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How much does it cost to raise a child to age 18 in the Bay Area? How does one go about figuring this out?
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The USDA issues a report on a regular basis: https://www.fns.usda.gov/resource/expenditures-children-families-reports-all-years
If your interest is on average, that’s good resource. If your interest is for your own personal situation, then you need to break it down by your life situation. That report underestimates the cost in the Bay Area for my family situation. The housing cost of having an additional bedroom (2 br vs 1 br) in a neighborhood with a reasonable public school is more substantial than estimated. Probably $1000 / month today split between a couple kids, so call it $6000 / kid / year. Full time childcare from birth to school age averaged $20,000 / kid / yr for 5 yrs, and I understand it’s more expensive now than what we paid. Before and after school care and summer camps cost about $7000 / kid / yr for the next 6 yrs. Lost income for a stay at home parent is likely higher. Health & dental insurance (we pay for ours) runs $1000 / month extra beyond what it costs to insure myself, so $6000 / kid / yr plus $50-$100 copay per visit. Food, kid activities, kid clothing, travel and transportation (especially for teenagers) vary widely by lifestyle, so I won’t even throw a number at these.
So from birth to age 17 for a family with a child with no special needs and full time working parents who don’t qualify for any subsidies that’s $102k housing, $142k childcare, $102k healthcare so call it ~$350k before food (so much food), travel, transportation, clothing, kid activities, or college which can all be substantial expenses.
It’s a lot.
Depends a lot on your choices. We use the public library a lot -- both to borrow books and buy at the bag sale for 10c. Others are regular bookstore buyers at $10/book. This example applies to many other choices in parenting. We happily accept handmedown clothes and buy at thrift stores, sometimes that means highend labels and other times it's perfectly serviceable Target clothing. We have a 20 yo vehicle. Home-based child care costs significantly less than corporate care centers. If you're a member of a religious organization, summer camp is often cheap or free (we skip that). When the kids were little we had 3 strollers for different functions (regular, umbrella, jogger)... cost $80 total because some other family had already used them. With teens some of those bargains are harder to come by but I'm not finding my kids need to have the latest and faddest items so we're not buying disposable gadgets and soon out-of-style clothes. We travel and send them to a pricey summer camp with organic food. They do sports.