Special Report

The Cities With the Cheapest Child Care

Shutter2U / iStock via Getty Images

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents with children under the age of 18 left the workforce. With schools across the country shifting to remote learning, it made more financial sense for many parents to give up their job and stay home with their children rather than pay for child care – especially as child care costs skyrocketed during the pandemic. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, a family with two children, age four and eight, is projected to pay an average of $16,659 on child care in 2022. This amount varies across the country, however, and in many major metropolitan areas, child care costs are thousands less than average. 

Using data from the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 metro areas where families pay the least for child care. Metro areas are ranked on estimated child care expenditure in 2022 for two children, age four and eight. 

Among the metro areas on this list, estimated average child care costs range from $11,493 down to $8,321. Without exception, every metro area on this list is in the South. Here is a look at the best and worst states to raise a family

As is often the case with factors that affect cost of living, child care costs appear to be driven in part by what parents can afford. In every metro area on this list, the median family income is below the $80,069 the typical American family earns annually. Here is a look at the income needed to be middle class in each state.

Click here to see the cities with the cheapest child care
Click here to see our detailed methodology

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

50. Waco, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,493
> Median family income: $66,852 – 103rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.3% – 75th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.2% – 167th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

49. Amarillo, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,487
> Median family income: $69,716 – 133rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 21.4% – 39th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.0% – 102nd highest of 376 metros

48. Columbus, GA-AL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,449
> Median family income: $62,459 – 56th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.9% – 92nd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.2% – 177th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

47. Tallahassee, FL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,420
> Median family income: $72,943 – 184th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 15.9% – 52nd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 56.6% – 12th lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

46. Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,329
> Median family income: $60,792 – 36th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 15.5% – 43rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.8% – 176th highest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

45. Laredo, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,327
> Median family income: $54,078 – 8th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 27.4% – 2nd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 80.3% – 2nd highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: csfotoimages / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

44. Homosassa Springs, FL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,285
> Median family income: $57,253 – 21st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 12.1% – 5th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 62.0% – 86th lowest of 376 metros

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

43. Jackson, TN
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,268
> Median family income: $58,697 – 27th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 18.9% – 151st highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.5% – 119th highest of 376 metros

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

42. Gainesville, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,258
> Median family income: $74,139 – 181st highest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.8% – 54th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 74.7% – 13th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

41. Chattanooga, TN-GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,225
> Median family income: $70,533 – 145th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 17.5% – 118th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.0% – 167th lowest of 376 metros

40. Cleveland, TN
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,213
> Median family income: $63,243 – 64th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 17.5% – 121st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 68.5% – 57th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

39. El Paso, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,206
> Median family income: $53,920 – 7th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 22.6% – 25th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 72.4% – 22nd highest of 376 metros

38. Killeen-Temple, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,158
> Median family income: $66,430 – 96th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 22.6% – 22nd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 68.5% – 58th highest of 376 metros

Source: Ianm35 / iStock via Getty Images

37. Warner Robins, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,140
> Median family income: $77,307 – 148th highest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.6% – 59th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 69.4% – 48th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

36. Longview, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,127
> Median family income: $64,818 – 78th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.6% – 60th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 69.6% – 45th highest of 376 metros

Source: JillianCain / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

35. The Villages, FL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,087
> Median family income: $72,792 – 182nd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 6.0% – the lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.0% – 101st highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: Michael Warren / iStock via Getty Images

34. Ocala, FL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,086
> Median family income: $56,181 – 14th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 15.4% – 42nd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.9% – 174th highest of 376 metros

Source: BergmannD / Getty Images

33. Wichita Falls, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $11,038
> Median family income: $66,634 – 98th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 18.7% – 161st highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.4% – 183rd lowest of 376 metros

Source: Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

32. Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,985
> Median family income: $68,971 – 127th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.3% – 72nd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.2% – 94th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Dee / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

31. Morristown, TN
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,767
> Median family income: $58,448 – 26th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 17.3% – 113th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 69.0% – 53rd highest of 376 metros

Source: Dee / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

30. Johnson City, TN
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,761
> Median family income: $60,890 – 38th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 15.4% – 39th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 62.5% – 104th lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images

29. New Orleans-Metairie, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,750
> Median family income: $72,053 – 171st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 18.6% – 172nd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 59.8% – 38th lowest of 376 metros

Source: JENNIFER E. WOLF / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

28. Athens-Clarke County, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,647
> Median family income: $71,301 – 159th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 16.9% – 95th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 59.1% – 31st lowest of 376 metros

Source: Warren-Pender / Getty Images

27. Sebring-Avon Park, FL
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,626
> Median family income: $52,793 – 4th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 14.1% – 15th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 63.6% – 142nd lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: BeachcottagePhotography / iStock via Getty Images

