Finding Good, Affordable Daycare in Sydney Is Going to Be a Challenge.
Not only is daycare expensive in Sydney (up to $200 per day), but it also comes with long waitlists. You're going to have to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. And, you're going to have to start squeaking early and louder than anyone else. Especially since you're moving to Australia from overseas.
One of my American expat friends was told by a daycare center that she needed to call them every week or they would simply forget about her.
When she told me this, my first reaction was “Yeah, right. Whatever. Next.” But then she explained that, for the price, location, and good recommendations from other moms in her neighborhood, she was more than willing to call once a week. She even scheduled the weekly call-in on her calendar.
I’m not sharing this story with you to scare you, but more as a reality check.
Sit down and figure out your finances before you start looking for daycare in Sydney.
Can you budget ~$120 a day for daycare? Can one parent take time off while in Sydney to visit daycare centers? Can you cut down the number of days you will need daycare?
In highly populated areas, finding a daycare center with an open spot is going to be harder.
Suburbs like Manly and Woollahra (Eastern Suburbs) are famous for being impossible.
Many parents put their children on waitlists when they find out they’re pregnant. With good reason, as waitlist averages in Sydney are one year. Getting on a waitlist usually comes with a fee ($50 – $150).
If you're considering living in one of these areas, start your research now. Or if you're thinking of a daycare close to work in the city.
Why such a range for daycare costs?
The range of cost between different daycare centers is dependent on the hours of operation and what the center provides: lunch, morning tea, afternoon tea, and diapers or nappies.
Daycare centers often provide a hot lunch for the children, but not diapers (or nappies as they say in Australia).
Here is another fun twist for you, most prefer it when children attend for more than one consecutive day.
Do not assume that if the daycare center costs more, you get more. Or it is higher quality. NOT THE CASE.
When you start contacting daycare centers in Sydney, don’t forget to ask…
When talking with a daycare center be sure to ask point-blank:
1. Do you provide lunch?
2. Do you provide Morning Tea? Afternoon tea?
3. Nappies (diapers)?
4. What are your hours of operation?
5. What is the fee if we are late picking up our child?
6. Is it possible for a friend to pick up our child in case of emergencies? Never know if you may one day need a friend or co-worker to pick up your child. Things happen.
7. What is your staff-to-child ratio? That’s a good one as new accreditation is being put into place throughout Australia.
8. What are your accreditations? There’s a link below so you can check out the daycare accreditations they have in Australia.
Hours and ages of a daycare center in Sydney.
Daycare centers are usually open from 7 – 7:30 am to 6 pm.
If you are late, after 6 pm or closing time, there's usually a fee, something astronomical like $20 for every 5 mins late. Be sure to ask.
The ages of the children range from 6 months to 6 years though some may have age restrictions. For example, they don’t accept any children under 1 year of age.
An alternative to daycare centers in Sydney is family daycare or home-based care.
An alternative to daycare is family daycare, where a professional carer looks after children in the carer's home (in the UK I think they call it childminding). Also known as home-based care in Australia.
Family daycare is slightly cheaper than regular daycare. Some family daycares offer more flexible hours, even overnight or weekend care.
Is your child preschool age?
If so you can reduce the cost of childcare by finding a preschool that has regular school hours, 9 am – 3 pm. These hours might be a better match for your work schedule.
An Essential Tip for Your Online Researching Before You Move
As you have probably already heard, Australians have different terms for things often more similar to the UK than the USA.
When searching, use Australian terms: long daycare, family daycare, out-of-school hours care, primary school, and secondary school. When using these terms, you’ll get more specific and local information. You can also change the location setting in Google to Australia.
Here are a few websites to get you started.
Australian Government site Child Care Finder where you will find more info on types of daycare and can search for daycare centers throughout Australia.
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1. Your passport and visa details.
2. Know where you're going to live.
3. Be arriving within the next 3 months.