Best Places to Recover from Divorce
Couples likely don’t go into marriage with the expectation of one day calling it quits, but it’s become a reality for millions of Americans. Divorce can ignite emotional distress and can also take a huge toll on your finances. And where you live might affect how well you bounce back after a split.
LendingTree analyzed microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to find out how divorced people — primarily adults ages 35 to 64 — are doing financially in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, and how promising their prospects are for dating and new marriages.
- Minneapolis ranks No. 1 on our list of best places to recover from divorce. LendingTree analyzed and scored each of the 50 metros based on economic outcomes, dating pool prospects and remarriage risk factors. The larger city of the “Twin Cities” tops the list, with a final score of 70.8 out of 100.
- The second- and third-best places to recover are both in the Midwest. Milwaukee and Detroit rank No. 2 and No. 3 on our list, coming in with scores of 70.2 and 69.5, respectively. Milwaukee’s median rent price for divorced people is notable, as it’s only $841, which is well below the national median of $1,058, according to census data. Detroit has a higher economic score, likely due to its relatively high percentage of divorced people who own homes, and low homeownership costs.
- New York City ranked last on our list. Out of the 50 metros we analyzed, New York City was the worst place to recover from a divorce, with a final score of 41. The ranking for The Big Apple was brought down by its low scores for economic outcomes and dating pool prospects.
- Two Southern cities round out the bottom three worst places to recover from divorce. The final score for Memphis, Tenn., is 42.7, and Virginia Beach, Va., has a final score of 44.7. Memphis’ low costs for both divorced homeowners and renters gave it a boost on economic outcomes, but the metro area fell short on dating prospects and remarriage risk factors. While Virginia Beach has a more balanced mix of single men and women than multiple metros in the bottom 10, its remarriage risk score doesn’t work in its favor as much.
- Washington, D.C., has the highest median income for divorced people. D.C.’s median income for divorced people ages 35 to 64 is $50,559, while divorced people in Riverside, Calif. — the metro with have the lowest median income on our list — earn a median $24,269.
- Salt Lake City has the highest homeownership rate among divorced people. More than two-thirds (69.7%) of divorced people in Salt Lake City own a home. The city also has a balanced mix of single men and women.
- Denver has the highest balance of single men and women. Pittsburgh is a close second for its balance between single men and women. Memphis, Tenn., comes in last place for this metric, as it has the lowest balance between single men and women on our list.
The 10 best and worst places to recover from divorce
How we developed the rankings
LendingTree analyzed several metrics, broke them into three separate categories (economic score, dating pool score, remarriage risk score) and scored each category to find the best places to recover from divorce. We specifically focused on people ages 35 to 64, unless noted otherwise in the methodology.
- Median annual income of divorced people. A divorced person might have a lower-than-usual income for several different reasons, such as having to give up work hours to meet child care obligations.
- Gap between the median income of divorced people and median income of one-earner families. In a perfect world, divorced people would have the same income as any other family with a single earner, but that isn’t the case in any metro we reviewed. A family with a high earner may be more likely to forgo the second income, and it’s possible that a higher income relieves couples of a common marriage stressor. However, single people with children are a subset of single-earner families.
- Percentage of divorced people who own a home. One home can’t stay with both parties of a divorcing couple, and owning two homes is obviously more expensive than owning one. This means at least one of the spouses will give up their home. Homeownership is a priority for many Americans, and retaining one’s own home can be a huge challenge — and milestone — after a divorce.
- Median monthly homeownership costs among divorced homeowners. Homeowners are responsible for more than just the principal and interest on a mortgage, there are also property taxes, homeowners insurance and, in some cases, mortgage insurance and homeowners association fees.
- Median monthly rent price among divorced renters. Expenses for renters each month include the base rental rate, plus electricity, water and, potentially, gas. These are all factored into the median rent price for each metro.
