I would like to get a sense of what others on this forum think is a "reasonable" amount to pay for childcare. My wife and I live in a HCOL area and both work a lot of hours. I am a cardiac anesthesiologist that takes Q4 beeper call and Q11 in house overnight call. I also end up working late unpredictably during the week if a heart is added onto the schedule.

My wife is a partner at a big corporate law firm. She commutes downtown by train at least 3 days per week and bills a lot of hours. Its not unusual for her to hop back on her laptop once she gets home around 6pm and also on weekends. Our kids are 8, 5 and 2. Our school district only does half day kindergarten, and they seem to give the teachers a day or two off every month for a random in service/training. Even when the kids are old enough for full time school we will likely need full time help to cover summers, school holidays and whatnot.

We ruled daycare out pretty quick because they close too early for us to reliably pick the kids up. We could consider an au pair at some point but we would have to add an au pair suite to our house to meet the program requirements. They also take 10 weeks to get here, which would be very hard to cover. That left us with the full time nanny option, which we have been using for ~8 years. We have had some very good ones who have stayed >3 years and some really problematic ones that weren't reliable.

We started out paying around $20/hr in 2015....but rates have escalated in our area. Our most recent search had most candidates expecting $25-30/hr. Most of them also expect year end bonuses of 1-2 weeks salary. Given our typical 42 hours per week plus taxes (we use a nanny payroll service), this amounts to about $70k/year! It is a huge chunk of our annual spending. It makes me nauseated to think about how many brutal 24 hour calls I take every year just to pay for childcare.

We both have FIRE aspirations and would like to ramp down sooner rather than later.

How much are the rest of you spending? Any other ideas?