Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

The Cost Of Childcare In The City: I Pay In Diamonds

The other day we were out for brunch with another family and we started to discuss....the cost of child care. We are a family in the city and they are a family in the suburbs; turns out we pay extremely different costs for our daily childcare. Surprised? Not really. Even a box of your basic macaroni can be found in the city at double the cost than say the suburb of Abbotsford.

Over the last few years we've been really lucky with both of our unique work schedules, and my husbands extreme work flexibility of shaping his work around my own work schedule. This just means that we haven't had to worry too much about access to full time daycare. We also don't have family around to rely on for regular scheduled free daycare. Trust me grandparents, if you lived closer you'd be seeing a lot more of your sweet grandson. I kid! I kid! (but not really).

Apparently, living in the city means we will 1) have a tricky time finding reliable childcare without being on a wait list for years and 2) can we even afford the cost of full time day care? This doesn't even include the occasional caregiver to rely upon for a date night out once in a blue moon.

So far we've used a professional on call nanny service that screens and organizes a nanny to come to your home. We found that it was a fast reliable service but the cost is pretty extraordinary, especially for just 1 child. There is the $30 booking fee and then the $15 and hour with a 4 hour minimum. Add it up and that is a lot of dough to fork over just to go and catch a movie. If you had 3 kids in your family this cost might be a better service for you, as 3 cost the same as 1.

Just recently we got a part time spot at a licensed at home day care that is literally just down the street. She is the Mary Poppins of home daycare and we are in love with her. Since my schedule rotates, it doesn't make any sense to sign Ben up for a Monday to Friday daycare service. Heck, sometimes I'm off Monday to Friday! So, he is booked in for two days a week and the boy loves it.

The big thing is, it's super pricey. Like, $80 a day pricey. Sure, if the local macaroni and cheese box is $2.00 instead of $1.00 than the actual cost of the day care is right on track. However, if we paid for full time day care I would literally be working only to make something like 50% of my take home pay. Which just seems wrong. However, knowing my son is in a safe caring environment that is close to home is truly priceless, especially for only 2 days a week.

We've also just started to use the neighbourhood teenage babysitter and so far so good! I found her via her mom, who I've worked with for years. When I book her I get flashbacks to all of my years of being the neighbour teenage babysitter and being in demand for Friday and Saturday nights. I pay her $5 and hour and she plays with Ben and puts him to bed and I leave her a snack to munch on. $5 an hour seems seriously awesome after spending $90 just to catch a movie and a slice of pizza.

What do you think about the cost of child care in Vancouver city? Are you laughing at me from the burbs for paying so much, or are you also buying the $2 box of macaroni?


Sandi said...

We live in the city too. We are also lucky enough to have my parents do daycare for us. It really has been the best gift ever! When my duo were babies I looked into full time daycare. Never mind that I would've had to put my name on a wait list as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test; it was about $1000 a month which means to put my twins into daycare would cost us $2000 a month.

We now use that nanny service to fill in gaps when my parents go on vacation. The nanny we had today is absolutely lovely but there is no way we could afford to hire her full time.

Sorry for the epic comment. I guess I have a lot to say about this.

July 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Henny said...

wow that is pricey. I pay $45 but I live in a really tiny town. So i guess it is all really relative!

July 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM  
Erin said...

Oh ugh, I'm just about to start researching childcare downtown. This was my problem in London too - it costs so much that it makes you question going back to work. In my case, the numbers just didn't add up. I've been thinking about trying to pick up some part-time work, but I'm not sure it will cover the costs... *sigh*.

July 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM  
alison.burgess said...

Sounds very similar to the costs we have living in Sydney - anywhere from $80 a day for at-home daycare, to $130 a day for daycare in the centre of the city! I am returning to work in two months and we will soon be experiencing this firsthand *scary*

July 15, 2011 at 6:01 PM  
Tarable said...

Our KD out here in North Delta is 1.39 a box.  Daycare is $60 the daily rate. I pay $1300 a month for my 1yr old ($700) and 2.5yr old ($600) to go Mon-Fri - and it all takes a serious toll on my monthly income of a payroll clerk.  Hands tied though.

You'd think that living out here in the burbs, it should be easy to find a local teenage babysitter but I've had no luck thus far.  The grandparents are in Abbotsford which makes for a LONG drive there and back if we want a date night - hardly worth it for a dinner out or a movie - so we rarely do that. I need desperately to find a local.  $5 an hour plus snacks sounds ideal!

July 15, 2011 at 6:03 PM  
Ashley said...

So far, aside from with my parents - who are local but we almost NEVER leave the kids with.  We just don't leave our girls.  I'm nervous with teenagers sitting for us because I don't really know any.  And in Chilliwack the choices are very limited.  But I will say I don't ever pay more than $0.97 for a box of KD.  If that is, my husband is lucky enough that I even buy it - blech!

