10 Most Expensive Cities to Raise a Family


The Economic Policy Institute recently released its Family Budget Calculator, which serves, among other things, to illustrate the tragicomic gap between median income and what it takes to “get by” with a family. When EPI updated the calendar, they were kind enough to definitively rank the ten most expensive metro regions out of the 618 they studied. Let’s take a look at what makes them special, and what it takes to live there.

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10. Danbury, CT – $89,205

The per capita income in Danbury is $30,815. Median household income is $66,281, and the cost of raising a family in “adequate but modest” conditions is $89,205. Right out of the gate, we run into some issues. Nothing in particular seems to drive up the cost of living here, but child care costs are significant, to put it charitably.

9. San Francisco, CA – $91,785

Of course, the Bay Area’s ridiculously runaway housing market has reached a point that you can’t read a tech blog or switch on NPR without hearing a story of some single parent renting a garage for $1,500/month, and sure enough, the cost of housing is the big culprit here. Child care costs are surprisingly low at $10,815/year – less than half the housing cost. That’ll become notable here in a minute.

8. Ithaca, NY – $92,603

Hey, it’s New York! Get ready to see a lot of New York, because it takes up fully half of the entries on the list. Taxation is a huge part of that. Taxes in Ithaca actually cost more than housing does, and childcare costs are nearly twice as high as housing, at $13.5K vs. $24.1K. 

7. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY – $92,837

Oh, hey, New York again. Childcare is a big driver of cost of living here, costing more than housing. (Which was actually the case in 500 of the 618 metro areas EPI surveyed). Housing and taxes (which run almost as much as housing) are also huge contributing factors.

6. Honolulu, HI – $94,092

The cost of living on an island paradise is high. Who knew? Honestly, of all the outrages figures on the list, Hawai’i at least makes sense. The high cost of food is a big factor here. It costs more to feed a family here than it does in either of the most-expensive cities, and shipping things to and from the island probably plays a large role in that.

5. Stamford-Norwalk, CT – $97,350

Apart from the proximity to six figures, the other thing that really hurts about Stamford’s cost is its distance from the median household income of $76,797. You could add a third person into the marriage and you would maybe start making enough to start putting money aside. If that person didn’t eat anything, or get sick. 

4. NYC, NY – $98,722

New York City’s presence on the list won’t surprise anyone, but the fact that it’s only #4 might, and the fact that we’re not done talking about the state yet might surprise even more. Still, between the cost of childcare and the infamous cost of housing, it’s no surprise that it takes nearly six figures just to get by. It’s a good thing Carrie Bradshaw never had kids.

3. Westchester County, NY – $99,592

In the X-Men comics, Professor Xavier runs his School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, and one would assume it was for the lower cost of living with proximity to New York. One would be wrong. Living in Westchester actually hits a tiny bit harder for parents trying to maintain a “modest but adequate” life for their children.

2. Nassau-Suffolk, NY -$103,606

Man, New Yorkers just can’t catch a break. Child care is a lot lower in Nassau-Suffolk than in our number 1 winner, but housing is actually more expensive, leaving the Nassau/Suffolk metro area seated comfortably at number 2. (Housing is also somehow more expensive than in the New York City metro area.)

1. Washington, D.C. – $106,493

Washington, D.C. seems to be the most expensive place to raise a family. The big culprit here is childcare, which weighs in at $31,158 a year. In other words, two parents working full-time at the federal minimum wage would not be able to pay for D.C. child care with their combined income, even if that was the only thing they spent money on. (A minimum-wage worker earns $15,080 a year.)

Published by everbly


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