Opportunity Knocks

opinion 1
Hello- I am really hoping this gets posted asap as I am desperately seeking the advice and input of ISYN readers... I have been working for an amazing family for just about two years now. I started when the little boy was 8 months but met him and his family months prior because I was a nanny for a friend of theirs and we were in the same music class.

The family I was working for moved out of state, and they were looking for a nanny so they hired me. It's been fantastic ever since. It is the best position I have ever held and am so happy working for them. Now here is what I need advice on.. The family I work for was renting their apartment in the city we live in. When their landlord put it up for sale, they tried to buy it but it didnt work out. They sat me down to talk a few days ago. The mom was in tears and told me how much I mean to them and that I am like family to them and that anywhere they move they want me to be able to get to them. (I am just getting my license for the first time in my later twentys and do not have a car yet.)

They bring up possibly moving to a suburb close to the city where the mom's parents own a house. The house has an au pair flat that is large and spacious just without a full kitchen (I dont really cook) but does have a seperate entrance. They asked if I would be willing to move with them and live rent free. They would also provide me with a car to use while working. If I did this, not having to pay rent would allow me to save up for my own car and pay off debts that I have, including the last of my student loans. Even though it could be a good oppurtunity for me, it does come with its personal sacrifices. It would mean seeing my serious, long term boyfriend who lives in the city less. I probably wouldn't see my friends as much either but after giving it some good thought I figured at 27 years old, paying off my debt and getting a car in the next year would mean my boyfriend and I could eventually get married without carrying any financial baggage into it.

The family has expressed interest in moving over seas to where the father is from probably in two years or so. Here is my question- How much should I ask to make if we go forward with this arrangement? I currently make 17 dollars per hour before taxes. I pay my own health insurance. Nothing has been set in stone so its hard to know all the fine details but the mom is due to have her second child in September and my current charge will be going to preschool at least two full days a week. The mom will be on maternity leave probably for about two months and then I will be back to full time. What I pay for my share of the rent now (i live with a roommate) is a little less than 700 not including any utilities. Not paying rent will be nice but I still need to make enough to pay other bills, have a life and put away some savings.

Can anybody tell me what a fair amount for everyone would be? Do I make less for the time mom is home with her newborn? Do I charge less on the days when I only have the baby and not the preschooler and charge more when I have both? Any helpful and constructive input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.


Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Since you are already making $17/Hr for one child, I would say $19-20/Hr for two would be pretty reasonable.

No, when Mom stays home you should not make less. Many families advertise they need a "Mother's Helper" to make it sound like the job is easier..however in my experience when working alongside another person, esp. a parent...the job can be more stressful since you are being watched more. :(

Yes, when the boy is in pre-school you should only charge for one child, then when you have both children, you should charge for two.

Hope this helps.

OP here said...

Op here.. reading this back to myself I don't think I made it clear that if I lived in I would have to come up with an amount that would reflect having housing costs paid for. Not exactly rent free but for what I pay now would be saving myself money in long run.

Go bye,bye said...

I have always made the same rate regardless of whether or not one of my charges was at school. At one point both of them were in school for about three hours and I still charged the same rate. I think it would get to complicated with holidays and sick days so I would charge as if there was always two.

Susannah said...

I think you open a can of worms when you get into differnts rates depending on the the kids on different days. Just my opinion and experience.

I would charge $20/hr as my new rate and have some contribution towards health insurance include in my contract

nycmom said...

I may be a bit confused here. Your current rent in your own apt is $700/month plus utilities?

The family is offering an au pair suite with a separate entrance that is essentially a full apt, but without a full kitchen. They would also provide you with a car for work use. Can you use the car on personal time too? Will they be paying utilities and food? How does the new au pair suite compare in niceness, convenience, and space to your $700 apt?

I agree on the increase from $17 to 419-$20/hr for one to two kids if there were no other factors involved. Definitely no reduction for preschool or mom's maternity leave. Though some parents want to give the raise at the end of the maternity leave. If she does this make it very clear that means you are only caring for child #1 during that time.

