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The True Cost of the American Dream in Every State

Sean Dennison

Anyone still pursuing the American dream in 2019 may need to wake up to the reality of modern personal finance. The average cost of raising a child is over $230,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Home prices are expected to continue rising in 2020, albeit more slowly. And, workers’ wages remain largely stagnant while their bosses’ bank accounts expand. With this outlook, is the American dream even affordable anymore?

According to a new study by GOBankingRates, the answer may depend on where you live. To start, researchers defined the American dream as a married couple with two children, a pet, a house and a car. The study analyzed the annual costs to maintain those things — along with other necessities such as utilities and healthcare — and came up with a final cost needed to achieve the American dream in every state.

Regardless of the current state of your finances, there’s one finding from GOBankingRates’ study that’s important to note: Your best bet for success lies in the South, which is home to some of the most affordable states in America. Moving to a region with a cheaper cost of living might just help you attain your own version of the American dream.

Last updated: Sept. 27, 2019

1. Mississippi

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,205.30
  • Annual pet care cost: $754.36
  • Annual car cost: $8,499
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,590
  • Annual utility cost: $4,805
  • Annual education cost: $2,335
  • Annual child care cost: $10,220
  • Annual mortgage cost: $10,548
  • Total annual costs: $53,956.26

True cost of the American dream: $107,913

2. Arkansas

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,735.48
  • Annual pet care cost: $763.06
  • Annual car cost: $9,107
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,205
  • Annual utility cost: $4,895
  • Annual education cost: $2,362
  • Annual child care cost: $12,368
  • Annual mortgage cost: $9,780
  • Total annual costs: $55,215.73

True cost of the American dream: $110,431

3. Alabama

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,264.03
  • Annual pet care cost: $776.11
  • Annual car cost: $8,282
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,425
  • Annual utility cost: $5,571
  • Annual education cost: $2,402
  • Annual child care cost: $11,185
  • Annual mortgage cost: $12,312
  • Total annual costs: $57,217.02

True cost of the American dream: $114,434

4. Kentucky

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,582.79
  • Annual pet care cost: $797.86
  • Annual car cost: $8,951
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,510
  • Annual utility cost: $5,247
  • Annual education cost: $2,469
  • Annual child care cost: $12,821
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,136
  • Total annual costs: $57,514.47

True cost of the American dream: $115,029

5. West Virginia

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,829.44
  • Annual pet care cost: $801.34
  • Annual car cost: $8,612
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,474
  • Annual utility cost: $4,810
  • Annual education cost: $2,480
  • Annual child care cost: $16,380
  • Annual mortgage cost: $9,192
  • Total annual costs: $58,578.63

True cost of the American dream: $117,157

6. Oklahoma

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,123.08
  • Annual pet care cost: $758.71
  • Annual car cost: $8,376
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,749
  • Annual utility cost: $5,050
  • Annual education cost: $2,348
  • Annual child care cost: $15,181
  • Annual mortgage cost: $10,752
  • Total annual costs: $59,336.99

True cost of the American dream: $118,674

7. Louisiana

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,710.36
  • Annual pet care cost: $814.39
  • Annual car cost: $8,644
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,895
  • Annual utility cost: $4,768
  • Annual education cost: $2,521
  • Annual child care cost: $14,630
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,424
  • Total annual costs: $60,406.55

True cost of the American dream: $120,813

8. South Carolina

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,910.04
  • Annual pet care cost: $834.40
  • Annual car cost: $8,315
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,920
  • Annual utility cost: $5,608
  • Annual education cost: $2,583
  • Annual child care cost: $13,013
  • Annual mortgage cost: $13,116
  • Total annual costs: $61,299.39

True cost of the American dream: $122,599

9. South Dakota

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,839.56
  • Annual pet care cost: $857.03
  • Annual car cost: $8,467
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,482
  • Annual utility cost: $4,752
  • Annual education cost: $2,653
  • Annual child care cost: $12,860
  • Annual mortgage cost: $13,668
  • Total annual costs: $61,577.90

