Washington, DC living expenses

Elly Yu writes that a “modest yet adequate” living for a family in the Washington, DC area requires annual income of at least $105,000:

…this cost is being driven largely in part by the rising price of childcare and housing, experts say.

The Economic Policy Institute’s “Family Budget Calculator” measures the income a family needs to cover basic living expenses, including housing, food, child care and transportation. The budget is based on figures from 2017.

Of the top 100 metro areas in the country, D.C. had the 10th-highest costs in the country for a two-parent, two-childhood household. The San Francisco metro area ranked 1st with an average cost of $148,440. The median family income for the D.C. region was $113,810, in 2017, according to American Community Survey. …

The budget doesn’t include expenses like student loan debt or saving up for rainy day funds.

Gould says the cost of childcare, which has been rising much faster than inflation in recent years, is one of the drivers of rising living costs. According to the calculator, childcare for a family with two children (one four-year-old, and one older school-aged child) costs on average $1,762 a month. …

The costs do also vary throughout the region. In the District, the average income a family of four needs to make is higher than the metro region at $123,975. In Prince George’s County, the figure is $90,824 and in Arlington County, the figure is $113,915.

Housing and the cost of childcare are consistent drivers of rising costs of living, meaning that it makes sense to make a home ideally both where there is family and where the cost of housing is inexpensive. Even if earnings are far lower, quality of daily life is likely to end up being much higher. Daily life can be less frenetic, involve less stress over finances and debt, incorporate family and extended family in a more consistent way, and require little or no professional childcare costs.

We have the means to construct these sorts of lives, but socially and culturally our economic and corporate habits haven’t yet changed to reflected that the technology enables for a distributed workforce in most cases. We don’t all need to be living in the same few expensive metro areas in order to physically work together in high-rent offices in most cases.