What Are the Different Nursery Set Up Costs in the UK?

Learning Environments

green plant growing out of money pile

If you are considering opening a nursery, it’s important to be aware of the different nursery setup costs in the UK.

These costs will vary from the location of the premises you choose to set up within, to staff wages, to everyday supplies such as food and cleaning equipment.

It’s important to remember that development and wellbeing of the children in your care is top of your list of priorities. Therefore, getting your financial plan right is essential to provide the best quality of care, and ensure access to equipment and supplies at all times.

However, your nursery is still a business and must be profitable in order to continue to run smoothly. As a result, it’s important you put the right money in, to get the right money out.

In this blog post we will outline some of the key costs to consider when drawing up your business plan so you are financially prepared for every repair and extra cost that may come your way.

If you are uncertain as to how these costs factor into your overall plan, we have included our free Business Plan Template to help you get started.

What Are the Costs to Consider When Setting Up a Nursery?

If you are starting from scratch and building your nursery from the ground up, it is likely going to cost you thousands of pounds and require quite a lot of work until it is ready to open.

On the other hand, if you are purchasing a nursery that is already up and running you may cut out the cost of renovations and refurbishments completely.

Nursery setup costs will differ from owner to owner, as there are a variety of things to consider such as:

  • The location you choose
  • Whether you are using an existing nursery or starting from scratch
  • The size of your nursery
  • How many children you plan to take on
  • The equipment you need for activities you have planned

These are key considerations to think about before you can start planning to set up a nursery, as you not only need to cover these costs, but also additional costs such as running the nursery, hiring staff, purchasing insurance, and marketing your business.

We’re going to explore these considerations in more detail below…

table with books abc and apple

9 Nursery Setup Costs in the UK

Nursery costs can be split into two sections: setup costs and running costs, both of which are just as important if you are going to keep your business afloat.

This post will focus mainly on the setup costs to get you started, however we have included running costs as you need to factor those into your business plan too.

You need to be able to afford the setup and running of your nursery before you can think about starting your search for the perfect location and premises.

Therefore, we have narrowed the setup costs down to the top 9 most important aspects of starting your nursery business.

Ultimately, you need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children who attend your nursery, so you need to provide a safe space for them to learn, filled with the right equipment and a trained team of staff.

Let’s kick things off with the cost of your nursery premises.

1. Premises

The premises you choose for your nursery will most likely be your biggest setup cost.

For the building that your nursery will be situated in, it may be that you find a premises that is already running as a nursery and therefore won’t need to spend a lot of your budget on renovations.

If this is the case, your new premises may just need safety checks, a coat of paint and new equipment, meaning you can open up your nursery quicker than usual.

However, if you decide to convert a building or even build a nursery from scratch, this will take a lot longer, and cost a lot more.

This is because there are specific government regulations to consider such as providing 3.5 square metres of space for every child under 2 years of age, and providing one toilet and hand wash basin for every 10 children over the age of 2.

This means the more children you have attending your nursery, the more space you will need in order to provide the correct facilities.

2. Renovation and Refurbishments

Regardless of whether you decide to purchase a nursery that is already up and running, or start from scratch, there will no doubt be equipment to install and refurbishments that need to take place.

This is your business after all, and it should be unique to you and the services you offer.

For example, the previous owners may have neglected the outdoor space and over time it has become overgrown and out of use, but you offer outdoor classroom experiences so need to make changes to the area.

This means you will need to consider the costs of renovating the outdoor area to accommodate a sandpit, water trough, space for physical activity, and a quiet area.

This alone could add up and become a larger cost as this not only includes equipment for activities, but possibly hiring professionals to cut back trees and bushes, fence off the area, and install soft flooring such as rubber mats.

