The lighter side of real estate

The 10 Best Cities to be Single in California

If you're looking for the perfect someone in the Golden State, you're more likely to find them in one of these single-friendly cities.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

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When the Movoto team mentioned the idea of writing something up on California cities for singles, my ears pricked. See, I myself am a non-married soon-to-be-Californian (just three weeks!), and this post got me wondering about this new-age single creature of the West Coast. Where do they congregate? What do they do? What are their mating habits?

Joking aside, today’s single is a different animal entirely than that of the past. We live in an age where social norms are becoming less “normal.” A hundred years ago the idea of being 26 and single probably would have gotten me burned at the stake or something (we don’t do that anymore either, by the way)—but today, being 26 and single is not only normal, it can also be a whole lot of fun, especially if you find yourself in one of these cities.

The Top 10 Cities to Be Single in California:

  1. Sacramento
  2. Oakland
  3. Anaheim
  4. Santa Ana
  5. San Francisco
  6. Los Angeles
  7. San Diego
  8. San Bernardino
  9. Ontario
  10. Long Beach

So if you’re in California, you’re single, and you’re not living in one of these cities, well… you might just be doing it wrong.

How We Did It

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about single people: They are… people! And just like all people, they come in all shapes, sizes, and types, with different likes and dislikes. So in coming up with the criteria for the best single cities in California, we had to narrow it down to what we thought were “typical” requirements for today’s single. This included:

  • A lower percent of the population that is married
  • Number of bars in the city
  • Number of romantic restaurants in the city
  • A lower cost of living
  • A lower percent of people who drive to work
  • A lower median age

So to sum up: Fewer married people + places to mingle + young people to mingle with + a price you can actually afford = the singles’ mecca—which was apparently Sacramento.

I promise there was a method behind this madness. Keep reading to find out just how we came up with the information for each criterion.

Marriage—Who Needs It?

Oakland Church

You won't hear a lot of wedding bells in Oakland. Source: Flickr user Eneas De Troya

Certainly not singles. That’s why our No. 1 criteria was finding the cities with a lower percentage of married couples—the less married folks, the more people are available to date or at least attempt awkward pick up lines on. So to find this, we turned to the U.S. Census and found the marriage statistics for all 30 of the largest cities in California.

Interestingly, the city with the highest percent of married couples was Fremont—a whopping 64 percent of the population here is married, compared to, say, Sacramento or Oakland with 37 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Not-so-coincidentally, Fremont also turned up to be one of the least “walkable” cities in California and had a much higher median age than most. So if you find yourself young and single in Fremont, it may well be just because you are still in high school.

Err’body in da Club

Okay, I know that not all single people are interested in going out to bars or clubs and drinking, but nonetheless a city’s number of bars is usually a good indicator of a robust night life—and who wouldn’t want to meet Mr. or Ms. Right at a bar at 2 a.m.? To find out how many bars were in each of the 30 largest cities in CA, we turned to our friend Yelp, as we have in other similar posts.

The results were varied—from a mere 95 in Lancaster to well over 6,000 in Los Angeles. Sure, L.A. is 10 times the size of Lancaster, but interestingly, even San Diego, with over 1.3 million people, has just under 3,000 bars.

Wining and Dining

It seemed only appropriate to Yelp the number of “romantic restaurants” in each of the 30 largest cities since we’d just looked up the number of bars. After all, once you’ve picked up that special someone at a bar, you’ll need some good restaurant options—or at least a good place to take them to breakfast the next day. Not surprisingly, the smaller cities boasted fewer restaurants in general, and Lancaster once again fell at the bottom with a mere seven “romantic restaurants.” Compare that to a place like San Francisco or Los Angeles with a over 1,000 romantic restaurants, and it leaves you wondering, seriously, what do single people do in Lancaster?

Bachelorhood on a Budget

Anaheim House

Anaheim had the lowest cost of living on our list. Source: Flickr user Eli Pousson

In researching this post, I came across an awful lot of articles about the best cities to be “rich and single.” Places like Manhattan and Hermosa Beach were at the top of the California lists; but let’s face it, not all of us can afford the price tag that comes along with this. As a matter of fact, the main reason San Francisco was not higher on our list was because of the average cost of living there. So with the aid of the U.S. Cost of Living Index, we set out to find the most affordable California cities. If this sounds like a paradox, well, it is.

