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The True Cost of Raising A Child

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Having a child will set you back nearly a quarter of a million dollars—$245,340 is the national average—according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But what does this figure really mean for you? The government’s report calculated the average cost across the United States, but the cost of living varies dramatically by location. A home that’s $100,000 in Memphis might be over a million dollars in New York City.

Where you live can have a major impact on the bottom line of parenting. Housing, for one, constitutes 30% of the total costs calculated by the USDA. Education and daycare costs, which added up to only 2% of family income in 1960, now take a whopping 18% of the average family’s income and can also vary widely by geography.  Sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to college in 31 states.

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To find out the true cost of parenting, NerdWallet crunched the numbers in cities across the U.S.

Trends and Takeaways:

  • The cost of raising a child varies by more than $340,000 based on location
  • Parents can spend less than the $245,340 average on raising a child in some cities–the cost of raising a child is actually $50,000 less than the U.S. average in Norman, Oklahoma
  • The Midwest and Texas dominate the list of the least expensive cities to raise a child

Most Expensive Cities to Raise A Child

Rank City Cost of raising a child
1 New York (Manhattan), NY $540,514
2 Honolulu, HI $429,635
3 San Francisco, CA $402,112
4 New York (Brooklyn), NY $400,951
5 Hilo, HI $369,559
6 San Jose, CA $363,807
7 Orange County, CA $353,081
8 Washington, DC $342,552
9 Oakland, CA $337,477
10 Fairbanks, AK $334,562

Least Expensive Cities to Raise a Child

Rank City Cost of raising a child
1 Norman, OK $199,298
2 Harlingen, TX $199,694
3 Ashland, OH $206,793
4 Salina, KS $207,525
5 Pueblo, CO $208,155
6 Memphis, TN $208,322
7 Temple, TX $208,593
8 Richmond, IN $209,522
9 Jackson, MS $211,309
10 Hattiesburg, MS $211,451

