It costs $70,025 for a family with two parents and two children to live adequately but modestly in Seattle, the Economic Policy Institute says.

That's according to the EPI's newly updated Family Budget Calculator, which finds the income level necessary for families to secure an adequate but modest living standard. It estimates community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes for cities across the country.

While poverty thresholds help evaluate the minimum that families need to live without serious economic deprivation, the Family Budget Calculator provides a broader measure of economic welfare.

The basic family budget for two-parent, two-child families ranges from $48,144 at the lowest in Marshall County, Miss. to $98,502 in New York City.

Newaygo County, Mich. marks the median; families need $63,238 for a modest living standard there. Seattle families need $7,000 more annually to secure the same quality of living. Both budgets are well above the 2012 poverty threshold of $23,293 for families with two parents and two children.

Here's a list comparing annual budgets for four-person families in selected areas:


Washington, D.C.: $88,615

Boston, Mass:$85,641

Philadelphia, Pa.:$77,293

Milwaukee, Wis.:$73,329

Seattle, Wash.:$70,025

Chicago, Ill.:$69,028

Detroit, Mich.:$66,896

St. Louis, Mo.:$64,332

Geographic variations account for some differences in basic family budgets. For example, families in New York City andMilwaukee need at least a quarter of their monthly budget for child care, while Seattle four-person families devote less than a fifth (19.2 percent)of their budgets to child care. And while families in Milwaukee and Seattle spend nearly a quarter of their budgets on health care, New Yorkers allocate 20.9 percent.

Here's the Family Budget Calculator's full breakdown of annual expenses for a two-parent, two-child family in Seattle, illustrating the income a family needs to attain a secure yet modest living standard.

  • Monthly Housing:$1,104
  • Monthly Food:$754
  • Monthly Child Care: $1,119
  • Monthly Transportation:$607
  • Monthly Health Care:$1,441
  • Monthly Other Necessities:$476
  • Monthly Taxes:$335
  • Monthly Total:$5,835
  • Annual Total:$70,025

To look up the income needed for a secure and modest living where your family lives, use the EPI's Family Budget Calculator.

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