Single in the City Can Cost Big Bucks

That carefree single life may carry some financial hitches, depending on where you live.

For some the single life means more freedom and a chance to revel in city nightlife, while also being able to save and work toward financial goals. But it can be challenging to hack it on your own, depending on where you live, according a recent GOBankingRates survey of 89 major U.S. cities.

The survey compares the local costs of wardrobe staples, gym memberships, rent, and a night out with a date, among other single staples. The cost of a date was the sum of the following: a bottle of wine, dinner for two, two movie tickets and a 10-mile taxi ride.

Somewhat surprising, New York is a relative bargain compared with San Francisco. Including rent, consumer prices are 6.66% lower in the Big Apple, and rent by itself is 12.8% lower. Still, the Empire State ranks second-most expensive place for singles.

The five priciest cities are:

  • San Francisco: High costs across all categories but scores the worst for rent. At $3.36 per square foot, it’s 30% more expensive than the next-highest rent price ($2.60 in Honolulu) and more than triple the median cost of $0.91 per square foot. Cost of a date in the shadow of the Golden Gate is also the third-highest in the study at $147, compared with the median cost of around $109.
  • New York: High prices across all categories, with gym memberships costing the most of any city, at $90 per month. Clothing costs are second-highest in the nation, with the average clothing staple at $82. A date night in the Big Apple is the fourth-most expensive, at $145.
  • Washington, D.C.: Clothing costs are fairly average in Washington—the only reasonably priced factor for singles in the nation’s capital. The city’s $70 average gym membership is the second-highest of the 89 cities, its $2.12 per-square-foot rent cost the fourth-highest. It’s the huge cost of a date that hurts Washington singles the most: The $166 cost is more than 50% higher than the median of $109.
  • Honolulu: The highest lifestyle-related costs are clothing and housing. Honolulu’s average rent cost, $2.60 per square foot, is the second-highest of any in the study. The average $80 cost of a clothing staple in the city is the fourth-highest, and the price of a date is slightly lower than in other high-priced cities at $134, but this cost is among the study’s 10 highest for date nights.
  • Boston: Rent of $2.33 per square foot is the third-highest of cities surveyed. Gym memberships in Boston are also pretty steep; the $63 monthly cost ranks among the 10 highest. Beantown also features steeper prices on clothing and dating activities.