In every major city there are massive amounts of single people out there, says Janis Spindel. But it’s tough to find love. She should know: she makes her living from that fact, running a top matchmaking firm.
Forget the romantic notion of destiny. The clinical way to defy the mate-hunting odds, as Spindel can testify, boils down to one thing: location. With Valentine’s Day approaching, The Daily Beast thought it would quantify that part of the love equation, by examining and then ranking the 104 largest American cities, according to which are most conducive to finding, and keeping, a spouse.
We entered every U.S. city with more than 200,000 people into our computers, then dumped in data surrounding five criteria:
- Singles ratio: The larger the percentage of singles, 18-and-over, according to U.S. Census data, the bigger the relative pool for finding the perfect mate.
- Social life: Using Citysearch, we determined a social life quotient—how many restaurants and bars there are per over-21 adult, as a proxy for meeting opportunities.
- Emotional Health: Studies show that happy people are more open to love. So we ranked cities based on the the Gallup-Healthways Emotional Health Index, based on thousands of questionnaires where respondents described how much they smile and laugh, whether they are treated with respect, whether they find enjoyment, get stressed, feel happy, etc. Cities in milder climes tended to fare better here, skewing those cities higher on rankings.
- Marriage ratio: Is a given city marriage-minded? To determine, we measured the percentage of people who got married in 2008, as a percentage of overall marriage-aged population. Greensboro, North Carolina, for instance, ranked in the top quintile for the percentage of singles, but it ranked toward the bottom for marriages, earning a D.
- Divorce ratio: It’s one thing to get married. True love means you stay married. So we measured 2008 divorces as a percentage of marriage-aged population. Stockton, California, which received an A grade for marriages, finishing in the top quintile, also received an F for divorces, ranking third from last on our list. Riverside, California, meanwhile, notched an A in both categories, placing it seventh overall.
These rankings are universal, designed to be neutral in relation to gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or age.