Raising a family is a costly adventure. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of comfortably raising one child to adulthood in the U.S. approaches a quarter of a million dollars, or about $13,000 a year over 18 years. Add to that all other family expenses, and costs easily add up.
The affordability of raising a family in different parts of the world depends on many factors, including cost of living relative to a typical family income, a country’s level of economic and social development, and the availability of social assistance provided to families. Online toy seller PoundToy used data sourced from cost of living database Numbeo to estimate the annual cost of raising a young family in 63 nations. The costs include rent, utilities, preschool education, broadband internet, and other living expenses.
While it may be cheap to raise a family in poor, developing countries because of low costs of living, families in these countries also seldom have access to public resources as well as little to no chance of economic mobility. In addition, health care outcomes tend to be poor in these nations, with shorter life expectancy and greater maternal and child mortality rates. (Here are the countries with the widest gaps between rich and poor.)
Country rankings such as this one, therefore, tend to exclude the least developed countries and focus more on countries with more advanced economies with stable (if not democratic) governments. (Even the average work week length varies among countries. Here is how long the typical work week is around the world.)
Among this community of more developed nations, the annual cost of raising a family ranges from about $21,000 to $285,000. A rich European city-state like Monaco has astronomically high costs but a small population of affluent households that can afford them. On the other hand, an emerging-market country like Slovenia offers much lower family-raising costs but also lower wages and benefits to working families. It may seem cheap to raise a family in a certain country, but it’s not cheap to families that live there.
When comparing family-raising costs across countries with such a wide range of economic development, it’s important to consider these relative factors. With that said, here are the most affordable countries to raise a family.