What Is The Cost Of Living In Delaware? (Taxes, Housing, & More)

Cost of Living in Delaware

Delaware is rich with American history, as is evidenced by its nickname, “The First State.” It was the first state to ratify the US constitution in 1787, becoming the first state in the nation. 

Delaware’s 102.7 score on a cost of living index is slightly higher than the US average of 100. Although living costs vary from city to city, overall, a family of four would need about $7,700/month to live comfortably. However, certain cities like Pike Creek are more expensive (115.6), while others are lower, like Dover (93.6).

Still, even with a higher cost of living, almost one million people call Delaware home. However, before you decide to move, it’s a good idea to know the potential impact on your wallet. Check out the costs of housing, taxes, transportation, and more if you’re thinking about making Delaware your home too.

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Housing Costs in Delaware

Delaware’s housing costs have a wide range, as you can see from the numbers on the cost of living index. For example, housing costs in Pike Creek are a whopping 133.4, despite overall living costs lower than the state. 

Conversely, the capital city of Dover has a significantly lower number for housing costs, 74.7. Considering this broad-spectrum, where you live in Delaware matters when it comes to your pocketbook. 

About 69.2% of Delaware’s population own their homes, while approximately 30.8% rent. The state’s median home price is $255,300 but swings from low to high as you travel to various cities.

Home Ownership in Delaware

Over the past five years, Delaware’s annual home appreciation rate is 3.45%, about on par with the national average. However, the state has seen some significant boosts in home prices over the past quarter, averaging at 8.8%. 

The majority of homes in Delaware fall within the $231,000 and $237,000 range. However,  about 15.2% of homes fall below $57,000, with about 2% topping one million. Depending on where you choose to live, you might end up with a huge mortgage or, rather affordable housing.

Another factor to consider when looking at home prices is your income capacity. Often in areas with higher housing costs, the median income might be higher as well. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s essential to know the numbers and consider all of your options. 

Delaware’s median income is $64,805, but as with most things, this figure changes depending on the city. This chart lays out the median home price and income for popular cities in Delaware.

Median Home Prices and Income in Popular Delaware Cities

City Median Home Price Median Income
Dover $175,900 $49,714
Pike Creek $338,200 $114,865
Newark $274,900 $57,391
New Castle $195,400 $63,573
Smyrna $187,800 $61,220
Milford $184,600 $49,602
Delaware City $184,100 $56,833
Middletown $288,400 $89,354
Georgetown $218,900 $48,221
Wilmington $169,400 $42,854

Rental Costs in Delaware

If you’re thinking about saving money by renting instead of owning, consider Delaware’s average rent is a whopping $1,547. However, that’s just an overall average for the state. In some cities, owning might be more affordable than renting and vice versa.

Average Rent by Bedroom Size in Delaware Compared to the United States

Bedroom Size Delaware Cost Per Month United States Cost Per Month
Studio $812 $821
One-Bedroom $929 $930
Two-Bedroom $1,136 $1,148
Three-Bedroom $1,504 $1,537
Four-Bedroom $1,730 $1,791

Of course, you can snag a lower rent in certain areas, so weigh all of your options.

Here’s a glance at the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in some popular Delaware cities.

Median Rent for a Two-Bedroom in Popular Delaware Cities

City Median Rent Per Month
Dover $1,053
Pike Creek $1,277
Newark $1,220
New Castle $1,277
Smyrna $1,040
Milford $895
Delaware City $1,150
Middletown $1,370
Georgetown $1,010
Wilmington $1,176

The Cost of Utilities in Delaware

Delaware’s overall utilities cost far exceeds the national average on the cost of living index, at 105.2.  Here’s a snapshot of the average costs of basic utilities for the state as a whole, including cable and internet. 

Average Utility Costs in Delaware

Utility Average Cost Per Month
Electric $114
Basic Internet Plan $30
Natural Gas $80
Cable $40
Water $45
Overall Utilities $309

Tax Rates in Delaware

While Delaware’s cost of living might be high compared to other states, it doesn’t impose a sales tax. No matter what you purchase or where, you won’t pay sales tax in Delaware. 

However, you will pay tax on things like gas, cigarettes, and alcohol. Taxes on gas are 23 cents per gallon, and you’ll pay $2.10 in taxes for a 20-pack of cigarettes. For alcohol, excise taxes on beer are 26 cents a gallon and $4.50 per gallon for liquor.

Property taxes in Delaware are some of the lowest in the country. They average $1,078, which is about 0.43% of a home’s value. The small state consists of only three counties, each featuring a different property tax.

