Britons Heading to Spain in Search of Affordable Childcare

If you start a family in Spain, then you’re likely to spend significantly less on childcare than you would in any other country in Europe. That’s because recent statistics have clearly demonstrated that childcare costs are higher in the UK than in anywhere else in Europe, including Spain. The average childcare cost for just one child in the UK is £14,000 a year. This equates to as much as 75% of the average parents' income, depending on your working hours and salary. No wonder, then, that so many Britons are choosing to move their young families to Spain to take advantage of the affordable childcare it offers.

So how do childcare costs between the UK and Spain compare? And why is childcare in Spain so affordable? Here’s everything you need to know:

How Do Childcare Costs in The UK and Spain Compare?

Childcare in the European Union is freely available to those who need it. In fact, data from the OECD has revealed that as many as 90% of children between three and five years of age are eligible for free childcare. One third of children under 3 years of age living in the European Union are eligible for free childcare. Of those children who are not eligible for free childcare, childcare is often highly subsidized. As a couple who are both middle income earners, you can expect to pay approximately 14% of your income for your childcare. Low-income couples pay an average of 11% of their income on childcare. And single parent families pay between seven and nine percent.

These wider EU costs (which also include Spain) compare particularly negatively to childcare costs in the UK.  The net annual cost for childcare services in the UK is calculated to be a whopping 52% of the median female income. Not only is childcare in the UK expensive, but it is also considered rigid and unreliable, making it difficult for working parents who work shift patterns or unusual hours.

Britons Moving to Spain

London-based consultant Sara Bustillo de Castro whose book on childcare entitled ‘The Power of Where: International Careers and Modern Parenting’ is set to be published in September, plans to return to her native Spain this summer due to the high cost and unreliability of childcare in the UK. She is not the only mother of young children in the UK attracted to Spain thanks, in part, to its affordable childcare costs.

It isn’t just conventional childcare that is cheaper in Spain. Swimming lessons are also subsidised by the local council, meaning you would spend just 20 euros for two 45 minute swimming lessons a week  during the summer months, compared to £15 per lesson in the UK. And the longer school day offered in Spain is also attractive to working parents, who won’t have to pay for the same level of wrap around care that they would in the UK.

How Much Does Childcare Cost in Spain?

The amount your childcare would cost in Spain would depend on the type of childcare you choose. If you hire a nanny, then you can expect to pay between 800 and 1,000 euros (£700-£875) per month. Preschool and day-care costs will depend on whether you are interested in private or public providers. State childcare for children aged 16 weeks and over are highly subsidised, meaning that they are much more affordable when compared to the UK.

The discount you receive from the Spanish government will be determined by your income, but you can expect to pay between 150 euros and 400 euros per month for a public nursery place. Just one day in nursery in the UK costs the same as two weeks of childcare in Spain. For a non-subsidised private nursery place the costs will be higher, and you can expect to pay between 400 euros and 1,000 euros per month. However, working mothers receive 100 euros per month in childcare benefits and are entitled to a 1,000 euro annual payment for kindergarten, meaning that no matter which childcare type you choose, it will still be significantly more affordable in Spain than it is in the UK.

Changes to Childcare in the UK

Childcare in the UK is notoriously expensive, and the cost is considered prohibitive for many women returning to the work force. In his budget this week, the UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt addressed this by announcing a cash injection for childcare to the sum of £4 billion. However, many of these changes will not take place until 2024. And some experts fear that the changes that were announced will not be enough to cover his promised extension of free hours for one and two-year-olds. This means that to afford these promised changes, that prices charged for the remaining paid-for hours will only increase.

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