With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we at Zillow have love on the brain. Specifically, we’ve created an index that identifies the best cities to relocate to and pursue finding new romance. We’ve divided the dating pool into four groups: women under 35, women 35 and over, men under 35, and men 35 and over. We’ve also considered different requirements for those seeking opposite-sex partners and those seeking same-sex partners. In the end, this leads to eight different indices.
Each index captures five important features important to the pursuit of new love in a new city.
Quality of dates
In order to impress, a potential suitor needs disposable income for sexy jeans and a candlelight dinner. The U.S. Census provides the median income separately for women and men living alone between the ages of 15 and 64. To capture the buying power of your target dating pool, for example single women, we use this measure of median income less the rent one might expect to pay over the course of a year in a given city. For this rent measure we use the annualized Zillow Rent Index, ZRI x 12 months.
Money to spend will mean little without the availability of nearby restaurants and culture. To capture this, we use the city level Walk Score, provided by WalkScore.com, which estimates the relative proximity to multiple restaurants and retail locations.
Relative size of the dating pool
No one wants the hunt for love to unravel into a hunt for a needle in a hay stack. We estimate the relative size of the dating pool by finding the percentage of the total population composed of singles in your target dating pool. This is a signal of the ease with which one could expect a chance meeting with a potential partner.
So now you’ve found her. How many others are also vying for her attention? To capture the competition among opposite-sex partnerships, we use the ratio of women to men within the singles in the target dating pool. A heterosexual woman would face less competition in a city with a low value for this measure, meaning there are fewer women than men. A heterosexual man, however, would prefer this ratio to be very high.
Unfortunately, no such measure capturing competition is immediately apparent for individuals seeking a same-sex partner. The U.S. Census does not collect information on unattached individuals with same-sex preferences. We can only know the percentage of unmarried cohabitating couples who are composed of female-female or male-male partnerships. We include this measure in place of the heterosexual competition measure for women seeking women and men seeking men, respectively, to identify cities that are gay or lesbian friendly.
New City Worries
We figure most people don’t like to be the only new kid in town. A city may be easier to relocate to for love if there is a larger portion of the dating pool who are also from out of town. Similarly, without an influx of new residents, the dating scene might become insular where everyone already knows everyone. A steady stream of fresh faces is captured by the percentage of the total population who is single and relocated within the past five years from a different county, state or country. Unfortunately, we cannot break this measure down by dating pool group.
To calculate an In the Move for Love index for a particular dating pool and sexual orientation preference, we find the percentile in which the city falls for each of the five metrics important for that group and preference pairing. The In the Move for Love index for a given city is then the average across these five percentiles, all equally weighted. We also require at least four of the metrics to be non-missing, and for the same-sex indices we require the metric measuring the portion of cohabitating couples who are gay to be present.