July 15, 2011 at 6:47 PM  

It took us a long long time to feel comfortable leaving Ben with anyone that wasn't related to me. Like 2 years. We made baby steps and it is a funny thing. The more you do it, the easier it gets. It is nice to feel that freedom of being able to plan a date night out. I remember what a gem of a teenage babysitter I was and I am certain there were and are many many like me. Speaking of date night...I've got a movie to get to!  :)

July 15, 2011 at 6:54 PM  

I love seeing all the cost comparisons. Our friends from Abbotsford pay $35 a day for daycare. Which is a huge difference compared to our $80....but we know we also pay more for where we live and we love where we live.

July 15, 2011 at 6:56 PM  

Okay...whoa and wow!! $130 a day? This is amazing and sort of reassuring to hear too. I always feel a little defensive about the $80 we pay. 

July 15, 2011 at 6:57 PM  

Firstly...welcome back to Vancouver!! One of my girlfriends has had great luck getting qualified nannies that aren't agency found. I know they exist. She pays $12 an hour for care in her home.

July 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM  
Amanda said...

I work Monday to Thursday, and we pay for full-time daycare, since the difference between full-time and 4 days a week was only $50 a month.  That way I keep Lilah home with me some Fridays, and put her in daycare other Fridays so I can Get Stuff Done.  Our daycare provider is licenced, but it is run out of her home, and she charges $850 a month, so it works out to roughly $40 a day.  That was a much better price than a lot of the daycares we looked at, but we chose that daycare based on the feeling we got when we visited, and what the references said.  (We live in the Mount Pleasant area, by the way.)

I think people who take part-time kids probably charge more so they are covered if they have some open spots on certain days.

As for casual babysitting, we are VERY lucky to live in a condo complex with lots of young families.  We have a parent email list, and if you need a sitter, you can just send out an email.  Often it's just having another parent sit on your chouch and watch TV while your kids sleeps so you can go out for a later dinner after kiddo goes to bed.  But we can also do dinner and put each other's kids to bed if necessary.  It's sort of an informal babysitting co-op type thing. 

We're also lucky to have Hubs' parents living in Richmond. We don't like to ask too often, but they have done overnights for us and right now they are doing two days a week while daycare is on a three week hiatus.  Don't know what we'd do without them!

July 15, 2011 at 7:19 PM  
Shannon said...

We live in Vancouver and when I first went back to work, we shared a nanny with another family and it was $45/day. I happen to have an employer that has a daycare for staff and after being on the wait list for over 2.5 years, last year (at age 2 - yes, she was on the wait list before she was born and we still had to wait two years) my daughter started at that daycare.  It's subsidized partly by my employer, so we pay 2/3 of the cost - our monthly bill is $ will go down when she moves up to toddler care. I think it's about $900. I'm still looking for a regular sitter...I'm lucky because my two sister live very close to us and are happy to help when they can, but I'd love to have a neighbourhood teenager for evenings out etc...

July 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM  

A nice little community sounds perfect for the occasional evening babysitter! We are really happy that we have our teenage sitter. She even cleaned up the living room tonight. Woot!Don't let the word out to your daycare provider that other ones are charging more ;) 
Ours is $80 for 1 day or 5 days. Same cost. She is in such high demand in our area that a spot is really hard to get. Sure she make them all fancy schmancy breakfast, lunches and snacks... and takes the 4 (max) little ones out on daily outings. Don't get me wrong, she is fantastic and top of the line...I just wish it wasn't the norm to pay so much in our area. Know what I mean!

July 15, 2011 at 10:37 PM  

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if my hospital provided on site day care. Especially considering that nursing staff is like 95% female and a lot are of child bearing age. It would be so nice to be able to go on my break and check in on them. Too bad that is only a pipe dream. I also like the idea of work subsidizing daycare....tell me more!!

July 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM  
katie smith said...

great post. such a hot topic. I totally feel the childcare this point with two, i like to just stay home with them, at least for one more year. but it's that question of weather or not any part-time or at home work is available so that we could make up the difference? i love love love living in the city, but it certainly isn't easy especially when there is no family close by and you have little ones. for such a beautiful and creative city it would be an excellent place to start an innovative restructuring of childcare- we should be paving the way with 'how-to's' and affordability for the rest of the country. before baby #2 I had my son in daycare 2 /days a week for approx $60 a day. I worked opposite hrs of my husband so that we could be at home with our boy as much as possible. I'm so enjoying mat leave...too bad those benefits can't last until they are 5yrs!  I love to work as much as the next career gal, but it all goes by so quickly!

July 16, 2011 at 8:03 AM  
Amanda G. said...

We are in Vancouver with 1 child and pay $70/day for full time day care. It is a 9 hour care day and includes all meals. She is really good and very well qualified. Licensed and only takes a small group of children (3-4). I wonder if the cheaper ones have more children? Our day care lady is also an older woman and doesn't have her own children at home. Which I prefer. I want them to have exclusive attention!

