Unhappy Valentine's Day: Single New Yorkers pay a 'tax' for their solo status

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By Emily Myers  |
February 14, 2019 - 10:00AM

It's not you, it's NYC. 

iStock/Alex Potemkin

If the New York City dating scene is leaving you cold this Valentine’s Day, you can take comfort knowing it’s the city that’s the problem, not you. A study by listings site, Apartment List, found New York ranked 34th for dating opportunities out of 66 U.S. cities.

Not only is the dating scene mediocre, but living alone in New York City costs an average of $14,370 more annually than living with a partner and splitting the rent. Stats from StreetEasy suggest this singles tax rises to $16,500 in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, the additional cost of living alone is $13,170 and in Queens it is $11,100.

The price you pay for being single can also depend on whether you were born here or moved here from out of state. Manhattan has the highest share of unmarried New Yorkers who’ve moved here. StreetEasy data analyst Nancy Wu puts this down to New York City's diverse economy.

"Young, unmarried people are taking advantage of the option to move to the city for these high paying jobs that tend to be centered in Lower Manhattan and Midtown." Neighborhoods such as the West Village, Flatiron, and East Village rank among the top 10 neighborhoods for out-of-state singles. Among these, the East Village has the lowest median rent for a studio or one-bedroom unit, at $2,500, while the Flatiron has the highest, at $4,000.

Unmarried New York-born residents are spread across the five boroughs and have much lower median incomes and rents. These are areas like Stapleton and Clifton in Staten Island, East Harlem in Manhattan, and Mott Haven and Morrisania in the Bronx. The median rent for studios and one bedrooms is less than $2,000 in all these neighborhoods. 

Wu says "commute time is a major factor, which results in many out-of-state New Yorkers choosing to live in Manhattan. Native New Yorkers also work in these jobs—a sizable share of New York-born singles live in Manhattan and earn high incomes as well, but a greater proportion reside in the outer boroughs, where not as many out of state New Yorkers move."

Based on the inventory of properties in the city, singles living alone have the best chances of finding a studio or one-bedroom apartment in Midtown, the Financial District, Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City or Chelsea. The neighborhoods with the most studio or one-bedroom apartments are also among the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, with median asking rents up to 54 percent above the citywide median of $2,600.

Stats showed Midtown West has a higher share of unmarried men, while Midtown South has a higher share of unmarried women. Similarly, unmarried men are more prevalent in the East Village, while unmarried women make up more of the population one neighborhood over, in Stuyvesant Town.

So, if you’re looking for love, you might have to check out an adjacent neighborhood. Either that or move to Austin, TX, the highest ranked city for dating opportunities—with 39 percent of singles happy with the scene there, according to Apartment List.

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Emily Myers

Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Emily Myers is a senior writer, podcast host, and producer at Brick Underground. She writes about issues ranging from market analysis and tenants' rights to the intricacies of buying and selling condos and co-ops. As host of the Brick Underground podcast, she has earned four silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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