Cities Journal

The Best And Worst American Cities For Single Mothers


Being a single parent is difficult. It is one of the most difficult things in the world. Being a single mother is even harder since they are faced with just as much prejudice and unnecessary obstacles as any other woman, only also having to take care of her children.

When compared to other demographics, single mothers are more interested in certain amenities that can help make their lives easier, such as public transport, paid maternity leave and pre-K public schools.

The 24/7 Wall St. website decided to determine which American cities offer the most to single mothers and in order to do so, they had to choose a number of factors they would use to rank the different metro areas across the U.S.

They, for instance, decided to look at the housing expenses since housing costs are generally considered to be the largest expense of any family. More precisely, they looked at how many hours per week a single mother would have to work to afford the rent of a two-bedroom apartment. To paint a picture at how varied housing prices are, in certain parts of Pennsylvania, a single mother would have to work 47 hours a week on average to afford suitable accommodation for her and her family. In San Francisco, she would have to work an average of 152 hours a week.

According to the people from 24/7 Wall St., another very important factor is the availability of pre-kindergarten schools, as this allows a single mother to work or further her education. This is also something that should be of interest to city authorities across the U.S. – fund more pre-K schools!

In addition to these, the 24/7 Wall St. research also looked at the median income for a single mother household and the average income deficit for such households below the poverty line.

They discovered that the best metro statistical area for single mothers in the United States is the Norwich-New London MSA in Connecticut and for a number of reasons. It has one of the highest median income averages in the country and has rather affordable rent costs. Even more importantly, the area boasts a very strong pre-K system where more than 60 percent of three and four year olds are enrolled in school.

The second best metro area in the country is also in Connecticut, this time the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford MSA which also has one of the best preschool programs where almost 67 percent of pre-K children go to school. Single mothers are also much more likely to find a job in this area, as well as earn way above the national average median for single mothers.


Cedar Rapids, Iowa is the third best place for single mothers in the country, mostly thanks to the very low rent costs. Rent is cheaper than in almost any other metro area in the country, which allows single mothers to work fewer hours a week. Also, whereas only 45 percent of single mothers own their homes in the country, in Cedar Rapids, the percentage is almost 60 percent.

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk MSA, Connecticut and the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA, North Carolina are two other MSAs that did particularly well.

On the other hand, we have particularly bad metro areas for single mothers and none is worse than the Urban Honolulu MSA in Hawaii. This area, usually considered heaven on earth, is absolutely hostile towards single mothers. For one, the rent prices require a single mother to work more than 152 hours a week (almost 22 hours a day) to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The city is also notorious for its extremely low income for single mother households.

The Hinesville MSA in Georgia is the second-worst metro area for single mothers in the country, primarily because of one of the lowest median income averages in the country. Despite the low rent prices, the insanely low median income makes it near impossible to make the rent for a single mother. The city also fails at the pre-K school system that is so important for single mothers.

The Santa Cruz-Watsonville MSA in California is the third-worst metro area for single mothers and once again, it all has to do with rent prices. With the market rent average of $1,600 for a two-bedroom apartment and a median income of just over $29,000, a single mother would have to work an impossible 123 hours a week to make it.

The Salinas MSA, California and the Clarksville MSA, Tennessee-Kentucky did not fare much better.

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