family finance

What does it really cost to raise a family in the U.S.?

July 15, 2013 at 4:31 PM ET

Budget grocery shopping
Andersen Ross/Iconica/Getty Images /
Budget grocery shopping

If you're trying to raise a family in this country, you're probably intimately aware of this reality: It's darned expensive. Making ends meet isn't always easy, especially if you've seen your wages shrink or remain flat in the past few years.

Yes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the tab for raising a child to age 18 at a whopping $234,900—but that's not the only eyebrow-raising number associated with family living: As The Atlantic reports, the Economic Policy Institute's recently updated Family Budget Calculator tool breaks down the costs of living and raising a family in more than 600 cities around the nation—factoring in essentials like housing, food, child care, transportation, taxes and more—and the annual tab for families "to attain a secure yet modest living standard" can be pretty surprising, depending on where you live. (Not to mention way, way higher than the $23,550 that marks the federal poverty line for a family of four.)

On the low end: Jackson, Mississippi, where a family could expect to get by on $53,172, or the Boise, Idaho area, where it might take $56,491. On the not-so-low end: The calculator estimates that you'll need around $84,133 to raise a family of four in San Francisco; $88,615 in the Washington D.C. area; or $93,502 in New York City.

Before you pack up your U-HAUL, consider that these estimates might—just might—be a wee bit high. After all, we certainly know people who are raising thriving families of four in NYC for less than $93,502.

How much does it cost you to raise your family? Let us know!

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.