It's hard to know if you're getting the right household help for your family if you don't know what's available. Learning about how much domestic services cost, what (if any) additional fees to expect, how long it can take to find a match, and what type of requests are feasible can require so much research and deciphering of jargon that many parents get overwhelmed or give up.
As members of the home services industry, we've worked through the jargon and done our fair share of research. So we've created this short guide to help you choose the right household help for your family. We'll only be speaking generally about each option, so there will be some agencies or platforms who won't operate or have cost structures in exactly the way we will describe, but we hope this gives you a broad idea of what to expect and saves you some research time!
A cleaners job is specifically to clean your home. Generally speaking, they will not tidy (pick up toys, arrange clutter, etc.). If you are hiring through an agency, the cost varies from $35-45/hr depending on the frequency of your service, the size of your home and the amount of cleaning you require (e.g. do you need a detailed clean wherein your kitchen bin will be changed and sanitised, or a domestic clean wherein the bins are only changed). One off cleans can be much more expensive and typically are $45-55/hr.
The duty of a housekeeper is to take care of the home. Often, we hear people comment that what they truly need is a cleaner who cooks. This may mean a housekeeper is for you! As housekeepers can do a mixture of cleaning, cooking and laundry tasks, the hourly rate is usually a little higher than the rate for a cleaner and there may or may not be an initial joining fee if you hire through an agency. Typically, the more customised the service the more likely it is there will be a joining fee. A joining fee is usually a few hundred dollars, but it is typically one off. The cost of the joining fee may depend on whether you need someone full or part time, the size of your home, if they will cover future replacements, if you are hiring on a one to one basis (someone specifically to work for you and your family), and how specific your requirements are.
If there is a joining fee, most agencies will have a probation period wherein if things don't work out with your housekeeper they will organise a new one for you at no additional cost. Others may require you to pay again so it is important to review their terms.
If there is no joining fee, some agencies may charge extra for specific housekeeper duties instead. For example, the base service could be $39/hr but if you also need laundry washed and folded it might be an extra $60 per visit.
A babysitter is someone who will look after children on a casual basis. They can look after children of all ages and generally do not have any formal experience. If you use an app or job listing site to hire you can expect to pay around $25/hr and you may also need to pay a listing fee, insurance, super, and workers comp on top. Listing fees and any additional employment costs vary greatly depending on the website or app, as some may charge monthly, others charge per listing and some are free. Some babysitters may also add an additional cost per extra child in their care or may charge a premium for certain hours of the day.
Generally speaking, the duty of a nanny is to look after children. This can include doing child related cooking and cleaning tasks. For example, a nanny may prepare a meal for the children or tidy toys but they typically wouldn't clean the home or make meals for the entire family. Although formal education is not a requirement to become a nanny, some nannies do have a diploma in early childhood education or similar.
The hourly rate you pay your nanny varies on their experience, but you can expect to pay anything from $25-35/hr. You will also need to cover super, workers compensation, insurance and leave allowances on top of this cost. Newborn care can be more expensive.
If you hire through a nanny agency you can expect to pay a registration fee and a placement fee on top of the hourly rate.
A registration fee will kick off the recruitment process and the price is usually $100 at a minimum but can go up to a few hundred dollars. It covers the initial time the agency will take to understand your needs and start advertising for your role. A big benefit of this process is that you can usually specify exactly what your requirements for a nanny are and the agency will work with you to find that perfect person. For example, if you want someone who is French speaking, with 5 years experience in childcare, is tertiary educated and drives, you can let the agency know and they will do their best to help you find that person.
A placement fee is paid only once a nanny has been found by the agency and accepted by the family. Depending on the agency a placement fee can be anything from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Some agencies will also charge the placement fee on an annual basis.The price of the fee usually depends on what your requirements were, whether the nanny is full time or part time, and your location.
Most nanny agencies will have a probation period wherein if things don't work out with your nanny they will organise a new one for you at no additional cost. However, when this period ends they are usually not responsible for finding you another nanny if things go south, your nanny goes on holiday, or you need a change. If you go on holiday and your Nanny is employed by you on a full time or part time basis, you may need to continue to pay them while you are away.
A lifestyle concierge is a highly personalised service wherein someone will step in and help take care of your life admin. This includes things like booking travel, organising your calendar, planning events, grocery shopping, doing errands, or buying gifts on your behalf. As this is typically done on a one to one basis, the cost ranges from $80-100/hr, but the benefit of having one person to turn to for all your lifestyle needs is often worth the cost.
Personal cooks or chefs are usually hired on a one to one basis and prices vary greatly as they are often based on quotes. As a more accessible alternative, many families use meal delivery services that send the ingredients for 5-7 meals per week to your door. Many of these have prices around $10-15/serving and save you the time involved in planning what recipes to prepare and shopping for ingredients.
An Au Pair is someone (usually foreign) who helps out with childcare and light housekeeping in exchange for room and board (accommodation and all meals), and an allowance. As an Au Pair is still entitled to receive the national minimum wage, many families will determine the average cost of the room and board they are providing their Au Pair and deduct this cost from what would've been full time minimum wage. For example, if minimum wage is $750/week and room and board is $400/week, then the family will pay their Au Pair $350/week in pocket money.
At mtime, we match you with a Moncierge, a personal assistant for parents who combines housekeeping and nannying into one role. A Moncierge primarily helps with cooking, cleaning, chores and childcare, but can also do school pick ups and drop offs, and life admin tasks similar to a lifestyle concierge. We hire all of our Moncierges as our employees so we cover workers comp, super, insurance, payroll and ensure they have working with children checks, police checks, food safety certificates and appropriate working rights. Our Moncierge service is $39/hr.
As our service is all inclusive and focuses on flexibility, we charge a one off joining fee and an ongoing Concierge fee.
The joining fee covers all administrative and processing costs involved in onboarding you as a member, the matching of your Moncierge, the creation of a personal home manual (guide to your household works), and the creation of your session checklists. Our joining fee is $149.
Our Concierge Service ensures you are supported before and after you are matched with a Moncierge. From the moment you sign up, you'll have a personal Concierge on hand 7 days a week to handle your initial onboarding so that you always have the same person to talk to about what your needs are. Once you've been onboarded and matched with a Moncierge, your Concierge will handle replacements if your Moncierge is away, organise extra sessions if you need last minute help, manage your schedule and facilitate any necessary changes, and ensure the quality of the service is maintained through regular check ins. Our Concierge service is $149/year and the first year is covered by your joining fee.
At mtime, our focus is on ensuring that we help you find the best possible support for your family, and this is the case whether or not we as an agency are the best fit for you. Part of that means being honest and open about what else is available and how each alternative works. So we hope this overview has been helpful and provided a great base for you to work from when choosing what will work best for your family.