Live-ins do often make less to offset the lack of rent, but they also usually do not have to pay utilities or food. The car is a great perk, but you need to be able to use it on your time too (they pay insurance, but you pay for accidents that are your fault).

Health insurance is just money and probably not worth including since it is already pretty complicated. I would calculate how much you will save in costs and address the above issues. Then split it in half so you both benefit. Increase to 19-$20/hr for two kids - the 50% cost reduction weekly.

Katie said...

I agree you need to make ceratain you have insurance on the car even more so if you will be driving the kids. I'd also ask for gas.

Though I wouldn't feel comfortable driving kids around in a new city if I were a new driver, but that's just me

Like others have said $20 for two kids seems fair.

Really you'll have to sit down and see what your expenses you'll have.

What will you need to spend on groceries?
What about utilities? I've heard of situations where rent free did not mean utility free?

Will you be able to do your laundry on site?

What about cable/internet or phone?

If you're going to be paying health insurance still what are the rates in that area?
What about other bills besides school?

une jeune fille said...

IMO if you are paying health insurance you should be paid a higher rate.

For two kids I would say in the $ 22 to $25/ hour range.

What opportunities are there for you in the city beside this family. As great as they are a nanny job can change in a flash and it might not be as easy for you to move back

une jeune fille said...

Also, do you really need to move? Is commuting a possibility for you?

OP here said...

OP here again.

Une jeune fille-
no one would be forcing me to move but I would not have my own car for commuting and the whole point of me being open to this arrangement would be to save money.

NYCmom and Katie-

all utilities would be included. I'm not concerned wit them paying my health insurance since right now I make on the higher end and have a very affordable rate. I think I would just continue to pay my own cell phone bill since that too isnt a high cost. Heat, electricity, cable and internet, laundry and food would be paid for. I would have access to laundry. I actually already do my laundry at their house since my facilities are coin operated and usually full on the times I have free to do it.

My total cost of rent is 1350 not including utilities. I pay just under 700 because I have a roommate right now (who is actually moving out) The space being offered is almost as big as my apartment (excluding a full kitchen) Its a nice, large space. I wouldn't say as convenient since right now there are buses and trains outside my house and my boyfriend lives right up the street.

I just want to know what I should deduct for living costs and make my hourly or weekly pay if I choose to accept this offer. After that it will be easier for me to fine tune and work out details.

OP here said...

p.s. If we were all staying in our current homes my pay would have been bumped to 20 per hour.

Susannah said...

I'd still ask for the $20 caring for two kids, a toddler and a newborn is no cake walk.

Also make sure you'll have time for youself, being a live in is no cake walk even with the perqs of free rent and utilities.

I've always enjoyed living out more than living in. I always felt on-duty even on my off hours when living in.

I also second a pp in advising you to make sure their are social and carrer opportunties for yourself in this city. In case the job doesn't work out and you can't move back.

The Devil said...

Have you considered saving money by moving to a less expensive housing option?

If you do move how will you pay bills while mom is on maternity leave? Will you be working at all during that time?

You sound extremely naieve and too dependent on others for a 27 year old woman!

What will you do if you and your bf split and this family decides the no longer need your services?

OP once again said...


Thank you for your very constructive advice. Now that it has been brought to my attention that I am naive and co dependent, my issue has been resolved!!! phew!

I don't recall ever saying I couldn't afford where I live now. I live in Boston, the cost of living is high here for decent housing. I don't need a car because I live here but if I moved I would need one which is why they would provide it. They brought up this offer because they are having trouble finding a nice home for themselves in our area. They want to keep me on as their nanny so moving with them would help them out alot. I was trying to see it as a good thing for myself too and figured it would help me save money. I have student loans but it's not like I am in crazy debt. It's always nice to save more money, no matter how well off you are.

The move would be 25 mins away from my current apartment. If my family decides they don't need me, I find another position and apartment back to Boston or wherever I decided. If my boyfriend and I break up (which after years of being together I'm not worried too much about that) why would that affect my finances? I pay taxes so would be able to get unemployment until I found a new job.

I am not depending on this move. It's not even set in stone but I wanted some idea of how much I should be making in case it does pan out.

Amy said...

