Behind the walls of the brownstones.
The New York City skyline could well be accepted as the eighth wonder of the world. Although the architecture is exquisite, it is the families who live within the properties that often prove more interesting than the buildings in which they reside. And any New York nanny knows exactly what’s happening behind the walls of the brownstones.
Joni worked as a nanny for a high-net-worth family in a New York City. The family lived in a condominium building on Fifth Avenue, opposite Central Park. During her time with the family, Joni gained a glimpse into the lives of those children who know much more about the finer things in life than most of us ever will. We sat down to chat and get her insight into life as a New York nanny.
In your opinion, how accurate is the 2007 film, The Nanny Diaries?
It’s pretty spot-on when you are talking about Park Avenue families, although there are many nice families out there; I was treated extremely well.
Was the family you worked for part of the one per cent?
Absolutely! They are the one per cent of the one per cent.
Give us an idea of the sort of money we’re talking.
Old-school money. Think of the wealthiest family in Australia and multiply their wealth by 100. They had fully-staffed houses, drivers, chefs, numerous full-time housekeepers, private jets, private islands, houses in the Hamptons, a massive yacht and their Fifth Avenue apartment.
How did you land the job?
I was living in London and had just finished a temporary role working with Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger’s children. I needed to fill two weeks before I was to return to Australia. A role came up in Paris with my NYC family and I took it. I immediately fell in love with them. They asked me to continue on for the rest of the summer, then come to New York with them until Christmas. Christmas came around and I was offered me a permanent role – so I took it!
Is the interview process different to any other job?
I didn’t have an interview with this family as they were international. I landed the job through a London agency. Usually, though, a family will interview a number of nannies and offer their three favourite potentials a trial day.
What kind of hours did you work?
I worked Monday to Friday, 7am-7pm. In the summertime, I worked 24/7 for three months straight.
New Yorkers have the highest incomes of all Americans. Does that carry down to the nannies?
Not necessarily. I was a high-profile nanny who was working for a high-profile family and that meant serious money. Most nannies are not paid well at all. The exchange rate was awesome when I was earning US dollars, so I was making six figures, with no living expenses.
Did you have to slum it in economy?
Never! Whenever I travelled with the family, I flew first class or on one of their private jets.
Did you feel as if the world you were exposed to was different to the one you had come from? If so, how did you adjust?
Oh absolutely! It would be different for most Australians. I had been working for Jerry Hall so I was used to the extravagance when I arrived. Having been a nanny for some time, I had seen a lot and simply learnt to adjust. It certainly puts things into perspective when you see how people live with mass amounts of money.
What is your most cherished memory from your time as a New York nanny?
I cherished the relationship I made with the family. I watched countless nannies being treated poorly by their employers but mine were like family. I continued to work for them throughout the summertime for years after returning to Australia.
You’ve recently moved back to New York City with your young family. How are your children enjoying their new home?
I always knew I would come back and experience NYC one day with my family. We love it. The boys are in school and becoming real little New Yorkers. We don’t ever want to leave.
What is your ideal evening in the city?
Getting dressed up and heading to a wine bar with my hubby before dining at a buzzing restaurant. Then a nice stroll home to slip into something more comfortable before taking our beloved Aussie dog out for his toilet break. Anything you do in this city is exciting and fun!
What is one thing you miss about life in Australia?
I am in my favourite place on earth, so it’s hard to say right now, although I do miss my family and friends an awful lot.
How will you be spending Christmas?
We will be having a white Christmas with a real tree that we will decorate with the boys. It will be strange not having family around this year (as I am one of six, we usually have about 30 of us together on Christmas Day). It will be nice though; we are already getting ready!
A FEW QUICK ONES…
Uber or subway? Uber.
Shake Shack or In-N-Out? Shake Shack.
Barneys or Bergdorf’s? Bergdorf’s.
Uptown or downtown? I live uptown, but love spending the weekends downtown.
Minimalist or maximalist? A minimalist in NYC. Life is amazing and not worth all the fuss right now.
Netflix or novel? Netflix.
Heels or flats? Flats.
Red or white? Red.
Flat taxi rate from JFK to Manhattan? $55