If you’ve been looking for love without much luck, maybe you’re looking in all the wrong places — and not in the three best cities: Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
As home to the unmarried, the young and the educated, these cities on the East Coast topped NerdWallet’s third annual “Best Cities for Singles” list.
But don’t buy a one-way ticket to our top pick, Boston, just yet — we found plenty of other places around the nation that offer the right combination of supply and social opportunities for singles.
We analyzed 50 of the largest U.S. cities to find the best places for singles. Unfortunately, due to a lack of specific data, our list isn’t able to break out information for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered singles.
By the numbers
70% — Percentage of Washington, D.C., residents who aren’t married.
101 — Number of unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women in San Francisco.
$103 — Number of dollars needed for a nice date in New York City.
Factors we considered
- Availability of singles: To find the best cities for all singles, we looked at the percentage of the population 15 and over that’s unmarried in each city. To find the best cities for single women and single men, we looked at the number of single men per 100 single women and number of single women per 100 single men, respectively.
- Dating affordability: To calculate how much it costs to date, we looked at the price of a three-course meal for two and two movie tickets at a midrange restaurant in each city. We also considered the median earnings for workers to gauge the relative affordability of dating.
- Social scene: We assessed date-friendliness by calculating the number of arts and entertainment businesses and restaurants per 1,000 residents in metro areas. We also included walk scores in this category to evaluate how easy it is to get around and meet people.
For more information on affordability, check out our Cost of Living Calculator.
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Best cities for singles
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston tops our list of the best cities for singles for the second year. The city has an entertainment scene — from museums and theaters to sports — with something for every interest for the high percentage of singles who live here. The city’s colleges and universities ensure a steady supply of young, educated singles if you’re looking for a companion to float in the swan boats at the Boston Public Garden.
2. Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is a hub for young professionals and over 70% of residents are unmarried, which is one of the highest rates in the country. Although the cost of living is high here, which makes for an expensive night out, the higher median incomes somewhat offset that cost. Those times when you want the full experience, take your date to the Wonderland Ballroom to eat, drink and dance the night away.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philly has plenty of singles and a rich arts culture — a big help when it comes to a night out, which is more affordable here than in other major cities. Whether it’s a concert, a museum or a cheesesteak you want to enjoy with a date, Philadelphia has you covered. To break out of the usual dinner and a movie date rut, check out Art After 5 every Friday evening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
4. Baltimore, Maryland
Nearly 69% of Baltimore’s population isn’t married, which is a much higher rate than the national average. A three-course dinner and a movie will cost about $70 in Baltimore, which is a bargain compared with the other East Coast cities on our list. One unique option for an after-work cocktail in this city is W.C. Harlan, a speakeasy style bar.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
This Midwest city earns its high rank as an attractive city for singles because nearly 70% of its population isn’t married. And for those on a tight budget, the cost of a date in Cleveland is the second lowest of our top 10 cities. The city boasts a vibrant arts scene, especially at Playhouse Square Center, the second-largest performing arts center in the U.S. For a change of scenery, take your date outside to a concert at the Blossom Music Center.
6. San Francisco, California
San Francisco boasts what is arguably the liveliest social scene of any of the top 10 cities. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to three restaurants and arts and entertainment businesses and for every 1,000 residents. And getting to the plethora of eateries, concert venues and parks isn’t a problem: The city has one of the most walkable layouts in the country. And sure, this city has many uber chic bars, but it’s also home to the back-in-time Tonga Room, which sfist.com says is a fabulous place for a second date.
7. Detroit, Michigan
With the highest proportion of unmarried people on our list, Detroit has plenty of fish in the sea, but fewer restaurants and entertainment and arts venues. But the city, the birthplace of Techno, is still known for an exciting and unique music scene that provides singles a place to mingle. If back to nature is more your thing, Belle Isle Park provides an escape with a conservatory, zoo, museum, aquarium, places to picnic and views of the city.
