What Is a Live-In Nanny?

The pros and cons and the importance of a contract

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A live-in nanny is exactly what it sounds like: a child care provider who lives in your home. This individual provides care for your child or children during an agreed upon set of hours. In return, you provide a place to live and a salary.  This salary is typically less than "live-out" nanny because the parents are also paying for room and board.

The Pros 

The upside of hiring a live-in nanny is certainly cost, convenience, and dependability.

You'll pay less for a nanny and enjoy the benefits of one-on-one care for your child or children.  

There will be a great opportunity for you to bond with the nanny as well.  By getting to know one another so well it'll be easier to get on the same page about discipline and trust may come quicker.  

You'll also be able to go out for date night more easily, as long as your nanny is available in the evenings.

You can (almost) say good bye to impromptu search for back up child care with a live-in nanny.  And in any case of emergency they are there to save the day.

The Cons

The downside involves privacy, naturally. A live-in nanny is privy to all your most personal foibles, and may overhear family arguments, er, discussions. You'll want to carefully screen the individual to make sure you can coexist happily. A live-in nanny works best when you have a large house, ideally with separate quarters for her to live, where you won't annoy each other.

Also, depending on one person can sometimes hurt.  Although the last minute rush to find back-up child care will occur less with a live-in nanny, be sure to have a backup plan for those rare occasions.

Set boundaries with a contract

As with anyone who will be watching your child or children you'll create a contract.

 This contract is much different though because many boundaries need to be set.

Some things you'll want to include is exactly when the nanny will be needed.  Usually a live-in nanny has the same hours a live-out one does, meaning five days per week.  But if you happen to get every Friday off and need the nanny more on the weekends be sure to clarify that they will be needed Monday through Thursday and Saturdays. 

If there will be any exceptions to the set schedule like coverage needed during business trips, overnight supervision, and family vacations, include what your needs will be during these times.

Also, it is your house your nanny will be living under so it's your rules.  if there are certain things you will not tolerate in your home be sure to set this expectation in the contract so that there are no surprises.  Any candidate coming to live with you should have a good idea of what will not be tolerated.

If you want help with household chores around the house include what you'd like to expect.  Remember that you are hiring a nanny and not a maid.  Things like cleaning up after the children or cleaning the dishes they ate from, and doing light laundry may be OK with the nanny but be sure to address this in the contract so there's no confusion.


Include a clause about the children not appreciating the nanny's "off time".  To help the live-in nanny manage that fine line between work and life the children need to understand when the nanny is available to them and when she is not.  It's very easy for a child to move on to the next person to get what they want so create response you both agree on that is the automatic signal of time off.  For instance, if the child wants the nanny, the response could be, "It's not my turn to take care of you right now.