The cost of raising children in Australia
The Australian government estimates that raising a single child can cost at least $170 a week. That's nearly $160,000 over 18 years and we think it probably costs far more.
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Having children is a life-changing and joyous experience for most parents, but it also comes with added expenses that can push the budgets of even the savviest savers.
According to a 2018 government study, parents at a bare minimum can still expect to spend around $140-$170 a week to raise a child. It's not unusual for this figure to be far higher for most parents and guardians, however.
What is the cost of raising a child in Australia?
There are a few different answers to that. We looked at a couple of studies and found the estimates ranged from $159,120 up to $548,500 over 18 years.
According to 2018 research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, it costs low-paid families $340 a week to raise two children, a 6-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, which is roughly $170 per child. That's $8,840 every year or $159,120 for 18 years, per child.
For unemployed families, the cost of raising two children of the same ages was $280 a week or roughly $140 per child. That's $7,280 every year or $131,040 for 18 years. Again, per child.
However, a 2013 report by the University of Canberra came up with completely different figures.
The earlier study created profiles for three different families: lower income, middle income and higher income. It found that the cost of raising two children would likely range from $474,000 to $1,097,000 over the course of their childhood.
For one child, that's an estimate of $13,166 to $30,472 every year or $237,000 to $548,500 over 18 years.
What are the biggest costs when raising a child?
In 2016, the government created a guideline budget for low-paid families. Its aim is to give parents an idea of how much different items are expected to cost each week, at a minimum.
|Category||Couple with no children||Couple with 1 child||Couple with 2 children||6-year-old girl||10-year-old boy|
|Clothing and footwear||$16||$24||$33||$8||$9|
|Household goods and services||$100||$113||$139||$13||$26|
* We rounded the figures to the nearest dollar.
Why is it important to know the cost of raising a child?
If you understand the cost of raising a child, you can make important decisions in advance. You can start saving, create a support network, develop a budget and find affordable housing.
Anne Hollands is the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She said the cost of raising a child has long been of interest to potential parents.
"Families are interested because the cost of raising children affects their wellbeing and the decisions they make about managing the burden of care." - Anne Hollands.
Understanding the potential cost of having kids can also allow you to put an appropriate financial safety net in place. For example, life insurance or income protection insurance, which guarantee a wage if you become too sick or injured to work.
How can insurance help with the cost of raising kids?
Insurance can give your family an important safety net in case anything goes wrong. If you die or become too sick to work, life insurance and income protection mean the difference between falling behind on the mortgage or having enough money to pay for the best healthcare. Here's a summary of how they can help:
- Life insurance pays a lump sum if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness or you die. The money can be used for whatever your loved ones like, whether that's paying off the mortgage, covering school fees or just keeping on top of everyday expenses.
- Income protection insurance replaces up to 75% of your regular wage if you ever become too sick or injured to work. Again, you can use it for whatever you like but it means you can focus on getting better, rather than worrying about paying the bills.
Compare life insurance and income protection quotes
We've put together a list of all the life insurance and income protection providers available on Finder. Click through for a personalised life or income protection quote. Not sure which one you need? Our life insurance vs income protection page can help.
How much does childcare cost?
According to Care for Kids, the average cost of childcare in Australia is $113 a day, before subsidies. That's easily going to be the most expensive outgoing for lots of parents.
However, the price can vary significantly depending on where you are. In Sydney city centre, the average daily price jumped to $167 while Melbourne was $157 and Brisbane was $137. The costs in Perth are $147 and $113 in Adelaide.
Head further out and childcare becomes less expensive. New South Wales' Blacktown reported an average daily price of $98 while Victoria's Dandenong was $106 and Queensland's Ipswich was $100.
To put the cost of childcare into perspective, an average-earning Australian couple with two young children is likely to spend around 17% of their income on full-time childcare costs, according to the OECD.
Thankfully, government benefits are available. Check the Australian Government's Family Assistance Guide to see which ones apply to you.
*Figures taken on 24 March 2021 from Care For Kids child care costs calculator.
How much does education cost?
According to the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG), parents can expect to spend an average of $68,613 to send a child born in 2017 to a metropolitan state school.
Of course, that price balloons if they decide to send their child to a private school. In that case, they can expect to spend a whopping $487,093 on their child's education.
|School type||Year||Government||Systematic (e.g. Catholic)||Private|
|State child is attending school||VIC, QLD, NSW, WA, TAS, NT||VIC, QLD, NSW, WA, ACT, NT, TAS||VIC, QLD, NSW, WA, ACT, NT, TAS|
|Primary||Years prep to year 6 (7 years)||Years prep to year 6 (7 years)||Years prep to year 6 (7 years)|
|Secondary||Years 7 to 12 (6 years)||Years 7 to 12 (6 years)||Years 7 to 12 (6 years)|
*Source: The Australian Scholarships Group (ASG). The government prices are not representative of ACT, as there are no fees for state preschools in the region. Preschool figures are based on 15 hours per week.
The cost of raising a child can be more complicated
It's very easy to spend more than the government's estimated figure on raising your child. Especially if you don't fall into the unemployed or low-paid category.
In 2019, women's media platform Mamamia asked 11 families to analyse their weekly spending per child. The figures ranged from a frugal $152 all the way to an eye-watering $863.
You've also got to take into account the economic impact of taking time off work – either for parental leave, to raise your children for a few years, or even just turning down overtime hours.
A 2014 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 49% of the mothers and 27% of the fathers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.
The same report found that 18% of mothers felt they were either dismissed, made redundant or moved elsewhere due to their pregnancy, parental leave or family responsibilities, or breastfeeding requirements.
Non-monetary costs of having a child
Of course, money isn't the only thing you'll have to part with if you decide to have children. Social engagements, spare time and even career ambitions can all be impacted.
Finder surveyed over 2,000 parents in 2018 and 90% admitted they had to make big sacrifices when they welcomed their first-born.
The vast majority of Aussies (28%) said leaving the workforce, or having their partner leave the workforce, was the biggest sacrifice they had to make.
We also spoke with three mums who shared their personal sacrifices as they became parents.
"We have chosen to put lavish family holidays on hold and enjoy trips in our caravan with friends, so that we can pay for private school education at $100 a day per child."
- Leisa Papa, Founder of Little Kids Business
"Having dependants to care for has made us look far into the future and be responsible with our spending. We travel less, dine out less frequently and even find more joy in finding bargains from Kmart than shopping in the branded outlets."
- Natalie Chan, CEO of Motherpedia
"With kids, then time for your partner and time for work/business, you find that it is very hard to have alone time. Something that was once so easy is a mammoth effort of organising and a payoff between do I work, spend time with somebody else, or give myself time for me?"
- Raeleen Kaesehagen, CEO and founder of Mudputty
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