Of course this applies to any area of your nursery, as it may be that other indoor areas need to be updated such as:

  • The kitchen – you may need to install professional kitchen equipment such as an oven, microwave, and fridge, in order to prepare fresh healthy meals for the children.
  • The laundry room – you may need to install a washing machine and tumble dryer, in order to wash and dry childrens clothes in the event of an accident or after messy play activities.
  • Flooring – just as outdoor flooring should be updated to a softer material, indoor flooring should be rubber, vinyl, or carpet, and rugs should be scattered throughout to avoid slips and falls.
  • Toilets and bathrooms – as noted above, toilet areas should be equipped with enough toilets, basins and suitable changing facilities in the event of accidents.
  • The quiet area – you must provide a quiet area for reading or sleeping and relaxing for the children, therefore you will need to have comfortable flooring and seating such as soft cushions, small bean bags and blankets.
  • Once you have renovated areas accordingly and you now have the appropriate facilities to run a nursery, it’s time to consider the types of equipment you are going to need to purchase.

    nursery equipment

    3. Equipment

    Depending on the types of activities and areas you offer at your nursery, some of the equipment you require may be slightly different from other nurseries you have visited.

    Some nurseries don’t have access to a large outdoor space so they don’t need to purchase an extensive amount of outdoor equipment.

    However, more often than not, nurseries provide similar facilities as it’s important to adhere to government regulations and offer outdoor space, a quiet area, tables and chairs, storage, art supplies and various toys and books.

    As a nursery owner you must provide a wide selection of materials to maximise the learning and development of every child.

    Mats, Carpets and Cushions

    First things first, your nursery should provide an area for children to be comfortable on the floor.

    Whether that is for naptime, rest, story time, or playtime it’s important to ensure children are comfortable as they learn and play together.

    An area like this can be created by purchasing floor mats or installing carpeted areas, along with cushions and even blankets to create a safe and comfortable space for when children need time to rest.

    Reading Resources

    It is important to encourage learning as well as playtime for the children in your nursery

    As such, you should have a wide range of reading materials ranging from simple picture books, to story books and magazines. This helps children to begin to recognise shapes, pictures and letters early on in their learning journey.

    Tables, Chairs and Art Supplies

    Children like to be creative and get involved with arts and crafts and messy play, so it’s essential that you have the correct equipment to facilitate these types of activities.

    It’s important that you purchase strong and comfortable tables and chairs to support the comfort of children as they learn.

    Equally, art supplies are a must and having a steady supply of materials such as, glue, crayons, paint, paper, and playdough (as a minimum) helps to encourage children to be creative.

    Outdoor Equipment

    As mentioned earlier in this post, outdoor equipment is essential if you are going to provide an appropriate outdoor classroom for children to experiment within.

    As a nursery owner you should think about purchasing a water trough, sandpit, and vehicles such as trikes or wagons to move objects around the outdoor space.

    The range of equipment that should be incorporated into a nursery is in no way limited to this list, as it is important to think about storage, games and puzzles and music in order to provide a range of sensory learning experiences for children.

    This list will give you an idea of how costly equipment may be for the setup of your nursery, not to mention if equipment is broken and needs to be replaced.

    4. Repairs and Replacement of Equipment

    Purchasing and gathering nursery equipment may be quite a costly process for you depending on whether you have owned a nursery in the past, can access some quality pieces second-hand, or you’re starting from scratch.

    Either way, if the equipment you source becomes broken it is important to factor repair or replacement prices into your setup costs.

    It may be worth purchasing brand new equipment to ensure the materials you buy will last and stand the test of time.

    Children within your care are at the age of discovering ways to play and learn and experimenting with new materials, therefore it’s likely things will get broken along the way!

    Any equipment that becomes even slightly broken should be removed and replaced to ensure your nursery environment is safe at all times.

    children at nursery

    5. Insurance

    In order to protect your business, your staff, and most importantly the children in your care, you will need to consider purchasing several types of insurance to ensure you’re covered in every eventuality.

    This may include policies such as:

    • Public liability insurance
    • Employers liability insurance
    • Professional Indemnity insurance
    • Commercial property insurance
    • Business interruption insurance

    The cost of each of these policies will differ again depending on the number of children and staff your nursery holds, and the needs of your nursery overall.

    Nevertheless, insurance policies are a requirement before you can open your nursery so they must be included within your setup costs.

    6. Running Costs

    The running costs of your nursery aren’t necessarily part of your setup costs, however if you can’t afford to run your nursery once you are open, you will run into quite a few problems along the way.

    Running costs typically include rent or mortgage payments and utilities, food and cleaning equipment, staff wages and training (including your own) and ongoing maintenance costs.

    If you open up your nursery without considering these monthly running costs you may end up having to close fairly soon.

