In 2002, Forbes magazine said, “Pittsburgh is a pit for singles,” ranking it dead last out of the top 40 major American cities. This was front-page news, spawning a lot of public “what are we doing wrong?” soul-searching among local leaders.
When it comes to the ubiquitous listicle, 15 years ago, Pittsburgh was reliably at the bottom of these stories, if it placed at all. However, that has changed.
Most recently, a fast-growing startup called moveBuddha came up with a formula to measure the 10 Best Cities for Single Men (in America). Lo and behold, Pittsburgh is ranked #5.
“Our data guy ran it for 250 cities,” says Ryan Carrigan, a co-founder of moveBuddha. “It wasn’t just major cities.”
The company, which is based in Georgia, is “kind of like a Travelocity or Expedia for moving,” explains Carrigan. “We help people plan relocations. Part of these surveys we do—a lot of our customers are looking at moving for job reasons. They like to know about those places and how they stack up.”
Some of the data measured were pretty obvious, like the number of people between the ages of 20 and 30, and population of unmarried people. Other data points included the unemployment rate, and the Yelp results for nightlife.
“What’s the density of nightlife spots in the area?” asks Carrigan. “We’re looking for a lot of nightlife, a lot of places to meet people—that ratio per square mile. The higher, the better.”
“It’s geared towards younger singles. This study, we’re looking at people trying to get into their first marriage, not their second.”
Pittsburgh had the second highest score out of all the cities surveyed for nightlife. If you’ve ever tried to pick just one bar on the South Side, you’re probably not too surprised.
Not everything was given equal value.
“We debated a little bit,” says Carrigan. “[We used] one-bedroom average rent—you need to afford the city to live there as a single. It didn’t have the weight of some of the others.”
More weight was given to the percentage of unmarried people, and male-to-female ratio.
“Since it is male-focused, we’re only looking at hetero relationships, though we’ll probably do some same-sex stuff as well [in the future],” says Carrigan. “That ratio was pretty important.”
The results for the top 10 were all pretty close.
“If you’re on this list, you’re definitely well ahead of the game.”
They do a lot of these city rankings because people like to read them. There is one city that seems to always come out on top, though, and it isn’t Pittsburgh. It also took the top spot in The 10 Best Cities for Single Men.
“Cincinnati wins a lot of stuff,” says Carrigan. “We almost have to find a different way to look at things (to give others a chance). It seems to be a city that’s cheap. They were also number one for young professionals, with the low cost of living.”