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Early learning options driving suburb growth

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For a long time, suburbs with great public schools have driven up property prices as parents scamper into the catchment zone before their little ones hit prep. Nowadays, working parents are thinking earlier with many seeking properties near excellent early learning facilities.

It’s becoming a key priority when searching for a new home to buy or rent and, according to some experts, it’s even more important than being near reputable school zones. Experts report that this is largely due to the modern family predominantly having two working parents.

Typically, both parents are working at least part time, so if they have small children and their day care centre is close by, it opens up a world of convenience and a lot less stress. While early learning is critical for a child’s development and important to parents, it seems averting stress is the key driver here.

Being close to the centre helps parents make the most of every minute in the hectic morning rush to work – and makes life easy on the way home too. While some parents are still choosing day care close to work, it seems closer to home is a priority. Perhaps with more people working from home now, it’s the more convenient option.

It’s also been found that many working parents are seeking out childcare options before they buy or rent their home due to the difficulties finding a place in centres. If parents buy and then seek a place, they could be in all kinds of trouble with limited spots in many centres.

In some cases, it results in families moving again quickly after moving in – or their days become more stressed with extra travel time added as they’ve been forced to retain their child’s spot at their former centre. Neither are ideal situations and it seems preparation is now the way forward.

On some real estate websites like realestate.com.au, you can now find childcare information on each of the property listings – thanks to a partnership between REA Group and childcare search platform, Toddle. Each listing will show the range of centres in the area.

And while being close to childcare is important, another factor parents are considering is the cost – which will vary suburb to suburb. For many families this is a huge deciding factor, as in some cases the cost for childcare can be the price of one parent’s income.

For women in particular, it can be a huge barrier for returning to work with parents in Brisbane forking out as much as $35,000 a year – and that’s after subsidies.

Sydney parents are facing even high prices with the city having the most expensive early learning options in the country. Not surprisingly, Sydney’s north shore and eastern suburbs are home to the most expensive childcare services in the country.

A recent analysis of government data reveals the suburbs around Sydney Harbour made up eight of the nation’s highest 10 average childcare centre fees before the pandemic struck.

It was also reported how many centres in each area charged fees above the hourly cap, which the government bases its subsidy rates on. At the time the data covers, this was $11.98 an hour. It rose to $12.20 an hour from July last year.

In North Sydney-Mosman, parents paid an average of $14.55 an hour, or $145.50 for a typical day of care, before government subsidies. Fees in this area can soar as high as $177 a day at SDN Mosman and $173 a day at North Sydney’s Toybox Early Learning. All but two of the 41 childcare centres in the area charged fees above the cap.

There was the brief reprieve between April and July last year, when the Government made childcare free to parents, but the costs are up again. For buyers in the Sydney market, this is a really important thing to consider when buying a home. Close, affordable childcare really should rank high on your must-have list.