For the past five years, Paige Tacey has dutifully made her rent payments, most recently $795 a month. But in April, the 27-year-old was able to kiss renting goodbye, maybe for good. She purchased a $126,000 two-bedroom row home in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood—a nice place with a lower monthly nut than she was forking over to her landlord.
And here’s the thing: She did it solo.
“I decided I was going to be in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. So it seemed like a good time to buy a home,” says Tacey, who works in adoption recruitment. “Rent just keeps going up. This just felt like the right decision.”
Tacey isn’t alone. As more Americans are waiting longer to couple up, finding themselves divorced or widowed, or just skipping the prospect of connubial bliss altogether, the number of single home buyers is on the rise.
The numbers help tell the tale: In 1960, one-person households made up 13% of U.S. households; by 1990 that figure was 24.6%, and hit 27.9% as of last year. (The actual number of singles is higher, since these figures don’t include single parents with kids.)
Americans are simply putting off tying the knot later. In 2017, women were a median 27.4 years old when they said “I do,” according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data; those ages have gone up 2 years over the past decade.
But beware, singletons: Buying a home on your own is easier said than done. Lofty down payments and list prices make it a challenge on one income. So realtor.com® figured out the best places for the unattached to become homeowners, calculating the markets with high rates of solo buyers and single populations—and that have plenty of fun things going on.
“Homeownership isn’t just for couples,” insists Roger Ma, a certified financial planner at lifelaidout and New York City–based real estate agent.
We analyzed a variety of data in the 100 largest metropolitan areas,* measuring the following:
The share of mortgages taken out by home buyers who aren’t married over the past 12 months, according to mortgage processor Ellie Mae.
The share of one-person (single) households, according to Nielsen.
And fun stuff: The number of social clubs, dance clubs, sports bars, gay clubs, karaoke bars, nightlife venues, adult sports teams, hiking businesses, and gyms per capita, according to Yelp.com.
OK? So ditch the married friends (for now), and let’s take a grand tour of the best places for going at it alone!
Best Metros for Singles
Median list price: $265,100 Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 52.4%
The streets of Springfield are lined with colorful Victorian and Colonial-style homes dating back more than 100 years, earning it the nickname of “The City of Homes.”
But after the downturn of a decade ago, a number of these places were left vacant due to foreclosures. To keep the market from spiraling down, down, down, the city introduced programs to help both married and single home buyers.
Buy Springfield Now lowers closing costs for home buyers in the region. And the City of Springfield Office of Housing has a down payment assistance program for first-time buyers. Solo buyers can qualify if their income is below $45,200.
That’s a boon for single, 20-somethings who move to Springfield to work at big companies such as Mass Mutual and Baystate Health.
These folks often wind up buying three-bedroom Colonial and Cape Cod homes in the suburbs once they realize they can get them for between $150,000 and $180,000, says Tracy Viola, a broker at Thompson Real Estate Group. Some employers in the region even offer employees 0% interest loans for down payment and closing costs.
“You can get a good-sized house with some land for an amazing price in Springfield,” Viola says.
Singles scoop: Those looking for some adrenalized thrills along with their ardor can take their dates to Six Flags New England. And if you hit up Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant’s trivia night, remember that children’s book author Dr. Seuss was born and raised in Springfield. (It’ll come up, trust us.)
Median list price: $181,600 Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 48.8%
The family-oriented Midwest isn’t the first place that comes to mind for singles. But Cleveland bucks the trend, with nearly 50% of mortgages going to the unattached. And the city responds in kind, offering everything from gay happy hours to an array of speed dating options.
When it comes to real estate, buyers can qualify for a home with even a modest salary. Home prices are far below the national median of $299,000, according to recent realtor.com data. One-bedroom condos in prime downtown areas are in the $150,000 ballpark. Just check out this one-bedroom condo in the Stonebridge Plaza priced at $164,900.
Singles scoop: If your date is a music lover, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (unless you’re a Radiohead fan—still not inducted!). Or take in a show at the Agora Theatre & Ballroom, where recent headliners include The Flaming Lips and Cat Power.
Median list price: $279,100 Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 52.4%
New Haven, CT
As the home of Yale University, New Haven has a mix of college students, research fellows, and academic types who contribute to the ever-shifting population. And it explains why there are so many bars, restaurants, and nightlife options in this small city.
It also helps clarify why so many folks here are unattached. When it comes to home buying, these folks have plenty of options, including Colonials for under $150,000 right in the city, and 1,000-square-foot condos for around $100,000.
“The great thing about New Haven is that it’s centrally located along the shoreline. You can get anywhere in the state in an hour and half,” says Ronnie Ann Ryan, dating coach at Never Too Late for Love. And “there’s an endless variety of things you can do for dates.”
Singles scoop: Still, those looking for a cheap date may want to head to the New Haven Ninth Square District. The historic part of downtown is great for a scenic stroll through buildings and top-notch people watching.
4. Buffalo, NY
Median list price: $190,000 Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 46.2%
Bustling downtown Buffalo
Buffalo has seen a resurgence of sorts after decades of manufacturing job and population losses. But that spate of recent development, which includes $24 million in planned improvements by the waterfront, haven’t resulted in pricey homes.