True cost of the American dream: $123,156

10. Missouri

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,440.21
  • Annual pet care cost: $768.28
  • Annual car cost: $8,599
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,950
  • Annual utility cost: $5,247
  • Annual education cost: $2,378
  • Annual child care cost: $17,055
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,004
  • Total annual costs: $62,441.17

True cost of the American dream: $124,882

11. Ohio

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,534.18
  • Annual pet care cost: $802.21
  • Annual car cost: $8,356
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,914
  • Annual utility cost: $4,975
  • Annual education cost: $2,483
  • Annual child care cost: $17,592
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,460
  • Total annual costs: $63,116.04

True cost of the American dream: $126,232

12. Tennessee

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,864.68
  • Annual pet care cost: $773.50
  • Annual car cost: $8,497
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,351
  • Annual utility cost: $5,050
  • Annual education cost: $2,394
  • Annual child care cost: $16,199
  • Annual mortgage cost: $14,052
  • Total annual costs: $63,181.29

True cost of the American dream: $126,363

13. New Mexico

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,121.46
  • Annual pet care cost: $795.25
  • Annual car cost: $8,503
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,176
  • Annual utility cost: $4,688
  • Annual education cost: $2,461
  • Annual child care cost: $16,226
  • Annual mortgage cost: $12,972
  • Total annual costs: $63,942.71

True cost of the American dream: $127,885

14. Iowa

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,346.25
  • Annual pet care cost: $800.47
  • Annual car cost: $8,071
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,999
  • Annual utility cost: $5,247
  • Annual education cost: $2,478
  • Annual child care cost: $19,011
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,316
  • Total annual costs: $64,268.26

True cost of the American dream: $128,537

15. Georgia

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,557.67
  • Annual pet care cost: $788.29
  • Annual car cost: $8,716
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,968
  • Annual utility cost: $4,741
  • Annual education cost: $2,440
  • Annual child care cost: $15,836
  • Annual mortgage cost: $14,604
  • Total annual costs: $64,651.46

True cost of the American dream: $129,303

16. Idaho

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,876.43
  • Annual pet care cost: $816.13
  • Annual car cost: $8,691
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,030
  • Annual utility cost: $4,518
  • Annual education cost: $2,526
  • Annual child care cost: $13,927
  • Annual mortgage cost: $17,928
  • Total annual costs: $65,311.67

True cost of the American dream: $130,623

17. Michigan

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,230.42
  • Annual pet care cost: $778.72
  • Annual car cost: $8,722
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,657
  • Annual utility cost: $5,172
  • Annual education cost: $2,410
  • Annual child care cost: $19,751
  • Annual mortgage cost: $12,888
  • Total annual costs: $65,609.08

True cost of the American dream: $131,218

18. Kansas

  • Annual grocery cost:$10,982.14
  • Annual pet care cost: $779.59
  • Annual car cost: $8,631
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,975
  • Annual utility cost: $5,465
  • Annual education cost: $2,413
  • Annual child care cost: $20,020
  • Annual mortgage cost: $12,036
  • Total annual costs: $66,301

True cost of the American dream: $132,602

19. North Dakota

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,497.32
  • Annual pet care cost: $857.03
  • Annual car cost: $8,496
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,812
  • Annual utility cost: $4,890
  • Annual education cost: $2,653
  • Annual child care cost: $17,312
  • Annual mortgage cost: $13,356
  • Total annual costs: $66,872.88

True cost of the American dream: $133,746

20. Indiana

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,911.66
  • Annual pet care cost: $787.42
  • Annual car cost: $8,590
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,810
  • Annual utility cost: $5,151
  • Annual education cost: $2,437
  • Annual child care cost: $22,170
  • Annual mortgage cost: $11,028
  • Total annual costs: $66,884.47