The average score for the U.S. cost of living is 100—anything above 100 is more than normal, anything below, is below. You get the idea. There was only one city in California’s largest 30 that fell below 100 (Anaheim), while most were well above. San Francisco, for example, scored a healthy 199.

Let’s Go Bump Into People

How many times have you been in your car driving to work, and met just the cutest girl or guy? Chances are, not that often—and if this is a regular occurrence for you, may I ask you to please keep your eyes on the road? For most of us, it is far easier to bump into someone interesting in a city where we don’t have to drive everywhere. In order to find out a city’s walkability, we used the U.S. Census to look up the percent of each city’s population that commuted to work by driving (i.e. not walking, not biking, and not using public transportation).

The most walking and public transportation friendly cities were San Francisco, Oakland, and little pockets of Los Angeles. However, in cities like Modesto, Huntington Beach, and Rancho Cucamonga, the only bumping into people on the way to work you’ll be doing will probably be fender benders—over 80 percent of these populations drive to work.

Age is Just a Number… A very Important Number

Age may just be a number, but when it comes to living the “single lifestyle” we opted to find populations on the younger side. Go on, go ahead and argue that there are plenty of singles in their forties, fifties, and even sixties. But for the sake of this post, we decided to stick with the stereotype of young and single. To do this we revisited our friend, the U.S. Census, and found the median ages of the 30 largest cities in California. And results were… somewhat surprising.

The places with the youngest median ages were San Bernardino, Santa Ana, and Fontana, with a median age of 29, while the places with the highest median ages were Glendale, Huntington Beach, and San Francisco—all near 40!

Putting it All Together

To come up with the final list of the 10 best cities for singles in California, we ranked the 30 largest cities in California by all of the criteria above, on a scale from one to 30. Then we averaged their rank in the individual criteria to come up with the city’s final score—the smaller the number, the better the single-living there. In short, we used a supercomputer (i.e., a Mac) to do a lot of complicated number crunching. And those numbers point toward Sacramento.

So singles, whether you live in Sacramento, San Francisco, or some city that didn’t make the list, two things are certainly clear. One: Times are a-changin’. It’s not only acceptable to be single these days; in some places it’s downright trendy. And two: It’s probably best not to move to Santa Clarita—that place is singles hell… or so the data says.

The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate. If you’re looking for a new home, keep us in mind. We have up-to-date real estate listings and local agents throughout the country. When you want to take a break from browsing homes, you can keep coming back to read awesome blog posts like this one.

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posted on: April 23, 2013
75,839 views, 8 comments


  1. Julia S

    Such a clever yet witty article! Thank you for sharing all this useful information… just love it!

  2. Denise White

    Well…since I’m over the median age you researched… :)) I’m not sure how my city ranks for me at this point….but I loved all the info.

    And what is up with all the french bulldogs in San Fran?

  3. slim shady

    LA is by far — BY FAR — the worst city in the world to be single in. Nearly everyone is seduced by the ‘bigger better deal’, IE no one will commit to a date for fear of missing out on a brush meeting with the assistant to the assitant boom mike operator on Harold and Kumar.

    As a result, everyone stays at home and watches reality Tv. Riveting dinner conversation, if you ever get around to it.

  4. Bob

    You forgot gender ratio. There are more guys on the west coast (because of the tech industry) so it’s great to be a single girl but sucks to be a single guy.

  5. Penu

    Sacramento is an armpit. I despise this place. I’m a successful attractive guy, and women won’t even return a hello. Dating is impossible here. I look forward to leaving.

  6. Dehlia

    If it’s such an “armpit” why are you still here Penu? It’s not the best city, but depending on who you ask they may disagree with you. I admit I can’t see building some mega ball stadium when the first two are still in arrears, but hey they didn’t ask me. If you are so “good looking” maybe it’s all in your head or you’re saying hello to the “superficial and conceited.” Enough “of those individuals” in Los Angeles. Successful and attractive, but hey I’m not really looking; been there done that nonsense…he wasn’t. Better luck in a new city tiger.

  7. gloworm

    I’m a successful, attractive 41 year old in the IE and let me tell you there are slim pickings here if you want a descent guy… With a job! It sucks being single in this current twisted society with low morals.

  8. Frank

    You have to consider how many people have lived there their whole lives, and how many just moved. You will always do better in a city of transplants because people are more outgoing and open to meeting new folks. Otherwise, you are trying to break into tightly knit social circles that were formed in high school.


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