How much are you paying for utilities?

Depending on where the moving adventure takes you, the cost of utilities can play a significant role in your overall home costs, and most importantly affect your family’s budgeting. This can be particularly true in less expensive areas; in fact, a family can spend just as much on utilities as they do on their mortgage payments!

How is this even possible? Utilities are a hidden cost of housing that a family should realize before moving, and evaluating utility costs in different areas can help a family better understand their future budget.

Utility Spending Breakdown

Nationally, UtilityScore found that people in single family homes spend roughly $2,715 annually on utilities, which equates to $226 per month. With that, some metros have a surprisingly low utility spending that may surprise families who are moving. With Miami’s heat, most assume utility costs would be high, however the metro averages only $157.17 a month. In fact, it was found that climate isn’t the only factor of a steep utility bill. Other metros with utility costs that fall below the national average include Dayton, Denver, and Anaheim.

Metros with Higher Utility Budgets

Some metros may also fall close to the national utility spending average, yet their estimated monthly mortgage payments are uncomfortably comparable. For example, families living in Detroit are in for a rude awakening when they learn comparison of utility spending to mortgage spending. A single family will spend $227.29 on their monthly utility payment, which meets the national average, but let’s not rejoice so fast. An average single-family home in Detroit is $53,930, which equates to an average mortgage spending of $277.99 per month. Because utilities and mortgage payments are practically the same in Detroit, utility spending becomes a much bigger portion of the household budget for families. Therefore, families have to budget more for utilities than anywhere else.

The Atlanta metro is another area that may have residents on tighter household budgets. Of the 100 largest metro areas in the country, Atlanta has the most expensive median annual utilities by dollar amount. Families average $4,353 per year on utilities, or $362.75 per month. The metro also ranks in the cities where utilities play a bigger part in a family’s monthly budget. An Atlanta homeowner spends $169,516 on a home, which creates a monthly mortgage payment of $873.46 for families. In total, 29.3 percent of monthly payments (mortgage plus utilities) are credited to utilities, which is the third highest metro.

Where Do Utilities Become Less of a Budget Priority?

Not to fear, there are metros where utilities are a smaller part of a family’s monthly budget. Major cities in California are included in this list, some being: San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Oakland. Let’s look at those living in San Diego, for example. Monthly utility bills project $288.00 and estimated monthly mortgage payments are roughly $2,769.26. The combined monthly spending for a family living in America’s Finest City equate to $3,057.26, which puts utility spending at only 9.4% of the monthly budget.

While a family’s household budget isn’t overtaken by utilities for those living in California, families have to spend more time worrying about mortgage payments. After all, an average home price in San Diego is $537,444, and that is nothing compared to San Francisco. Don’t underestimate the power of hidden costs like utilities when it comes to your overall home costs. While you might be spending less overall, it’s important to ask how much are you spending on each costing factor.


Katie BassettKatie is a freelance blogger based in San Diego who is inspired by all things around her. Using this, along with a passion for writing, she covers a wide array of topics within the real estate industry as well as the overall lifestyle for millennials. Katie’s work is published on Inman, Trulia and other real estate sites. You can follow her on Twitter @bassett_katie.

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