Every parent needs a night out once in awhile. How much that babysitter will cost depends largely on what part of the country your family calls home, but new stats show that today's babysitters are making bank compared to the rates my teenage self charged (not that they don't deserve it).
According to UrbanSitter's 2019 National Childcare Rate Survey, 42% of parents spend over $10,000 a year on babysitters. The average cost of an hourly babysitter is $16.75 for one kid and nearly $19.26 for two. Back in 2017, $19 would get you coverage for three kids, and a babysitter for one was between $15 and $16, so the rates have gone up over the last two years.
No surprise, San Francisco is the most expensive major American city to hire a sitter in (at $18.75 per hour for one child) and Las Vegas is the cheapest (at just $11.63 for a single kid).
The high cost of an evening away from home is likely why 58% of parents get a babysitter only once a month or less frequently. When you consider that the average U.S. family spends more than 30% of its income on center-based child care, there's not a lot of cash left over for occasional “night out" babysitters after you pay the day care bill.
Say you've got two kids and want to go to dinner and a movie. The average adult movie ticket costs $8.73 and an entree is like, what, $15? Double those numbers and then give yourself four hours between the restaurant and the cinema and date night just cost you $116.82.
Still, some parents do prioritize date nights. According to UrbanSitter, nearly a quarter of parents hire sitters at least once a week, and 40% of parents say the reason for doing so is getting time to reconnect with their partner and have "adults only" time.
With the summer coming up, 59% of parents surveyed say they plan to spend $1,000 or more on babysitters or nannies when school is out.
The numbers show what we already know: Sometimes babysitters are necessary so parents can have a life, and sometimes they're necessary so that we can earn a livelihood.
These days, most babysitters in big cities aren't just 15-year-olds who've taken a CPR course. As the cost of living in a major city goes up, college-educated babysitters who can provide background checks and references are becoming the norm.
Yes, these babysitters are expensive, but they can also drive or Uber themselves home at the end of the night. For exhausted parents, that alone might be worth paying a little more for.
[A version of this post was published November 20, 2017. It has been updated.]