True cost of the American dream: $133,769

21. North Carolina

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,322.76
  • Annual pet care cost: $821.35
  • Annual car cost: $8,423
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,708
  • Annual utility cost: $5,044
  • Annual education cost: $2,542
  • Annual child care cost: $17,593
  • Annual mortgage cost: $15,120
  • Total annual costs: $67,574.10

True cost of the American dream: $135,148

22. Wyoming

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,839.56
  • Annual pet care cost: $832.66
  • Annual car cost: $9,245
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,023
  • Annual utility cost: $4,597
  • Annual education cost: $2,577
  • Annual child care cost: $19,657
  • Annual mortgage cost: $13,740
  • Total annual costs: $68,512.04

True cost of the American dream: $137,024

23. Texas

  • Annual grocery cost: $10,488.82
  • Annual pet care cost: $796.12
  • Annual car cost: $8,858
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,852
  • Annual utility cost: $5,385
  • Annual education cost: $2,464
  • Annual child care cost: $16,386
  • Annual mortgage cost: $18,384
  • Total annual costs: $68,614.21

True cost of the American dream: $137,228

24. Florida

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,368.12
  • Annual pet care cost: $862.25
  • Annual car cost: $8,650
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,883
  • Annual utility cost: $5,475
  • Annual education cost: $2,669
  • Annual child care cost: $16,520
  • Annual mortgage cost: $17,088
  • Total annual costs: $69,515.64

True cost of the American dream: $139,031

25. Montana

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,285.90
  • Annual pet care cost: $913.58
  • Annual car cost: $8,099
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,195
  • Annual utility cost: $4,470
  • Annual education cost: $2,828
  • Annual child care cost: $17,883
  • Annual mortgage cost: $17,748
  • Total annual costs: $70,421.64

True cost of the American dream: $140,843

26. Pennsylvania

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,816.07
  • Annual pet care cost: $859.64
  • Annual car cost: $8,514
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,639
  • Annual utility cost: $5,715
  • Annual education cost: $2,661
  • Annual child care cost: $21,614
  • Annual mortgage cost: $13,704
  • Total annual costs: $70,522.07

True cost of the American dream: $141,044

27. Delaware

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,061.11
  • Annual pet care cost: $931.85
  • Annual car cost: $8,127
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,097
  • Annual utility cost: $5,156
  • Annual education cost: $2,884
  • Annual child care cost: $19,897
  • Annual mortgage cost: $15,420
  • Total annual costs: $71,573.79

True cost of the American dream: $143,148

28. Maine

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,732.23
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,020.60
  • Annual car cost: $8,671
  • Annual healthcare cost: $7,264
  • Annual utility cost: $5,853
  • Annual education cost: $3,159
  • Annual child care cost: $17,741
  • Annual mortgage cost: $15,372
  • Total annual costs: $71,812.53

True cost of the American dream: $143,625

29. Nebraska

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,334.50
  • Annual pet care cost: $803.08
  • Annual car cost: $8,325
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,072
  • Annual utility cost: $4,853
  • Annual education cost: $2,486
  • Annual child care cost: $23,991
  • Annual mortgage cost: $14,220
  • Total annual costs: $72,084.68

True cost of the American dream: $144,169

30. Utah

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,863.06
  • Annual pet care cost: $857.03
  • Annual car cost: $9,096
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,840
  • Annual utility cost: $4,879
  • Annual education cost: $2,653
  • Annual child care cost: $17,591
  • Annual mortgage cost: $19,392
  • Total annual costs: $72,171.65

True cost of the American dream: $144,343

31. Arizona

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,616.40
  • Annual pet care cost: $878.78
  • Annual car cost: $9,317
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,877
  • Annual utility cost: $6,311
  • Annual education cost: $2,720
  • Annual child care cost: $19,495
  • Annual mortgage cost: $16,068
  • Total annual costs: $72,282.74

True cost of the American dream: $144,565

32. Wisconsin

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,428.47
  • Annual pet care cost: $837.88
  • Annual car cost: $8,417
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,903
  • Annual utility cost: $5,247
  • Annual education cost: $2,593
  • Annual child care cost: $22,764
  • Annual mortgage cost: $15,036
  • Total annual costs: $73,226.02

