The Most Affordable Places In The US To Raise A Family

Dated: 08/26/2015

Views: 2126

A family of four can meet its basic needs for $49,114 a year in Morristown, Tenn.—about half the income needed to raise a family in New York or Washington.

There are 140 communities and regions where a family can meet basic needs such as rent, health care and taxes for less than $60,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator released Wednesday.

But in Washington, New York, San Francisco and six other areas, the same essentials cost at least $90,000 a year.

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The findings demonstrate the wide gap in cost of living between places like Morristown, a mostly rural region nestled in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, and the New York metro area, home to more than 20 million people.

The data also shows how families in any part of the country can struggle to make ends meet, said Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Even in Morristown, two adults working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would fail to provide for their family without assistance.

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“Everyone thinks it really cheap to live in Mississippi or Louisiana, but it’s not cheap anywhere if you have a very low-wage job,” she said. In fact, no place in Mississippi costs less than $60,000 annually for a family of four. That reflects elevated taxes and transportation costs compared with neighboring states.

The EPI measure isn’t a poverty gauge, but rather estimates what it costs for households to satisfy basic needs, including shelter, food, child care, transportation, health care and taxes. The measure takes into account items such as a cell phones and home furnishings, but not vacations or saving for retirement or college.

EPI has calculated the basic cost of living in more than 600 communities and regions. A tool on the institute’s website allows users to find the measures in their towns, based on the size of their families.

For families of four, 14 of the 15 least expensive areas were in Tennessee. That reflects the state’s low tax rate and relatively affordable child-care options. Several areas inOklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana were among the cheapest places to live.

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But also included among communities with less than $60,000 in annual living costs were industrial regions, such as Toledo, Ohio, and Cumberland, Md., and cities in the far west such as Logan, Utah, and Boise, Idaho.

In each of those communities, annual rent was less than the national median of $8,977.

Of the nine most expensive communities, five were in the state of New York, including New York City, where the rent for a family of four is estimated at $17,280 for basic accommodations and child care costs $24,130 annually for two children.

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But Washington, D.C., was the most expensive city overall for a family of four, requiring $106,493 in income just to meet basic needs. The District of Columbia has the highest taxes in the country, $18,868 annually, and has by far the top child-care costs, at $31,158. Nationwide, the median cost for child care for two children is $9,993 a year.

Washington’s child-care costs may skew higher because the measure doesn’t include potentially cheaper options located in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs

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Still, living without kids makes Washington a more affordable place. A couple with no children needs $52,347 to meet basic needs, ranking the capital as just the 15th most expensive place to live. The most expensive for a couple is Stamford, Conn., requiring $62,430 a year.

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Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

By Eric Morath

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Brian McCarthy

Brian is a real estate sales professional with a passion for providing excellent customer service, speedy communication and upholding the highest standard of professionalism. Drawing upon years of exp....

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