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Redfin Report: Birmingham, Little Rock and Charleston are the Most Affordable Places to Have a Baby

Southern metros top Redfin's ranking of places where childcare, healthcare, and upgrading to a home with an additional bedroom cost the least in an infant's first year
A baby's first year costs the most in Washington, D.C., Boston and Worcester, due to higher childcare costs

SEATTLE, May 9, 2019 -- Birmingham, Alabama is the most affordable place in the country to raise an infant, costing an average of $16,383 in the first year, according to a new analysis from Redfin, the tech-powered real estate brokerage.

The analysis calculated the cost of moving up from a two-bedroom single-family home to a comparable three-bedroom single-family home, or from a one-bedroom to a comparable two-bedroom condo, in 79 U.S. metro areas. Redfin added the difference in annual mortgage payments to average yearly childcare costs for the state in which the metro is located, plus uniform healthcare and baby item expenses, to come up with the total cost.

Southern metros dominated the ranking of the most affordable places for a baby's first year, with Little Rock, Arkansas ranking second at $16,585 and Charleston, South Carolina coming in third at $16,566. Washington, D.C., where parents spend an average of $35,017 during a baby's first year, is the most expensive metro in the country to raise an infant, followed by Boston($31,307) and Worcester, Massachusetts($30,610).

Ben Price, a Redfin agent in Birmingham, moved to the area from Chicago partly because it's a more affordable place to raise children. "With three active kids in the Chicago suburbs, my wife and I found that we were always behind, both in time and finances. The cost of living with three children was too much to handle," Price said. "At first, my wife was reluctant to consider moving to a more affordable area—but then I showed her homes for sale in Birmingham on Redfin.com. When she saw how much more house we could afford there without sacrificing in terms of school ratings, she was in. Now we own a five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Birmingham, more than we could afford in expensive parts of the country."

In Birmingham, just $1,378, or 8.4 percent, of the total cost of a baby's first year represents the annual difference in mortgage payments between a typical two-bedroom home and a three-bedroom home, while $5,858 is the cost of childcare. And in D.C., the upgrade from two to three bedrooms accounts for just $2,204, or 9.3 percent, of the total, with childcare coming in at an average of $23,666 per year. Even in expensive metros like San Jose, the $3,745 cost of upgrading from a two- to three-bedroom home is significantly lower than the $16,542 annual cost of childcare.

"The most costly part of adding to your family is the time put into taking care of a new baby, whether it's you or your childcare provider," said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. "If you decide to stay at home to take care of your baby, you may have to forego income and pause your career progression. If you hire a nanny, you will need to pay them a competitive wage. And if you happen to find an affordable daycare provider, you may have to sit on a waitlist until a spot opens up for your child. That extra room for a nursery is a relatively small monthly expense compared to childcare, no matter where you live."

Because childcare makes up such a significant portion of the cost of a baby's first year, the places with the most expensive childcare are the ones where it costs the most to raise a baby. For instance, Washington, D.C., where a baby's first year is most expensive, is the most costly metro in the country for childcare, and Birmingham is the least expensive for both. However, that pattern doesn't hold true in every area. Childcare in Dayton, Ohio costs about $1,000 less per year on average than it does in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But upgrading from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom home will cost about $1,200 more per year in Dayton, which makes it a more expensive place to have a baby.

"In the D.C. area, finding a home for a family in the city is becoming increasingly unaffordable, particularly in the neighborhoods with highly rated schools," said local Redfin agent David Ehrenberg. "But one thing to keep in mind is that while paying for infant childcare is costly, the city of D.C. may be less expensive than its surrounding suburbs once the child is a bit older. D.C. public schools offer free pre-K for three and four-year-olds, while local Maryland and Virginia counties do not."

To read the report, including the full ranking and methodology, please click here.

About Redfin

RedfinRedfin is a technology-powered real estate brokerage, combining its own full-service agents with modern technology to redefine real estate in the consumer's favor. Founded by software engineers, Redfin has the country's #1 brokerage website and offers a host of online tools to consumers, including the Redfin Estimate, the automated home-value estimate with the industry's lowest published error rate for listed homes. Homebuyers and sellers enjoy a full-service, technology-powered experience from Redfin real estate agents, while saving thousands in commissions. Redfin serves more than 85 major metro areas across the U.S. and Canada. The company has closed more than $85 billion in home sales.

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