True cost of the American dream: $146,452

33. Illinois

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,287.52
  • Annual pet care cost: $826.57
  • Annual car cost: $8,891
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,097
  • Annual utility cost: $5,140
  • Annual education cost: $2,558
  • Annual child care cost: $24,174
  • Annual mortgage cost: $16,788
  • Total annual costs: $75,761.96

True cost of the American dream: $151,524

34. Nevada

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,790.96
  • Annual pet care cost: $950.12
  • Annual car cost: $9,888
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,543
  • Annual utility cost: $4,842
  • Annual education cost: $2,941
  • Annual child care cost: $20,459
  • Annual mortgage cost: $17,904
  • Total annual costs: $76,317.93

True cost of the American dream: $152,636

35. Virginia

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,369.74
  • Annual pet care cost: $881.39
  • Annual car cost: $8,255
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,042
  • Annual utility cost: $5,220
  • Annual education cost: $2,728
  • Annual child care cost: $24,929
  • Annual mortgage cost: $16,992
  • Total annual costs: $76,416.83

True cost of the American dream: $152,834

36. Vermont

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,978.89
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,017.12
  • Annual car cost: $8,813
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,231
  • Annual utility cost: $6,236
  • Annual education cost: $3,148
  • Annual child care cost: $24,529
  • Annual mortgage cost: $17,496
  • Total annual costs: $80,449.40

True cost of the American dream: $160,899

37. New Hampshire

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,851.31
  • Annual pet care cost: $943.16
  • Annual car cost: $7,980
  • Annual healthcare cost: $7,129
  • Annual utility cost: $6,124
  • Annual education cost: $2,919
  • Annual child care cost: $23,140
  • Annual mortgage cost: $20,724
  • Total annual costs: $80,811.14

True cost of the American dream: $161,622

38. Maryland

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,743.98
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,132.84
  • Annual car cost: $8,659
  • Annual healthcare cost: $5,461
  • Annual utility cost: $5,619
  • Annual education cost: $3,506
  • Annual child care cost: $25,589
  • Annual mortgage cost: $18,708
  • Total annual costs: $81,419.24

True cost of the American dream: $162,838

39. Minnesota

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,532.56
  • Annual pet care cost: $886.61
  • Annual car cost: $8,833
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,757
  • Annual utility cost: $5,268
  • Annual education cost: $2,744
  • Annual child care cost: $28,338
  • Annual mortgage cost: $16,140
  • Total annual costs: $81,498.51

True cost of the American dream: $162,997

40. Rhode Island

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,532.56
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,051.92
  • Annual car cost: $8,288
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,720
  • Annual utility cost: $6,641
  • Annual education cost: $3,256
  • Annual child care cost: $24,383
  • Annual mortgage cost: $20,148
  • Total annual costs: $83,019.98

True cost of the American dream: $166,040

41. Oregon

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,143.33
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,158.07
  • Annual car cost: $8,145
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,915
  • Annual utility cost: $4,635
  • Annual education cost: $3,584
  • Annual child care cost: $23,677
  • Annual mortgage cost: $21,912
  • Total annual costs: $83,169.38

True cost of the American dream: $166,339

42. Alaska

  • Annual grocery cost: $16,279.40
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,128.49
  • Annual car cost: $7,954
  • Annual healthcare cost: $8,962
  • Annual utility cost: $7,822
  • Annual education cost: $3,493
  • Annual child care cost: $22,207
  • Annual mortgage cost: $16,920
  • Total annual costs: $84,765.66

True cost of the American dream: $169,531

43. Colorado

  • Annual grocery cost: $11,957.02
  • Annual pet care cost: $921.41
  • Annual car cost: $8,500
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,280
  • Annual utility cost: $4,629
  • Annual education cost: $2,852
  • Annual child care cost: $27,715
  • Annual mortgage cost: $22,212
  • Total annual costs: $85,066.75

