On paper, Baltimore has an attractive resume for a single gal interviewing potential cities to live in. Between Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland systems, Baltimore is bursting at its waterfront seams with doctors, lawyers, dentists, and academics. And compared to nearby D.C., the cost of living is reasonable.
The number crunchers at Kiplinger, a financial planning outfit, felt the same way. They’ve ranked Baltimore among the “Top 10 Best Cities for Singles.” Their rankings are based primarily on median income and cost of living. They pre-screened cities for their study like a woman screens her calls, ignoring the cities with too high of a percentage of married households. It makes sense right? We wouldn’t want a study to encourage adultery.
Kiplinger concluded that Baltimore is one of the best cities to be single because, “More than half the population is single, three in 20 hold a graduate degree, and the average date is pretty cheap.” In fact, they report that the average date, which they consider to be two movie tickets and a bottle of wine, costs $28.75 in Baltimore. Maybe if the couple forgoes the wine for a six-pack of Natty Boh, the person picking up the check could spare no expense and splurge on some sweet potato fries.
What Kiplinger could measure, lackluster cheap dates aside, is the number of people satisfied with the single life versus the number dating to find that one person. When I first moved to Baltimore over ten years ago, I wasn’t looking. I even dumped my Indiana sweetheart of four years because I was wooed by the “plenty of well-salaried fish in the Bay” story. I spent the next six years fishing in some pretty murky harbor water before I found Mr. Right.
Many of my friends were also looking to update their status from “single” to “in a relationship.” The string of lame dates laying down lame game sent some of my friends packing to cities not on Kiplinger’s list, like Boston and Houston, where they became seriously involved or engaged. My single friends who remain in Baltimore have moved on from serial dating to hobbies, continued education, and more meaningful careers and friendships to enrich their lives.
So Baltimore, does a city of singles live happily single ever after?