The following is a guest article, written by Jennifer Riner, and submitted by 

First-time parents have a long list of preparations and decisions to tackle. Aside from researching the safest registry items and quarreling over potential names, selecting a new home in a family-friendly community with top schools and reasonable commutes is often a high priority — and that’s where your expertise come into play. New-parent buyers and sellers rely on your local knowledge and experience as a real estate agent to advise their major moving decisions.

As any real estate professional understands, housing costs differ considerably depending on location and home size. Predictably, significant square footage in the heart of the city is costlier than in suburban areas. According to a new analysis from Zillow and, families with two kids who live near the urban core spend an annual average of $9,073 more than families living in suburban areas of the same city for basic living expenses, including property taxes, mortgage payments and child care.

Living outside the urban core saves families the most in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

New York City: Save in the Suburbs

The cost of living in New York City’s urban core is $71,237 higher per year for families with children compared to living in the Big Apple’s suburbs. Housing costs including the annual mortgage payment and property taxes in New York City total $101,590 — more than triple the suburban bill of $28,668. However, child care in the Big Apple is surprisingly cheaper than the suburbs, but nowhere near enough to offset the high cost of housing. For two kids, annual child care in the suburbs costs $23,253, which is $1,685 more than in the city.

Chicago: Save in the Suburbs

Chicago families who prefer an urban atmosphere should expect to pay $18,472 more per year. The annual median cost of a mortgage and property taxes adds up to $45,335 in the city, and $28,408 in the suburbs. Unlike New York City, child care centers in Chicago are more expensive in the urban core, requiring $21,931 annually for two kids — $1,545 more than in the suburbs.
Not all metropolitan areas are alike in their cost-of-living gaps between the city and the suburbs. For clients whose jobs, routines and conveniences are in the city, properties in the downtown core of metros like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Las Vegas are more budget-friendly than homes in the suburbs.

Philadelphia: Save in the City

Philadelphia families save $13,849 per year by living downtown. The median annual mortgage and property taxes in the city add up to just $7,402 per year, less than half that of the suburbs ($19,439). City living wins for childcare, too. Child care centers in Philly cost $17,753 annually, $1,822 cheaper per year than those in outlying neighborhoods.

Baltimore: Save in the City

Families considering a move to Baltimore save $10,790 per year by living in the city instead of the suburbs. The median annual mortgage payment and property taxes in the city cost $5,904, compared to nearly triple the price in the suburbs ($15,568). For child care, families with two kids in Baltimore’s city center spend $18,367 each year, $1,126 less than their suburban counterparts. Going by the numbers, city living wins for families in Charm City.

The pricey bills may be worthwhile for some families, but informing clients of location-driven cost differences encourages thoughtful financial decisions for the future of their families.


Claim Your FREE Real Estate Treasure Map!