True cost of the American dream: $170,134

44. New Jersey

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,837.94
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,091.08
  • Annual car cost: $8,724
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,359
  • Annual utility cost: $5,507
  • Annual education cost: $3,377
  • Annual child care cost: $23,843
  • Annual mortgage cost: $23,688
  • Total annual costs: $85,427.72

True cost of the American dream: $170,855

45. Washington

  • Annual grocery cost: $12,661.76
  • Annual pet care cost: $958.83
  • Annual car cost: $8,805
  • Annual healthcare cost: $7,257
  • Annual utility cost: $4,768
  • Annual education cost: $2,968
  • Annual child care cost: $25,605
  • Annual mortgage cost: $23,772
  • Total annual costs: $86,795.69

True cost of the American dream: $173,591

46. Connecticut

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,096.34
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,121.53
  • Annual car cost: $8,374
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,983
  • Annual utility cost: $6,907
  • Annual education cost: $3,471
  • Annual child care cost: $28,232
  • Annual mortgage cost: $21,432
  • Total annual costs: $89,616.12

True cost of the American dream: $179,232

47. New York

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,155.07
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,177.21
  • Annual car cost: $8,628
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,366
  • Annual utility cost: $5,688
  • Annual education cost: $3,644
  • Annual child care cost: $27,752
  • Annual mortgage cost: $24,456
  • Total annual costs: $90,866.01

True cost of the American dream: $181,732

48. California

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,953.77
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,210.28
  • Annual car cost: $9,384
  • Annual healthcare cost: $6,824
  • Annual utility cost: $6,268
  • Annual education cost: $3,746
  • Annual child care cost: $28,420
  • Annual mortgage cost: $29,076
  • Total annual costs: $98,881.94

True cost of the American dream: $197,764

49. Massachusetts

  • Annual grocery cost: $13,389.98
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,167.64
  • Annual car cost: $8,251
  • Annual healthcare cost: $7,245
  • Annual utility cost: $5,896
  • Annual education cost: $3,614
  • Annual child care cost: $36,008
  • Annual mortgage cost: $26,952
  • Total annual costs: $102,523.57

True cost of the American dream: $205,047

50. Hawaii

  • Annual grocery cost: $19,485.95
  • Annual pet care cost: $1,671.42
  • Annual car cost: $8,692
  • Annual healthcare cost: $7,203
  • Annual utility cost: $8,700
  • Annual education cost: $5,173
  • Annual child care cost: $22,667
  • Annual mortgage cost: $29,796
  • Total annual costs: $103,387.72

True cost of the American dream: $206,775

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the true cost of the American dream by defining the American dream as a married couple with two children living in a house for four and owning a home, car and pet. From there, all the states were analyzed according to the following criteria: (1) annual cost of groceries, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s average monthly figures for children ages 2-11 — coming out to $11,745.60 annually on the national level — which was then adjusted to each state’s cost of living using the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s cost-of-living indices; (2) pet care costs, based on the average annual cost of a small dog, medium dog, large dog and cat, sourced from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was then adjusted to each state’s cost of living; (3) annual mortgage, based on the state’s median home listing price, sourced from Zillow’s July 2019 index, plus a 20% down payment and a 3.49% 30-year fixed mortgage, based on the Sept. 5, 2019, rate from Freddie Mac and the average state property tax rate; (4) annual healthcare costs, (5) utility costs and (6) education costs, which were adjusted to each state’s cost of living and based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey, using the consumer unit “Married Couple with Children — Total” since the average consumer unit size was four people; and (7) annual cost of child care for two children, sourced from the Economic Policy Institute. All these annual costs were added up, representing 50% of a household’s income devoted to necessities, and then doubled (to account for 30% discretionary spending plus 20% for savings) to determine the “true cost of the American dream.” All data used to conduct this study was compiled and verified on Sept. 11, 2019.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The True Cost of the American Dream in Every State