The people moving near parents for free childcare


Lisa Brown heavily relies on her parents to look after her two-year-old son Zach while she and her husband are at work – and will depend on them even more when her second child arrives.

The 32-year-old said: “My parents helping with childcare saves us at least £150 a week, but the flexibility that they offer is even more valuable – both of our jobs can have long hours, particularly on shoots where days are up to 16 hours.”

Lisa works as a film and content production manager whilst her husband works as a cameraman. The couple moved from London to Newbury, where her parents live, in order to get the support they need for childcare.

She said: “We did originally look at other areas, but the lack of childcare options available combined with house prices, the commute time to London, and simply not knowing anyone in different areas, made moving closer to my parents an easy decision.

“My parents tend to look after Zach two to three days a week, but they’re really flexible and will even look after him overnight, as well as being happy to look after him when I drop him off at silly o’clock.”

She works four days a week and looks after her son on her day off while paying for a childminder for the rest of the time. They plan to increase their use of a childminder to two days a week once Zach’s free hours come in.

It’s also had an impact on where they live. She said: “We would like to upsize but it’s not financially feasible in the current environment.”

Although she hasn’t asked her parents if they feel they could move should they want to, Lisa said “they know we really rely on their support.”

She said: “If we didn’t have free childcare help, I wouldn’t be able to afford to be part time. We would have to really look at our spending to afford it.”

They are not the only ones as many parents are forced to live near their children’s grandparents in order to get help with childcare, according to new figures from Zoopla.

The research, of 2,000 UK parents with children under the age of 13, found that half live less than five miles from their child’s nearest grandparent and 68 per cent live within a 30-minute journey.

The average family relies on nine hours of grandparent childcare support a week, equating to 468 hours per year.

Parents estimate that, without free help, they spend £9.90 per hour on childcare including nursery, babysitting and summer camps.

With grandparental support, this is worth £4,633.20 of free childcare annually, at a time when costs are already spiralling.

However, this means 52 per cent of parents who receive childcare support from grandparents say they now feel “trapped” when it comes to where they live.

A key reason for this was financial restrictions, with 36 per cent of parents who have grandparent support saying they could not afford to be without it as professional childcare would be too expensive.

Many are even having to put their own home owning aspirations on hold to get free childcare support.

Some 44 per cent of parents feeling trapped would like to move to a larger home, but prices are not affordable in the area they need to remain to get grandparent support.

A further 24 per cent say that they would like to move to a different area but can’t as they need to remain near their parents.

Some are even being prevented entirely from getting on the housing ladder, with 29 per cent of those who get grandparent support saying that they would like to buy somewhere but are having to rent in order to stay near to their parents or parents-in-law.

A number of parents admit to asking their parents or parents-in-law if they will move closer to help with childcare support.

Of all surveyed, 28 per cent had discussed moving homes with their children’s grandparents to be closer for childcare reasons. Of those, some 31 per cent have had a parent or parent-in-law move house to be closer to help with childcare.

Daniel Copley, consumer expert at Zoopla, said: “Many Britons feel that they are trapped when it comes to where they live, with it being vital that grandparents are nearby to help out.

“This is leaving many in the tricky spot of not being able to afford to buy a place close to their parents, forcing them to rent when they might otherwise be able to get on the housing ladder. Or simply living in an area they don’t really want to live in.

“My advice would be to have open and honest conversations with grandparents about the support they are prepared to offer, and how far they would be willing to travel. Grandparents may be amenable to moving. Many may be looking to move to a smaller home, or free up some of the equity in their home to fund their retirement, and moving to a more affordable location may work for them as well.”

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