Growing your family can be exciting. But house hunting and minivan shopping get old quickly. Suddenly, you’re consumed with worry about how to budget for additional family expenses, such as child care and diapers. Most assume the urban lifestyle won’t suit new obligations that come with raising young children and guess the most cost-effective solution is to move outside of town.
Well, according to a study from Care.com and Zillow, some suburbs aren’t exactly the money-savers they’re cracked up to be. In fact, it might be cheaper to live in the city. But wait, didn’t Monica and Chandler ditch the hustle and bustle of New York City to raise a family in the suburbs in the series finale of Friends? Yes, they did. And that probably was the less expensive option. But before you cut ties with your urban oasis for a life of white picket fences and lawn mowers, know that a quieter life isn’t always cheaper.
In Care.com and Zillow’s report researchers compared urban verses suburban rates to find where families can really get the most bang for their buck. Mortgages, property taxes, babysitters, and nannies can drain the life out of your wallet living in the suburbs, too.
Let’s take a look at the 15 worst suburbs to move to if you’re trying to save money.
15. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, California
The suburbs are $407 more expensive per year than the city.
At first glance, $407 in annual savings doesn’t seem like much. But when the average new-car payment is $483 and the average used-car payment is $361, a move back to the city could cut down on a consistent monthly bill. The biggest sacrifice movers will make is on space. With about 300 square feet less than the surrounding areas, most city dwellers will look at raising a family in a 1,386-square-foot home, according to the Care.com/Zillow report.
14. New Orleans, Louisiana
The suburbs are $836 more expensive per year than the city.
With a cost difference of $836, it might be worth it to stay as close to Bourbon Street as possible, especially when considering extra space. The difference in square footage in the suburbs verses the city is only about 131 square feet, according to the report. However, city homes’ median square footage is about 1,661 square feet, which is among the largest on this list. Not all parents should sacrifice an urban oasis for community park benches. You’ll spend $39,345 on housing and child care in the suburbs of New Orleans, verses $38,509 in the city. Let’s hear it for the bright lights.
13. San Jose, California
The suburbs are $1,628 more expensive per year than the city.
Those who want to raise a child in the city of San Jose might shell out a bit more for child care and square footage, but they’ll save on housing and property taxes. You’ll want to pinch pennies at every corner here, as the report estimates San Jose to have the highest housing and child care costs of all U.S. cities. Suburban areas spend about $87,530 in total annual costs verses $85,902 in the city. Residents save about $2,523 in child care alone just by living in the city, and they’ll only sacrifice about 40 square feet.
12. San Antonio, Texas
The suburbs are $2,474 more expensive per year than the city.
Child care costs in San Antonio are pretty even across urban and suburban areas. Spending about $16,913 for child care in the city is only about $800 more than the suburbs. When adding in the cost of housing, residents spend about $27,513 annually in the ‘burbs verses $25,039 in the city. You won’t find anything lower than that on this list. Plus, you’ll save over $3,000 in property taxes and mortgage costs alone.
11. Denver, Colorado
The suburbs are $3,635 more expensive per year than the city.
The average rate for nannies, babysitters, and day care increases about $700 per year within Denver’s city limits. The report estimates child care costs total $21,860 annually. But housing and child care in the Denver suburbs are the second highest at $66,059, which is why it lands at No. 11 on our list of worst suburbs to save money. However, those who choose to see the Rocky Mountains over their downtown skyline will save about $4,000 in annual housing fees, only spending about $40,564.
10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The suburbs are $4,258 more expensive per year than the city.
Unlike Denver, the cost of housing and child care in the suburbs of Pittsburgh is the second lowest on this list at $28,173 annually. If costs are that low, why not move to the suburbs? Staying in the city could save you an additional $4,258. With significant savings across the board and minimal sacrifices to square footage, raising a family in downtown Pittsburgh is a smart decision. Even better, Pittsburgh is consistently ranked as one of the safest U.S. cities.
