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.
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|
|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|
|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|
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|
|Loaf of bread||$3.72||$4.08||$3.47|
|Home payment (principal + interest)||$1,062||$1,184||$1,245|
|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).
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).
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|
|New Castle County||$400,000||$191|
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%.
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|
|New Castle County||$31.01||$1,621||$84,292|
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:
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
|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!
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