UW News

January 5, 2015

What singles should look for in a city

News and Information

When deciding where to live, single people should choose cities with affordable housing, interesting job opportunities, vibrant neighborhoods and abundant sports activities.

That was the advice of Pepper Schwartz, a UW sociology professor who was among experts consulted for personal finance website WalletHub’s recent ranking of 2014’s Best & Worst Cities for Singles. The site ranked the 150 most populated U.S. cities on 25 metrics including the percentage of singles, costs for restaurant meals and movies, rental housing costs and the number of nightlife options.

Pepper Schwartz

Pepper Schwartz

Boise, Idaho came in as the smartest financial and social pick for singles, while Seattle was ranked 14th in the study, right behind Lexington, Kentucky.

Schwartz advised singles to opt for cities with safe urban neighborhoods where people can hang out and meet. And while high rents can be burdensome for singles, Schwartz pointed out an upside — people living in small spaces, as in New York, tend to get out of their apartments to socialize, creating opportunities to meet potential mates.

All that dating, of course, can be expensive. WalletHub cites an analysis that estimated the average cost for a dinner-and-movie date at $130. Schwartz suggests singles look for budget date activities such as playing tennis at a park, attending library lectures or going to museums on free admission days.

And with many Americans marrying later in life, she urged singles not to hold off on financial planning.

“Sometimes singles, especially women, use all their discretionary income for partying, thinking that they will get financially ‘serious’ when they meet the right person,” she said.

“But that means they lose precious interest-earning years. Even $50 a month can mount up to thousands of dollars if regularly deposited in a decent stock account. Singles should always be working on their own financial security.”