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Delaware Cost of Living [2023] đź’° | Average Cost of Living in Delaware [State, Cities & Towns]

Is living in Delaware in your future? Known for its historic landmarks and gorgeous coastline and beaches, Delaware is a great place to live but you may have an important question: is it expensive to live in Delaware?

Cost of living is a major concern when relocating. The good news is the cost of living in Delaware isn’t much higher than the national average, offering affordability within one of the country’s largest metro areas.

Here’s what you can expect with the Delaware cost of living with an in-depth look at the Delaware living cost by metro area and city and how it compares to the national average.

Cost of Living in Delaware – Delaware Cost of Living Index (State + Metro)

A good place to start learning about the cost of living is by comparing the Delaware cost of living index (COLI) to the national average.

The Delaware cost of living index is 108 according to C2ER’s 2021 Cost of Living Index data. That means the state is about 8% more expensive than the national average.

Here’s how the average cost of living in Delaware breaks down in comparison to the national average (100). Note that the weight is added to each index or category – this is based on consumer expenditures in the region, or the share of the typical household budget, for executive and professional households.

Delaware Cost of Living Comparison

Index + Weight Delaware Wilmington metro Dover metro
Cost of Living Index 108 111.2 104.6
Grocery Index 114 115.3 112.8
Housing Index 103 112.1 94.2
Utilities Index 97 89.6 103.5
Transportation Index 113 122.5 103.1
Health Care Index 106 118.6 93.9
Misc. Goods & Services Index 112 111.4 113.1

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Delaware? | Average Living Expenses & More

To put the Delaware cost of living in better perspective, it helps to understand how much you need to earn to afford the Delaware living cost and what you’ll pay for common expenses and goods.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, here are Delaware personal consumption expenditures for 2021, the most recent year available.

Delaware Consumer Expenditures (Per Capita)

Total annual consumer expenditures $51,113
Motor vehicles and parts $2,308
Furniture, appliances, tools, and durable home goods $1,604
Recreational goods and vehicles $1,804
Other durable goods (jewelry, etc) $967
Food and beverages (groceries) $3,645
Clothing and shoes $1,427
Gasoline and energy costs $1,349
Other non-durable goods (tobacco, personal care, etc) $4,001
Housing and utilities $9,270
Health care $9,064
Transportation services $1,083
Food services (restaurants and food/drinks outside the home) $3,449
Financial services and insurance $3,783
Other services (household maintenance, education, etc) $4,494

Typical Living Expenses in Delaware

It may be helpful to see how average prices in Delaware compare to where you live now. Here are the cost of typical expenses according to C2ER’s Cost of Living Index.

Delaware Living Cost Comparison – Average Cost of Goods

  Dover metro Wilmington metro United States
1 lb ribeye steak $12.44 $11.87 $12.82
Half-gallon milk $2.76 $2.91 $2.22
Dozen eggs $1.85 $1.89 $1.57
Loaf of bread $3.72 $4.08 $3.47
Home payment (principal + interest) $1,062 $1,184 $1,245
Electricity $91.58 $89.24 $100.83
Total energy/utility bill $186.75 $144.41 $69.67

Doxo offers more insight into the Delaware cost of living with average monthly bills by region. Wilmington residents spend $2,127 per month on bills, 6.2% more than the national average, with an average utility bill of $335. In Newark, households pay $2,170/month in bills and $342/month for utilities while Milford residents pay just slightly more at $2,185/month. The cities with the most affordable cost of living in Delaware in terms of bills? Dover ($1,925/month) and Smyrna ($2,012/month).

Delaware Living Wage & Income Needed

How much do you need to earn to afford the Delaware cost of living? According to the MIT Living Wage calculator, a single adult working full time needs to earn $17.36 an hour to support himself. The Living Wage is much lower in Sussex County ($15.85) and close in Kent County ($17.33), New Castle County ($17.99), and the Dover metro area ($17.17).

With one child, the Delaware Living Wage increases to $35.73. In a household with two working adults and two children, the Living Wage each adult needs to earn is $24.97.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator offers another way to look at the average cost of living in Delaware. For a modest standard of living, a family of four needs $7,178 per month ($86,134 per year) in the Salisbury metro area, Dover metro area, and Kent County. The cost of living in New Castle County is higher: $7,799 per month ($93,590/year).

Home Prices in Delaware

As a home buyer in Delaware, what can you expect? The average home price in Delaware is $457,875 according to Redfin, almost 9% higher than the U.S. average home price of $421,715. Prices are up 4.2% year-over-year but sales have dropped 33%. While the Wilmington cost of living is generally higher than the rest of the state, it has the most affordable median home price, but most homes sold are townhomes, not single-family homes.

What’s the cheapest place to live in Delaware and buy a home? Here are median home prices throughout the state to help you decide where to live in Delaware.

Delaware Home Prices

  Median Home Price Price Per Square Foot
Delaware (state) $457,875 $203
Rehoboth Beach $995,000 $297
Lewes $632,000 $282
Sussex County $508,900 $236
Middletown $447,900 $195
Newark $447,450 $184
New Castle County $400,000 $191
Kent County $391,500 $185
Dover $275,000 $168
Wilmington $259,900 $194

Average Rent in Delaware

How much is rent in Delaware? The Delaware average rent of $1,613 is about 5% lower than the US average of $1,702 according to Rentcafe. The average Delaware apartment of 916 square feet is also slightly larger than the national average so your money goes even farther.

