You Won't Believe How Much the Average U.S. Parent Is Paying for a Babysitter

UrbanSitter's new 2017 survey reveals some interesting stats about how much parents across the country are paying for in-home child care.
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UrbanSitter's 2017 National Childcare Rate Survey is out—and filled with some pretty interesting facts about the state of babysitting in the U.S., including. The site looked at 20,000 families to determine where in the country you will pay the most for a sitter, as well as other key findings.

Not surprisingly, for the third year in a row, super-expensive San Francisco is the city where you'll pay a babysitter the highest hourly rate, at $17.34 (omg!) followed closely by NYC at $16.89. That means to go out for four hours, a San Fran parent would have to pay out almost $70; and that doesn't count the cost of dinner and a movie.

Meanwhile, parents in Denver pay the least-expensive hourly rate at a comparatively reasonable $12.22. On average across the U.S., the hourly babysitter rate for one kiddo is $15.20. For three kids, it's close to $20. As a mom of three, I can vouch for the fact that I pay my sitter a lot, often as much as what we spend on dinner when my hubby and I go out.

Needless to say, we don't go out often because it's so darn expensive. And in fact, according to the survey, 63.9 percent of parents consider hiring a babysitter a "luxury" vs. a "necessity." The poll found parents value a sitter most when kids are toddlers, by the way, which I found funny, since admittedly, 2-year-olds can be, ahem, a little challenging, and a few hours away is often a life-saver!

"We've found that as the cost of living in major cities rises, so do the average hourly babysitter rates," Lynn Perkins, CEO and co-founder of Urban Sitter, told "The silver lining is that this higher cost of living has inspired more young professionals to start babysitting on the side to earn supplemental income. These young adults—who offer specialized skills and college degrees—are able to command higher rates. So while the average babysitter rates may be at a high, so is the quality of babysitters. Parents can hire the likes of nurses, teachers, and psychologists or even actresses, musicians, and opera singers to watch their children."

Other interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 56 percent of parents spend at least $1,000 a year on babysitters. Whoa.
  • Nearly one-third of parents hire sitters at least one time per week.
  • Parents are willing to pay more for holidays, special skills, and very popular sitters.
  • 16 percent of parents tip on every job.

I'll admit I don't tip my sitter; I'll round up though if, for example, she should be getting $55 and I only have three 20-dollar bills.

I found it interesting that a little less than half of parents check a new sitter's references. How it works in our house is that I only hire a babysitter I know from the neighborhood, so I am acquainted with her parents.

Parents also reported on the biggest challenges with hiring a sitter, and chief among them are not tidying up, cancellations, not showing up on time, and sitters using social media. We've previously reported on the importance of setting social media boundaries for babysitters. But according to the UrbanSitter survey, just 30 percent of parents do this.

One final and quite provocative piece of data from the poll is that, when asked if working parents or stay-at-home parents are more deserving of a sitter, 71.5 percent said stay-at-home parents are most deserving. Hmm... I'd say any exhausted parent deserves an adult night out once in a while!

What is your take? And how much do you pay your sitter?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.


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