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Do You Need a Live-in or a Live-out Nanny? What's Right for Your Family?

Updated: Jun 28

Nanny reading to young girl on grey sofa

What are the key differences between a live-in and a live-out nanny? Is one better than the other? How can I decide what's best for my family? These are the types of questions we often receive from our clients. So, let's discuss when each option may work best for your family's specific needs.

From the duties and responsibilities of each type of nanny to considerations about accommodation, working hours, and budget, here at Homebodies we provide insights and advice to help you make an informed decision when hiring a nanny. Whether you're considering a live-in nanny for more flexibility or a live-out nanny for greater independence, we offer guidance to help you choose the best childcare solution for your family.

Read on to learn more about the different types of nannies and find the right fit for your household.

What's the difference between a live-in and a live-out nanny?

A live-in nanny is a professional caregiver who resides in the family's home and provides childcare services on a full-time or part-time basis. This arrangement typically involves the nanny living with the family and being responsible for the day-to-day care of the children. Live-in nannies still have set hours of work but may also be available for occasional evening or weekend babysitting as needed by the family.

A live-out nanny, on the other hand, does not reside in the family's home and instead commutes to the family's residence to provide childcare services. Unlike a live-in nanny, a live-out nanny typically works set hours during the day and then goes home at the end of her shift.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Some nannies who live in want to go home at the weekends as they might have their own accommodation outside of London, for example. They simply choose to work in more central locations between Monday and Friday to avoid long commutes. Other live-in nannies will be off work during the weekend but still live with the family as they have no other home in London.

Are duties, responsibilities, and qualifications different between live-in and live-out nannies?

There are no major differences in terms of duties for live-in and live-out nannies. Each family will have different expectations, so we recommend they be clear with their nanny from the start. If you can be upfront in discussing what duties you expect, you'll have a better chance of finding a nanny who meets those requirements and expectations.

For example, all nannies will usually be responsible for all nursery duties and cooking for the child. This is regardless of whether they live in or out of the family home. Nannies may or may not be flexible with babysitting, but live-in nannies will typically expect to babysit one weekday night per week (included in their salary). Live-out nannies, on the other hand, need to be paid for babysitting on top of their salaries. Having said that, we find that some live-out nannies prefer not to do any extra evening babysitting if they work very long hours.

Qualifications between live-in and live-out nannies are no different and it depends on the individual candidate. For more information on this, head over to the blog post Everything You Need to Know About Working with a Nanny in London.

Nanny playing with a girl and boy in their play area

When would a live-in nanny work best for me?

Families will decide if they need a live-in or live-out nanny depending on their specific needs. Here are some reasons why a live-in nanny may work best for you.

You have a lower budget to spend on a nanny

If you have a lower budget, a live-in nanny is a cheaper option. This is no reflection on the quality of the service or professionalism you will receive. Live-in nanny salaries are typically lower as you provide accommodation for your employee.

You need your nanny to start early and/or finish late

A live-in nanny may also work best for you if you need them to start work early (around 7 am, for example). This is because (while not impossible), it's hard for someone who commutes to your home to start their working day that early. Plus, if you also need your nanny to finish late, having a live-in nanny can be advantageous. As your nanny doesn't have to travel to get to and from work, the early start and late finish are less of a problem.

You need more flexibility or wrap-around care

If your children are at nursery or school, you might need the nanny to be available in the early morning and after school until early evening. Having someone living with you means she can have a break in the day. Live-out nannies, on the other hand, don't usually want to provide ‘wrap-around’ care with a break in the middle of the day.

Generally speaking, we find that a live-in nanny gives families more flexibility. However, you must be mindful of not taking advantage of the situation and remember that a live-in nanny still needs a break and time off work.

You want a rota nanny or a maternity nanny

Rota nannies

Rota nannies and maternity nannies are a type of live-in nanny. A rota nanny is a childcare provider who works on a rotating schedule (typically another nanny or multiple nannies) to provide around-the-clock care for the children. Rota nannies will work shifts usually ranging from one to two weeks at a time before being relieved by another caregiver. This type of childcare arrangement is often used by families with demanding work schedules or multiple children who need constant care and supervision. This also works well if you travel regularly with your nanny.

The calibre of rota nannies is very high as many nannies choose to work in this way when they're more experienced. Rota nannies work long hours, usually through the night, and are on call 24/7. The nanny needs to have the stamina and ability to work a 24/7 schedule. However, she will then be expected to take a week off to rest in between each rotation. You can find more information in the blog post Being a Rota Nanny: All You Need to Know.

Maternity nannies

A maternity nanny, also known as a postnatal nanny or maternity nurse, is a trained professional who provides support and care to new parents and their newborn babies in the first few weeks or months after birth. Maternity nannies are typically hired to help families adjust to life with a new baby, offering guidance on feeding, sleep routines, and general care of the baby.

They may also provide emotional support to the new mother and help with household tasks related to the baby's care. Maternity nannies often work on a live-in basis but can work on a live-out basis depending on the family's needs. If you want to find out more about these roles, you can find more detailed information in the following blog posts:

Nanny holding a baby boy both smiling

FAQs about working with a live-in nanny

Do I have to pay for my live-in nanny's food?

