Raising a kid is one of the most hilarious, stressful and rewarding parts of life.
It’s also one of the most expensive.
While it’s impossible to put a price tag on parenthood, it’s important to be realistic about your costs and plan for them accordingly. And for those Toronto parents out there, you know that child rearing costs add up — fast.
Here’s a breakdown of what it costs to raise a kid in Toronto in 2017. Most of these numbers are from my own experiences raising a toddler in the city, so this breakdown most closely reflects the daycare years (1-4 years old).
Childcare - $19,877 per year
This is a biggie. Toronto has the highest daycare costs in the country, forcing many parents to find creative ways to afford the bills. Some opt for alternative solutions, like nanny shares, part-time care, or home daycares, but many still prefer the established city-run or non-profit childcare centres, which range between $70-$110 per day. If you opt for the latter, don’t forget to see if you qualify for a fee subsidy — it can mean the difference between affording RRSP contributions during the daycare years and not.
Vehicle costs - $10,456 per year
The only reason we have a car in crowded, transit-friendly Toronto is because we have a kid. Relying on transit for every single outing with our little guy is something we’re willing to pay to avoid. But because we own our car outright and don’t face a long commute, our costs are probably lower than the average Toronto driver’s, so I used data from the Canadian Automobile Association and Globe Drive — updated for 2016 — to arrive at an annual average cost of owning a car. Depending on your vehicle situation, this number could be much lower.
Increased housing costs - $4,800 per year
Kids are small, yet somehow they often necessitate an upsized living arrangement. Our little bundle of joy meant upgrading from a one-bedroom rental apartment ($1,750 per month) to a two-bedroom rental apartment ($2,150 per month).
RESP contributions - $2,500 per year
Can’t forget these. In order to take advantage of the 20% government contribution — which maxes out at $500 annually — aim to kick in at least $210 per month.
Food - $1,500 per year
Even after your kid is done with absurdly expensive infant formula (if they needed it), food remains a sizeable expense. And the fact that you end up throwing half of it out because they refuse to eat makes this cost that much harder to swallow. On average, our two-year-old needs around $25 worth of milk and $100 worth of food per month.
Diapers and wipes - $1,440 per year
This gets its own category. You can save huge by using reusables, and the planet will thank you, but there’s a time cost associated with that, and if you’re like us — with no family around to lend a hand — you simply don’t have the time (or energy) to spare. So expensive disposables it is. We average around $90 per month in diapers and $30 per month in wipes.
Baby-containing devices - $350 per year
I’m looking at you, strollers, bouncers, bassinets, slings, play yards, cribs, car seats, change tables, carriers, and bike trailers! The majority of these costs come during the first year, but things like bike trailers and front-facing car seats are toddler territory.
Clothes - $240 per year
We were lucky enough to get a lot of second-hand clothes from family, but we still pick up the odd onesie (as you do). Not a major cost, but it adds up.
Miscellaneous - $240 per year
This includes all of the items that are so easy to overlook (and to step on), like toys, sunglasses, soothers, outlet covers, bathroom supplies, books, and bottles.
Travel - $100 per year
Kids under two fly for free, but most airlines still charge a fee for little passengers — usually around $100. If you’re like us, you usually take one major trip per year.
Recreational activities - $100 per year
This is usually a bigger cost for school-aged kids, but things like toddler swimming lessons are super fun and worth factoring into the baby budget. This number assumes you sign your toddler up for two activities per year, at around $50 each.
Total cost - $41,603 per year
If you can lower the big expenses — like by finding an alternative to daycare or reducing your car insurance — you can bring this number way down. But even if you do manage to cut the costs, it’ll still be well into the tens of thousands.
Good thing your kid’s worth a million bucks.