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Kids + Pets

Here's how much it'll really cost you to raise a family in NYC

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | September 1, 2015 - 2:45PM

How much would a family spend to live in this city? The Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator can calculate that for you. (Hat tip to CityLab for bringing it to our attention.) It adds up typical expenses—housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities,  and taxes—for different metro areas across the country, tallying how much money a family—two adults and up to four children—would need to get by in each place. 

CityLab points out that in 500 out of the 618 areas, child care costs more than housing, but not in our neck of the woods. According to the calculator, child care costs run about $24,130 for a family of four in the New York metro area—feasible assuming you have one child in public school and one child in day care or with a babysitter. (It'd be much higher if you have two children under public school age or one or two in private school.)

Interestingly, according to the calculator, it would cost more for a family of four to live in Washington, D.C., where expenses would tally up to $106,493 a year, than New York, and less—$91, 785—a year to live in San Francisco, surprising given all the headlines about SF being much more expensive than NYC already.

Still, all the New York area expenses seem about right—except for one: housing. The calculator allots $17,280 a year—roughly $1,700 a month—in the budget for housing which, if you're able to find it, would be a bonafide deal in these parts. It would be a challenge to find a two-bedroom for that price in every borough except perhaps Staten Island. Then again, the calculator is is for the New York metro area, which includes some less expensive surrounding towns.

So what do we think it really costs to live as a family of four in the city? Assuming all the other estimates are accurate (and we do think they're all slightly low), if we look at the median housing prices by borough*, the breakdown of annual expenses for a family of four is actually more like this:

Manhattan: $131,374

Brooklyn: $121,126

Northwestern Queens: $133,462

Bronx: $101,830

Staten Island: $98,842

Spendy? Yes. Then again, you knew that already.


*According to a July 2015 Douglas Elliman market report, the median price for a two-bedroom in Manhattan is $4,161. In Brooklyn, it's $3,307 and in Queens, it's $4,335 (the reason Queens is more expensive than Manhattan, by the way is because the report only includes Northwestern Queens, and places like Hunters Point and Long Island City have a lot of new rental developments). According to RentBits, the median price of two-bedrooms in the Bronx is $1,699, and in Staten Island it's 1,450.


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