I believe I read somewhere that San Francisco is now the most expensive city in the United States. Housing is one of the main factors as home prices and rents are sky-rocketing. But now that I’ve researched child care options and put Franco in various situations, I can confirm that paying for child care has to be another reason people are leaving the city in droves for the burbs. I can count on one hand the number of friends we have with kids that still live in the city. It’s very sad. Honestly, while we would love to stay in San Francisco, we are also eyeing properties elsewhere.
Wanted to share my thoughts on child care in San Francisco having gone through the process. It sucks!
Here are the options.
1. Have family (i.e., grandparents) take care of your kid.
Score! If this is a possibility, more power to you. But most people who live in San Francisco weren’t born and raised in the city. They’re transplants. So I don’t know anyone who is in this situation. Lucky me, my mom recently retired so we will be using her a couple days a week.
2. Hire an au pair.
This is another ideal situation (since it’s super cheap), but in order to accommodate an au pair, you need an extra bedroom which doesn’t come easily in SF. You’re essentially looking at a home in the $1.5+ million range to accommodate an au pair.
3. Put your kid in daycare.
You’d think that daycare is a cheap alternative, but not in SF. The cheapest one I could find was $85/day. Most charge by the month which average around $2,000. Even if you find a daycare you like, good luck getting in. Most waitlists are so long that you should get on them as soon as you get engaged. I’m talking pre-pregnancy! And you have to be really persistent because these people don’t answer their phones or emails. Why should they when they have a waitlist that extends to eternity?
What I like about daycares is that they’re regulated. In San Francisco, you can call the Children’s Council and get the 411 on any daycare you’re considering. Guess what? Each daycare I asked about had some kind of violation! They weren’t egregious, but still: a) illegal workers on staff, b) taking care of more kids than their license allowed, c) during a random drop-in, it was discovered that a baby had been in his car seat for several hours. Awful!
4. Hire a nanny.
This is the most popular option. Most people I know use nannies. You can hire a nanny to care for your kid one-on-one which will cost anywhere between $17-22/hour. Or you can be part of a nanny share, where two families/2 kids will split the hourly share rate averaging between $22-26/hour. That’s a lot of money. We were part of a nanny share, where we paid $11/hour for a minimum of 50 hours a week. That means even if we only needed the nanny for 4 days out of the week (say we took a vacation day), we still would have to pay $550/week. On top of that, nannies in SF have standard contracts granting them 2 weeks paid vacation, 1 week paid sick leave, and again minimum hours worked. That’s good money for some nannies who aren’t educated and English isn’t their first language! I say that just as a data point because while background is important, what you’re really looking for is someone who will love your child. I could care less if they’re fresh off the boat.
I do love the personalized attention that kids get from nannies, but I’ve heard several nanny horror stories. If you ever catch me in person, we’ve got one that will blow your mind! Not something that I can really discuss here as that one went to court! But I hear from stay-at-home friends how nannies will just be gabbing away at the park, not paying any attention to the kids, or how they’ll take a picture of the kid to send to the parent, then neglect them. Ugh, so sad.
5. Stay home.
This is probably the ideal scenario. Personally, I am no stay-at-home parent. Major props to people who are, but I am not domestic. I’m not crafty. I don’t cook. I spent the better part of my adult life nuking Lean Cuisines for lunch and dinner. I’m not cut out to spend all day, every day tending to a slobbery infant. I joke with Dean that he should be the stay-at-home dad, but he’s not up for the challenge either.
Would love to hear stories from my readers. Please comment below!