    7. Everyday Consumables

    Everyday materials are a cost that should be included in your running costs as well as your setup costs.

    Supplies such as cleaning equipment, food, and medical supplies should be purchased regularly to ensure your nursery is always well stocked, however in the initial nursery setup stages you should have money set aside for these materials too.


    Usually you will be required to prepare and provide at least 1, if not 2, healthy meals for the children in your care.

    Depending on whether children are with you for the morning, the afternoon, or all day, each child will need one or more of the following:

    • Breakfast
    • Morning snack
    • Lunch
    • Afternoon snack
    • Dinner

    All nurseries are different but it is important to provide 4-5 separate occasions for children to sit down and eat while at nursery, whether that’s a piece of fruit or a larger meal.

    Therefore, it’s a good idea to buy as many ingredients as you can in bulk. This will not only help to save money, but can also help you to plan your menus in advance and stick to them.

    First Aid and Medical Supplies

    Along with providing first aid training for your staff, you will need to consider purchasing everything you need to create a nursery first aid kit and ensure that it is always fully stocked.

    At a minimum this should include:

    • Individually wrapped sterile plasters
    • Disposable gloves
    • Safety pins
    • Sterile eye patches and triangular bandages
    • Sterile wound dressing in assorted sizes
    • First aid leaflet

    If you want to ensure you have everything you need for any accident you may wish to further include:

    • Ice packs (some to be stored in the freezer)
    • Hand sanitiser
    • Eyewash
    • Tweezers and scissors
    • Thermometer

    Your first aid kit, once complete, should be checked at regular intervals to ensure it is fully stocked for the needs of your nursery and damaged or expired items should be discarded and repurchased.

    Cleaning Equipment

    It is vital to keep your premises and your nursery equipment clean and free from germs as viruses and bugs can easily form and spread in this environment.

    This means cleaning equipment should be top of your supplies priority list.

    As a minimum you should have disinfectant to clean surfaces, toys, toilets, and the kitchen, hand soap available at all basins, hot soapy water available in toilets and the kitchen, and fabric softener and detergent for the washing machine.

    These are the supplies that will need to be bought regularly to avoid running out and avoid the risk of spreading infection or illness.

    nursery teacher and child

    8. Staff

    The range of staff within a nursery goes beyond you and a couple of other practitioner roles which means the cost of training and wages can quickly add up.

    Depending on the size of your nursery and the amount of children you are taking care of, you may need a Nursery Manager, several Nursery Practitioners, (at both full-time and part-time level), a Chef, Kitchen staff, and Cleaning staff.

    Each staff member that you hire will require different salaries and different levels of training depending on their previous experience.

    This can make up a sizable portion of your setup costs and will continue to be an outgoing cost for you as your business continues to grow.

    9. Marketing and Advertising

    Once your business is almost up and running, and you have taken all of the above points into consideration, it’s time to market and advertise your business to parents in your area.

    Marketing and advertising shouldn’t be a large setup cost but it’s an essential step if you are going to attract parents.

    This is also an annual cost as each year children will continue their learning journey at school, and you will need to fill those vacant positions within your nursery.

    Marketing and advertising materials may include:

    • A website for your nursery
    • Roller banners or billboard adverts
    • Hosting open days or nursery visits
    • Content marketing such as blogs or social media

    All of these marketing and advertising materials come at a price so it is worth weighing up which ones will work best for your business in order to attract prospective families to your nursery.

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    What Are the Different Nursery Set Up Costs in the UK?

    As we have outlined in this post, there are a variety of nursery setup costs to consider when starting up your own nursery business.

    There are multiple costs to consider from essential renovations and equipment purchases, to staffing costs and day-to-day supplies, and this is only one section of your nursery business plan!

    Alongside this you will have to consider the services you offer, marketing your business, choosing a location, and adhering to government regulations, so there is a lot to think about before your nursery has even opened its doors.

    This is where Learning Journals can step in and help, as our platform can take care of the everyday jobs for you, such as storing child data, tracking progress, and strengthening the communication between you and parents at home.

    Therefore, while you consider setup costs and spend time with your brand new nursery class, the Learning Journals platform can help to support you in the early stages of opening your business.

    If you would like more information about our platform, contact us or request a free trial today!

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