If you are the modern, two-income couple, how much home you can buy depends how old your children are. Believe me, I've been there.
Daycare centers in Massachusetts on average charge nearly $15,000 a year to care for an infant full-time while mom and dad are at work, according to a new report on day care costs across the country.
For just one child, that's $1,250 a month.
And if you have twins - well you can do the math!
For parents, it's like shouldering an additional mortgage payment.
In fact, day care costs weigh more heavily here in Greater Boston on prospective home buyers than anywhere else in the country, with Massachusetts No. 1 in the cost of daycare.
Here's what a new report on the child care expenses across the country just put out by Child Care Aware of America.
"Center-based child care fees for two children exceeded housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage in 20 states and the District of Columbia," the report finds.
Day care in Massachusetts is even more expensive than New York State, where the cost is just over $14,000 a year for full day care for an infant, falling to just under $13,600 in Minnesota.
The average two-income Bay State couple, with a median income of around $105,000, can expect to shell out roughly 14 percent of their pay on day care - and that's just for one child.
Costs do drop as the baby grows into a toddler or preschooler, but not by all that much - the average annual day care cost for a 4-year-old in Massachusetts is $11,700.
At one point, when I was a business reporter at the Herald, most of my take-home pay was going towards child care. At that point, we had three children in day-care, at a cost of well more than $30,000 a year. My wife's salary as a financial planner paid the mortgage and everything else.
Having no desire to become a full-time house dad, I stuck with my career, an investment that paid off with higher earnings down the line.
If you are a first-time buyer and ready to start a family, you need to do calculate daycare into your plans.
One good rule of thumb is to buy a home you can afford on one income, not two.
Or maybe consider renting until your children are in school - that means putting off buying a house for at least another five years.
So now we have the highest daycare costs in the country, to go along with some of the highest housing costs, highest gas, fuel and electricity prices and highest food prices.
Wow, it can't get any better than this!
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