July 16, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

It must depend on the suburb, because where I live in South Delta the costs are pretty much the same. When I had my first child, I put him on the waitlist for the only group daycare that took kids under 3 in the area. When I returned to work a year later, he still wasn't in, and didn't get a spot until I was off on maternity for my second child. Unfortunately the cost of care for the 2 kids, meant that I would be keeping $500 of my salary each month - the rest was going to care. When I had to pay gas, parking, and business clothes on top of that, you have the reason I am now a SAHM.

I think the per day cost was around $120 for under 3, and dropped after their 3rd birthday.

PS. KD here is sometimes as cheap as a $1 and sometimes as much as $1.80. And I still can't find a babysitter!

July 16, 2011 at 2:38 PM  

We paid ~$1200/month at a group daycare in Burnaby, nothing included. Since the waitlist was so long, we took the spot even though I wasn't working yet. We did this for 6 months and then I had to switch our lil' guy to part time 3 days a week for $814/month. People probably think I'm nuts for putting him in daycare when I only freelance around 10 hours a MONTH. It's doesn't even pay for half of the daycare costs! And because I have no substantial income, I don't even get taxed and so the $12 000 we shelled out for daycare last year does not even give us any tax breaks :(

Daycare is great for our little guy and he loves it there. It also gives me a big break and lets me take care of the house and family better. I know this is only a temporary problem until he gets older and goes to school. After school care is not quite as expensive. By the way, my husband takes a vacation day off once in a while and we go on a date day while our toddler is at daycare :)

July 16, 2011 at 2:41 PM  
Jenna said...

I gotta go have an anxiety attack, see you later!

July 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM  

I don't know how hard it is to get licensed...but there seems to be some earning potential in this market!

July 18, 2011 at 9:13 AM  
Shannon said...

I'm not entirely sure how the subsidy works. I work at the university so the priority list is students, then faculty and staff, then I think non-student/staff/faculty campus residents and then the general community. I'm not sure if either of those two groups ever get spots because the demand is so much higher than the availability and they are actively working on expanding the system. I guess it's one of those additional benefits - I could see it working well in a hospital setting too...

July 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
Jane said...

Don't forget to keep in mind all of the money you are saving by living in the city too, however. Not that it completely balances out, but the cost of insuring, maintaining and fueling a car (or 2 cars!) would take a chunk out of your available childcare funds! Also, depending on your income, there may be more affordable options available in a city as well. For example there's a community college down the street from us that has an Early Childhood education program. The students all have to work in their daycare, in addition to the certified professionals of course, so there is a plethora of adults and it's VERY reasonably priced. If I lived in the suburbs it wouldn't be convenient to drive in to drop off my kid, but living downtown it'd very easy to take advantage of these options. 

February 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Mom montreal said...

Hi, are these fees deductible in income taxes? Here in Quebec we have so inexpensive great daycare. We are moving to Vancouver for a year in 2014 and my daughters will be 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 witch means 160$/day for daycare! that's insane!
What about the school like Montesorri westside it says on the web from 5000-8000$/year; its cheaper then regular daycare?!

March 6, 2013 at 11:11 AM  
Ocean Blue said...

WOW, this is a hot topic. My 15 year old asked me to help her write an ad for babysitting and I wanted to see what the going rates were in Vancouver. I am a 43 year old retired Nanny/ECE/special needs and seniors care worker with 15+ years experience and still find the subject very frustrating. I grew up in Vancouver and we just recently moved back here after living in the Kootenays for 14 years. My first thoughts on the high cost of child care would seem to me to be directly linked to the high cost of housing & living in Vancouver. We pay $1900 a mth rent in Coquitlam, in a house half the size & too small to open a family day care (which I thought of doing)and a third of that in the Koots. My 15 year old niece in Yale town is paid $12-15 an hr for evening babysitting and my daughter was paid $5 an hr in the koots. There are always those wanting work and I would think talking to your nanny/ care giver/sitter about a sliding scale based on what you can reasonably afford would work. When my daughter was in preschool and I was a single mom going back to college, I found a day care that gave me a lower rate and a sitter that gave me a evening flat rate of $25 (dinner & dancing 7p - 1 or 2 am) & I paid for her cab ride home. Also for f/t nannies, if you can't afford top rate lower job expectations, taking care of little ones is a full time job (as any mother knows) yet people want their nannies to be and do all, cook, clean, drive, laundry etc etc. You would be amazed at some of the interviews I have had over the years. In conclusion, I would think that people should pay for what they can reasonably afford, plan your night out in advance to include child care or weigh out benefits to working and paying the high cost of f/t child care to being able to stay home and take care of your own little ones :) with a little less money :) Enjoy your day!

March 18, 2013 at 1:50 PM  

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