The Neighbor's Nanny

Hi. My neighbor is a work-at-home mom who has hired a part-time/live-out nanny to take care of her daughter three days a week. The woman is a legal permanent resident with excellent references, but she only speaks Spanish, so it has been hard for her to network to find jobs. Her stated rate when my neighbor hired her was $12/hr for caring for the baby plus help around the house. She is going to start watching my baby a few hours a week at my neighbor's house (not doing anything at my house), and she told me $12/hr as well. 

We are in the SF Bay Area, and my question is: is $12/hr a fair rate to be paying this lady? To me, it seems a little low. I am on a pretty tight budget, but I really value childcare work and I do NOT want to underpay someone, ever. Most of the families I know who employ full time nannies in our area pay them more like $18 or $20 an hour, and that's for childcare only. Just curious what other people think. Is this a fair rate, or is she charging less because she's trying to compete with lots of other people? If someone seems to be charging too little, what, if anything, should I do? - ElenaMadera


♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

Kudos to you OP for being so considerate of your future nanny.

I agree that for the SF area, that rate is waaay to low. Plus, she will be helping your neighbor around the house too!

Just because your neighbor is taking advantage of the "good deal" does not mean you should as well.

I have had a few families tell me my rate was too low and have offered to pay me more which I always have appreciated.

Anyway, offer to pay her $18-20/Hr if you can comfortably afford it.

bostonnanny said...

I'm not from the area but have been researching rates because I plan on moving there in a few months. I posted a while ago asking advice and NYCmom emailed me a wonderful survey about pay in that area. It seems like that nanny is being completely taken advantage of and even the uneducated, illegal and inexperienced nannies receive $15per hour. Morally I couldnt pay someone that little in the SF area without feeling like an asshole. I would go with the market rate for your area and offer to help her find other better paying side jobs. She will work extra hard and appreciate you more if you did that

want_a_good_wage said...

I live 3 hours north of SF and that would be a dream rate for a legal English speaker where I live. Why not find a legal Nanny and pay her a fair wage for the area? Jobs are so hard to come by and they are scooped up quick by people desperate enough to work for less than the going rate.

I was looking on Austin Texas craigslist and you would be AMAZED at the super low rates being offered by parents. Some even tried to justify paying $5-$10 a day because people were lining up just to earn anything at all.

Pay your nanny what you think she's worth. If you think $12 is too low then pay her more. You get what you pay for and she will be much more likely to stick around long term and give more quality care to your children if you treat her with dignity and respect.

want_a_good_wage said...

I realize after reading it again that she is legal. Let me rephrase by saying that you should find a legal English speaking nanny and pay her what she is worth. If you are bilingual that is awesome. If not, don't you want to communicate with your child's caregiver? I sure would.

ElenaMadera said...

Yes, I'm bilingual. Thank you for the comments, everyone. Appreciate it.

EastBayNanny said...

Yep- too low indeed. I live and work as a nanny/ family assistant in the East Bay. As nearby cities (SF, soon San Jose) all enforce minimum wage at $10/hr, I would say the work of keeping your child safe, happy and healthy requires significantly more.

Ever notice how here in Cali, families are "excited, would welcome, require", a second language spoken to their child? Do they mention a wage enhancement for bilingual education? Hell no! Often times this is code for: "I am only paying a wage that an underclass immigrant would accept, and I am calling it bilingual education to address my guilt."

One of the strange (certainly not new) phenoms around here is the use of women of color with relatively low educational backgrounds to provide childcare. It's a model encouraged by our state preschools, and it is the norm. Somehow, it's viewed as acceptable to pay an underclass wage for "women's work" in the service sector. A deeper question here is whether the care and education of young children belongs in such category.

As an employer, you get to decide! That's a wonderful thing! In most cases, you also get what you pay for. Decide who you imagine this person might be for your children and pay her accordingly :)

blurp said...

She'll be getting 24 an hour to watch two kids. That's PLENTY in SF!

ElenaMadera said...

Well, it would be $24/hour to watch two kids, if it was a real nannyshare, but my baby is only 3-4 hours a week, so it barely counts toward her weekly income. I think in most full time share situations around here, each family pays $10/hr so nanny/provider gets $20/hr total for two kids. I'm getting more like 3 hours a week of babysitting. But I still don't want to underpay.

EastBayNanny said...

$50k a year in SF? I disagree that it's "plenty" for an area with an average household income of $73k and average housing costs that are 46% of that. $24/ hr is decent, but let's be real- nanny shares rarely work this way.

nycmom said...

Yes, it is too low. As BostonNanny said, the survey for the Peninsula suggests way too low. If you are in are area where nanny shares are very common (East Bay), then perhaps the nanny is hoping she can work for two families at once.

