2016’s Best & Worst Cities for Singles
Finding love is part willingness and part geography: You can only be so determined to have a happily ever after; your zip code has to meet you halfway. As of 2015, about 109 million, or 45 percent, of the U.S. adult population are single, including the individual components of the now-defunct Brangelina. (Yes, they are Hollywood A-listers who may never even know your name, let alone that you exist. But dreams can come true, right?)
The only problem with being a member of such a large unmarried group, informally known as “America’s Singles Club,” is that your prospects need to live within a drivable or walkable distance — unless you and your future beau can tolerate a completely or partially virtual relationship. Hey, we’re not judging.
Regardless of your preference, know that WalletHub is cheering for you. With your love life in mind, our data team compared the 150 most populated U.S. cities based on 29 key indicators of a location that’s friendly toward a single-but-looking status. Our data set ranges from “share of single population” to “number of online dating opportunities” to “nightlife options per capita.” Continue reading below for the winners, expert dating advice and a full description of our methodology.
Best Cities for Singles
‘Dating Economics’ Rank
‘Romance & Fun’ Rank
‘Dating Opportunities’ Rank
|1||San Francisco, CA||70.21||123||4||3|
|4||San Diego, CA||65.61||97||18||4|
|7||Las Vegas, NV||63.83||136||1||12|
|10||Los Angeles, CA||60.73||144||29||6|
|14||Salt Lake City, UT||57.52||32||14||21|
|26||New York, NY||52.70||150||17||15|
|27||Fort Lauderdale, FL||52.69||78||12||48|
|38||St. Louis, MO||50.25||98||27||39|
|39||Baton Rouge, LA||50.06||109||33||31|
|40||New Orleans, LA||50.01||99||13||72|
|42||San Jose, CA||49.37||46||54||44|
|44||St. Paul, MN||49.04||66||52||40|
|46||Sioux Falls, SD||48.64||6||137||50|
|49||Grand Rapids, MI||47.88||65||55||61|
|55||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||47.42||83||70||41|
|56||Long Beach, CA||47.40||126||46||38|
|57||Garden Grove, CA||47.08||121||37||57|
|59||Jersey City, NJ||46.90||117||49||43|
|60||Santa Rosa, CA||46.85||118||21||83|
|64||St. Petersburg, FL||46.23||42||25||125|
|65||Colorado Springs, CO||46.20||31||61||104|
|68||Des Moines, IA||46.07||24||124||87|
|71||San Antonio, TX||45.74||41||120||69|
|72||Overland Park, KS||45.73||10||99||112|
|79||Virginia Beach, VA||45.08||68||66||91|
|81||Corpus Christi, TX||44.97||26||102||106|
|82||San Bernardino, CA||44.95||138||118||34|
|83||Santa Ana, CA||44.92||116||69||60|
|90||Kansas City, MO||44.67||34||87||108|
|92||Chula Vista, CA||44.39||105||104||53|
|94||Huntington Beach, CA||44.30||133||36||93|
|111||Little Rock, AR||42.68||62||148||92|
|113||Fort Worth, TX||42.65||77||108||105|
|115||Oklahoma City, OK||42.57||43||114||122|
|118||Newport News, VA||42.27||90||82||117|
|119||Grand Prairie, TX||41.80||55||126||112|
|120||Cape Coral, FL||41.47||2||93||136|
|122||North Las Vegas, NV||41.29||124||127||81|
|130||Fort Wayne, IN||40.30||15||140||141|
|132||El Paso, TX||40.17||29||83||144|
|133||Santa Clarita, CA||39.84||102||134||120|
|145||Moreno Valley, CA||36.60||139||119||130|
|146||Pembroke Pines, FL||36.01||54||95||149|
|147||Port St. Lucie, FL||35.77||20||150||148|
Ask the Experts
The dating scene in each city is unique. Some offer plenty of options for singles, whereas others are friendlier toward other lifestyles. In every situation, cost and budget will play a key role in finding your soul mate. We therefore turned to a panel of experts for advice on money, examining the characteristics of a prospective city to call home and drawing singles to those areas. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- What financial advice do you have targeted to singles?