All live-in nannies will be provided with food. Some parents will give their nanny a bank card so she can buy her own food or will ask her to add her food to the family online shopping, for example. Although you do pay for the food, you're not expected to cook for the nanny. Many nannies will eat the same food they make for the children, but even when not, they need to take responsibility for their own cooking.

To make sure there are no misunderstandings or mismatches in expectations, we advise you to discuss in advance how this will work. For example, will the nanny eat with the children or when she finishes work?

How much time off does a live-in nanny get?

How much time off your live-in nanny gets is based on the agreed working hours with you. These will be stipulated in the contract. All nannies are expected to have a break and eat lunch during the day, but the amount of time off they will take depends on the circumstances.

Usually, the nanny will take a break in the day while the baby is sleeping. However, nannies will often use this time to do their nursery duties. So, it's good to discuss your expectations in advance and let your nanny know when it's fine to sit down and have some time to eat or take a break.

Where will my live-in nanny sleep?

Live-in nannies will still need some privacy and a comfortable and private space to rest and recharge during their off hours. All live-in nannies must be provided with their own room as a designated space for her to sleep and keep personal belongings. In some cases, the nanny may have a separate bathroom, but she may also share a bathroom with the family or children.

Some live-in nannies like to have separate accommodation or even their own entrances, so they don't feel they are interrupting the family during the weekends when they're not working. It's important the nanny is comfortable in her room and made to feel like she's welcome and at home.

Can I give my nanny a curfew?

Nannies don't usually want to be told that they have to be home by a certain time at night, especially at weekends. However, there might be some considerations or preferences to keep in mind and be discussed with the nanny upfront. For example, you might want to turn on your house alarm before you go to sleep at night. If the nanny gets back late, that might be an issue. Equally, if you know your nanny needs to start work at 7 am, and she's out late the night before, you may worry she's not on her best form for work if she hasn't had enough sleep.

As this can be a sensitive topic, we can help you have an open and honest conversation with your nanny regarding curfews. We recommend you consider these factors before hiring a nanny to ensure that both parties are on the same page.

When would a live-out nanny work best for me?

You want more options and a longer-term working arrangement

There are usually better-quality candidates available on the market who will want to work as live-out nannies rather than live-in. Due to Brexit, it's now much harder for people to come and work and live in the UK. Therefore, live-in nannies are often harder to find.

Some live-in nannies can be younger candidates who want to live with a family if they're new to London. However, we find that a nanny who lives with the family often only wants to do so for 1-2 years maximum. After that, they might start looking for more independence or meet a partner, so their circumstances change. If you're looking for a longer-term arrangement, living out can usually offer more longevity in the role.

You want a nanny who's more mature and experienced

More professional nannies tend to look for live-out positions. While they've chosen nannying as a career, they also have their own lives and don't want to live with their employers. Many nannies also have their own families and can be parents themselves.

It often works better to have some space and to go home at the end of your day. Everyone needs a work-life balance, and some roles only require the nanny to work part-time or 3-4 full days. In these cases, a live-out nanny is more appropriate. Even with full-time roles, many nannies want to go home at the end of their working day. This is so they can relax in their homes and separate work from leisure.

The calibre can often be higher with live-out nannies, too. After all, they tend to be at the stage in their lives where they're more settled and experienced. Of course, some live-in nannies are also very professional, and career minded. However, they may want to go home on weekends, and their salary expectations will be higher.

You aren't sure about living with your nanny or you don't have a dedicated space in your home

We find that occasional problems with placements sometimes occur with live-in roles. This is often due to both the nanny and family finding it hard to live with each other. We see fewer issues arising with live-out placements as often parents need some space in their home and prefer when they are not directly living with their nanny. For their part, nannies don't like to feel they are being micromanaged. And live-in nannies tend to complain more about this happening than live-out nannies.

Finally, more families tend to choose to have a live-out nanny as they don’t have a spare room. Or perhaps your home is not set up for having a nanny live with you. You might also want more privacy in the evenings and weekends. Live-out nannies can still offer lots of flexibility and stay late or offer babysitting as well as overnight stays when needed, which can provide the best of both worlds.

Nanny and baby girl looking out of a window

FAQs about working with a live-out nanny

Do I have to pay for my live-out nanny's food?

Many families will let their nanny make some lunch using their ingredients or eat the same food she cooks for the children. But you don't have to. Your nanny might also choose or prefer to bring her own food to work.

Do I pay for her travel to get to and from work each day?

It's not standard to pay for your nanny’s travel to get to and from work. However, some employers choose to offer their nanny a daily travel rate as an incentive.

If the nanny needs to drive children to and from nursery, school, or activities, and she uses her own car, the employer is expected to pay for petrol costs and contribute to the wear and tear of the car. For this reason, most nannies prefer to drive a car that's provided by their employer. Some families may even decide to buy the nanny a car that she can use to drive their children around. This then becomes 'a perk of the job' as the nanny may be allowed to use the car to and from work. You will also need to pay for public transport costs if your nanny travels on the bus or train with your child.

Would you like some help in deciding what type of nanny you need?

If you're still determining if a live-out or live-in nanny is more suited to your needs, we offer a FREE discovery call to help you decide. We can also offer a two-pronged search where we look for a live-in and live-out nanny so you can explore both options and find the most suitable match for your needs. For more information, contact us now for an informal chat about how we can help.

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