The sky-high cost of raising a child is shocking ... unless you're already a parent, in which case you're all too familiar with how quickly your little buggers can rack up expenses. But while you might have a handle on covering the extra food, furnishings and teeny-tiny onesies, accounting for child care can be more difficult to pin down.
That's partially because the cost of child care depends so much on your location. According to Business Broker Network, just five states offer child care for a family with a toddler and an infant for less than $1,000 a month.
Not-so-surprisingly, they're all located in the South, where cost of living is generally lower than in many other parts of the country.
WHERE MONTHLY CHILD CARE IS MOST AFFORDABLE
1. Mississippi: $665
2. Louisiana: $811
3. Alabama: $855
4. Arkansas: $887
5. South Carolina: $896
Taking average household income into account, this region still wins on providing the most affordable options — on average, care for a toddler and infant account for 15 percent or less of a family's income, which is on the low end.
Just five states offer child care for a toddler and an infant for less than $1,000 a month.
Head a little further east, and it's an entirely different story.
WHERE MONTHLY CHILD CARE IS MOST EXPENSIVE
1. Washington, D.C.: $2,982
2. Massachusetts: $2,452
3. New York: $2,009
4. Connecticut: $1,983
5. Colorado: $1,868
Even with higher-than-average incomes of families in D.C. and Massachusetts, child care costs take up about a quarter of household budgets. Four states tie for the third-largest percentage: New York, Colorado, Wisconsin and Rhode Island families dedicate 23 percent of take-home pay to child care.
More often than not, child care for a toddler and infant far outpaces the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment — in Wisconsin, child care costs nearly twice as much as rent. Child care is less expensive than rent in only five states, two of which are Hawaii and California, where cost of living is incredibly high to begin with.
Then there's the whole debate about whether day care centers or in-home family care is cheaper. Kentucky is the only state where center-based care ($12,112 per year) is more affordable than home-based care ($12,452), and only marginally so. Families in Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Kansas pay the highest premium for enrolling kids in day care rather than an in-home facility.
Sure, the joy of raising a child may be priceless, but doing it isn't. This breakdown of child care options like day care centers, in-home or family day care, and nannies can help you find the best solution for your family.