GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – If you are single and living in North Carolina, we can tell you what the best city is for you, but you might be more concerned about the worst.
WalletHub, the online financial portal that analyzes data about our lives and trends, has crunched the numbers and determined the best places in America for those who are unwed.
And right there at No. 64 among America’s 182 largest cities is none other than Fayetteville. That’s right, the city of more than 211,000, the primary location for Fort Bragg, where 54% of the population is unmarried and nearly half of the men never have been, despite an overall median age of 30.8, is North Carolina’s best bet for the unbetrothed.
If you were surprised by that, you also may be surprised to learn that the Piedmont Triad’s two big college towns are the two worst cities for singles: Greensboro ranks No. 164, and Winston-Salem is No. 176. Sorry for all you young people.
If you care, the nation’s five best cities are Seattle; Madison, Wisconsin; Denver; San Francisco; and Portland, Oregon. The only cities ranked worse than Winston-Salem are Shreveport, Louisiana; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Hialeah, Florida; Brownsville, Texas; Glendale, California; and Warwick, Rhode Island.
Winston-Salem among its roughly 250,000 residents has a median age of 36.4, and 58% of them are single, nearly half never-married men.
Greensboro, home to six colleges and universities, has among its nearly 300,000 residents a median age of 36.3, and only 4 in 10 are married, with 45% of the men never married.
So how did Greensboro and Winston fail so badly with so many young people and single people in residence? That would all seem pretty attractive to the single crowd.
WalletHub built its rankings by calculating data points for Economics (think about the costs of going out and primping to do so), Fun & Recreation (think about the numbers of attractions, restaurants and coffee shops) and Dating Opportunities (that population data).
All 36 data points were weighted and graded on a 100-point scale that led to a final total. Winston-Salem, for instance, earned 41.57 points and Greensboro, 43.93, which were about 50% worse than Seattle’s 64.77 or Madison’s 62.62.
If you care, Fayetteville recorded 52.47, which was joined by No. 77 Raleigh (51.45) as the only NC cities among the top 100. Charlotte (48.88) is No. 116 and Durham (45.88) was No. 145. Wilmington and Asheville didn’t make the cut.
How North Carolina fared
Here’s what killed the Triad’s cities: Greensboro ranked absolutely dead last for Singles Gender Balance (two spots below Durham, it should be noted), which is a double-weighted data point under Dating Opportunities.
Greensboro is No. 177 and Winston-Salem is No. 178 overall in that statistical category. By contrast Greensboro is ranked No. 51 for economics and No. 77 for Fun & Recreation. Winston is No. 67 and No. 135 in those categories, respectively.
Fayetteville ranks No. 38 for Dating Opportunities and No. 78 for Economics but No. 145 for Fun & Recreation.
Durham is No. 13 for Economics (Gilbert, Arizona, is No. 1), perhaps because it has the fourth-lowest average price for beer and wine, and Raleigh is No. 48 for Fun & Recreation (San Francisco is No. 1). Madison is the best city for Dating Opportunities.
How to decide on a city
WalletHub also asked a panel of college professors and experts for their best advice to singles about choosing a city to live in.
They cited opportunities to have fun (attractions), demographics (if they were looking for a true partner) and affordability. And they said size does matter: The bigger the area, the more likely to have opportunities. One cited paying attention to the community if you are LBGTQ.
“In addition to considering affordability, singles who are choosing a city should look at whether the place offers resources and activities that fit their lifestyle,” Anita L. Vangelisti, an associate dean of communications at the University of Texas in Austin (No. 7 city overall), told WalletHub. “If someone is really into fitness and interested in the outdoors, that person ought to make sure they have access to nice gyms and outdoor activities (biking, swimming, hiking, sailing). By contrast, someone who loves museums, shows, and upscale restaurants will want to see whether those things are available.”
But a fellow Texan, Jacki Fitzpatrick, an associate professor at Texas Tech, added a caution flag for how singles evaluate their places to live.
“There can be a dramatic difference between experiencing a location as a tourist/visitor or a daily resident,” Fitzpatrick told WalletHub. “Most residents do not live in hotels with constant access to service staff. They cannot afford a car service or go to ticketed events (sports, concerts) every night.
“If possible, individuals should spend some time in a city during the offseason. Get a motel room or short-term rental in a neighborhood where they could realistically afford to live. Explore whether this neighborhood is a good fit for their daily routine. If they plan to spend a lot of time in another neighborhood (e.g., the theater district, the latest trendy place), then experience the costs.
“For example, how much time and money would roundtrip typically take? All of this information can help singles make realistic choices about whether they can actually live in a particular city.”