OP, you're making $17 now as a live-out. As a live-in for one child I would ask for $14/hr AFTER taxes for 2 children as a live-in. Assuming that you work 40 hours a week at your current rate you're bringing in about $2720 in a 4 week month. Minus rent is just over 2K. Now you'll have 2 children. So working for $14/hr for 40 hours you'll bring in $2240 in a 4 week month and "rent" is already deducted because of the "pay-cut".

This would be asking for a raise for the second child (of $50 a week) but them paying out less overall because of the room and board. Make sense?

You can also just ask the family what they feel a fair live-in rate would be. If they are expecting you to come up with it on your own I wouldn't ask for anything less than $14/hr.

Student Nanny said...

Seems to me that you're simultaneously due for a raise (because of the new baby) and a pay cut (for being live-in). So I would suggest that you offer to stay at your current rate until your next evaluation. I would use a similar tactic with regard to the maternity leave. Ask for some sort of "Moving Bonus" for making this huge transition with them, or offer to forgo it in return for keeping your current pay regardless of the number of hours they use you.

nycmom said...

I suggested the appropriate rate above, albeit I see I was kinda vague and unclear!

I say increase your rate to $20 an hour. Your rent goes from $700 + utilities (let's use $100 but you can substitute actual number) = $800 to zero. Divide in half so you save $400, mom saves $400 over the month or $100 savings for mom/week.

I can't recall if you mentioned your total working hours. Let's use 45. So you would make $900/week - $100 for a total of $800. Break it down hourly for legal/tax purposes.

Seems like a win-win for both sides.

The only issue you did not address is the car. They will provide one for you for work, but clearly you need one for personal use too. Will this be "your" car to use 24/7, but they pay insurance and some % of insurance and gas (to account for work usage)? You should not have to move then take on the added cost of a car UNLESS you truly want a car and that is a perk for you (buying your own, I mean). It wouldn't make sense to give you a car for work use, but still expect you to buy one for personal use. Plus the cost would be high.

Good luck.

Nanny S said...

I am surprised no one has mentioned this-- Whatever you do, make sure to get your housing SEPARATE. The rent is not "Free". In fact, I would also not discount the deal THEY are getting in having their childcare so close by, and that should actually ADD to your hourly rate.

If you want to rent the au pair suite, then have a contract separate for that than your work agreement. Then pay them rent as your landlords. I am sure you have a great relationship with these people but situations can turn sour fast. For one, you are entitled to your full pay check, without the risk of "deductions" for housing, and you would be protected under landlord-tenant laws, rather than simply "live in employee". The former requires a written eviction notice, for example 20-30 days and the latter can require you to be out in as little as 24 hours. I would also be SURE to include a FLAT RATE fee for utilities if the flat is connected to the rest of the house.

As for the car, whatever you decide, have it specified in your contract. I have never had more than mileage reimbursement so I won't comment on that other than get it in writing.

From the situation about the children, I would increase my rate from $17 per hour to $20 per hour. I do not adjust my rates based on number of children present becuase I am being compensated for my time and liability first, and duties second. If MB is on maternity leave, you don't say what your expected schedule is. I find parents home to be even more stressful, especially one that just gave birth. I would keep my rate the same and then your income would be adjusted if your hours decrease.

Everything else you mentioned about your friends, boyfriend, moving overseas and student loans sound like personal decisions. Good luck.

Bostonnanny said...

Hey op,

Do you live in Allston? Just wondering because your rent is so cheap! My rent is the same but I live near Cambridge.. Okay enough with the randomness, charge $15 per hour and I would absolutely do as the pp said with rental agreement. Also make sure your contract is very specific. I would also plan on moving out as soon as you can afford a car because live in situations can be very tricky plus you are totally going to miss living near the city. Also are you sure their is no public transit in the town they live? 25mins outside the city isn't very far and I know towns further away that are still connected by the the red/purple line plus bus lines. I ask because I don't think living in would be the ideal situation and your better off finaincing a cheap car. I make $20 an hour for two children and pay about the same as you in rent/utilies plus $350 per month car payment. Your good with budgeting you can still have enough for a great social life.