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The Most And Least Affordable Metros To Raise Children

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By Sam Bourgi

After the highest inflation in 40 years, many Americans have a hard time affording necessities, such as food, housing, healthcare as well as the fundamental need to start a family.

Factoring in rising costs—with childcare chief among them—being a parent in America has never been more expensive than it is today.

So, how much does it actually cost to raise a child in 2024? And how does that “price tag” vary based on where you live?

Faith Based Events

To answer this question, Creditnews Research analyzed the cost of raising children across America’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas.

In each metro, the study analyzed “living wages” for dual-income households with and without kids—and then compared how much these households have to earn just to get by.

As one might expect, the actual cost of raising children in America depends considerably based on location.

Key Findings
* The average (mean) annual cost of raising a child across America’s 100 most populous metros is $22,989—or $413,810 up to the age of 18;
* To cover the basic needs, a dual-income household has to earn a combined $64,229
* annually without children. This figure jumps to $91,608 for families with one child, $114,898 with two children, and $133,197 with three children;
* The most affordable metros to raise a child until the age of 18 are Jackson, MS; McAllen, TX; Wichita, KS; El Paso, TX; and Lakeland, FL;
* The least affordable metros to raise a child are San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Boston, MA; Bridgeport, CT; and San Diego, CA;
* Five of the top 10 most unaffordable metros are located in California.
“Families with kids have to bring in at least six figures in most major metropolitan areas just to get by—let alone eating out, traveling, and spending on other entertainment.”
Sam Bourgi, Senior Analyst at Creditnews Research

The actual cost of raising a child in America

In 2024, a household with two working adults living in one of the 100 most populous metro areas has to bring in an average of $64,229 annually just to cover necessities.

However, this income threshold grows substantially when children are involved.

According to our analysis, a kid’s annual cost—including childcare and civic engagement expenses, food, healthcare, housing, internet and phone, transportation, and other necessities—is $22,989 per year.

The total cost of raising a child until the age of 18 is $413,810.

That means an average household with two adults has to earn $91,608 to raise one child, $114,896 to raise two children, and a whopping $133,198 to raise three children.

 

The 10 most affordable metros for raising a child

It comes as little surprise that the most affordable metros to raise a child have lower housing costs than the national average.

Based on other Creditnews Research studies, there’s also a strong link between metros with the most affordable housing markets and metros with the lowest cost of raising a child.

For example, four of the top 10 most affordable metros for raising a child are also in the top 10 most affordable metros for middle-class households to buy a home.

Below is a rundown of the 10 most affordable metros for raising a child in 2024:

  1. Jackson, MS: Mississippi’s capital is the most affordable major metro in America for raising a child, largely thanks to relatively cheap rent and more affordable childcare options. Jackson residents spend an average of $14,661 per year raising one child, which is 36% lower than the national average. The total cost of raising a child in Jackson is $263,892, which is much lower than the national average.
  2. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX: The first of two Texas metros to make the top 10 list, McAllen is the most affordable area to raise multiple children. The average annual cost of raising one child is only $15,266, or $274,794 throughout childhood. McAllen also boasts affordable amenities such as food, healthcare, and transportation.
  3. Wichita, KS is one of the most affordable metros for parents, owing to an affordable rental market and low cost of living. The average annual cost of one child is $15,712, which is nearly 32% lower than the national average. The total cost of raising a child until the age of 18 is $282,816.
  4. El Paso, TX: Like McAllen, El Paso is affordable for raising multiple children. Part of that is due to a low annual living wage for households before they have children. It costs $16,246 per year to cover the basic living expenses of one child, which translates to $292,422 over 18 years.
  5. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL: The only Florida metro in the top 10, Lakeland, comes with a more affordable cost of living than the rest of the state. For parents, the average annual cost of raising one child is $16,271, or $292,872 in total costs.
  6. Memphis, TN-MS-AR: Memphis is the first of two Tennessee metros, and it has a lower cost of living than other major areas across the Sun Belt. Parents can expect to pay $16,296 annually per child or $293,328 until they reach 18.
  7. Knoxville, TN: Knoxville is slightly more expensive than Memphis, with an average annual cost of $16,474 to raise a child. This translates to $296,532 in total costs.
  8. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR: Thanks mainly to a more affordable rental market and housing, parents in Little Rock can expect to spend $16,696 per year to raise a child—or $300,528 in total costs.
  9. Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC: Augusta is the only Georgia metro in the top 10 list. Raising one child costs $16,866 per year, or $303,588 until they reach 18.
  10. Greenville-Anderson, SC: Rounding out the top 10 most affordable metros for raising a child, Greenville, SC, offers a lower cost of living than other major metros across the Carolinas. Raising a child in Greenville costs $17,205 annually or $309,684 in total.

The 10 least affordable metros for raising a child

The least affordable metros for raising a child are clustered around notoriously expensive housing markets—five out of 10 in California.

The least affordable metro in the country is San Francisco, CA, where the average annual cost of a child is $37,340.

That means parents in San Francisco spend $672,120 in total costs to raise one child until age 18.

San Francisco is closely followed by another California metro—San Jose—where the average annual cost of raising a child is $37,305, and the total cost is $671,490.

Interestingly, San Francisco’s income thresholds are lower than San Jose’s for households without children—and vice versa for families with two or more children.

Boston, MA, is the third-most expensive metro, with an average annual cost of $35,236 and a total cost of $634,242 to raise a child from birth until age 18.

Bridgeport, CT, is the fourth most expensive metro, with an average annual cost of $33,267 and a total of $598,800. San Diego is fifth, with an average yearly cost of $32,763 and a total cost of $589,728.

New York-Newark-New Jersey, Ventura, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, and Honolulu, HI, round out the other top 10 most expensive metros.

In all of these metros, the average annual cost of a child is more than $30,000.

Below is a rundown of the 10 least affordable metros for raising a child in 2024:

Tips for family budgeting

Although parenthood costs are rising, there are practical ways parents can provide for their children without breaking the bank.

  • For the typical American family, housing is the most significant expense, often amounting to a third of their monthly income. Parents on a budget may opt for a smaller home in a more affordable metro with a manageable rent or mortgage payment;
  • Families with two working adults may consider smaller in-home daycare centers or ask their family for assistance. They may also consider employment at companies that offer childcare benefits, allowing them to offset a certain amount of their daycare costs;
  • It’s common for households with two working parents to have multiple cars, which means double the maintenance, insurance, and auto loan costs. Families that can get by with one car can save hundreds of dollars per month.

Source: News Release