Full List of the Most Expensive Cities to Raise a Child

Rank City Cost of living index True cost of raising a child
1 New York (Manhattan) NY 220.3 $540,514
2 Honolulu HI 175.1 $429,635
3 San Francisco CA 163.9 $402,112
4 New York (Brooklyn) NY 163.4 $400,951
5 Hilo HI 150.6 $369,559
6 San Jose CA 148.3 $363,807
7 Orange County CA 143.9 $353,081
8 Washington DC 139.6 $342,552
9 Oakland CA 137.6 $337,477
10 Fairbanks AK 136.4 $334,562
11 Boston MA 135.6 $332,695
12 Kodiak AK 133.1 $326,469
13 Truckee CA 132.2 $324,234
14 San Diego CA 131.6 $322,976
15 Los Angeles CA 131.4 $322,318
16 Juneau AK 130.9 $321,205
17 Bergen-Passaic NJ 130.7 $320,752
18 Nassau County NY 128.2 $314,559
19 Newark NJ 128.1 $314,388
20 New Haven CT 127.7 $313,265
21 Bethesda MD 127.4 $312,678
22 Anchorage AK 127.0 $311,524
23 Middlesex NJ 123.8 $303,764
24 Hartford CT 122.7 $300,973
25 Portland OR 121.7 $298,643
26 Providence RI 120.9 $296,545
27 Tracy CA 119.1 $292,130
28 Philadelphia PA 118.8 $291,566
29 Seattle WA 118.2 $289,959
30 Chicago IL 117.5 $288,376
31 Burlington VT 117.2 $287,529
32 Manchester NH 116.1 $284,920
33 Flagstaff AZ 115.0 $282,232
34 Fort Lauderdale FL 113.5 $278,458
35 Scottsdale AZ 113.5 $278,420
36 Riverside City CA 113.2 $277,619
37 Sacramento CA 110.7 $271,638
38 Miami-Dade County FL 110.5 $271,217
39 Glenwood Springs CO 110.5 $271,060
40 Everett WA 109.7 $269,122
41 Portland ME 109.7 $269,020
42 Wilmington DE 109.6 $268,999
43 Stockton CA 109.5 $268,633
44 Bellingham WA 109.3 $268,086
45 Dare County NC 108.7 $266,638
46 St. Paul MN 108.3 $265,776
47 Albany NY 108.3 $265,722
48 Minneapolis MN 108.2 $265,542
49 Baltimore MD 107.9 $264,661
50 Chapel Hill NC 107.2 $262,956
51 Fitchburg MA 107.1 $262,744
52 Denver CO 106.6 $261,435
53 Madison WI 106.3 $260,901
54 Tacoma WA 106.3 $260,676
55 Gunnison CO 106.0 $260,068
56 Fresno CA 105.8 $259,559
57 Minot ND 105.7 $259,308
58 Asheville NC 105.7 $259,281
59 Morgantown WV 105.6 $259,136
60 Hilton Head Island SC 105.3 $258,365
61 Bakersfield CA 105.2 $258,032
62 Allentown PA 105.1 $257,753
63 Las Vegas NV 104.6 $256,742
64 Ithaca NY 104.1 $255,452
65 Olympia WA 103.5 $254,013
66 Charlottesville VA 102.4 $251,187
67 Ann Arbor MI 102.4 $251,158
68 Milwaukee WI 101.9 $250,100
69 Winchester VA 101.9 $250,096
70 Dover DE 101.9 $249,892
71 Buffalo NY 101.5 $248,990
72 Pierre SD 101.4 $248,888
73 Vero Beach-Indian River FL 101.4 $248,694
74 Bismarck ND 101.3 $248,460
75 Yuma AZ 101.2 $248,295
76 York County PA 101.1 $247,935
77 Bozeman MT 101.1 $247,922
78 Longview TX 100.9 $247,636
79 Richmond VA 100.6 $246,714
80 Hampton Roads VA 100.5 $246,675
81 Akron OH 100.5 $246,506
82 Charleston SC 100.3 $246,117
83 Kansas City MO 100.3 $246,038
84 Marshfield WI 99.8 $244,850
85 Harrisburg PA 99.6 $244,466
86 Rochester NY 99.6 $244,381
87 Harrisonburg VA 99.5 $244,148
88 Champaign IL 99.5 $244,126
89 Beaumont TX 99.4 $243,879
90 Tucson AZ 99.4 $243,857
91 Wilmington NC 99.4 $243,821
92 Lake Havasu City AZ 99.4 $243,789
93 Little Rock AR 99.3 $243,505
94 Plano TX 99.2 $243,425
95 Greenville NC 99.2 $243,366
96 Fort Worth TX 99.2 $243,269
97 Auburn-Opelika AL 99.1 $243,250
98 Cleveland OH 99.1 $243,215
99 Sarasota FL 99.1 $243,105
100 Gainesville FL 99.1 $243,101
101 Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL 98.9 $242,751
102 Jacksonville NC 98.7 $242,215
103 Prescott-Prescott Valley AZ 98.5 $241,771
104 Hastings NE 98.5 $241,647
105 Jacksonville FL 98.3 $241,191
106 Odessa TX 98.3 $241,174
107 Houston TX 98.2 $241,019
108 Blacksburg VA 98.0 $240,388
109 Sierra Vista AZ 97.9 $240,227
110 Alexandria LA 97.9 $240,212
111 Lafayette LA 97.9 $240,195
112 Slidell-St. Tammany Parish LA 97.7 $239,758
113 Atlanta GA 97.6 $239,526
114 Colorado Springs CO 97.5 $239,325
115 Columbia SC 97.4 $238,869
116 Grand Junction CO 97.2 $238,565
117 Findlay OH 97.2 $238,518
118 Beaufort SC 97.0 $237,875
119 Janesville WI 96.5 $236,735
120 Monroe LA 96.5 $236,673
121 Tyler TX 96.5 $236,644
122 Round Rock TX 96.5 $236,633
123 Greenville SC 96.4 $236,617
124 Enid OK 96.3 $236,153
125 Erie PA 96.3 $236,150
126 Johnstown PA 96.2 $236,082
127 Kalispell MT 96.2 $236,009
128 Midland TX 96.2 $236,002
129 Fayetteville-Fayette County GA 96.2 $235,901
130 Valdosta GA 96.1 $235,857
131 Ames IA 96.0 $235,436
132 Davenport IA 95.9 $235,218
133 Kennewick WA 95.9 $235,175
134 Reno NV 95.8 $235,056
135 Spokane WA 95.7 $234,870
136 Dallas TX 95.7 $234,738
137 St. Cloud MN 95.7 $234,688
138 Bullhead City AZ 95.6 $234,497
139 Nacogdoches TX 95.6 $234,472
140 Phoenix AZ 95.5 $234,302
141 Dodge City KS 95.5 $234,181
142 Austin TX 95.4 $234,023
