Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Best and worst states for singles
Did you ever consider the possibility that real estate and dating have something in common? Maybe the key to finding success in both these areas really does come down to… location, location, location!
That thought occurred to me as I pored over the Pew Research Center’s report, “Marriage and Divorce: A 50-State Tour,” which examines data from a recently released survey, including:
Current marriage and divorce rate estimates from the past 12 months
Average duration of marriages by state
Number of Americans that have been married multiple times (three or more)
I wondered: given all this marriage data, what are the implications for singles? Does the state of your dating life correlate to the state where you live? According to D’Vera Cohn, senior writer for the Pew Research Center, “the data does provide clues” for where singles can and should be looking in order to increase their odds of finding an attractive mate.
Since finding a lasting relationship is hard enough without any geographic obstacles, we’ll take all the clues we can get, right? In my role as “geo-targeted dating sleuth,” I uncovered some key trends and single-friendly spots to aid your search.
1. The Midwest is more like a desert for single women… With the highest share of currently married men, the five states where single women will struggle the most to find a date are: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Utah and Nebraska. “These are states where people tend to grow up, stay around and settle down,” says Cohen. On one hand, it’s refreshing to see “sticky states” that maintain their hometown boys and girls. But on the other hand, without the influx of new singles into the mix, dating opportunities for women living in these states are pretty limited.
2. ...But thankfully, there are states where it’s raining single men! On the other end of the spectrum, these five states are loaded with single men: New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Alaska and the District of Columbia. They’re literally all over the map, too, but at least you have diverse choices. You could meet more educated, cosmopolitan men in the Northeast states (New York, D.C. and Rhode Island), or land a rugged type up north where the nights are long and there are fewer romantic distractions than you’d find in urban areas (Alaska). Somewhere in between these two extremes, you could also try the southwest (NM), where, hopefully, the men are as hot as the food.
3. If all your exes live in Texas, then maybe singles should avoid the Lone Star State. Cohen wonders if singer George Strait was onto something when he sang, “All my exes live in Texas.” The numbers show that Texas is indeed home to more adults that have been married multiple times (i.e., three marriages or more) than any other state, which doesn’t exactly put out the welcome mat to singles looking for one love that’ll last a lifetime. Something must be in the air down there, since the neighboring states of Arkansas and Oklahoma also “boast” (if that’s the word) high numbers of people who’ve been married and divorced multiple times. Worse, these multiple marriages correlate with having a low income, creating a double whammy!
4. Red may be the color of roses and romance, but red states are not so lucky for singles. The Pew report also reveals that conservative states in the Midwest and Northwest (Utah, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas) are less welcoming for singles on the move. First, these states have higher proportions of men and women who get hitched young and stay the course. “By age 24, half of the women in Utah and Idaho are already married,” says Cohen. These places may offer beautiful scenery and clean living, but unfortunately they aren’t singles magnets if having dating options — and the time to explore them — matters to you.
5. Washington is a capital locale… in more ways than one. Washington, D.C. scores highest among all states for its share of educated singles that marry later in life and experience fewer divorces than national average. Bingo! As I noted in my article, Best First-Date Spots in D.C., it’s is a great place to date. The higher incidence of couples marrying later in life indicates that you might have more time to date around before saying, “I do.” And despite the rap D.C. gets as being “Hollywood for unattractive people,” it scores high in employment rates, culture, and good-looking people. (That said, as a local, I may be a bit biased.)
6. Is Carolina on your mind? If you’re a single woman in search of an unattached man, then North Carolina should be on your mind and your radar. The state’s higher-than-average population of single men isn’t the state’s only attractive attribute. A relatively affordable cost of living and laid-back lifestyle regularly lands this state on annual lists of best places to live. What’s the drawback? Well, with city names like Morehead City, Poor Town and Horneytown, picking a city to live in might feel awkward. (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!) So, stick to more mainstream towns — like Raleigh, Durham and Asheville — and you’ll be fine.
7. Forget the myths about Hollywood divorce; California scores! Despite all the stories you read about Hollywood celebrity relationship catastrophes and divorces, California has both a larger population of available singles and lower percentage of divorcees than the U.S. at large. Wow, great weather, sexy people and good opportunities for meeting other singles? Go west!
8. Singles might not find relationship gold in the hills of Nevada. Nevada can be great fun for gamblers, but if you want your romance to be a sure thing, the odds aren’t so great. With the highest share of divorcees (including a healthy percentage of them having been married three times or more) and a surprisingly higher-than-average share of single people, the home state of Sin City could be seen as something of a revolving door for relationships. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas… except for successful, long-term marriages, it seems.
What about the other states?
After all this analysis on marriage statistics, what surprised Cohen the most about the study’s findings — and its implications for singles? “Beneath the national stats, you have considerable differences amongst the states,” she says. Clearly, all places are not created equal when it comes to opportunities for dating. “And within the states, the numbers vary, too.”
For example, “with its lower education levels and a smaller percentage of singles, the state of New York’s overall profile is very different than the one for New York City,” says Cohen. Knowing this, you can look to states with strong urban centers and the greatest job opportunities if you want to boost your relationship chances. Chicago, Illinois, Boston, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California, and Atlanta, Georgia also get high marks.
Unfortunately, love doesn’t come with a GPS. But with clues like these and a little luck, hopefully you’ll find a dating location that’s right for you.