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Living in Austin with a family costs $11K more per year than in the suburbs

Parents pay a premium for central-city living

People canoeing on Lady Bird Lake in Austin with the Austin skyline in the background
Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas
Getty: Grexsys

It’s common knowledge that Austin’s suburban sprawl is the major source of its rapid growth numbers. It’s also well-known that residents old and new are moving to those suburbs because it’s increasingly difficult to afford living in the central city.

That’s especially true for families according to a new, nationwide according to a new study conducted by Zillow and Care.com. According to the study, it costs $11,522 more annually for a family to live in Austin’s core than in its suburbs.

The study, which focused on stats surrounding mortgage payments, property taxes, and child care cost, also assessed the cost of living in the city versus suburbs of other U.S. metro areas, like San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

Nationally, the study found that urban families spend $43,652 a year on housing and child care. Yet, in the suburbs they spend just $34,579. That’s an extra $760 a month for urban families.

New York had the highest variance, with Chicago and Dallas have the highest variance between urban and suburban living, with city dwellers paying as much as $71,237 more a year than families in the suburbs.

That’s more than than triple that of the second-most-divided city, Chicago, where city-dwelling families pay a premium of $18,472. Families in the Dallas-Fort Worth urban cores pay the third-highest amount—$14,128—compared to their suburban counterparts.

Curiously low on the list is notoriously expensive San Francisco, where city families pay $12,560 more per year than their suburban counterparts. Yet in some U.S. cities, it costs less for families to live in the city than in the suburbs. Philadelphia tops that list, where families save $13,849 annually versus their suburban counterparts. It’s followed by Baltimore ($10,790), Cleveland ($9,034), and Milwaukee ($8,227).

Zillow and Care.com used stats pulled from their own sites as data for the study. Here are the particulars, according to a Zillow rep: Annual child care costs are based on rates listed in Care.com child-care center profiles in 2016 for two children in the same child-care center. Weekly rates are multiplied by 52 weeks, and monthly rates are multiplied by 12 months to calculate annual rates. Housing costs came from Zillow and factored in annual mortgage payments and property taxes on the median valued home.

Zillow notes that median property taxes and mortgage payments on urban homes are higher than those of suburban homes, at more than $22,000 a year, compared to $15,000 in the suburbs—though median home size in suburbs is 280 square feet higher than in cities. Homeowners are more prevalent in the suburbs than the city, where just 23 percent of residents own. The cost of child care in the suburbs is also typically less than in urban areas.