143 Baton Rouge LA 95.4 $233,985
144 Boise ID 95.3 $233,880
145 Huntsville AL 95.2 $233,611
146 Punta Gorda FL 95.1 $233,424
147 Rapid City SD 95.1 $233,399
148 New Orleans LA 95.1 $233,358
149 Kankakee IL 95.0 $233,109
150 Lima OH 94.9 $232,950
151 Detroit MI 94.9 $232,944
152 Burlington NC 94.9 $232,923
153 Mankato MN 94.9 $232,741
154 Lawton OK 94.8 $232,698
155 Joliet-Will County IL 94.8 $232,693
156 Salt Lake City UT 94.8 $232,679
157 Columbia MO 94.8 $232,494
158 Danville City VA 94.7 $232,447
159 Texarkana TX-AR 94.6 $232,120
160 Myrtle Beach SC 94.6 $231,994
161 Cheyenne WY 94.6 $231,973
162 Raleigh NC 94.6 $231,972
163 Lake Charles LA 94.5 $231,950
164 Indianapolis IN 94.5 $231,744
165 Manhattan KS 94.4 $231,653
166 Pittsburgh PA 94.4 $231,565
167 Green Bay WI 94.4 $231,495
168 Charlotte NC 94.3 $231,284
169 Fargo-Moorhead ND-MN 94.2 $231,160
170 Palm Coast-Flagler County FL 94.2 $231,061
171 Montgomery AL 94.1 $230,953
172 Hot Springs AR 94.0 $230,618
173 Chattanooga TN 94.0 $230,562
174 Eau Claire WI 93.9 $230,449
175 Waterloo-Cedar Falls IA 93.9 $230,391
176 St. George UT 93.8 $230,250
177 Daytona Beach FL 93.8 $230,231
178 Statesboro-Bulloch County GA 93.7 $229,908
179 Evansville IN 93.6 $229,555
180 Rio Rancho NM 93.4 $229,265
181 St. Louis MO-IL 93.4 $229,071
182 Quincy IL 93.3 $229,009
183 Cedar Rapids IA 93.3 $228,919
184 Cleveland TN 93.3 $228,906
185 Edmond OK 93.3 $228,799
186 Dayton OH 93.2 $228,644
187 Savannah GA 93.2 $228,643
188 Twin Falls ID 93.2 $228,580
189 Carbondale IL 93.1 $228,507
190 Stillwater OK 93.1 $228,495
191 Benton Harbor MI 93.0 $228,283
192 Jackson-Madison County TN 92.9 $228,018
193 Ponca City OK 92.9 $227,850
194 Tampa FL 92.9 $227,809
195 Moses Lake WA 92.8 $227,717
196 Brazoria County TX 92.7 $227,525
197 Staunton-Augusta County VA 92.7 $227,469
198 Camden SC 92.6 $227,220
199 Birmingham AL 92.5 $227,010
200 San Antonio TX 92.5 $227,003
201 Shreveport-Bossier City LA 92.5 $226,919
202 Denton TX 92.4 $226,771
203 Topeka KS 92.4 $226,770
204 Springfield MO 92.4 $226,717
205 Bloomington IN 92.4 $226,654
206 Lexington VA 92.4 $226,604
207 Conroe TX 92.3 $226,526
208 El Paso TX 92.3 $226,412
209 Lynchburg VA 92.3 $226,383
210 Mobile AL 92.3 $226,345
211 Rockford IL 92.1 $225,993
212 Corpus Christi TX 92.1 $225,872
213 Danville IL 92.0 $225,816
214 Grand Rapids MI 92.0 $225,709
215 Yakima WA 92.0 $225,607
216 Columbus OH 91.9 $225,456
217 Des Moines IA 91.8 $225,132
218 Laramie WY 91.8 $225,130
219 Louisville KY 91.7 $224,952
220 Sumter SC 91.7 $224,935
221 Roanoke VA 91.6 $224,700
222 Martinsburg WV 91.6 $224,669
223 Jefferson City MO 91.5 $224,576
224 Wooster OH 91.4 $224,328
225 Elkhart-Goshen IN 91.4 $224,238
226 Thomasville NC 91.3 $223,983
227 Albany GA 91.3 $223,914
228 Bowling Green KY 91.2 $223,674
229 Seguin TX 91.1 $223,574
230 Tupelo MS 91.1 $223,452
231 Lafayette IN 91.0 $223,332
232 Hutchinson KS 91.0 $223,145
233 Muncie IN 90.8 $222,728
234 Durham NC 90.6 $222,298
235 Cedar City UT 90.5 $221,911
236 Wichita Falls TX 90.4 $221,886
237 Paducah KY 90.4 $221,723
238 Indianapolis IN 90.3 $221,641
239 Hammond LA 90.3 $221,467
240 Dublin GA 90.2 $221,343
241 Decatur AL 90.2 $221,332
242 Lincoln NE 90.2 $221,265
243 Fayetteville AR 89.9 $220,626
244 Morristown TN 89.8 $220,206
245 Anderson SC 89.7 $220,170
246 Wichita KS 89.7 $220,144
247 Florence AL 89.7 $219,989
248 Lexington KY 89.6 $219,871
249 Joplin MO 89.6 $219,791
250 Dalton GA 89.6 $219,739
251 Weatherford TX 89.5 $219,693
252 Anniston AL 89.3 $219,051
253 Fort Wayne IN 89.2 $218,950
254 Lubbock TX 89.2 $218,738
255 Tulsa OK 89.1 $218,509
256 Decatur IL 89.0 $218,353
257 Oklahoma City OK 88.9 $218,199
258 Nashville TN 88.9 $218,101
259 South Bend IN 88.9 $218,035
260 Dothan AL 88.9 $218,030
261 Winston-Salem NC 88.8 $217,803
262 Waco TX 88.6 $217,430
263 Mason City IA 88.4 $216,771
264 Springfield IL 88.1 $216,074
265 Burlington IA 88.0 $215,908
266 Athens TX 87.8 $215,502
267 Ardmore OK 87.6 $214,981
268 Kalamazoo MI 87.3 $214,290
269 Covington KY 87.3 $214,205
270 Knoxville TN 87.2 $213,918
271 Amarillo TX 87.0 $213,365
272 Jonesboro AR 86.9 $213,302
273 San Marcos TX 86.7 $212,646
274 Muskogee OK 86.6 $212,363
275 Omaha NE 86.5 $212,212
276 Augusta GA 86.4 $211,865
277 McAllen TX 86.3 $211,778
278 Cookeville TN 86.3 $211,725
279 Hattiesburg MS 86.2 $211,451
280 Jackson MS 86.1 $211,309
281 Richmond IN 85.4 $209,522
282 Temple TX 85.0 $208,593
283 Memphis TN 84.9 $208,322
284 Pueblo CO 84.8 $208,155
285 Salina KS 84.6 $207,525
286 Ashland OH 84.3 $206,793
287 Harlingen TX 81.4 $199,694
288 Norman OK 81.2 $199,298

