, she must ...

Is an au pair cheaper than a nanny? ›

An Au Pair costs an average of $8.32 an hour, far below the cost of a nanny. It's literally that simple. First the stipend is paid weekly to your Au Pair, and starts at a minimum of $195.75.

How many hours a day does an au pair work? ›

Au pairs can work a maximum of 10 hours a day and 45 hours per week. The au pair is entitled to one and a half days off each week, which means that if her hours are spread over 6 days, one of those work days cannot exceed 5 hours of work.

How much pocket money is an au pair entitled to? ›

Currently, Au Pairs in the USA receive a minimum pocket money of $195.75 per week. This rate applies to all participants, but some organizations may also offer professional or educational program options.

How long can au pairs stay in US? ›

How long can an au pair stay in the United States? Au pairs initially come to the U.S. on a 12-month J-1 au pair visa and can extend for an additional 6, 9 or 12-months, allowing a family to benefit from up to two years of live-in childcare from the same au pair.

How old do you have to be to be an exchange student? ›

Generally, students must be between the ages of 15 and 18 to qualify. However, specific host country age restrictions (upper and lower) do apply. In some cases and for some destinations, mature 14 year olds may apply.

Why is living with a host family important? ›

Living with a host family has many benefits such as, an up-close cultural experience, foreign language practice, home-cooked meals, and added safety. It also means you'll have to adapt to living in a new household with supervision.

What should I talk about with my host family? ›

Questions to ask your host family
  • What do I call you?
  • What am I expected to do daily other than make my bed, always keep my room tidy and clean the bathroom every time I use it?
  • What are your rules for me with regard to smoking?
  • What time must I get up (on weekdays, on weekends)?

How do I send messages to host family? ›

Step 1: Click “View profile” to see the profile of the Host Family or the Au Pair. Step 3: Write a message inside this box. Say more than just “Hello” and “How are you?". Let the Au Pair or Host Family know, why they seem to be the perfect match and what you liked about their profile.

What can you do to create trust and actively build a relationship with your host parents? ›

5 Ways to Build a Great Relationship with your Host Mom
  1. Invest Early. Building a strong relationship starts with the interview process. ...
  2. Communicate openly. Honest and upfront communication is a critical part of having a close relationship with your host mom. ...
  3. Plan Ahead. ...
  4. Ask for Help. ...
  5. Have Fun.
5 Feb 2019

Do host families feed you? ›

With most host families you'll have your own room and be fed by the family. It's worth spending time getting to know them and the way they live. They may take you out on day trips and teach you about Japanese way of life. Your Host Family will look out for you and you'll soon feel like you have a home away from home.

How do I live in a HomeStay? ›

Living with Strangers: Homestays 101
  1. Bring a small present. Good first impressions can go a long way. ...
  2. Take note of how they live. When living with a host family, be mindful of their lifestyle. ...
  3. Try new things. ...
  4. Remember that you're a guest. ...
  5. Follow the homestay program's rules. ...
  6. Learn from them. ...
  7. Stay in touch.
14 Nov 2016

Can a single person host a foreign exchange student? ›

One of the biggest misconceptions about hosting an exchange student is that you have to have kids of your own and a spouse or partner in order to become a host family. This isn't the case! The truth is, you can be single, married, have kids or no kids, be empty nesters, etc.

What is the ideal income for a family of 4? ›

So the ideal income for an American family of four, for instance, would be $210,000.

How much pocket money is an au pair entitled to? ›

Currently, Au Pairs in the USA receive a minimum pocket money of $195.75 per week. This rate applies to all participants, but some organizations may also offer professional or educational program options.

How much should I pay my au pair? ›

The all-in cost of an au pair averages out to about $18,500. As I mentioned, an au pair's weekly stipend of $195.75 is set by the U.S. State Department. You pay that directly to her, and she's responsible to pay taxes on that amount.

How long can au pairs stay in US? ›

How long can an au pair stay in the United States? Au pairs initially come to the U.S. on a 12-month J-1 au pair visa and can extend for an additional 6, 9 or 12-months, allowing a family to benefit from up to two years of live-in childcare from the same au pair.

What income level is the happiest? ›

Globally, the study found that the ideal income point for an individual is $95,000 for life satisfaction and between $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being. In North America, the individual income level for life satisfaction was found to be $105,000 per year.

How much does the average woman spend on clothes per month? ›

The average person spends around $161 per month on clothes – women spend nearly 76% more than men do on clothing in a year. The average family of four spends around $1800 per year on clothes, with $388 of this on shoes.

What's the 50 30 20 budget rule? ›

The basic rule of thumb is to divide your monthly after-tax income into three spending categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings or paying off debt. By regularly keeping your expenses balanced across these main spending areas, you can put your money to work more efficiently.

Do au pairs cook and clean? ›

Yes, au pairs can cook. However, this is not their primary focus. They're there to provide child care, not to be a cook. An au pair is not a servant or an employee who is there to complete whatever tasks you lay out.

Is an au pair cheaper than a nanny? ›

An Au Pair costs an average of $8.32 an hour, far below the cost of a nanny. It's literally that simple. First the stipend is paid weekly to your Au Pair, and starts at a minimum of $195.75.

Do au pairs pay taxes? ›

Since au pair wages are paid for domestic service in a private home, they are not subject to mandatory U.S. income tax withholding and reporting on Forms 941 and W-2. However, au pair wages are includible in the gross income of the recipients, and au pairs are required to file U.S. individual income tax returns.

Should au pair pay for gas? ›

If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas. Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times. You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.

Do you provide food for au pair? ›

Au Pairs often need to make meals for themselves (as well as for host children) while they are on duty.

What happens if my au pair gets pregnant? ›

Never leave the children in the car.

2 Do NOT get Pregnant while you on the Au Pair program-If an au pair becomes pregnant while on the program, she will immediately be sent home.

Can an au pair quit? ›

Au pairs and host families can terminate the au pair contract at any time by writing an informal letter to the other party, provided they honor the specified period of notice.

Can an au pair watch kids overnight? ›

Can my au pair care for my children overnight? The short answer is yes, but it is important to keep a few things in mind. While the regulations do not expressly prohibit overnight hours, it is vitally important that these hours are counted properly.

How do you stay in the US after being an aupair? ›

Potential ways to stay in the US after a J1 Visa:
  1. Stay on an expired visa. This is illegal and you run into a list of legal issues in making a life here or if you leave the country and try to come back. ...
  2. EB3 Nanny Visa. ...
  3. International Student Visa. ...
  4. Get married to a US citizen. ...
  5. H1B or other employment visas.
15 May 2022


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