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America’s worst cities for dating

It’s not you. Really. It’s them. Single people, that is. The cities that ranked poorly for dating may be quite lovely for couples, families, tourists and retirees. But based on economic and demographic factors, we found these cities to be far from perfect matches for singles.

For one thing, each city’s percentage of unmarried people (i.e., the dating pool) falls well below the national average of 51.7%. Financial indicators didn’t boost the cities’ attractiveness, either. Household incomes came in far short of the national median of $50,054 and couldn’t cover the spread even in cities with lower than average living costs, as reported by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

We also factored in education level, keeping in mind that people with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to be gainfully employed. After all, broke and jobless are hardly attractive qualities. We didn’t consider metropolitan areas with populations under 125,000 people. Finally, we threw in a date-night tab for each city that shows the typical cost of two movie tickets, a pizza and a bottle of wine.

Yahoo! Homes is publishing the top five worst cities for singles. To see the rest of the top 10, go to Kiplinger’s website.

5. McAllen, Texas

Metro population: 797,810
Percentage of unmarried adults: 46.2%
Cost of living: 14.0% below U.S. average
Median household income: $31,077
Date-night tab: $34.79

The financial situation is bleak for McAllen residents, regardless of marital status. The metro area’s median household income ranks lowest in the country, and its poverty rate ranks highest with 37.7% of households living below the poverty line, compared to 15.0% for the nation. The local unemployment rate comes in at 10.3%.

The scene isn’t so appealing for the singles set, either. The area boasts one of the highest percentages of families, 81.9% of households, of which 54.9% include kids younger than 18. The nearby Brownsville metro area posts similarly discouraging economic statistics — the second-lowest median income in the country and the second-highest percentage of people living in poverty. Coupled with a below-average percentage of unmarried households, the numbers add up to a negative singles scene in South Texas.

4. Punta Gorda, Fla.

Metro population: 160,511
Percentage of unmarried adults: 43.2%
Cost of living: 6.1% below U.S. average
Median household income: $41,190
Date-night tab: $37.54

The worst for singles among our trio of Florida cities, Punta Gorda, with its quaint historic district and Harborwalk, might be better suited for a relaxing retirement than an active dating life. The local crowd comes in as the most senior of our ranked cities with a median age of 56.1 (the national median is 37.3), and 34.9% of the population is 65 and up. Only about four in ten adults are unmarried, the second-lowest share on our list.

And we don’t mean to hate on Florida. Seven Florida cities pulled above-average scores for our singles rankingsJacksonvilleMiami and Tallahassee were our top three in-state cities for singles with unmarried populations of 53.0%, 56.8% and 61.2%, respectively.

3. Medford, Ore.

Metro population: 204,822
Percentage of unmarried adults: 48.4%
Cost of living: 5.9% below U.S. average
Median household income: $39,138
Date-night tab: $41.51

Single people might enjoy visiting Medford and Oregon’s Rogue Valley to take in the scenery and taste the local wines. But living there proves less attractive.

Not only is the dating pool limited, with less than half of the population unmarried, the financial situation is not pretty, either. Median household income is 21.8% lower than the national level, and living costs fall just 5.9% below the U.S. average. And, with the unemployment rate at 9.5% as of December 2012 — compared with that month’s national rate of 7.8% — the majority of locals aren’t likely to be getting raises anytime soon. Plus, the date-night tab is the priciest of any city on this list.

2. Morristown, Tenn.

Metro population: 137,494
Percentage of unmarried adults: 43.6%
Cost of living: 10.0% below U.S. average
Median household income: $35,027
Date-night tab: $38.98

Tennessee didn’t fare well in our rankings. Clarksville, Cleveland, Johnson City and Kingsport were among the 20 worst cities for singles. But Morristown, where living costs are low but pay is even lower, trumped them all. The abundance of married folks, at 56.4% of the population, and families, 70.2% of households, also puts a damper on singles life. Plus, Morristown’s share of bachelor’s degree holders is just 12.7%, far below the national average of 25.8% and the lowest on this list.

But before you brand us with a bias against Tennessee, allow us to recommend Memphis for a strong singles setting: 59.5% of the population is unmarried; the cost of living is 14.4% below the U.S. average; and though the median household income still falls short of the national level, it’s about $10,000 more than that of Morristown.

1. Yuma, Ariz.

Metro population: 200,870
Percentage of unmarried adults: 43.0%
Cost of living: 4.7% above U.S. average
Median household income: $38,390
Date-night tab: $32.34

Our worst city for singles might be a bad choice for anyone, at least based on the local job market. As of December 2012, this border town suffered the nation’s worst unemployment rate at 27.3% — a striking figure that was three and a half times the national average at the time and moving in the wrong direction. A year earlier, Yuma’s jobless rate was 25.4%.

Piling on to the financial woes of local residents, despite the low median income, the cost of living actually inches above the national average. If it’s any consolation, our proposed date night in Yuma rings up the lowest tab of any city on our list. But good luck finding another singleton to join you for dinner and a movie. Yuma has the lowest percentage of unmarried adults on this list and the eleventh-lowest in the nation.

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