What factors do you consider when deciding how much to pay a babysitter per hour? The time of day, meals, duration, travel, etc.?
If the babysitter does it routinely, as a job, I would ask them first what their rate was. From there you can possibly negotiate if you feel there is room for it - your situation is less demanding than the norm may be, or there is some other perk for the sitter.
You may encounter sitters like I have though - they do it routinely, but have no fixed rate. They let the parent set the rate and (I would hope) begin negotiating if they feel they are being lowballed. In that case you're going to need to ask around some to get a ballpark rate. When making an offer based on rates you've heard from other parents, make sure to consider any differences between the situations, such as:
- Number of children being watched
- Distance the sitter must travel
- Time of day / Day of week (School night vs weekend, for instance)
- Obviously, number of hours.
- Perks you can offer, such as a meal or transportation to and from your house.
- Whether they even need to interact with the child - sitting may only be needed after bedtime.
Age, experience, and enthusiasm are things to consider as well. I would be willing to pay a college student far more than I would someone in high school because of the difference in maturity and life skills. Also, the fact that a college student has bills to pay would yield a higher wage. Enthusiasm is the most important though. Is the sitter going to watch television with the kids or take them to the park and play with them? I would want the person watching my children to actually take an interest in them and make sure they had a good time.
Babysitters charge what they deem to be right, in my experience, and if you can afford it, you pay. In my experience, in London, a babysitter would cost us between £30 and £40 a night, or about £8 an hour. Now we're in a more rural part of the country, they seem to charge less.
As with all service companies/industries, they'll charge what they think they can get; it is simple economics
Some factors to consider are hours, time of day, and number of kids, but for me personally I like the parent to consider how their kids act. If the kid is a spoiled brat (not in anyway implying they your are) then I would expect the parents to pay a little more than if they have a relitively good child.
You can probably expect to pay anywhere from $16-$20/hour. If you need them to drive the kids around, it would be nice to offer extra to cover gas. If they're working during a regular meal time, you should likely factor their food into the equation as well, especially if they're providing care more than 6 hours at a time. We use wyndy.com and the suggested rate is typically $16-18 (we're in the southeast).
Where we live in Canada the standard is about 15/hour, but babysitters are in high demand. Because we want to encourage our babysitter to actually help us when we need her, we pay her 20/hr.
You can definitely get away with paying the bare minimum, but you'll get better service and a better relationship if you pay them what they're worth, or what makes them happy.