Average Rent in Delaware

U.S. Average Rent $1,702
Delaware Average Rent $1,613
Average Rent in Newark Delaware $1,606
Average Rent in Dover Delaware $1,600
Average Rent in New Castle Delaware $1,508
Average Rent in Wilmington Delaware $1,506

Delaware may have below-average rent, but a 2023 report ranked it one of the worst states for rent hikes. Delaware rent prices rose 14.5% year-over-year by the end of 2022. That’s the 5th highest annual rent increase in the country.

Nationwide, rent prices have finally been declining after reaching an all-time high exceeding $2,000 in May of 2022 and remaining there for over a year. December 2022 was the first time in 17 months the annual rent growth rate dropped below 5%.

Rent hikes in Delaware are at least easing. In July 2023, the average rent in Delaware was up 3.37% year-over-year.

According to the Out of Reach report, the Delaware Housing Wage is $26.09 for a two-bedroom apartment or $21.39 for a one-bedroom apartment. The annual income needed is $44,490 for a one-bedroom rental or $54,269 for a two-bedroom unit. That’s how much the NLIHC estimates a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment in Delaware at HUD’s Fair Market Rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

By comparison, the US Housing Wage is $23.67 for a one-bedroom and $28.58 for a two-bedroom rental.

HUD publishes FMRs regularly which estimate the cost of gross rent (including utilities) on 40% of rental units in an area.

Like most of the country, apartments for rent in Delaware are more affordable than buying a home, despite rising rent prices. Mortgage rates have doubled from 2022 which have increased mortgage payments for home buyers by around 50%.

Average Income in Delaware

Cost of living information doesn’t take you too far if you don’t know typical earnings! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in Delaware is $30.50 with average weekly earnings of $1,431 for the first quarter of 2023. That gives you an average salary in Delaware of $74,412. By comparison, the U.S. average hourly wage is $29.76 with an average weekly wage of $1,465.

Delaware average income varies widely by region though! New Castle County is the most affluent area of Delaware with one of the highest weekly wages in the 11-county Philadelphia metro area. Here’s BLS wage and income data for Delaware and how it compares to the national average.

Delaware Cost of Living – Average Income in Delaware

  Mean hourly wage Average weekly wage Mean annual income
U.S. $29.76 $1,465 $76,180
Delaware $30.50 $1,431 $74,412
Wilmington area $31.01 $1,557 $80,964
New Castle County $31.01 $1,621 $84,292
Kent County $24.90 $1,019 $52,988
Sussex County $24.34 $1,028 $53,456

Delaware Taxes – Income, Sales & Property Tax in Delaware

Taxes are an important but often overlooked aspect of the cost of living in Delaware. With no state or local income tax, moderate income tax rates, and one of the country’s lowest effective property tax rates, the Delaware cost of living is even more affordable than you may think!

Taxes in Delaware at a Glance

Sales Tax (State + Local) N/A
Delaware Income Tax 2.20% to 6.60% + local income taxes
Effective Property Tax Rate 0.59%
Cigarette Tax $2.10 per 20-pack
Delaware Gasoline Tax $0.23 per gallon
Delaware Beer Tax $0.26 per gallon (4.7% ABV beer in 12 oz containers)
Distilled Spirits Tax $4.50 per 40% ABV spirits (750ml)*

*Delaware applies different tax rates to distilled spirits based on production location, container size, and alcohol content

Tax benefits of living in Delaware go beyond low property taxes and no sales tax. Delaware is famously tax-friendly, not only for businesses but also seniors and workers. It’s one of just five states with no sales tax and one of seven states without tangible personal property tax on goods like automobiles.

Here’s why retiring in Delaware is so popular:

  • No state income tax on Social Security benefits
  • Up to $12,500 in pension income excluded from income taxes (for retirees 60+)
  • No estate or inheritance tax
  • No personal property tax on vehicles, boats, and RVs

The low Delaware property tax rate also makes the state appealing for home buyers. The effective property tax rate of 0.59% is the 9th lowest in the country! This tax rate is based on American Community Survey (ACS) data from the Census Bureau.

Delaware Property Tax

  Delaware United States
Effective tax rate 0.59% 1.10%
Median property tax bill $1,570 $2,690
Average property tax bill $2,185 $3,803

Above, you can see how the effective Delaware property tax rate compares to the national average. Note that these numbers were based on median property taxes paid and median home prices according to the 2021 ACS. The average tax bill is based on current average home prices – not median prices.

The Delaware cost of living may be a bit higher than average, but you’ll enjoy low taxes, big-city amenities, and some of the best beaches in the Mid-Atlantic! If you’re ready to make Delaware your home, give the Delaware movers at First-Rate Movers a call today for a free moving quote!

Brian Tustin
Brian Tustin is the owner of First-Rate Movers™. Brian has over 20 years of experience in the Hospitality Industry in addition to he and his teams combined 30+ years of experience in the moving and relocation services niche. Since 2016 First-Rate Movers™ has served 1000's of residents here in Delavere and is honored to continue serving our community with the absolute best experience for anyone moving in and around Delaware.
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