- What should singles be looking for when choosing a city?
- What tips do you have for dating on a budget?
- Are singles typically a net economic gain or loss for cities?
- Should local authorities work to make cities more attractive to singles? If so, how?
It's pretty simple: Look for cities that have a lot of other single people! More specifically, look for neighborhoods where single people are concentrated. They tend to have more public life, more places that draw you out of your apartment and into the social world. Many nights you'll want to use your home as a launching pad, not just a place to hunker down. Living close to other people in your situation makes that easier.
Are singles typically a net economic gain or loss for cities?
A big gain for overall spending, but they have a mixed effect on quality of life. Single people are more likely than married people to go out to bars, coffee shops, restaurants, gyms, bookstores, and concerts. That makes cities a lot more dynamic. Singles help drive urban economies, but they also help drive up the cost of real estate, which makes city living hard on working-class families.
A major financial advantage of being married is being able to pool your resources with another adult. Living with other people is often much cheaper per person than living on your own. Singles can get the same benefits by living with roommates or in house shares with others. Older singles should consider buying a condo or a house where they rent out rooms to roommates. Often people don't consider homeownership until after marriage, but as young adults these days wait considerably longer to settle down with a permanent partner compared to decades past, they may spend several years renting when instead they could be building equity in a home that they can later sell or rent out after marriage. Finally, singles often eat out at restaurants or order takeout more than families because they feel it's not worth the effort to cook for themselves, and in general participate more in city nightlife. This can quickly add up to hundreds of extra dollars spent each week. Instead, cook in bulk and eat leftovers for a few days or freeze food for later. Alcohol can also be a major expense when going out to bars, shows, or dinner with friends, so limit your intake or 'pregame' at home if you aren't driving - or just invite friends over for drinks at your place instead.
What should singles be looking for when choosing a city?
Often people move when they are in their 20s and first choosing a career and may not move after that. Singles who are hoping to eventually marry should think about whether that city has other singles, or a mostly older and much younger population made up of families. A thriving nightlife (music shows, art galleries, microbreweries and bars) often indicates a city with plenty of opportunity to meet others singles. They should also, whenever possible, avoid cities where they would not want to live long-term; if you meet a local and marry them, they may not want to move somewhere else, and marriage makes moving much harder in general, as couples balance both of their careers, and finding two jobs in a second location is much harder than finding one.
What tips do you have for dating on a budget?
Singles will go on many more first dates than they will go on second dates, so save the expensive dates for later in a relationship. With shifting gender norms, a man spending hundreds of dollars on a first date can actually be more of a turn off, as women may wonder what exactly he is expecting in return. For a first date, meeting on a weekend afternoon at a coffee shop or going out for ice cream on a first date near a park gives you a chance to get to know each other, with the option of going for a walk in the park if you like the person, and the option of leaving after an hour if you don't. For later dates, cities will have plenty of free places that make great dates, like museums, cultural events like 'First Fridays' and "Shakespeare in the park" and gardens and parks to check out. Hiking in local state or national parks and cooking a special dinner together at home also can make for a fun time on a budget.
Are singles typically a net economic gain or loss for cities?
Singles are typically a net economic gain, because they pay a higher tax rate (including indirectly paying for property taxes via their rent), spend more money on consumables like alcohol and music shows, and do not draw upon services like public schools. However they are less likely to purchase homes, which makes them less personally invested in the success of the city and their own neighborhoods compared to families. And in the long term, cities depend on families to produce a next generation of children who will consume goods, grow up to go to work, and contribute to a healthy economy.
Should local authorities work to make cities more attractive to singles? If so, how?
Cities should consider that young adults often move when they are single but stay in place when they get married. By attracting more singles, those singles will eventually begin to form more young families with each other and settle down in that area, contributing to the continued vibrancy of the local economy. If cities do not attract singles they may instead find themselves with an 'Aging Population' which more heavily depends on social services over time, and which does not have a vibrant young population of workers paying into the tax base without drawing heavily upon its services.
