Raising kids solo is no walk in the park — logistically, financially, and socially, single mothers and single fathers especially need to choose where they live to optimize opportunities and make parenting more feasible. To help you determine the best cities for single parents in the U.S. that are both kid-friendly and financially feasible on a single income, we’ve compiled a list of criteria and the cities that match them. Choose the right city for you, and your family will feel all the more supported as you grow together.
- Ease of Commute – Access to good public transportation, or low traffic density, can make getting to and from work that much easier. Picking the kids up at school or daycare shouldn’t take an extra hour on top of an already full day, so choose a city that makes transit simple and straightforward.
- Economic Feasibility – The cost of living shouldn’t be excessive in comparison to the average annual earnings for a single woman or a single man. Believe it or not, that does vary by the city — so we’ve compared the statistics.
- Kid and Family Friendly – Although most cities are family-friendly, some are more so than others – especially when it comes to educational opportunities and options for daycare and babysitters. Not all cities are equal, and setting yourself up for long-term success can make an enormous difference!
- Social Wellbeing Rank – Is the city a happy one? It matters. We looked at the numbers and chose only cities that rank well for an overall sense of well-being.
Ok, can we start with: the climate in Scottsdale is just fantastic. You can take the kids outside to play just about any day of the year, just don’t forget the sunscreen. This might have something to do with kid-friendly Scottsdale’s high score in social well-being – second in the country according to WalletHub. Men on average make 1.31 times what women are paid for equal jobs (that split is higher in other cities), so earning potential is decent with the average female salary around $43,716. The city also boasts low crime rates, with lots of access to public parks, community centers and greenways to get out and enjoy the community while feeling safe. The school systems are ranked top-notch, too – so really the one area where Scottsdale falls a little flat is public transportation. The bus system is decent, but you’ll likely still need a car to get the most out of life in the city.
Rochester has received many accolades, especially in terms of affordability and a strong job market. Wegmans, Strong Memorial Hospital, and colleges like The University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology keep Rochester’s economy strong by providing solid job opportunities. Rochester has one of the lowest percentages of single mothers lacking health care, and the gender wage gap isn’t too bad — men make an average of 1.29 times what women make in comparable positions, with women’s average income around $32k. In terms of kid friendliness? Rochester has a lot to offer. The Strong Museum, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and a high-quality local library are just the start. Connect with other families at community-focused events during the warmer months of summer, and go indoors to the museums to keep the kids entertained in the cold. With plenty of free options, the whole family will stay entertained while honoring the budget.
Port St. Lucie, FL
The Sunshine abounds in Port St. Lucie, but so do the opportunities to get a great home at a good price. This city makes our list for affordability primarily, where single mothers and single fathers can get a house for around $106k. Aside from low housing costs, the overall cost of living for this coastal gem is surprisingly on par with the rest of the country. Earning potential is also good compared to male averages, and with Savannas State Park, more than 40 public parks and recreational facilities, and the coastline at your fingertips, there is no shortage of things to do. In Port St. Lucie you’ll get a lot of the benefits of the city without the traffic too, making carting the kids around a bit easier. The bus is available but not extensive in its range.
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
In terms of access to income, childcare, and housing affordability, the Durham-Chapel Hill Metro is top notch. Single mothers make an average of $26,132 here, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment is a surprisingly low $922. Take advantage of all the area has to offer economically as it is situated in the North Carolina Research Triangle, a hub of tech and research-focused companies and universities. This also means an abundance of educational opportunities, so the area has above-average rates of well-educated single mothers. When thinking about kids’ activities, think education: the planetarium, botanical gardens, the Kidzu Children’s Museum, and of course — the abundance of public parks and recreation centers to keep kids active and connected to the community. Public transit is available, especially if you’re traveling in and around University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – making Chapel Hill one of the best cities to raise children alone.
Other cities with honorable mentions include moving to Irvine, CA, Madison, WI, and Seattle, WA.
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