America’s Best Cities for Single Women
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All the single ladies: This one’s for you. Cities that are great for the average bachelorette tend to have a few things in common: plentiful job prospects, a vibrant culture, access to a healthy lifestyle, a promising dating pool, and a low crime rate are among the most attractive.
LendingTree took a look at the 100 largest metropolitan areas across the U.S. and crunched the numbers on all of these factors to give you a clearer picture of the places leading the pack for single women — and the ones that missed the mark.
Madison, Wis., is the best city for single women.
By our measure, Madison claimed the No. 1 spot thanks to its high scores on safety and well-being. Additionally, its culture and entertainment score was among the highest of the 100 metros we ranked, due to lots of bars, restaurants and performing arts institutions for a metro of its size.
The No. 2 and No. 3 best cities for single women are both in Connecticut.
The next two best-scoring metros, Bridgeport and Hartford, Conn., are both smaller metros in the Northeast region. Both places scored well in safety and well-being. Bridgeport did well on its economics score due to a smaller gender income gap and higher homeownership rate among single, working women. On the other hand, Hartford scored high on demographics — demonstrating there is both a more balanced gender ratio and a higher percentage of single, working women.
Bakersfield, Calif., ranked last on our list.
A low culture and entertainment score — indicating a scarcity of bars, restaurants and overall things to do — put Bakersfield, Calif., in the bottom spot out of the 100 metro areas ranked. Bakersfield also had a low economics score, reflecting low wages, slim job opportunities and a wider gender gap in income. The metro area also had a low demographics score, reflecting a low population of single, working women.
Stockton, Calif. and Memphis, Tenn., ranked second and third to last, respectively.
Both Stockton, Calif. and Memphis, Tenn. had better economics scores than Bakersfield, Calif., but their lower safety scores and lack of culture and entertainment opportunities negatively affected their overall final scores.
Northeastern cities tended to do well in the ranking. Many smaller metros that may often get overlooked made it to the top 10, as well as large cities like New York and Boston. On the other hand, Washington, D.C., just missed the top 10.
The Northeastern cities in the top 10 offer a relatively safe and healthy environment, along with a good mix of opportunities for culture and entertainment. The smaller metros have average scores for economic factors, while larger metros generally fair better on economics at the expense of somewhat lower well-being scores. What works in smaller metros’ favor is they tend to do well enough in other categories to have a high overall score.
Besides the university city of Madison, Wis., which holds the No. 1 ranking, the only other place outside the Northeast that made it to the top 10 is Portland. Ore. The bottom of the list includes a mix of Southwestern — particularly inland California — and interior Southern metro areas. High crime rates, poor salaries and limited cultural and entertainment activities pushed their scores lower.
A few interesting regional patterns also revealed themselves. Demographics scores in tech hubs such as San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Seattle and the rather engineering-focused Denver are lower, due to a small percentage of single women; they also have larger pay gaps. Additionally, for the two cities in Utah — a state with a dense Mormon population — included in the 100 U.S. metros we ranked, both cities scored poorly due to low culture and entertainment prospects as well as low percentages of unmarried women.
The top 5 metros for single women
1) Madison, Wis.
Final score: 65.9
- Demographics score: 52.2
- Economics score: 52.8
- Well-being score: 84.1
- Culture and entertainment score: 55.4
- Safety score: 85.2
2) Bridgeport, Conn.
Final score: 64.4
- Demographics score: 62.2
- Economics score: 61.4
- Well-being score: 79.4
- Culture and entertainment score: 39.4
- Safety score: 79.7
3) Hartford, Conn.
Final score: 64.2
- Demographics score: 72.3
- Economics score: 56.0
- Well-being score: 76.1
- Culture and entertainment score: 33.6
- Safety score: 83.1
4) Syracuse, N.Y.
Final score: 64.1
- Demographics score: 76.2
- Economics score: 46.7
- Well-being score: 77.5
- Culture and entertainment score: 42.5
- Safety score: 77.8
5) Rochester, N.Y.
Final score: 63.6
- Demographics score: 83.2
- Economics score: 45.5
- Well-being score: 74.8
- Culture and entertainment score: 36.6
- Safety score: 78.2
The bottom 5 metros for single women
100) Bakersfield, Calif.
Final score: 35.6
- Demographics score: 19.8
- Economics score: 29.0
- Well-being score: 70.3
- Culture and entertainment score: 9.9
- Safety score: 48.7
99) Stockton, Calif.
Final score: 36.9
- Demographics score: 44.5
- Economics score: 40.4
- Well-being score: 63.1
- Culture and entertainment score: 11.6
- Safety score: 24.7
98) Memphis, Tenn.
Final score: 38.4
- Demographics score: 86.3
- Economics score: 40.4
- Well-being score: 49.4
- Culture and entertainment score: 15.6
- Safety score: 0.0
97) Baton Rouge, La.
Final score: 45.4
- Demographics score: 76.6
- Economics score: 30.8
- Well-being score: 47.7
- Culture and entertainment score: 18.1
- Safety score: 53.9
96) McAllen, Texas
Final score: 45.5
- Demographics score: 62.7
- Economics score: 38.6
- Well-being score: 44.1
- Culture and entertainment score: 7.6
- Safety score: 74.6
Understanding the rankings
For the study, we reviewed a range of variables to determine which of the 100 largest metros are the most welcoming to single, working women. The variables were grouped into five categories:
- Demographics: A city that is friendly to single women will also have a large population of other singles. We looked at the percentage of single women who fall in the 20- to 50-year-old age range, as well as how balanced the gender ratio is for 20 to 50-year-old single men and women. If there are too many men to women, that suggests a metro area that is less geared toward women. If there were too many women to men, that represented much slimmer dating pool. Ideally, the best cities for single women would have a close-to -even gender ratio.
- Economics: The economic prospects for single women depend on how small the gap is between them and their male counterparts. We evaluated the unemployment rate, median income and homeownership rate for single women of working age, as well as the homeownership and income gaps between single men and women. The smaller the gaps, the more friendly the metro area is to single women.
- Well-being: We determined each metro area’s well-being score by evaluating whether people have access to healthy food and fitness opportunities, and whether that access actually results in people practicing a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, since long commutes are often found to add to stress levels, we looked at the percentage of the population with lengthy commutes to the office.
- Culture and entertainment: The fun factor was measured by evaluating how many varied opportunities there are for a good night out and cultural activities. For each of the 100 metro areas, we looked at how many bars and restaurants per capita, performing institutions and museums there are. The performing institutions and museums were evaluated on a per capita and total basis, and both measures were averaged over to create a single arts institution value and museum value.
- Safety: We used the violent crime rate to determine how low the crime rate is in each metro area.
For this study, we analyzed data from the 2017 Five-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau for the demographic and economic measures, except for the homeownership rate, which comes from the 2010 decennial census.
The gender ratio, one of the two variables the demographics score is composed of, is calculated by comparing the number of 20- to 50-year-old unmarried men to 20- to 50-year-old unmarried women. The smaller of the two numbers is then divided by the larger to create the gender ratio.
The health measures and violent crime rate are taken from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. The culture and entertainment measures are from the Census Bureau’s 2016 County Business Patterns datasets.
Each of the variables were given a value according to their relative location between the highest and lowest values. The variable values in each category were then averaged to create the category score. The final score is an average over all five category scores.