8. Atlanta, Georgia
With its thriving performing arts district in Midtown and rich music history, you’ll have plenty of options for date night when you do find love in this Southern city. Even with these upscale establishments, price shouldn’t prove to be an issue for you and your date as Atlanta remains moderately priced and boasts the fourth-highest median income in our top 10. People seeking a change of pace head to Little Five Points for an eclectic date — with funky shops, restaurants and live entertainment.
9. Oakland, California
This city across the bay from San Francisco has one of the highest scores on our list when it comes to arts, entertainment and places to eat. Oakland, which has been compared to Brooklyn, New York, is home to a vibrant artist community, and a nightlife that ranges from dive bar to jazz club. For a unique time out, each month Oakland treats itself to a nighttime street festival of art, music and food at First Fridays.
10. Seattle, Washington
Rainy Seattle, famous for its coffee and alternative music, has a lot to offer its over 33,000 unmarried residents — including easy access to everything from beaches and lakes to mountains and performing arts centers. For a special afternoon for two, rent a kayak and paddle around on Lake Union.
Top 20 best cities for singles
|Rank||City||Percent of unmarried population 15 and older||Cost of
Number of arts, entertainment
|Walk score||Overall score|
|6||San Francisco, California||60.14%||$102.00||$47,428||3.00||83.90||63.87|
|14||Long Beach, California||57.33%||$78.40||$30,610||3.03||63.90||54.05|
|16||Los Angeles, California||58.85%||$78.40||$25,597||3.03||63.90||53.58|
|17||New York, New York||57.84%||$103.00||$35,057||2.81||87.60||50.98|
Top 20 best cities for single women
|Rank||City||Unmarried men per 100 unmarried women||Cost of
|Median income for workers||Number of arts, entertainment businesses,
restaurants per 1,000 people
|Walk score||Overall score|
|1||San Francisco, California||100.86||$102.00||$47,428||3.00||83.90||81.15|
|4||San Diego, California||100.70||$74.80||$35,032||2.44||48.50||67.79|
|6||San Jose, California||96.94||$72.00||$38,354||2.50||48.10||64.56|
|7||Long Beach, California||93.98||$78.40||$30,610||3.03||63.90||63.37|
|10||Los Angeles, California||94.81||$78.40||$25,597||3.03||63.90||62.06|
|14||Las Vegas, Nevada||99.39||$72.26||$27,127||2.38||38.60||59.29|
Top 20 best cities for single men
|Rank||City||Unmarried women per 100 unmarried men||Cost of
|Number of arts, entertainment businesses, restaurants per 1,000 people||Walk score||Overall score|
|4||New York, New York||121.10||$103.00||$35,057||2.81||87.60||69.54|
|8||Fort Worth, Texas||121.05||$65.80||$29,951||2.00||43.60||58.11|
|13||Charlotte, North Carolina||122.46||$70.80||$29,938||1.90||24.40||54.24|
|17||Albuquerque, New Mexico||117.15||$62.84||$27,936||2.05||39.60||52.30|
|18||Long Beach, California||106.40||$78.40||$30,610||3.03||63.90||51.84|
Here’s how the score for each city was calculated:
1. The percentage of the unmarried population older than 15 from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. This is 40% of the score. For the best cities for single women, this variable was replaced with the number of unmarried men per 100 unmarried women. For the best cities for single men, this variable was replaced with the number of unmarried women per 100 unmarried men.
2. Cost of a date is the price of a three-course meal for two at a midrange restaurant from Numbeo and the price of two movie tickets from the Council for Community and Economic Research. This is 15% of the score.
3. Median earnings for workers from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. This is 15% of the score.
4. Number of arts and entertainment businesses and restaurants per 1,000 residents in metropolitan areas from the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns. It is 20% of the score.
5. Walk score from walkscore.com. It is 10% of the score.
Infographic by Sydney Buffman.
Boston, Massachusetts, image via iStock.