Expecting a baby? Congratulations! Better put plenty of money in your savings account. The Department of Agriculture says the estimated cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610, or as much as almost $14,000 annually, the AP reports. That's the average for a middle-income couple with two children. It's a bit more expensive in urban parts of the country, and less so in rural areas. The estimate released Monday is based on 2015 numbers, so a baby born this year is likely to cost even more. It's a 3% increase from the prior year, a hike higher than inflation. The main costs include housing (26% to 33% of the total expense), food (about 18%), transportation, health care, child care and education (about 16%—and that doesn't include college costs), clothing, and other miscellaneous expenses.
The cost of raising a child varies in different regions of the country. Overall, middle-income, married-couple families in the urban Northeast spent the most ($253,770), followed by those in the urban West ($235,140) and urban South ($221,730). Those in the urban Midwest spent less ($217,020), along with those in rural areas ($193,020). There were also differences depending on income. Lower-income families are expected to spend around $174,690 per child from birth through 17; higher-income families will spend a whopping $372,210. There is some good news for big families. Families with three or more children spend an average of 24% less per child. USDA says that's because children often share bedrooms in bigger families, clothing and toys are handed down, and food can be purchased in larger and more economical packages. In contrast, one-child households spend an average of 27% more on the single child. (Read more children stories.)