Jarmila is pushing for us to get an au pair -- she came here originally as an au pair, and thinks we'd make a great host family for someone. I'm leaning towards that too, though Kev is more hesitant to have someone living in our house. But I think there's a chance we'll try it, especially if we can get what I really want -- a Sri Lankan Tamil au pair, someone with some English, but who will also be willing to spend part of her work time speaking Tamil with the children and with us. It was so hard, trying to learn Tamil from a course when I did it a few years ago; I think having a native speaker to practice with daily would be a huge help.
So, of course, if we're going to do that, we need to provide a private bedroom for her. In the new house, there'll be a guest room on the second floor (the same floor Kev and I will be on), but I wonder whether she'd prefer to be further away from us, for more privacy. It gets a bit complicated, though, because we could add some drywall on the third floor, dividing the kids' playroom and making a small bedroom there. But then she's on the same floor with the kids, plus the roof in that room will be super-sloping; she'd only be able to stand up straight in the middle of the room. Probably fine as long as she isn't too tall, but maybe she'd rather be further away from the children at night, especially as they'll likely still be waking up sometimes and calling for us.
Another option is to put her in the basement (and I should note that I'm saying her, but it might be a him instead). The plus is that she'd essentially have a private exit (since the mudroom is down half a flight from the main floor) and we wouldn't even notice her comings and goings. Good for having boyfriends over, going out drinking with her friends, etc. I think a lot of au pairs would like that; Jarmila certainly thinks that's the best plan. The problems with the basement are that a) the ceilings are a little low (around six and a half feet), b) there isn't a bathroom down there, so she'd have to go up one floor to use the toilet, and up two floors to shower/bathe in the guest bath, which seems very inconvenient for her. We could add a bathroom in the basement, of course, but that's a lot of added expense, and the budget is already at its limit.
It seems sort of silly to talk about spending $5,000 - $25,000 to put in a bathroom in order to have an au pair well situated. But on the other hand, maybe it's a good investment in the house overall, to have a bathroom and an extra small bedroom in the basement? Or maybe she'd be perfectly happy in either the 2nd floor guest bedroom or an attic bedroom? Any thoughts?