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:
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?
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
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.
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