NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Karenna Alexander is a 40-something single woman living in Hartford, Conn. who is dating for marriage. And she's willing to invest to achieve her goal: she spends from $300 to $500 a month on maintaining her beauty with hair blowouts twice a week and up to $300 a month to attend singles events and for the expense of maintaining memberships on Internet dating websites such as JDate.com and Match.com.
“My dating coach got me into hair blowouts, and my look has improved 50%,” Alexander told MainStreet.
But the cost of being single is not equal in all cities for those like Alexander, and various financial factors such as employment and expensiveness affect how conducive a particular city is to a single person's dating prospects. Alexander's residence in a smaller city may actually make her dating expenses easier to shoulder. According to a WalletHub ranking, the top five cities for singles are Boise, Idaho; Madison, Wisc., Denver; Austin; and Lincoln, Neb. The worst cities included Mobile, Ala.; Glendale, Calif.; Philadelphia, New York City; and Jersey City.
“We looked at the cost of beauty salons, fitness memberships and the cost of upkeep overall that helps singles stay in the dating game and found that maintaining in between dates is a significant expense that drags bigger cities down in the ranking,” said Jill Gonzalez, spokesperson with WalletHub.
Alexander, who works as a retail sales professional, has benefited significantly from living in a low-cost city. She spends $25 a month to work out at an inexpensive gym and manages to go on two to three first or blind dates a week.
"It's been two years since I am back on the singles scene and it's hard," Alexander said. "I've spent thousands of dollars to get my look together and stay ahead of the game."
But though dating is expensive, she's saved significantly compared to those living New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Other metrics WalletHub were percentage of singles, cost of a bottle of wine, number of nightlife options and mobile dating opportunities.
“In Boise, Idaho a haircut can cost $23 and monthly gym membership $27 compared to New York where gym membership can be a minimum of $100 a month,” Gonzalez said. “When you factor all of these expenses into your spending plan, smaller cities look more attractive.”
Singles in smaller towns are more likely to be employed than in big cities like Detroit, where 73% of the population is single but the unemployment rate is 15%, which is triple the national average.
“Employment leads to happiness, which leads to a better date,” Gonzalez told MainStreet. “In New York, the unemployment rate is 5.8% compared to Lincoln and Boise where unemployment is less than 3%, which indicates that singles have steady jobs.”
Some 58% of the population in New York is single, but the cost of a six pack of beer is $10 compared to $7 in Milwaukee. Of course, once on a date, the cost to woo for single men quickly adds up.
-Written for MainStreet by Juliette Fairley