The Economic Policy Institute broke down how much it costs families to live in every county in America. See the details for Chester County.By Justin Heinze, Patch Staff | Mar 21, 2018 12:30 pm Chester
Chester County is one of the priciest places to live in Pennsylvania, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The organization recently released its 2018 family budget calculator that estimates how costly it is to live in each of America's 3,142 counties and 611 metro areas.
The group estimates a family of two adults and two children in Chester County would need to earn a combined $104,775 per year — or $8,731 a month — to live comfortably.
Here's how the group breaks down that number:
Housing: $1,385 per month
Food: $896 per month
Child Care: $1,810 per month
Transportation: $1,286 per month
Health Care: $1,100 per month
Other Necessities: $920 per month
Taxes: $1,334 per month
The cost of living in Chester County the highest in southeastern Pennsylvania, and markedly higher than the average across the Philadelphia metro area, where the same sized family would need to earn $92,163 to "attain a modest yet adequate standard of living," the organization said.
Nearby the average annual costs are $100,041 for Montgomery County, $99,846 for Bucks County, $93,136 for Delaware County, and $84,901 for Philadelphia.
The family budget calculator accounts for geographic differences in cost of living, but does not include many expenses associated with a middle-class lifestyle, including student loan payments or saving for college or retirement.
"Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line to paint a detailed picture of what families need to get by," EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould said in a release. "The latest update provides even greater detail on how costs vary throughout the country. It is above all else a tool for policymakers to advocate for ways to raise wages and make their communities more affordable."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, San Francisco ranked first in the nation as the most expensive metro area with a basic budget of $148,439 a year for a two-parent, two-child household. On the flipside, that same household would only need to earn $58,906 to live comfortably in Brownsville, Texas, the least expensive metro area in the country.
The group noted that many low-wage workers don't make enough money to adequately provide for their family's basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, the group said, there is "nowhere in the country" where a minimum-wage worker would earn enough.
"It's clear from our analysis that, even in less-expensive areas, many families will struggle to meet their basic needs," said research assistant Zane Mokhiber. "The good news is we have many different ways to remedy this, from a higher minimum wage to ambitious childcare reform. Policymakers should draw on a range of tools to help people meet the needs laid out in the Family Budget Calculator."
Click here to go to to the calculator. You can change the number of adults and children to see exactly what your household needs to earn to live comfortably in your county.