Cities can make themselves more attractive to singles via development of local nightlife and cultural events. They can also form ties with local higher education institutions and local businesses to enable internship and entry level job positions that may attract or retain those graduates and other singles. The availability and affordability of rental properties, one and two bedroom apartments and condos, and small 2 bedroom houses will also be a factor for singles, as will their proximity to walkable nightlife.
Father Paul's Ten Commandments of Personal Finance for Singles
- Thou shalt never take a job just for the money. A secret to true wealth is to work only for love. When you are married, this may mean working for people you love; when you are single, this means doing only what you are passionate about or fulfills you. What productive thing would you do if no one paid you to do it? Do that, and before long you will be earning much more than if you chose the alternative.
- Thou shalt get as much education as thou canst, consistent with thy ability and interests. Yes, it costs too much and borrowing the money for it can be scary. But the word "capital" is related to the Latin "caput", which means "head", and in a capitalist economy, what is in your head -- what you know and how well you can think -- is your primary source of worth and value to a business, your own or someone else's. It is better than gold in a vault, and well worth investing the time in while you are single and flexible.
- Thou shalt pay thy credit card balance in full each month. If you don't do this, your hard-earned dollars are going up in smoke for interest each month, usually a lot of interest. Though it generally permits the modern practice, the Catholic Church has historically opposed interest, called usury, like that charged by credit cards (who are today regulated, and often violate, anti-usury laws in most states), and for good reason. Being forced to work for someone without any benefit to you is the definition of slavery. Personally, I am opposed to slavery, and you should be too, especially your own. If you can't pay off the balance in full every month, thus avoiding paying interest, you should shred that card. It's that simple.
- Thou shalt automatically write a check for (or program the bank account that receives thy paycheck to automatically move) 10% of thy net pay to a savings or mutual fund account each month. If you can save more than this, great, but no one should save less than this. Do this, and don't touch the money, until you have three month's salary saved up (two and a half years). Then you are ready for more focused savings goals. Maintaining savings, and learning to manage it wisely, is your ticket to economic freedom.
- Thou shalt not skip health insurance if thine employer does not provide it. Even if the tax penalty is less than the premiums you would pay, or if Obamacare is repealed so that you pay no penalty, you are risking a lifetime of financial distress if you get seriously ill. It is not worth it. You also put yourself at greater risk of illness or death, since those without health insurance are less likely to seek medical care. Did you know that you can get a policy with a high deductible, like $5,000 or more, that will cost you very little, and protect you against financial disaster?
- Thou shalt contribute to a 401k or 403b retirement plan whatever amount thine employer will match. This is free money! Sure it takes some discipline to forego the dollars that will be matched, but once you sign the papers you will never see it until you need it, so you soon won't miss it. And sure you can't usually withdraw it until you are much older, but you will be very glad you have it then. And the earlier you start putting some it, the more it is worth later. If you pass up contributing to your 401k up to the matched amount, then please withdraw the same amount of money as your employer would put it, in cash, from your bank account each month and burn it somewhere. That is just as stupid.
- Thou shalt keep driving the car thou hast now until it has at least 200,000 miles on it. If you even have to have a car. This comes under heading of resisting consumerism or buying things just for status. The purpose of a car is not to impress your friends or potential romantic interest or to make a statement about your personality, but to transport you from point A to point B. An older car will do that just as well as a newer one. Automobiles today are generally well engineered, safe, and will last a long time; take advantage of that. When you can resist this prime status appeal expense, you are on your way to resisting a universe of fluff purchase appeals. If you want to impress a girl/guy buy her/him flowers/a video game from all the money you will save.
- Thou shalt prepare thine own dinner at home at least five days a week. You will save a boatload of money, and eat healthier and better tasting food. If you can make your own lunch to take to work too, even better. If you are lost how to do this, just get a basic cookbook like Fannie Farmer or Betty Crocker, and follow the directions.
- Thou shalt not co-sign a loan or loan money to anyone thou wouldst not share a toothbrush with. And if you do have a toothbrush-worthy person in your life...
