5 Cities Where It Costs a Fortune to Raise a Baby

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Oh baby! A study by home-listing site Redfin.com estimates that having an infant will run you $35,000 or more in some U.S. cities to cover the first year's charges for child care, a larger home and other expenses.

"I don't think it's widely understood how much a baby costs," says study author Tommy Unger, who has two young children. "I tend to think of myself as pretty aware of what's going on, but I definitely wasn't aware of the expenses involved."

To peg down how much parents can expect to spend during a newborn's first year, Redfin estimated prices in 40 of America's largest metro areas for:
  • Housing. The site predicted the cost of "upsizing" to a larger place by comparing median prices consumers paid between May 1 and July 30 for two-bedroom houses or condos in each city vs. three-bedroom homes. Redfin then computed the extra mortgage costs you'd face during your child's first year if you bought the larger residence using a 30-year, 4.5% fixed-rate loan.
  • Child care. Redfin projected each city's child-care costs by studying National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies figures for expenses by state and U.S. Labor Department data for child-care workers' salaries by metro area. Estimates refer to nine months of child care, as the site assumed at least one parent will stay home during a baby's first three months.
  • Energy. Unger says parents typically keep homes hotter in the winter and cooler in the summer to keep babies comfortable. Redfin predicted the added energy costs by multiplying U.S. Census estimates of each metro area's typical home-heating and cooling costs by 20%.
  • Health care. The site theorized that newborns' parents incur $3,000 in extra out-of-pocket medical expenses regardless of where they live. That's based on a 2013 analysis sponsored by the nonprofit organization Childbirth Connection.
  • Baby items. Using BabyCenter.com figures, the site assumed that parents spend about $5,600 regardless of location for a bassinet, pacifiers and everything else other than child care that a newborn requires during its first year.

Add it all up and Redfin predicts that the typical family living in a major U.S. city will spend around $26,100 in baby-related costs between a newborn's delivery date and his or her first birthday.

But the study also found that costs range from as low as $18,600 to as high as $41,700 depending on where you live.

Unger says housing costs account for most of the difference, either directly or by influencing how much money child-care workers earn.

"The hourly wages paid in cities with high home prices tend to be more than they are in lower-cost ones," he says.

Read on to see which cities Redfin found have the highest projected first-year costs for newborn babies, or click here for a rundown of the least-expensive locales.

All references to "average" figures refer to the average among the 40 metro areas that Redfin analyzed. (The analysis includes most major U.S. cities, but omits Dallas, St. Louis and some other communities for which Redfin lacked sufficient home-price data.)

Fifth-costliest U.S. city to have a baby: Boston
Estimated first-year expenses:
$34,100 (vs. $26,100 national average)

Having a baby in Boston will cost you big bucks even if Junior doesn't end up going to Harvard.

For openers, Redfin calculates that you'll pay around $14,400 for child care during your newborn's first year. That's 54.8% above the $9,300 U.S. average.

Upsizing to a three-bedroom home from a two-bedroom will also set you back an estimated $10,200 a year in extra mortgage payments, or 34.2% higher than the $7,600 national average.

Lastly, Redfin reckons that you'll spend $900 a year in added energy costs, or 50% above the $600 U.S. norm.

Unger attributes Boston's Ivy League-level living expenses primarily to high home prices, which drive up not just housing costs but also how much child-care workers earn. "Boston homes were expensive even before there was a nationwide housing boom," he says.

Fourth-costliest U.S. city to have a baby: San Francisco
Estimated first-year expenses:
$36,000

Bay Area babies cost lots of money to raise during their first year.

Redfin estimates that upsizing to a three-bedroom place from a two-bedroom one in the ultra-costly San Francisco housing market will add $15,300 to parents' annual mortgage bills -- 101.3% above the average U.S. increase.

You can also expect to pay $11,400 (22.6% above average) for child care and $700 during your baby's first year for added energy costs. That's 16.7% higher than the national norm.

As bad as all of that sounds, Unger notes that Redfin's study looked at the entire San Francisco metro area, which includes the lower-cost Oakland/Berkeley/East Bay region. "If we just looked at San Francisco itself, things would theoretically be even more expensive," he says.

Third-costliest U.S. city to have a baby: New York
Estimated first-year expenses:
$36,700

Raising a little one in the Big Apple requires a bank account about as big as the Empire State Building.

Plan to pay $13,400 a year in extra mortgage payments -- 76.3% more than average -- if you move to a three-bedroom place from a two-bedroom. You can also expect to spend $13,700 (47.3% above average) during the first year for child care.

Redfin also predicts you'll spend $1,000 extra, or 66.7% above the norm, to keep your home extra warm during your baby's first winter and nice and cool throughout his or her initial summer.

Unger adds that Redfin's estimates cover the entire New York metro area, not just the city proper. "If you're in Manhattan, prices will be astronomically higher," he says.

Second-costliest U.S. city to have a baby: Santa Cruz, Calif.
Estimated first-year expenses:
$38,800

This oceanfront community some 30 miles south of Silicon Valley is famous for great surfing, but you'll suffer a financial wipeout if you have a baby there without planning.

That's primarily because switching to a three-bedroom Santa Cruz residence from a two-bedroom will set you back an estimated $19,700 a year in extra mortgage payments. That's almost 160% above the U.S. average.

You'll also pay a projected $9,900 for your baby's first year of child care, or 6.5% above the national norm. That said, you can expect to spend just $600 in extra heating and cooling costs, matching the nationwide average.

"Santa Cruz is an incredible place for families to live, except that it's going to be expensive," Unger says.

Costliest U.S. city to have a baby: San Jose, Calif.
Estimated first-year expenses:
$41,700

It doesn't take a computer genius to realize that having a baby while living in Silicon Valley's largest city will cost you tons of dough.

Unger says San Jose's legions of well-paid tech workers mean the city has some of the nation's most-expensive housing and child care. "Everything is expensive there," he says.

For instance, you can expect to pay around $19,900 a year in extra mortgage costs to upsize to a three-bedroom home from a two-bedroom there. That's the highest added cost for any city that Redfin studied, as well as nearly 162% above the national average.

Redfin also estimates that you'll spend $12,600, or 35.5% above what's typical, for your baby's first year of child care.

The only good news: The study predicts you'll incur only $600 for a year's worth of added energy costs. That ties the U.S. average.

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