The marriage rate has declined over the past several decades and the median age of first marriages for women and men has climbed steadily in the past 50 years. While many people are postponing marriage or avoiding it altogether, walking down the aisle is still part of the American Dream. What’s more, being single by the time you reach a certain age is usually considered less than ideal.
This is SmartAsset’s second annual study of the best places for singles who like being single. Read the 2016 study here.
While being single is sometimes looked down upon, many people simply enjoy it. In honor of the folks who are perfectly happy flying solo, we ranked the best cities for singles who enjoy being independent.
To find the best cities for singles who like being single, SmartAsset pulled data from the U.S. Census Bureau. We ranked the 559 largest U.S. cities across five different metrics, including the marriage rate, the median monthly rent and the unemployment rate in each city. We looked at the number of local bars and entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents as well. These were the same metrics that we considered in the 2016 edition of our study.
For more on how we put this study together, read the data and methodology section below.
Moving to a new city? Find out if you’re better off renting or buying.
- Check out Wisconsin. Four of our top 10 cities for singles who like being single are located in the Badger State. Two of those cities (Madison and Eau Claire) ranked as the best places for singles in last year’s analysis, too.
- College towns dominate the list. Out of the top 10 cities in our study, more than half of them are considered college towns. In addition to having tons of bars and entertainment options, small college towns like Fargo and Eau Claire ranked well thanks to their low rates of unemployment.
1. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
According to our analysis, Eau Claire could be the perfect place for singles who enjoy being single. Census data shows that 61% of the city’s population is unmarried. If most of your friends are single, there may be little to no pressure to tie the knot.
Eau Claire also has the lowest unemployment rate in our entire study: 1.8%. Since the city’s job market is so strong, singles who want to focus on their careers should have access to plenty of job opportunities.
2. Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth, Minnesota is fairly affordable, particularly if you prefer renting over buying a house. The city’s median rent is just $664. That’s one reason why the city could be great for singles who want to stay single. When rental rates are low, there’s no need to find a roommate or get married in order to cut your housing costs in half.
3. Fargo, North Dakota
Living the single life in Fargo might not be so bad, especially if your job is the most important part of your life. The city’s unemployment rate is only 2.6%, according to one-year estimates from the 2015 American Community Survey. Fargo also has a high percentage of residents who are not married (60%) and plenty of local entertainment establishments.
4. Missoula, Montana
Missoula has a lot to offer singles who enjoy socializing and spending time with their friends. There are more than 100 entertainment establishments for every 100,000 residents, including bowling alleys and sporting stadiums. There are also more than 35 bars in the city for every 100,000 people.
Related Article: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to Montana
5. (tie) Lawrence, Kansas
If you’re single in Lawrence, Kansas, you’re in good company. Lawrence – which is the sixth-largest city in Kansas – has a marriage rate of just 35%. What’s more, it’s a fairly young city. Roughly 37% of the population falls between the ages of 20 and 34.
5. (tie) Green Bay, Wisconsin
In 2016, Green Bay ranked as the 10th-most affordable city for renters in the United States. Median rent in the city is now only $566 and a typical resident spends roughly $8,772 per year on housing-related expenses. Singles in Green Bay who don’t have to spend a big chunk of their take-home pay on housing costs can afford to splurge on tickets to a Packers game or enjoy the local nightlife.
7. Madison, Wisconsin
Based on our analysis, Madison could be a great place for folks who aren’t interested in being in a committed relationship. For every 100,000 residents, there are more than 60 entertainment establishments and more than 30 bars. Plus, 63% of the population is single. Hot spots for singles in Madison include the Tip Top Tavern and The Rigby, a pub in Downtown Madison.
8. Oshkosh, Wisconsin
There’s always something to do in Oshkosh. That’s why it’s known as Wisconsin’s event city. More than 1,000 events take place in Oshkosh every year, including Country USA, a music festival that brings the biggest stars to the city for five days in late June.
For singles who like being single, there’s no shortage of options for entertainment. There are more than 50 bars for every 100,000 residents and lots of fun things to do on weeknights and weekends.
9. Portland, Maine
Singles who are avid beer drinkers will love living in Portland. The city ranked as one of the best cities for beer drinkers in both 2015 and 2016. Census Bureau data reveals that there are more than 29 bars per 100,000 people.
Not into beer? No worries. There are about 91 entertainment establishments for every 100,000 residents. And while there are fewer people per square mile in Portland than there are in cities like New York and Boston, you’ll probably find many other singles who share your tastes and interests. There are roughly 66,872 people who live in Portland and 60% of its adult population isn’t married.
10. Asheville, North Carolina
Most of the adults in Asheville are single. In fact, its marriage rate is only 42%. If you have no one to come home to, you won’t have to feel bad about spending all your free time with your besties. And if you’re looking for new places to hang out, you’ll have a number of spots to choose from. There are more than 80 entertainment establishments for every 100,000 residents and tons of bars.
Data & Methodology
Our study ranks the 559 largest cities in the country across the following five metrics:
- Marriage rate. We assumed that single people who don’t mind being single would prefer to live in cities with lower marriage rates.
- Median rent. We concluded that singles would want to live in cities with low rental rates, where renting a one-bedroom apartment is affordable.
- Bars per 100,000 residents. Singles who like being single still like to have fun! We figured that they would want to live in areas with a high concentration of bars.
- Entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents. This metric includes the number of sporting stadiums, bowling alleys, arcades, etc.
- Unemployment rate. Many singles who enjoy the single life focus on their careers. So we assumed that they would want to live in places with strong job markets.
Once we ranked each city in our analysis across each of our metrics, we averaged those rankings, giving half-weight to the median rent and unemployment rate and full weight to the other three factors. Then we assigned each city a raw score between 0 and 100. The lowest-ranking city scored a 0 and the top-ranking city scored 100.
Data on bars and entertainment establishments comes from the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau’s Zip Business Patterns Survey. Marriage rates, unemployment rates and median rents are one-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Note that our 2016 study used unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The data analysis for this study was completed by Nick Wallace.
Questions about our study? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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