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The cost of raising a child in the UK

Of all the major milestones in life, starting a family is arguably the most impactful. It’s a commitment that no one takes lightly – financial, social and professional priorities have to shift, for at least 18 years.

In the UK, a lot of families are feeling the pinch at the moment. The cost of living has risen sharply while wages have largely stagnated and it could be some time before things settle back into a normal rhythm. Those that may have already started a family are potentially delaying their decision, opting to wait for more tranquil economic circumstances.

The cost of raising a child has changed in the last couple of decades, too. As we’ve moved to a subscription economy, areas like entertainment and gaming have changed significantly. Take Netflix as an example – how much of an optional extra is the streaming service for a teenager trying to keep up with the latest trends in entertainment?

We carried out extensive research to establish the cost of raising a child in the present day. Taking into account over 150 different metrics, we’ve built a comprehensive breakdown of the cost of everything from babysitters to holidays to video games.

How much does a child cost over 18 years?

So, what is the cost of raising a child in the UK? As you might expect, the answer is complicated and there are a number of factors to consider before you arrive at a figure.

The answer is somewhere between £129,000 and £327,000 over the full course of 18 years, with the average sitting at roughly £213,630. That’s between £7,100 and £18,100 a year, or an average of just under £12,000 annually.

Generally, raising a child gets more expensive as they get older. Things like food, clothing, public transport, pocket money, personal grooming – these all tend to increase as a child makes their way to adulthood.

Where you land on this scale depends largely on your budget – let’s explain. We broke the spending estimates into three categories: low budget, average and high budget. Low budget is essentially the bare minimum, the amount we estimate for a comfortable upbringing. Naturally, it doesn’t include luxuries like private healthcare or regular, expensive holidays.

The average figure includes what our research shows to be a reasonable spend to raise a child in the UK. There are plenty of luxuries present, but none are extensive and elements like the cost of food are kept within reasonable parameters. Finally, the high budget is towards the top end of what you could expect to spend on a child. It includes elements like expensive sports clubs, plenty of holidays and all the latest devices/consoles.

Some notable expenses

Calculating the cost of a child in 2022 is a very different process to, say, 15 years ago. Modern entertainment is such that subscription services and online gaming are now part of the majority of children’s needs. Whether it’s Netflix or PlayStation Plus, keeping up with the latest trend is now very much an online activity.

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We have estimated that, even between the ages of 6 and 8, the average child will have subscriptions totalling £916.92, over £300 a year. Naturally, some of these services have replaced other expensive outgoings like movie rentals, but by the time the child is between the ages of 15 and 18, the figure rises to an average of £1,222 – over £400 a year.


The cost of electronic devices themselves is relevant here, too. Despite being irregular purchases, we’ve calculated the cost of of devices based on the percentage of children that own them and the regularity with which they need to be replaced. The years of 15 to 18, for example, will see some £250 spent on games consoles, £389 spent on smartphones and £529 spent on a computer/laptop. These are expenses that can vary based on the quality of the product, but it’s a noteworthy average figure.


Another interesting expense is food, principally because it becomes progressively more expensive as the child gets older. Food grows in cost from an average of £2,700 for the ages of 0 to 3 (£675 per year) to a huge £9,959 (£2,489 per year) on average for the period of 15 to 18. Of course, food can be bought on a budget, but the rising cost of living could mean that this figure grows in the coming years.


Let’s explain a little bit about the methodology we used to arrive at our figures. Separating the spending into three budgetary categories is just the beginning – every cost imaginable in the average child’s upbringing has been accounted for and taken from a reputable source.

The methodology is necessarily granular. Let’s take clothing as an example. The price can vary wildly, so we took a number of factors into consideration, like age, gender and whether the clothing is branded or not. This was then applied to the regularity with which clothing has to be replaced to arrive at a figure for each age group.

As for subscriptions, we had to consider the services that were deemed necessary or standard (either socially or educationally) and those that constituted a luxury. For example, the likes of online gaming and Netflix were among the ‘standard’ subscriptions, along with things like Microsoft Office. Those that were considered something of a luxury were Sky Kids and Disney Plus.

We also considered both preconception costs and costs associated with pregnancy. These include everything from pregnancy-specific clothing and supplements to a pram, which many people buy in advance. We found that this period costs at least £1,500, and is therefore not an insignificant expense to consider, particularly when deciding when it is you want to try for a child.

Finally, we are also aware that parenting very rarely stops at 18. There will be costs we haven’t included in our report, with many subscriptions and trip costs, to name a couple, continuing well into a child’s 20s. We’ve drawn the line at 18 to give as accurate a figure as possible, but the ongoing costs are something to consider.

If you want to give your child the best possible start in life, consider opening a JISA on their behalf. You can save up to £9,000 every year tax-free, with a stocks and shares portfolio that’s designed to grow savings over the long term. Find out more here.

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Capital at risk. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.

*Capital at risk. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.