Raising a kid in the city.
Coming from a small town, those are six words I never thought I’d say. But here we are, footing the (many) bills that come with rearing a toddler in TO. Forget about the fact that the city’s housing market is beyond the reach of most families: there’s a myriad of other city-sized kid costs that can take a bite out of your budget, too.
Our little guy is four-years-old now, so the numbers below reflect the toddler years more than the baby years. And while the costs are not quite as merciless as the first time I crunched these numbers in 2017, don’t expect to see a whole lot of relief, either.
It’s a good thing you can’t put a price on kids — because holy sticker shock.
Childcare — $15,697 per year
According to the rates provided by the Toronto Early Learning & Childcare Services (TELCCS) (effective April 1, 2019), parents or guardians who rely on the public system for childcare are looking at a daily fee of $68.25 for kids aged 31 months to kindergarten. For an average month (i.e., about 20 school days), that works out to $1,365. Give or take two weeks of facility closures per year (which you don’t pay for), and you’re paying just shy of $16,000 annually.
This is assuming parents don’t qualify for a Child Care Fee Subsidy, for which the city provides a handy calculator to help determine eligibility.
Vehicle costs — $11,220 per year
Not all Toronto families have, want, or need a car, so for some this section can be ignored. But for those families (like us) who became car-owners because they became parents, the cost of keeping a whip on the road adds up.
Based on our situation (single driver, 2017 Volkswagen Jetta), we’re looking at $155 per month for insurance and approximately $120 per month for fuel. We bought our car outright, it’s new-ish and we’re lucky to have a parking spot, so we don’t have the monthly expenses of payments (about $570, according to Power Information Network), maintenance (this varies widely, so we’ll be lowball it at $50), or on-street parking (about $40 for a City of Toronto permit), but that’s rare. Add those in, and you’re looking at an estimated — and mind you, conservative — monthly cost of $935.
Additional housing costs — $4,800 per year
It’s safe to say that having a kid in the city also means having to rent a larger apartment — you usually want at least one extra bedroom. We moved from a one-bedroom rental ($1,750 per month) to a two-bedroom rental ($2,150 per month) expressly because of the little guy. That works out to around $400 per month in additional housing.
RESP contributions — $2,520 per year
Nothing beats a fully-funded education fund — and nothing beats a guaranteed 20% return. If you contribute $210 per month, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the maximum $500 annual contribution that the feds kick in. Set it and forget it.
Food — $1,800 per year
Goldfish crackers can add up. But for reals, keeping your kid’s boiler full of (mostly) healthy eats is a big cost. On average, we spend $20 per month on milk and $130 per month on food for our son. This number can be considerably higher if you eat out often.
Trips — $1,200 per year
We usually take one trip abroad per year, and kids over two are not eligible for any airfare discounts — you’re looking to pay full price. We typically drop around $1,200 per year on kiddy travel. (Apologies to the woman in seat 21D).
Clothes — $480 per year
The major clothing cost for a four-year-old boy is shoes. He uses them as brake pads on his PlasmaCar at daycare, meaning that they last about two weeks. God love him. We drop about $40 a month on average.
Miscellaneous — $300 per year
This covers things like sunscreen, water bottles, Hot Wheels, freezies, buckets, sleds, band-aids, bubble bath, shovels, fun fairs, stickers and Dr. Seuss.
Recreational activities — $270 per year
We try to register our guy in a few sports per year. This year it was swimming in the winter (public, $45) and soccer in the summer (private, $225).
Diapers and wipes — $75 per year
This is one category that goes down with time. Our four-year-old is out of the diaper stage, and we use far fewer wet wipes now, bringing this previously annual cost of $1,440 down to around $75.
Baby-containing devices — $40 per year
Just about done with these! We’ve been through the sling, the play yard, the bouncy, the bassinet, the change table, the infant carrier, the car seat, the stroller and the bike trailer. I’m probably missing a few. That leaves us with just the booster seat, coming in at around $40.
Total cost — $38,402 per year
This figure is going to vary wildly for a lot of people. But many will share the same costs we’ve had. And as the final number shows, it’s expensive to raise a kid in the big city any way you slice it.
Now, the single biggest cost here is childcare. Take that out of the picture and you’re cutting down costs by well over one third — which would leave this whole child-rearing thing a lot more affordable for a lot of people. Too bad governments aren’t listening to all the parents who could use some help, though. It sure would make that number we have up there a lot less scary.
The LowestRates.ca team is curious — how much did you spend to raise your child in the past year? You can leave your feedback in the comments below.
About the author
Vin is a writer for LowestRates.ca.