Methodology: We took the $245,340 number compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and adjusted it for cost of living in each city using the cost of living index from the Council for Community and Economic Research.   Friends picture from Shutterstock.

  • johnny

    So basically it’s more expensive to raise your child in a city that’s expensive to live in. SHOCKING!

    • NWDivya

      Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for your feedback. While it is obvious that you will pay more to raise your child in a city with a higher cost of living, we wanted to quantify that difference and give a concrete number that is directly applicable to consumers across the country.

      Thanks,
      Divya

  • Phil A.

    Dominated by small markets in Texas and the Midwest, but by and large, why raise a kid in those places? What if you want the exposure to urban life and all its benefits? Salina and Harlingen hardly get the blood boiling.

  • http://twitter.com/theirmind theirmind

    Dependent children cost more in big cities, fewer towns.

  • Russell Dempsey

    NWDivya Thanks for putting this together. Very useful information!

    I did notice though that the top 10 cheapest cities to raise a child only have a pricing variance of $12,153. Since they’re all around $200k, the variance is about 5% of the average. I would love to see some sort of graph that compared the variances of the different cities to see where the largest jumps in prices are..

    Also it would be good to see the cheapest cities to raise your children that are close to popular cities. For example, Norman OK is pretty boring (to me at least..), and I’m sure Harlingen , TX would be much more exciting since there is a beach and another country close by.

    These would help a person looking for a new city determine their “best bang for their buck.” Either way, thanks for putting all this information together :)

  • http://tippingscales.com/ Taylor Lee

    Eh, not sure I agree with the methodology used here. For starters, expectations for educational costs vary widely by region. For example I definitely know a lot more people in the Northeast city I live now who got shuttled into the private school system by their parents than I did back in the Southwest where I grew up.

  • C. Roberts

    Noticed a duplicate in your list, 164 and 238 are both Indianapolis IN, with different figures. Only saw that because I was looking specifically for my home state rankings… Don’t know if there are other duplicates.