The Cost of Living for a Single Mom with Two Children in Chicago

Manoj Prasad

Living as a single mom in a major city can be challenging, particularly when it comes to managing finances.

This article provides a detailed analysis of the cost of living for a single mom with two children in Chicago, Illinois, comparing it to New York City to offer a broader perspective.

This comprehensive breakdown includes income, expenses, and insights on making informed financial decisions.

Monthly Income

Income Sources

  • Salary: $5,200
  • Child Support: $500
  • Child Tax Credit: $600

Total Monthly Income: $6,300

In Chicago, the average monthly income for a single mom with two children, including child support and child tax credit, totals $6,000. This figure is consistent with common financial scenarios faced by single parents in urban areas.

Monthly Expenses

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the monthly expenses for a single mom with two children in Chicago:

1. Housing Costs

  • Rent: $2100 (for a 60m² furnished studio in a normal area)
  • Renter’s Insurance: $20

2. Utilities

  • Electricity: $111

3. Groceries

  • Groceries: $900

4. Transportation

  • Car Insurance: $150
  • Car Loan: $400
  • Gasoline: $200

5. Communication

  • Phone: $70

6. Child Care and Education

  • Child Care: $2,162 (monthly cost, based on the annual cost of $12,964 per child)
  • College Savings Plan (529): $200 (for two children)

7. Insurance and Savings

  • Life Insurance: $100
  • Savings: $300

8. Personal Care and Self-Care

  • Self Care: $100

Total Monthly Expenses: $6,813

Money Left: -$513

Financial Insights

Based on the above estimates, a single mom with two children in Chicago would struggle significantly to cover all her expenses, ending up with a deficit of $500 monthly.

This suggests that substantial financial adjustments are necessary to maintain a stable and manageable budget. Here are some strategies and insights to consider:

1. Housing Adjustments

Housing is the largest expense, making up a significant portion of the budget. Exploring more affordable housing options or considering shared accommodations can help reduce this cost.

2. Child Care Options

Child care costs are substantial. Investigating employer-provided child care, local community programs, or shared child care arrangements with other single parents might offer some financial relief.

3. Transportation Alternatives

Reducing car expenses by using public transportation, carpooling, or even cycling can help cut down on costs. Chicago’s public transportation system is robust and can be a cost-effective alternative.

4. Groceries and Meal Planning

Efficient meal planning and shopping for groceries in bulk can help manage and reduce the $900 monthly grocery bill. Utilizing local farmers’ markets and discount stores can also provide savings.

Comparison with New York City

For context, let’s compare these estimates with the cost of living for a single mom with two children in New York City.

Expense CategoryNew York CityChicago
Car Insurance$150$150
Car Loan$400$400
Renter’s Insurance$50$20
Child Care$1,200$2,162
College Savings$200$200
Life Insurance$100$100
Self Care$200$100
Money Left-$1,480-$513

New York City’s higher rent and slightly lower child care costs contrast with Chicago’s more affordable rent but higher child care expenses. This comparison highlights the importance of carefully considering various cost factors when budgeting for urban living.


Navigating the cost of living as a single mom with two children in Chicago requires careful planning and financial management.

By understanding and adjusting housing, child care, and transportation expenses, single moms can better manage their budgets and achieve financial stability.

For more detailed cost of living information in Chicago, consider resources like Expatistan and

Key Takeaways

  • Income: Total monthly income of $6,300.
  • Expenses: Monthly expenses of $6,813.
  • Deficit: $513 shortfall, highlighting the need for financial adjustments.
  • Strategies: Explore more affordable housing, child care alternatives, and transportation options.

Managing expenses in a city like Chicago can be challenging, but with careful planning and strategic adjustments, single moms can navigate the financial landscape more effectively.

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