I would say $16-18 at a minimum for one child in the Bay Area, and even that would be hard to find. This nanny will soon start talking to others and realize she is underpaid.

Good for you for trying to determine market wages for the area as that can be quite challenge sometimes!

bostonnanny said...


I've seen a lot of those ads too here on the east coast. When I was looking, I responded to a few of those ads because I'm hispanic and felt I met there qualifications. I learned that spainsh preferred meant, minimum wage with full housekeeping duties and no benefits at all. When families met me and realized I wasn't an uneducated low income woman or illegal immigrant who wouldn't accept their insulting pay rate, they were quick to get me out. I now avoid all ads that state that.

I agree it's very sad that early childhood care isn't taken seriously and considered nothing more then entry level manual labor position.

I need a break said...

If you need only about 3-4 hours a week, why not pay a flat rate. I would think $60 a week for up to 4 hours us fair. I think you need to make it worth her time.

OhhPlease said...

I agree with a flat rate since she is only working 3-4 hours. Pay at the higher end of what you can afford.

ElenaMadera said...

Good idea.

traveling-gypsy said...

I'm in the SF Bay area. I made $14 an hour in 1998! Id pay her at least $25/hour, bc of the short hours. The short hours make her unavailable to earn a full days wage.

The other lady is grossly underpaying & that's a shame. I'm sure she knows she is but it doesn't bother her enough to pay a proper wage. Who can live on $12 an hour?!

ElenaMadera said...

Thank you all. The short hours in this case don't affect her ability to earn a full day's wage because she will be at my neighbor's house all day anyway - so what I pay is just extra. If another family later wants to do a full day share obviously I understand and will step aside. But I agree that a flat rate would make it more worth her time to take on the extra burden of my baby a few hours

ElenaMadera said...

Good point. To me the extra language is a major plus, not a detractor. People should pay more for it, not less!

Katie said...

I haven't read any comments yet, so I dont know if this has been said.

If the nanny is watching both children at the same time, her value goes down. Since she is not giving 100% of her attention to your child (because there is another child present) I wouldn't even pay her that much.

NannyPants said...

Wow...there are still good people left in the world!!! I could hug you, OP. So many people would take advantage of the fact that she charges such a low rate. I firmly believe that you get what you pay for in life, so if you are willing to pay her more than what she is charging, I think you would have a very appreciative and happy nanny on your hands. And I also believe that a happy nanny means a happy baby!! :-)

ohhplease said...

It hasn't been said because it doesn't make sense. Her value doesnt go down bc there is one other child there. She is working harder with two children. No child needs an adults undivided attention, unless they're disabled.

traveling-gypsy said...

@ElenaMadera......are you any closer to deciding how much you will be paying your new nanny? You sound like a thoughtful MB. I think its great that you're concerned about underpaying. I'm sorry I didn't realize this was "in addition to." Its no excuse, but were traveling & its loud & distracting in our car!! I feel you paying $15 an hour would be fair. Its not your responsibility to make up for the other lady underpaying. But, if I were you, I would definately mention what a GREAT deal this woman is getting. :)

ElenaMadera said...

I'm still thinking about it, but I think a flate rate somewhere between $15 and $20/hr is reasonable. She doesn't take my son anywhere/plan activities, etc., but she is kind and attentive and takes care of him and that's worth a LOT to me. I saw a posting the other day on Craiglist from a potential employer, and they said this:

Nanny needed for our soon to be 2 year old daughter
Needed Tuesday and Friday 10am- 5:30pm; may change to Wed-Friday. $10/hr.
Needs to be loving, outgoing, affectionate, and energetic
Take trips to the park daily
Fluent in English, our toddler will ask you to read a hundred books and we encourage this.
Potty training, support without punishment or negativity
No television
Teaching music, other languages, or art are pluses.
Light meal prep and clean-up required
Possibly meet for play dates that we arrange
Always at home at nap time
Easily able to contact by phone or Facetime/skype while taking care of our child
Experience with infants/toddlers a must




(The WTF is me, not them :) )

Brena said...

Since the minimum wage in San Francisco is $10/Hr, I would most definitely pay her at least $20/Hr for two kids and the household duties.

OhhPlease said...

Good for your OP for deciding on a fair wage! I wish you the best of luck. More MB should be like you.

On a side note I finally registered since someone else is using "OhhPlease" well in this case "ohhplease". Do not want to be confused with the other one :)

ElenaMadera said...

Yes. I should say in neighbor's defense that from the start, they (nanny and employers) have been trying to find a share family so that her hourly rate is closer to $20 an hour to watch two kids. They just haven't found a share family yet, so she's charging $12 per hour for the one.