Dating pool score
- Percentage of people who are unmarried. A high rate of singles may mean there’s something keeping people single — or divorced — which is why we balanced this with the percentage of people who are divorced in the remarriage risk factor score.
- Balance of single men to single women. It may not bode well for a single guy interested in dating women, if there are substantially more single men than women, and vice versa. An index of 100 means there’s an equal balance between single men and single women, while an index of 50 means there are two singles of one sex for every single of the other.
Remarriage risk factor score
- Percentage of divorced people who have been married at least three times. It’s been widely reported that the likelihood of divorce rises with each subsequent marriage, so those who’ve been married more than once may be higher-risk partners for those avoiding another divorce who never want to be divorced. Moreover, the fact that the three-plus wedding club is bigger in some metros than others suggests local conditions may be adding to marriage failures.
- Percentage of people who are divorced. While having more singles around is good for those seeking new relationships, a high rate of divorced people can indicate that something in the local community or culture is putting fatal pressure on marriages.
- Rate of people who are separated to those who are divorced. A higher rate means there are more separated people relative to divorced people. For example, a rate of 10% means there’s one separated person for every 10 divorced people and a rate of 25% means there’s one separated person for every four divorced people. Separation is a step towards divorce, but some couples stay separated for months or years. There are several reasons for people to stay separated, but whatever the reason, it can be difficult for someone to recover from a divorce they can’t finalize. Additionally, a high rate of separations relative to divorce can mean that a lot of ongoing marriages have periods of discord and separation, even if couples get back together again.
Understanding mortgages and divorce
If you’re planning to get divorced in the near future and there’s a mortgage on the home you share with your spouse, here are some things to consider as you navigate the process.
- You may have to refinance. Once you agree on who will keep the home, that spouse will need to refinance the mortgage to remove the other spouse’s name from the loan — if you’re co-borrowers. One caveat: The spouse taking on the mortgage must be able to qualify for a refinance on their own.
- You may qualify for a loan assumption. It’s possible to skip the refinance process if you have a conventional loan or one that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). All four loan types allow mortgage assumption under certain circumstances, including divorce.
- You could sell the home. If neither spouse wants to keep the home after the split, another option is to sell it and split the profits. However, the remaining mortgage balance would need to be paid off first, and you might pay taxes on the sale proceeds.
- You’ll need to consider your state’s laws. In the event that only one spouse’s name is on the mortgage, what happens to your house and loan depends on whether you’re in a community property state or one that has equitable distribution. Another factor to consider is the circumstances around the home purchase. For example, if you live in a community property state and one spouse bought the home you shared after the wedding, each spouse still owns a 50% share in that home, even though it was individually purchased. Be sure to consult an attorney for guidance.
LendingTree used microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey to calculate the following criteria for each of the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs. These metrics were broken into three categories.
- Median income of divorced people ages 35 to 64.
- Median income of divorced people ages 35 to 64 as a percentage of median income of single-earner families.
- Percentage of divorced people ages 35 to 64 who own the homes in which they live.
- Median home ownership costs of divorced people ages 35 to 64 who own the homes in which they live.
- Median rents of divorced people ages 35 to 64 who pay rent.
Dating pool prospects
- Percentage of people ages 35 to 64 who are widowed, divorced, separated or have never been married.
- Number of single men ages 35 to 64 compared to the number of single women ages 35 to 64. This is expressed as a percentage of the smaller number (whether men or women) to the larger number.
Remarriage risk factors
- Percentage of divorced people ages 35 to 64 who have been married at least three times.
- Percentage of people ages 35 to 64 who are currently divorced.
- Number of separated people ages 35 to 64 compared to the number of divorced people ages 35 to 64, expressed as a percentage of separated people to divorced people.
Each metric was scored on a relative value between the maximum and minimum values among all 50 MSAs. These metric scores were then averaged (evenly weighted) to create a category score. The category scores were then averaged (evenly weighted) to create a final score. The highest possible metric, category and final score was 100 and the lowest was zero.