Raising a family can be a fairly expensive prospect. It's estimated that the typical cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610, which means you might spend almost a quarter of a million bucks before you even begin to face the ever-climbing expense of college. That's why it helps to live someplace that allows your income to go the furthest while providing kid-friendly resources.
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WalletHub recently performed an in-depth analysis of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and ranked them based on a variety of measures. These included, but weren't limited to:
- Housing costs
- Childcare costs
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.
As you review this data, take a look at where your state falls on the list -- and consider whether it pays to move someplace that might better lend to raising a family.
How does your state measure up?
There are different factors that determine a location's family friendliness, and while cost of living is a major aspect to consider, it shouldn't solely influence your choice. Yes, it's hard to enjoy a good quality of life when you can't keep up with your bills, but it's often the case that when it comes to local amenities, you get what you pay for. In other words, if you want to live somewhere with an excellent school system, updated infrastructure, and ample public programs and services, you may need to be prepared to pay more.
With that in mind, here's how WalletHub rates all 50 states and the District of Columbia on a whole with regard to family friendliness:
DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.COM.
Now because cost of living is only one of the many elements included in the above rankings, they don't necessarily tell you which states are the most affordable. The following table, however, ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia on the basis of affordability alone:
DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.COM.
You'll notice that some states make the top 10 on both lists. These include:
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
Then there are states like Nevada, Mississippi, and New Mexico, all of which score poorly in both regards. While this isn't to say that you can't be happy living someplace low on the list, if you don't have particular ties to a specific state, it pays to explore whether your family might fare better elsewhere.
Other factors to consider
Of course, your ability to thrive as a family will depend heavily on the job opportunities available to you, and the income you'll command as a result. It may very well be the case that Minnesota offers the average American family a great quality of life, but if you can't get a job out there, or if you'll experience a significant decline in earnings by relocating, then a move won't be worth it.
For example, teachers tend to have the highest salaries in Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and the lowest salaries in Maine, South Dakota, and Hawaii. So while South Dakota rates pretty highly on the above lists in terms of overall rank and affordability, it may not be the best place to live if you're a dual-income family where both partners are teachers.
Another thing to consider is child care, which, for many families, rivals or exceeds the cost of high-ticket items like housing. Mississippi boasts the lowest child care costs in the country, yet it ranks poorly overall and with regard to affordability. But if you have multiple kids who will need care while you work, you may actually come out ahead financially living someplace where that major expense category is significantly reduced.
Because there's no single factor that makes a place ideal or less so to raise a family, you'll need to think about your personal needs and goals when deciding where you should live. Perhaps you're willing to pay a premium to reside in one of the country's best school districts. Or maybe you'd rather live someplace where housing is cheap and you'll have more room in your budget to save for college or indulge your kids' various talents. While all of this data can certainly be an invaluable source of guidance, you'll ultimately need to decide what's most important to you, and settle down accordingly.
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