DC ranks as most expensive place to raise a child

When compared to states, D.C. ranks as the most expensive place to raise a child, according to a new report by LendingTree.

LendingTree researchers factored in costs for housing, food, clothing (using girl’s clothing, which tends to be more expensive) transportation, insurance premiums and the average cost of infant day care. The last category is the one that hits D.C. parents the hardest.

“The big thing that pushes D.C. to the top of our list is infant day care, where it costs on average about $24,000 a year,” said Jacob Channel with LendingTree.

Total annual expenses were calculated based on a two-income household with a girl younger than 5, and subtracted the tax credit or exemption for one child.

All tallied, including any tax credits and exemptions for one child, the total annual bill in D.C. averages $28,785.

LendingTree notes that the high median household incomes in D.C. help mitigate those high costs for raising a child, spending an average of 17.4% of total household income, but that is not across the board relief for D.C. parents.

“The thing to keep in mind is that D.C. is a pretty varied place. So while some families might be able to cope with these costs relatively easily, lower-income families are going to have a pretty hard time,” Channel said.

Maryland ranks No. 3 on the list of most expensive states to raise a child. Virginia is No. 8. Hawaii, Connecticut and Colorado round out the top 5.

For couples considering starting a family, LendingTree advises them to be aware of the costs and plan early.

“If you’re thinking about having a child, certainly looking at these numbers can be kind of scary. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that having a kid won’t be worth it. So if you sit down and do a monthly budget, you can certainly help prepare yourself,” Channel said.

The costs of raising a child goes higher as the child grows older. LendingTree estimates raising a child from birth to age 18 averages nearly $282,000.

LendingTree’s state by state comparisons of costs to raise a child and impact on household income, along with sources and methodologies, is posted online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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