Sizing up the best (and worst) cities in America for single moms

We crunched the numbers and these best and worst cities to be a single mother in the United States.

Sizing up the best (and worst) cities in America for single moms
Being a single mom is a challenge, but some cities make it a lot easier than others. 

Being a single mom isn’t easy. As if the day-to-day slog of raising the next generation weren’t hard enough, lone parents typically face much tougher financial pressures than dual-income households.

Single parents don’t just have to plan their budgets wisely, but also constantly be on the lookout to save money wherever they can. That makes choosing the right place to live absolutely imperative – particularly when the financial reality can vary dramatically from one city or state to the next.

To give hard-working moms a helping hand, NewHomesMate has been crunching the data on America’s cities to identify the best and worst places for single moms. We’ve looked at everything from average incomes to real estate prices, as well as the availability of healthcare, to work out which cities top the charts.

Our study revealed

  • The best city for single moms is Washington DC, followed by Atlanta, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
  • The worst city for single moms is Las Vegas, followed by El Paso, Bakersfield, and San Antonio.
  • The most expensive city to raise a child is San Francisco, followed by Oakland, San Jose, and Boston.
  • The cheapest cities for real estate are Milwaukee, Memphis, Baltimore, and Detroit.
  • The highest concentration of single folks can be found in Atlanta, followed by Washington DC, and Seattle.

The single life: the best cities for single moms

In order to find the top spots for single moms to live, we gathered data on America’s 50 largest cities – from New York City to Aurora – and then ranked them according to a range of financial and lifestyle factors.

We wanted to know not just the price of real estate, but the average salary and the typical cost of raising a child. We also looked at things like how each city scored in terms of educational rankings; the percentage of single residents (after all, not everyone wants to be a single parent forever…); and the availability and quality of women’s health care.

Typically, our highest ranked cities scored well across all categories. Take our overall winner, Washington DC. The city has the third highest average income in America, yet its real estate and childcare costs are much lower than other high-earning cities, helping that cash go even further.

Some of the largest and best known cities in the US ranked lower, despite scoring very strongly in certain categories. New York City, for example, was among the highest scorers for educational standards and women’s healthcare but was hampered by high real estate costs.

Other major cities achieved mid-range rankings across the board. Like Philadelphia, which ranked 17th overall, 34th for childcare costs, 39th for average salaries, 19th for education and 30th for the availability of women’s healthcare. Although the city of brotherly love did rank amongst the cheapest for real estate (9th with average house price: $265,000).

Overall, 23 cities from 20 different states achieved higher than the median score of 30, with Seattle, Atlanta and Minneapolis finishing just behind the capital at the top of the scoreboard. Other strong choices for single parents include Portland, Chicago and Denver.

Amongst the leading states, the best scoring city within California was San Francisco, while Austin and Tampa emerged as the best options for single moms in Texas and Florida respectively.

Hard times: the worst cities for single moms

Las Vegas has always been a city of winners and losers. But it seems that single moms are amongst the latter, thanks to sky-high childcare costs, expensive real estate, and poor provision of women’s healthcare

While the average Las Vegas salary ($36,275) wasn’t massively below cities like New York City ($48,066) and Los Angeles ($43,527), the city ranked considerably lower on many of the factors which will weigh heavily on the life quality of single parents.

Of the top 50 largest cities in the US, Sin City ranks 47th for educational standards and 37th for women’s healthcare and safety. Although the cost of raising a child ($23,395) is only marginally higher than the median ($22,225).

Our second lowest scoring city is El Paso in Texas. Despite the lowest childraising costs ($18,095), the border city is also hampered by having a low level of education, a small proportion of single folks (just 30.42%) and poor healthcare coverage for women.

The southern Californian city of Bakersfield, which ranks as the third worst city, shares a similar profile with low scores in education levels (50th out of 50 cities) and income (42nd out of 50). Despite that, real estate in the city is comparatively high, with an average price tag of $395,000, perhaps due to its proximity to Los Angeles.

Some single moms may also find it instructive to look at particular variables that matter most to them. Those concerned about the cost of raising a child, for example, would be advised to avoid the likes of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, all of which run to over $30,000 per annum.

For women’s healthcare, meanwhile, the cities with the worst scores are Tulsa, Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, those looking for a potential partner would be wise to stay clear of Virginia Beach, El Paso, San Jose, Bakersfield, where the numbers of single adults are the lowest.

Even leaving aside the lowest ranking cities, our data shows how most areas have their individual drawbacks. For example, while New York City is consistently amongst the most in-demand places to live in America, the city has the 4th highest real estate prices and is the 10th most expensive city to raise a child.

So while life as a single mom may be no walk in the park, our data shows how parents can take into account different factors – both financial and otherwise – when weighing up their next move.

After all, no-one wants to be paying pricey for real estate on a low paycheck, or paying extra for services that cost much less elsewhere. As our study proves again and again, not all cities are alike – particularly for solo mothers.


To create this study, we analyzed the average annual income per person, the average property price, the annual cost of raising a child, educational ranks, the percentage of single people living in the area and women’s health care & safety rank for the 50 most populated cities in the US.

Each city was assigned a ‘NewHomesMate score’ for each factor based on a predefined scale, with the total score for each city used to determine the best and worst places for single moms to settle.

'Detailed findings and how the NewHomesMate score was calculated:


World Population Review (The 200 Largest Cities in the United States by Population 2024)
United States Census Bureau (Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2022 dollars), 2018-2022) (Median listing home price)
Smartasset (Annual cost of raising a child)
WalletHub (Most & Least Educated Cities in America (Overall Rank); Women’s Health Care & Safety Rank)

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