How does the cost of childcare in Austria compare to other countries?
Childcare costs in Austria vary depending on where you live, but it's still cheaper than many other European countries. Here's how it compares.
Many people in Europe are surprised to find that Austria has free (or heavily subsided) childcare.
Nurseries (for children up to the age of three) and kindergartens (from age three to six) in Austria are heavily subsidised and in some cases free, depending on where you live.
In Vienna, parents only need to pay €72.33 a month to cover meal costs, with low income families being exempt from that fee. Vienna also subsidises private kindergartens, paying up to €635.44 a month directly to the institution.
In other provinces, kindergarten is free for part-time hours, but this varies depending on the age of the child.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What is your experience of childcare in Austria?
In Tyrol, for example, free part-time day care only starts when a child is four-years-old. This is the minimum amount of free childcare that a state government has to provide.
Until then, parents have to pay for childcare and can choose from government subsidised or private providers.
Theresa Oatridge, a physiotherapist in Tyrol, but originally from Birmingham in the UK, told The Local she pays €7 a day (including €3.50 for lunch) for an afternoon kindergarten place for her eldest child, which is "super cheap". Kindergarten in the morning is free.
But fees for nursery (Kindergrippe) for her youngest child go up to €240 a month for five days a week (from 7am to 2pm), with an extra €50 for afternoon care.
Plus, in Tyrol, government subsidised childcare only becomes available when a child is 18-months-old. Theresa says this can make it difficult for parents that want to go back to work earlier.
Elsewhere in Austria, childcare is free for 2.5 to six-year-olds in Upper and Lower Austria, and in Burgenland it is free for children up to the age of six – for both full and half day care.
In Carinthia, the state government subsidises 60 percent of the childcare costs.
It is mandatory for all children in Austria to attend part-time kindergarten (20 hours per week) from the age of five. They start school aged six.
Average childcare costs for families in Austria
As Der Standard reports, there is no official data on the average cost of childcare in Austria.
This is mostly because the cost and availability varies so much across the country, with parents in some states able to access free (or highly subsidised) childcare on a full time basis. Whereas in other states, parents might have to switch between public and private options, with costs much higher for private childcare.
According to Der Standard, costs can range from €50 a month for afternoon care at a kindergarten (if mornings are free or subsidised) and up to €560 a month for a full time place at a private nursery.
As a result, many women across Austria work part time while raising children to avoid paying for childcare – especially for those outside of Vienna.
However, there is data on how much public money is spent on childcare is available.
Figures from Statistics Austria show that public spending on childcare in Austria cost €2,892,667 in 2019, with the biggest percentage spent in Vienna (€793,903).
Austria's capital city also has the highest number of children registered in childcare (77,649). To compare, just €86,229 is spent on childcare on Burgenland, and only 9,939 children are registered in either a nursery (Kindergrippe) or kindergarten.
Of course, not everything is perfect. Many families, especially outside city centres, say it can be hard to find a spot for their children in local childcare centres.
How has your experience been? We want to hear from The Local readers:
[typeform_embed type="embed" url="https://thelocal.typeform.com/to/leQ9hH7T"]
Here's a look at how the situation compares across Europe:
In Denmark, every child is guaranteed a place at a public childcare facility from the age of six months. The government pays 75 percent of the cost of a place or even more if your household income is below a certain threshold.
The exact amount parents pay depends on the Kommune. In Copenhagen Municipality, the cost of nursery care (vuggestue up to 2 years and 10 months) is 4,264 kroner a month including lunch (roughly €573). For kindergarten (børnehave from 2 years and 10 months to 6 years) it is 2,738 kroner a month including lunch (roughly €368).
If you have more than one child using childcare, you pay full price for the most expensive daycare and half-price for the others.
Parents in Denmark can also receive child and youth benefits (børne- og ungeydelsen), also known as børnepenge. This is a tax-free payment that you receive for each of your children until they reach the age of 18.
