The Average Cost of Running a Home

Although costs vary, an average budget should be used for running a home.

Although costs vary, an average budget should be used for running a home.

Before you establish a new home, it’s a good idea to understand what it may cost. According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract from the United States Census Bureau, the average cost of running a household in 2009 was $1,408 per month. That's what you pay before you eat, drive or wear clothes. Of course, there is no such thing as an "average" couple, so your household budget will vary from Joe and Suzy Normal's. But it will probably be fairly close, unless something in your situation -- like living in a hyper-expensive housing market -- distorts your spending pattern.


Whether you rent or own your home, you’ll still need to make a payment to occupy the premises. Census figures list average annual shelter costs at $840 per month (or $10,075 per year) – which includes the cost of the dwelling, taxes, insurance and average repairs. However, where you live and the type of home you occupy can add substantial variation to housing costs. For example, the average price of renting a three-bedroom home can range from as low as $1,020 in San Antonio to as much as $5,968 in New York. If you purchase a home, there are even more variables to consider. Just a modest example of obtaining a $150,000 mortgage with a 5 percent down payment at 6 percent interest would yield principal, interest, taxes and insurance costs of approximately $1,142 per month.

Utilities, Fuels and Public Services

Census figures list the average cost of utilities, fuels and public services for running a home at $304 per month. This includes some form of gas, electric or fuel oil energy consumption, water and telephone services. Here, too, there are many factors that can alter utility costs. For example, the average water consumption for a family of four at 100 gallons per day can cost as low as $34 per month in Phoenix and as high a $65 per month in Boston. Likewise, energy costs can fluctuate based on consumption habits, location and size of a home.

Household and Housekeeping Costs

When you’re budgeting the average cost of home operating expenses, many things need to be considered. Census figures calculate to $84 per month for miscellaneous operating services – like pest control or lawn service. Then another $55 per month may be required for housekeeping supplies such as laundry, cleaning and other household products.

Household Furnishings and Equipment

Each year, families spend approximately $125 per month -- or $1,506 per year -- on household furnishings such as textiles, furniture, flooring and home appliances – both big and small. Although the amount spent may largely be dependent on the occupant's preferences or available income, a well-rounded budget should include provisions for these type of expenses.


About the Author

Terry Mulligan has been writing since 2007. As an accomplished artist, decorator and business professional, she enjoys covering art, decor, business management, real estate, education, computers/software/ERP, animal rescue, cooking and self-improvement. Mulligan holds an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.

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