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Childcare - can I afford to stay in London?


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I'm sure this will have been asked multiple times before on the forum.

We're due in August and currently considering our options for returning to work, maternity leave, childcare costs, etc.

I've heard full time nursery we're looking at ?1,500pcm for 5 days a week which we'd need as we don't have family in/ near London. Is this the standard sort of rate for nurseries, are there cheaper in ED/ surrounding areas anyone's used?

And what sort of costs would we be looking at with alternative options?

We just won't be able to afford the ?1,500pcm, and with this cost, we lost out rather than save money if either of us went down to 4 days at work.

We're therefore considering moving out of London and closer to family. We'd really like to explore our options before we up-sticks though!

Thanks in advance for your help!

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My knowledge of nursery fees is v out of date but didn't want to read and run.

Short answer is - yes, you will be able to find affordable childcare in London. Lots of us bring up our kids here and we're not all millionaires or enjoy free family childcare! I'm not saying it's not a struggle for the first couple of years (it gets easier at the age of three as the 15-hour free childcare kicks in then) but there are lots of other options apart from expensive nurseries.

Have you looked into nannyshares? This is what I did when my kids were babies and it worked really well for me. Or how about a childminder - many of them take babies and they are considerably cheaper. Both these options tend to be more flexible than nurseries too. You can get a list of registered childminders from the council, if I remember rightly, and you can browse direct ads for nannyshares on places like Gumtree, childcare.co.uk - and on here of course. I just posted an ad on here and found a share family/nanny that way, which saved paying an agency fee.

Also bear in mind that you can ask your employer to pay some of your wages in childcare vouchers, which can save you a lot of money in tax. And you may well be eligible for child benefit too. So these are small things that help.

Looking back on it now, those first few years were a bit of a struggle and yes, you do sometimes feel like you're paying for the privilege of working. But you muddle through and it definitely gets easier financially as your kids get older - and it means you've kept your job too (much harder to return to work later if you've given it up to stay at home). I'm sure other people will have more up-to-date advice about local nurseries but definitely don't feel you need to leave London to bring up your baby! Good luck...

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In answer to your question, I find that my friends who have moved out of London do not necessarily find things much easier. Commuting is expensive and means being back on time to pick up children is even more difficult. Now, if you work and live outside London and near family who are willing to help, my advice would be different of course.

We found the first four years difficult financially but we?re glad we stuck it out as we love London and things are relatively easy once the children are in primary school.

Like RedJam says, do look at options other than nurseries such as childminders. You could save money that way. Some nurseries are also cheaper than others (Gumboots, Excel...). It?s worth investigating.

Be glad that your baby will, like mine, be born in August, saving you a year of childcare expenses as they can start reception right after their fourth birthday.

Good luck.

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Congratulations on your lovely news!

To give you some context on other options, my childminder charges ?6.50 an hour ? assuming you are looking at a 10 hour day of care (8am-6pm) x 5 days = ?325 a week which is ?1300 a month. I believe a nanny share would be more than ?6.50 an hour.

When my kids were babies/toddlers (they both went to nursery at that time) I remember that after childcare costs and travel I earned ?8 a month ? I worked part time and my Mum had them for one day a week but I still barely made a profit from working.

I work in HR at a not-for-profit and regularly see young parents leave London due to childcare costs which is very sad and compounded by London property costs.

Being close to family is something to really consider when you have young children, especially if your family want to help out with childcare. You don?t say how far away you live and whether you?d need to find new jobs, but I hear lots of good things about people who have left London for cities such as Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds. Alternatively you could look at more suburban parts of London where the housing is cheaper than East Dulwich. We ended up moving to Beckenham which we love and is only half an hour away from central London.

As someone said above, costs are much more manageable when they are at school, so it doesn?t last forever. Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Mine is ?1200 per month 8-6pm

Gov tax assistance on this, which you?re eligible for if don?t earn over 100k, brings it down to c 1050 per month.

This is still hefty but better than 1500!

Don?t just look at your immediate area, investigate other options that you can tie into the commute too. You may find something better/cheaper that way.

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