For children aged 0-2 years it is 4,653 kroner per quarter (roughly €156 per month per child). For children aged 3-6 years it is 3,681 kroner per quarter (roughly €123 per month per child).
The cost of nursery and kindergarten is capped at 3,050 Norwegian kroner, regardless of the hours attended or whether that facility is state-run or private. This means you’ll never pay more than roughly €295 a month per child in childcare costs.
Generally, the highest amount parents have to pay for a full-time place in childcare is 1,572 SEK a month, which is around €145. The exact amount is calculated on income. It is half price if you have more than one child in childcare.
The costs for daycare centres (Kindertagesstätte, or Kita for short) can differ greatly depending on where you live in Germany, as the fees are set by the local government.
In Schleswig-Holstein in the far north, parents pay on average nine percent of their after-tax income on childcare costs. In Hamburg, 4.4 percent of parent’s income goes on childcare as every child is entitled to five hours of free care a day. In Berlin, daycare is completely free.
Costs can vary depending on whether it is a private or public guardería or centro infantil (as nurseries are called in Spanish).
Public ones are heavily subsidised by the government and cost around €100-260 per month, depending on where you live in Spain and your situation. Private nurseries cost between €150 and €580 per month. There is also a fixed yearly fee called a matrícula or enrolment fee, which is around €100.
There is a 50 percent discount for large families and single parents don’t have to pay anything for childcare.
There’s also a deduction of up to €1,000 (cheque guardería) that is applied to the income tax return and works out at around €100 to €160 per month which is aimed at working mothers and is available up until the child is three years old.
In France, crèches tend to be the most affordable option and the cost is based on the family’s income. High earners might pay up to a maximum of €4.20 an hour (€33.60 for an 8-hour day), whereas low-income families might pay €0.26 an hour (€2.08 for an 8-hour day) at a crèche collective, which is for three months to three year olds. At the age of three, compulsory education begins in France.
The cost of a childminder is around €10.88 an hour and up to 50 percent of the costs of a nanny or professional childminder can be reimbursed by the government.
The OECD calculations on the percentage of income spent on childcare – based on two parents both working full time – is 13 percent in France. This is roughly similar to Spain and Italy.
According to the latest available data, a one-child Italian family spends an average of 303 euros a month for a full-time place (around ten hours a day, five days a week) at a public day nursery, or asilo nido, and an average of 324 euros a month for a place in a public kindergarten (scuola materna or scuola dell’infanzia).
Fees are generally higher in northern regions, with the highest monthly nursery fees of all recorded at 515 euros in Lecco, Lombardy. Conversely, childcare is usually more affordable in the south – full-time nursery care in Catanzaro, Calabria costs 100 euros a month on average.
For a breakdown of average public nursery fees by Italian region, see this website.
The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent.
The average cost of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130 a day (€136). Due to tax breaks and subsidies paid out in the cantons, many parents will pay between 30 and 80 percent of this cost, depending on income. This equates to paying between €41 and €108 a day, roughly €902 to €2,376 a month.
It’s even more expensive to hire a nannie, which will cost between CHF3,500 (€3,678) and CHF5,000 (€5,255) a month, including mandatory pension contributions.
According to charity Coram in their Childcare Survey 2022, the average cost of full-time nursery is £1,166 (around €1,304 a month), which is even higher in some parts of London. There are some government subsidies available for low-income families and those receiving benefits and every parent is entitled to 15 or 30 free hours of childcare the term after their child turns three years old.
The cost of childcare varies within each country, depending on family circumstances. However, for guaranteed low childcare costs for every parent, Sweden comes out best, with a maximum of €145 a month.
Average monthly cost of state-run childcare:
Sweden: €145 maximum
Norway: €295 maximum
Austria: €72.33 – roughly €500
Spain: €100 – €260
Germany: €0 – €368
Italy: €303 for nursery care; €324 for kindergarten
Denmark: €368 – €573
France: €45,76 – €739.20
Switzerland: €902 – €2,376
UK: €1,304 (which reduces after the child turns three).