Raising a child is more expensive than buying a house, new research has revealed. From birth to the age of 21, our offspring cost us a whopping £231,843 – that’s £12,500 more than the average price of a semi-detached house.

The figures come from insurance firm LV=, which has just published its 13th annual ‘Cost of a Child’ report.

Childcare costs went up by 4.3% over the past year

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most expensive years are between the ages of one and four, with childcare amounting to almost a third (30%) of the total cost.

Childcare costs increased by 4.3% over the past year, making it the second biggest expense after education.

Research by LV= found that 61% of parents ask friends and family to babysit in order to save some money, but nearly half (47%) say people are less available than in previous years.

One in seven (15%) say they have to pay for a babysitter more than once a week, rising to half (52%) of those in London.

The average annual cost of raising a child now takes up 38% of the average UK household’s net income and 59% of parents admit they’re struggling to manage their outgoings.

More than half of parents are struggling to manage their outgoings

The total cost has gone up by more than £2,000 since last year and by more than £91,000 – or 61% – since the first ‘Cost of a Child’ report was published in 2003.

London is the most expensive place to raise a child, with the average cost now more than a quarter of a million pounds (£253,638). Yorkshire and Humber is the least expensive region at £214,559 followed by Wales at £215,144.

LV= found that despite the costs involved in raising a child, half of parents don’t have a plan in place should the main breadwinner lose their income due to accident or illness.

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Myles Rix, managing director, protection at LV= said: “The cost of raising a child is at an all-time high and, with the price-tag of childcare continuing to rise, family incomes are being stretched even further.

“An unforeseen illness or accident could have a huge impact on family finances and we would urge parents to ensure they have a plan in place to guard against a sudden loss of income, for example taking out an income protection product.”