a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Childcare costs in Chicago and London

So childcare is not one of those things you necessarily want to scrimp on – you want the best quality of care for your child afterall. However – childcare costs, especially in large cities make finding the right solution very challenging.

When we lived in a suburban city in the US childcare costs were about $300-$400 USD/month at really nice daycare centers and in-home childcare (childminders) would be less than that. {total costs approx $5,000 USD / yr per child}

When we lived in an urban city in the US, in Chicago we were looking at about $215-$350 USD/ wk for up to 10 hrs per day 52 weeks a year. {total costs approx $15,000 USD / yr per child}

So if you have 2 kids in daycare in an urban city like Chicago, you’d need to make $40,000 / yr pre-tax at your job to come home with no money. Considering that – it’s no wonder that many women take a couple years out of work or stay out altogether to raise their children and watch them instead of paying for daycare.

Here’s an infographic I found interesting on this subject:

ChildCare FINAL Design

So having lived in Chicago I new childcare would be expensive in London but I was still kinda shocked about how much it costs.

If you’re looking at one of the private nurseries or daycare centers in central London they range from 250 – 400 GBP per week, with most being around the 350 mark. What does that mean in dollars? Well, it means 18,200 GBP which is about $30,000 USD/ child per year.

Ok sure – living in England you get paid in GBP not USD, but in a way it’s equivalent, because your salary is adjusted when you move to account for that. So for example if you’re making $40,000 USD in Chicago which is enough to pay for 2 kids in daycare and nothing more – then in the UK you’d be making 25,000 GBP – which is not enough for private daycare or nursery in central London.

Besides private nurseries – there are child centers and childminders (a babysitter who has an in-home small daycare). Child centers are like council run (think of it as local government run) daycare centers. These are about 200-250 GBP/week in central London. Ok great, but the waitlist for these is incredibly long. We were on some waitlists for these when we first came over – we were offered a place eventually, 10 months after we needed it. So, if you made 25,000 GBP you could probably afford a child and half at a child center.

Luckily, school starts 1 year earlier here than in the US. While Kindergarten starts at 5 in the US, Nursery starts at 3-4, and Reception at 4-5.

Ok so then you’ve got your kids in school, but what do you do if you’re a working mum, or working couple – how do you pick up the kids from school around 3? Well.. then we get into afterschool nannies, nannies and aupairs.

We had wanted to have a third child at some point – but trying to figure out how to afford it while keeping our current style of life in London has been a challenge.

How have you managed childcare? Did you find you had to stop working? How did you make it work?

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6 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

1 Comment

  1. Strictly Jen says:

    I don’t live in London but I have had 13 years of childcare:
    1. full time nursery for daughter from five months to 2 years 6 months while I searched for a part-time job that would be enough to cover the childcare cost.
    2. Then every morning plus one full day till just before she started school and I went on maternity leave, at which point I had a six month break from childcare
    3. Then her brother was five months old and I had to go back to work again. He also had every morning and one full day, and she had one day after school care.
    4. Then later three full days for him from age three plus after school care for his sister three days.
    5. Then once he started school I changed hours again to what I do now: initially that meant two days after school care for both of them and my remaining work hour are within school hours, and now it’s just after school for two days for him, as his sister is at secondary school so walks home and gets back same time I do.

    What I am trying to say, with that detailed list, is that childcare evolves, over that time I have used three nurseries (due to moving), a pre-school, after school care for up to 11 year olds at the same pre-school and a childminder. So costs fluctuate. Evern at nursery, the younger the kid, the more expensive, once they get over two the cost goes down as the staff: child ration changes, then again age three.

    Now we are down to two days after school care in term time, one at after school club (£9) and one at football club that handily finishes at the right time for me (£3.50). And in holidays, two days care a week for him (£28 a day).

    You can buy childcare vouchers through work schemes that mean you are effectively paying for childcare out of untaxed money which makes it go a little further.

    Now, with a 13 year old and an 8 year old, my biggest childcare headache is not paying for it, it’s finding it – there’s few places that will take 12-15 year olds but I can’t leave her alone in the house all day either.
    Strictly Jen recently posted..Nervous, or jealous?My Profile

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