A Closer Look at Delaware Property Tax Rates

County Average Property Tax Percent of Home Value
New Castle County $1,385 0.55%
Kent County $833 0.40%
Sussex County $662 0.27%

Delaware income taxes align well with the rest of the state’s taxes; they’re fairly low. However, the top rate of 6.6% is slightly above the average in the country. Also, some cities, like Wilmington, levy a separate income tax for people who live or work in the city.

Also worth noting, the tax brackets are the same for all types of filers. In other words, whether you file single, married filing jointly, or head of household, your tax bracket is the same.

Income Tax Brackets for All Filers

DelawareTaxable Income Rate
$0 – $2,000 0%
$2,001 – $5,000 2.20%
$5,001 – $10,000 3.90%
$10,001 – $20,000 4.80%
$20,001 – $25,000 5.20%
$25,001 – $60,000 5.55%
$60,001+ 6.60%

Food Costs in Delaware

Like many things in Delaware, grocery costs also fall above the national average. On the cost of living index, food costs come in at 105.9, compared to the US average of 100.

In general, your food budget should be 11% of your annual income, 6% for groceries and 5% for dining out. Since Delaware’s median income is $64,805, a typical food budget might be about $7,128 per year. 

Here’s a look at what you could expect to pay for common food items in various Delaware cities.

Costs of Popular Food Items in Various Delaware Cities

Food Item Dover Wilmington Newark
A Dozen Eggs $1.22 $2.20 $2.47
1 Gallon Milk $4.03 $3.53 $3.23
Fast-Food Combo Meal $4.62 $6.50 $6
1 Loaf of Bread $2.39 $2.24 $2.24
1 Pint Domestic Beer $5 $3.25 $4.25
Basic Meal Out $15 $15 $13

Schooling Costs in Delaware

If you have children, tuition costs can have a major impact on your budget. Private school costs are high in the state for both elementary and high schools.

Or, if you plan to attend college in the state, you need to plan for those expenses.  For colleges, tuition and fees average about $9,161 for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay an average of $21,604.

The University of Delaware has the highest tuition and fees, costing about $35,710 annually. You can find some of the lowest college tuition at Wilmington University, about $11,480 a year.

Average Delaware Private School Tuition Costs by Grade Level

Grade Level Average Tuition Costs Per Year
Preschool/Elementary School $10,248
High School $11,673

The private school with the highest tuition is Tower Hill School in Wilmington (Pk-12th), costing $31,900. Milford Christian School has some of the lowest tuition costs, about $4,000, and is for PK-12th grades.

Childcare costs are also high in Delaware. They average roughly $918 a month for an infant to a young toddler. For older toddlers to roughly four-years-old, daycare costs average about $740 per month.  

Transportation Costs in Delaware

Although lower than the national average, Delaware’s transportation costs are still pretty high at 95.8 on the index.

Most households in Delaware own two cars. The average car insurance premium for full-coverage in Delaware is high, coming in around $1,959. However, if you opt for the minimum coverage, you would pay roughly $843.

Gas prices average about $2.48 a gallon, and the average commute is roughly 24.9 minutes. Approximately 79.6% of commuters choose to drive alone instead of carpool or take public transit. Drivers pay an average of $1,632.90 a year on gas and $386.12 on car repairs.

Related Questions

What are healthcare costs in Delaware?

Delaware is pretty expensive when it comes to healthcare, falling at 115.7 on the cost of living index. While premiums vary based on coverage and age, they’re pretty hefty across the board.

You can always opt for bare-bones coverage, especially if you’re healthy and young. For example, you can get a catastrophic plan for as low as $237 a month for a 21-year-old. The same plan would run roughly $303 for a 40-year-old and $643 for a 60-year-old. 

However, a gold plan would cost a 21-year-old about $420 per month. The same plan would cost a 40-year-old about $529 and a 60-year-old about $1,123.

What is the crime rate like in Delaware?

Although Delaware’s crime rate might appear less than other states, it’s still above the national median. This could be partly due to its small size and smaller population compared to other states. 

Your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in the state are 1 in 237. Your chances of becoming a victim of a property crime are about 1 in 44. 

Delaware reports about 4,115 violent crimes in a year and about 21,931 property crimes.

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Summing It Up

Delaware has an overall high cost of living compared to the US average, but you’ll save on taxes. With some of the lowest property taxes in the country and no sales tax, this helps offset some other costs. Plus, depending on your city of choice, costs can range significantly, so get to know your options. 

Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent’s former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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