9. San Diego, California
The suburbs are $4,555 more expensive per year than the city.
The next worst suburb to move to when trying to save money is San Diego. It has high child care costs and even higher housing expenses and property taxes, according to the report. Although moving to the suburbs could give your children more room to frolic, you’ll spend $4,555 more to live there than you would the city. San Diego also was listed as one of the worst places to retire early by MagnifyMoney for its expensive housing and high cost of living.
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
The suburbs are $5,514 more expensive per year than the city.
Cincinnati is an affordable city all around. The cost of living is low, and the child care rates are reasonable. So it’s no surprise homeowners in this location save just under $3,000 on both housing and child care when they live in this Ohio city, paying just $23,336 per year for both expenses. Just think: Living in the city verses any Cincinnati suburb for 18 years will amount to a total savings of $99,252 — something that might just pay for your kids’ college tuition. Maybe.
7. Phoenix, Arizona
The suburbs are $6,567 more expensive per year than the city.
Moving to the outskirts of Phoenix will cost you $6,567 more than staying in closer to downtown, according to the report. This city offers some of the cheapest child care costs around, with yearly estimates totaling only $15,747. That’ll be a welcome reprieve to your wallet, as home values and tax records indicate Phoenix boasts suburban housing costs higher than most at $32,097 yearly. But those who consider an urban life style will save about $5,204 a year in housing fees.
6. Providence, Rhode Island
The suburbs are $6,974 more expensive per year than the city.
On average, a child care center in urban Providence costs $17,504 a year for two kids, while a child care center in the suburbs costs $20,473 a year. In this scenario, parents in Providence could actually save almost $3,000 on child care by living in the city. Plus, when your children decide to enroll at Brown University or Rhode Island School of Design, they can still make it back home each week for Sunday dinner.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
The suburbs are $7,318 more expensive per year than the city.
Las Vegas has found its way onto various best-of lists over the years, but it’s probably not on many lists focusing on families and financial responsibility. Housing costs in the city of Las Vegas will stay right around $10,481 annually, according to the report. But you will sacrifice square footage. Las Vegas suburbs have the highest median square foot estimates at 1,800. Once you enter the strip, however, that number decreases by about 300 square feet.
4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The suburbs are $8,227 more expensive per year than the city.
Milwaukee is solidly in the top four worst suburbs to move to, with an average savings of $8,227 per year if you live in the city. Even though housing rates in the Milwaukee suburbs are quite low — only $14,100 annually — a move out of town would be like flushing money down the toilet. The housing prices and property taxes just about double once you leave the city confines, with residents paying $7,509 more than city dwellers.
3. Cleveland, Ohio
The suburbs are $9,034 more expensive per year than the city.
A few hours east brings you to our next cheapest city for housing and child care comparisons. Cleveland residents save upwards of $9,000 when they choose to live in the city verses outer towns, according to the report. This is yet another town that will see housing prices double once you leave the city confines, with suburban residents paying $7,509 more than city dwellers.
2. Baltimore, Maryland
The suburbs are $10,790 more expensive per year than the city.
No matter how you slice the Baltimore data, an urban oasis here will always be cheaper. In fact, you’ll save close to $10,000 in property taxes and mortgage fees alone by living in the city. Residents here happily pay only $5,904 per year. However, you will compromise on space, as those living in the outskirts have about 1,525 square feet to roam. If space is not an issue, this city is definitely worth considering.
1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The suburbs are $13,859 more expensive per year than the city.
The deepest suburban money pit surrounds Philadelphia. That’s right. Moving away from the city means you’d not only be farther away from juicy cheesesteaks, but you’ll also spend over $1,154 per month in extra housing and child care expenses. That sounds like a lose-lose scenario. People looking to raise a family in this area will need to decide what’s most important. Having less square footage to call your own in the city might be a downer, but paying $7,402 a year in housing instead of $19,439 a year might sweeten the deal a bit. That’s a savings of over $12,000 annually, available to Philadelphia’s dedicated urbanites.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.