26. Brunswick, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,605
> Median family income: $68,432 – 120th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 17.8% – 140th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.8% – 144th highest of 376 metros

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

25. Valdosta, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,537
> Median family income: $59,281 – 28th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.0% – 88th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 63.6% – 139th lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

24. Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,508
> Median family income: $67,596 – 109th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.1% – 133rd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.4% – 122nd highest of 376 metros

Source: graphiknation / iStock via Getty Images

23. Baton Rouge, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,490
> Median family income: $77,948 – 140th highest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.6% – 111th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.9% – 140th highest of 376 metros

Source: Public domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Rome, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,482
> Median family income: $61,841 – 51st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.1% – 140th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 70.2% – 38th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

21. Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,476
> Median family income: $47,332 – 2nd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 25.0% – 9th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 77.3% – 7th highest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

20. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,320
> Median family income: $46,609 – the lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 27.2% – 3rd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 80.2% – 3rd highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

19. Albany, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,217
> Median family income: $56,166 – 13th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.1% – 81st highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.3% – 162nd highest of 376 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

18. Greenville-Anderson, SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,161
> Median family income: $71,958 – 168th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 18.6% – 171st highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.8% – 105th highest of 376 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

17. Macon-Bibb County, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,144
> Median family income: $62,540 – 57th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.4% – 117th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 63.0% – 116th lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

16. Columbia, SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,141
> Median family income: $71,993 – 169th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 18.2% – 178th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 63.9% – 157th lowest of 376 metros

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

15. Dalton, GA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $10,094
> Median family income: $58,145 – 23rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 21.0% – 45th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 72.6% – 20th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

14. Houma-Thibodaux, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,958
> Median family income: $65,137 – 81st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.4% – 69th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 68.4% – 61st highest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

13. Lafayette, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,831
> Median family income: $66,741 – 101st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.5% – 63rd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.2% – 91st highest of 376 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

12. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,723
> Median family income: $65,152 – 82nd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 14.2% – 18th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.5% – 152nd highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

11. Lake Charles, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,590
> Median family income: $65,881 – 93rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.9% – 51st highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.6% – 117th highest of 376 metros

10. Hammond, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,583
> Median family income: $62,373 – 55th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.7% – 56th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.3% – 125th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

9. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,424
> Median family income: $59,467 – 30th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.2% – 77th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 62.1% – 90th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

8. Spartanburg, SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,390
> Median family income: $65,214 – 83rd lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.2% – 130th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.7% – 77th highest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

7. Alexandria, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,386
> Median family income: $59,394 – 29th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.0% – 89th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.3% – 123rd highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: makasana / iStock via Getty Images

6. Sumter, SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,350
> Median family income: $57,134 – 20th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.1% – 143rd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 65.9% – 139th highest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

5. Florence, SC
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,232
> Median family income: $58,215 – 24th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.1% – 136th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 64.1% – 172nd lowest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad]

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

4. Monroe, LA
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $9,106
> Median family income: $56,295 – 15th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.3% – 73rd highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 61.7% – 81st lowest of 376 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

3. Jackson, MS
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $8,704
> Median family income: $67,202 – 105th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.8% – 98th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.0% – 135th highest of 376 metros

Source: dszc / iStock via Getty Images

2. Gulfport-Biloxi, MS
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $8,324
> Median family income: $62,967 – 61st lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 19.2% – 129th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 66.6% – 113th highest of 376 metros

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

1. Hattiesburg, MS
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $8,321
> Median family income: $58,430 – 25th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.0% – 85th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.6% – 79th highest of 376 metros

Methodolgy

To determine the metro areas with the lowest child care costs for a family of four, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Economic Policy Institute’s 2022 Family Budget Calculator.

In the Family Budget Calculator, the EPI estimates the annual child care budget necessary for families to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living. The budgets are created for 10 family types for U.S. counties and metro areas. To estimate child care costs for a family of four, the EPI assumes families consist of a married couple with one 4-year-old child and one school-age child.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metro areas are ranked based on the EPI’s annual child care cost estimates. Additional information on median family income, the share of the population that is under the age of 15, and the share of households that are occupied by families are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. Because the Census Bureau didn’t release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates. 

Sponsored: Want to Retire Early? Here’s a Great First Step

Want retirement to come a few years earlier than you’d planned? Or are you ready to retire now, but want an extra set of eyes on your finances?

Now you can speak with up to 3 financial experts in your area for FREE. By simply clicking here you can begin to match with financial professionals who can help you build your plan to retire early. And the best part? The first conversation with them is free.

Click here to match with up to 3 financial pros who would be excited to help you make financial decisions.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.