# The True Cost of the American Dream in Every State

Can you afford to achieve the American dream in your state?View Gallery

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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

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## 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

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## 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

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*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.*

### About the Author

#### Sean Dennison

Sean joined the GOBankingRates team in 2018, bringing with him several years of experience with both military and collegiate writing and editing experience. Sean’s first foray into writing happened when he enlisted in the Marines, with the occupational specialty of combat correspondent. He covered military affairs both in garrison and internationally when he deployed to Afghanistan. After finishing his enlistment, he completed his BA in English at UC Berkeley, eventually moving to Southern California.

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