As we've seen from previous cost of living maps, there's huge variation in how far a dollar can go across the country. The huge range in costs of living across the country gets amplified when you bring raising children into the picture, which is documented beautifully in the latest Family Budget Calculator from the Economic Policy Institute.
The cost of living generator determines what a family of four needs earn for a "secure yet modest" life in 618 cities across the United States. The total was broken down into seven categories: housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes.
Since last year, Washington, D.C. has replaced New York as the most expensive city to raise a family, and there's a mind-boggling $40,000 difference between the cost in D.C. and Houston, at $106,493 and $60,608, respectively.
What's especially interesting is the way components of cities' costs of living varies. New York, for example, has one of the higher child care costs at an estimated $2,011 per month, while it's just $901 in Los Angeles. Child care is also more expensive in Detroit than it is in San Francisco, despite the reverse being true in every other category.
Having children in the United States is increasingly becoming a luxury. Cities like New York have tried to address the staggering cost of child care through programs like universal Pre-K, but early childhood years are still incredibly expensive. It's also clear that costs like these are difficult to meet on one income, especially when most Americans earn less than $42,000 a year.
And wages just aren't keeping up with the escalating cost of living. As explained in "The Middle Class Squeeze," a report from the Center for American Progress, "for a married couple with two children, the costs of key elements of middle-class security—child care, higher education, healthcare, housing, and retirement—rose by more than $10,000 in the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, at a time when this family's income was stagnant."
How did your city do? Take a look at these breakdowns.