PROTravis Prebble / Flickr

A new tool compares housing, food, child care, and other household costs in 618 American metros.

If you have kids, you already know that the cute little humans come with a host of unavoidable costs—especially if you live in a big city. A new tool developed by the Economic Policy Institute adds up these expenses for metro areas across the U.S. and calculates how much a family (up to two adults and eight children) would need to get by in each place.

A quick dive into the data reveals that while housing costs definitely make up a huge chunk of expenses for a family of four, child care costs leave a comparable or even deeper dent in American wallets. In 500 out of the 618 areas analyzed, child care costs more than housing for such families, says Elise Gould, senior economist and director of health policy research at the institute.

Take Washington, D.C. For a family with two adults and two children, the tool computes average annual household expenses of $106,493. Here’s how that number breaks down:

D.C. is an expensive place and rents here are high, but the cost of child care for a family of four is almost double that of housing. While housing is about 17 percent of the total budget, child care takes up more than 29 percent (below):

The D.C. child care costs also place this estimate way above those in other expensive cities with comparable housing costs, such as New York (below, top) or San Francisco (below, bottom):

But for Americans without children, housing still remains the costliest item on their budget. Even in areas where rents are low or wages are high, a full-time minimum wage worker can’t earn nearly enough to take care of herself, Gould says.

You can test out the Family Budget Calculator tool here.

H/t: Washington City Paper

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  2. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.

  3. a photo of San Francisco tourists posing before the city's iconic skyline.
    Life

    Cities Don’t Have Souls. Why Do We Battle For Them?

    What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change.

  4. A man checks a route on his phone while in a car.
    Equity

    Conversations With D.C. Uber Drivers Reveal Stress and Debt

    A new report from Georgetown University reveals wage and other challenges faced by Uber drivers in Washington, D.C., yet many say they plan to keep driving.

  5. A photo of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris.
    Design

    Amid Notre-Dame’s Destruction, There’s Hope for Restoration

    Flames consumed the roof and spire of the 13th-century cathedral in Paris. The good news: Gothic architecture is built to handle this kind of disaster.