- Thou shalt get married, sooner rather than later. And when you marry, pool your resources fully and jointly with your partner. Okay, so there may be other reasons you are not ready for marriage. But all other things equal, getting married is one of the best financial moves you can make, especially if you are a man. Men who marry experience an income gain of 20% or more, almost immediately, and this "marriage benefit" continues and grows throughout their lives, compared to their counterparts with identical education and background, according to research on the topic. Wealth grows even faster. Women gain too, though in different ways. The reasons may have to do with commandment number one above, economies of scale when two people share resources like home and car, or perhaps with the rationality induced by having two people mutually considering and agreeing on major financial decisions.
I think the most important financial tool that a young single has is the monthly budget. How can you possibly live right at your current pay level if you don’t know how much you spend? Keep track for 1 or 2 months of everything you spend. Since you already use a debit/credit card or Venmo for nearly all of your purchases, all of your transactions are already being tracked for you. Download your debit card transactions and place each in a category (column on a spreadsheet) to arrive at a total for the month. Add your cash and VENMO transactions and voila, you are on your way to financial awareness, which is the first step to financial independence. Once you fully understand your required standard of living, you can begin the process of saving money.
What should singles be looking for when choosing a city?
- I would look for a city with a lot of other singles and/or people my age.
- A city with a lot to do, whether it’s a lot of restaurants, bars, parks, hiking trails, nearby beaches.
- A city that’s easy to get around in! When you’re on the go a lot – it’s important to be able to get places quickly and with ease. An example would be using Uber/Lyft in a city like SF or Chicago, makes it easy to get to another part of town for relatively quick at all hours.
- A city with an airport that’s easy to get to – makes it easier to travel more frequently (1 hour or less to airport is ideal).
- Start with drinks, fairly cheap and gives you a chance to see if you both want a second date before investing in a dinner with someone you aren’t into.
- Parks are an easy cheap place to have a date - bring a bottle of wine and a picnic.
- Happy Hours or places with drink specials.
- Cooking - eating in is always less expensive and can make for a fun date.
I would say gain. Cities with a lot of singles and young people often attract more singles and young people to live there.
Singles also tend to be active and spend money in their community (brunches, nights out, dinners, movies, even going to the tourists’ sites).
In order to identify the best cities for singles, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) Dating Economics, 2) Romance & Fun and 3) Dating Opportunities.
We evaluated those dimensions using 29 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for singles.
Finally, we calculated the overall score for each city based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to rank the cities accordingly.
In determining our sample, we considered only the city proper in each case and excluded cities in the surrounding metro area.
Dating Economics - Total Points: 25
- Restaurant-Meal Costs: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Average Beer & Wine Price: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Movie Costs: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Taxi-Fare Cost: Half Weight (~ 1.00 Points)
- Average Monthly Fitness-Club Fee: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Beauty-Salon Costs: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Haircut Costs: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Average Party-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Median Annual Household Income: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted by the cost of living.
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
Note: This metric was measured using the rent of a one-bedroom apartment (adjusted by the median annual household income).
- Job Growth Rate: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Overall Well-Being Index: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~ 2.00 Points)
Romance & Fun - Total Points: 25
- Number of Restaurants per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Number of Cafés per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
Note: “Attractions” include, for instance, museums, cultural performances and zoos.
- Number of Parks per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- City Accessibility: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Number of Nightlife Options per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Crime Rate: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Number of Shopping Centers per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
- Number of Wellness & Spa Centers per Capita: Full Weight (~ 2.27 Points)
Dating Opportunities – Total Points: 50
- Share of Single Population: Double Weight (~ 12.50 Points)
- Singles Gender Balance: Double Weight (~ 12.50 Points)
- Online Dating Opportunities: Full Weight (~ 6.25 Points)
Note: This metric was measured using the percentage of households with a broadband connection.
- Mobile Dating Opportunities: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
Note: This metric was measured using the percentage of adults who own a smartphone.
- “Most Active Tinder Users” Ranking: Double Weight (~ 12.50 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Council for Community and Economic Research, Numbeo, Eventbrite, Esri's Updated Demographics - 2016 estimates (Market Potential: GfK MRI), Department of Housing and Urban Development, Trust for Public Land, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Walk Score, Gallup-Healthways, Tinder and WalletHub research.