Real Estate Data for the Rest of Us

articles about “Data Mashups

Looking for Love in All the Right Places

If you’re hoping to find love this Valentine’s Day, here’s where you should go to improve your odds.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
February 11, 2013

In Washington, D.C., women often complain about the lack of available men. On the other hand, “Man Jose” gets that nickname for having too few available women for the men of Silicon Valley. But is it fact or fiction? In love, as with real estate, it’s better to get the inside scoop before you start your search.

To figure out where the gender ratio is most skewed in each direction, we went right to the data. We know from our consumer survey about love and housing that not all singles are equally in demand, at least when it comes to dating. Among unmarried adults, 62% prefer to date someone who lives alone; only 14% prefer to date someone who lives with other people. Perhaps living alone sends the right signal about independence and availability – or perhaps living alone just makes dating easier (does anyone really want to hear their mom ask, “Honey, can I make you and your friend some pancakes?”).

Whatever the reason, we get it: so we looked at the ratio of men living alone to women living alone in order to assess the dating scene. We also subtracted estimates of the gay and lesbian population in order to focus on men and women interested in dating someone of the opposite sex; check out our Welcome to the Gayborhood post if that’s news you can use. Finally, we excluded people older than 65 since differences in life expectancy skew the gender ratio in the later years. (Just ask my grandfather, who was very popular in the Miami Beach coffee shop scene back in the day.) How did we do this? See the methodology at the end of this post.

Where the Boys Are
Women looking for single men should try their odds in Vegas, where the ratio of men living alone to women living alone is the highest among the 100 largest metros: 1.34. That’s four men for every three women. San Jose, it turns out, also has plenty of men to choose from, with 1.23 men for every woman. Several warm spots – Honolulu, Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL, and Miami – also skew toward men (remember we’re not including those 65+), as do some mid-size metros around the country, like Worcester and Tacoma.

# U.S. Metro # of men living alone per woman living alone
1 Las Vegas, NV


2 Honolulu, HI


3 Palm Bay-
Melbourne-Titusville, FL


4 Gary, IN


5 San Jose, CA


6 Salt Lake City, UT


7 Miami, FL


8 Worcester, MA


9 Allentown, PA-NJ


10 Tacoma, WA


Among 100 largest metros, excluding those with few singles living alone.

The most lopsided ratios, however, are not in these large metros. The ratio of men to women is above 2 in Williston, ND, Gillette, WY, and Rock Springs, WY. Each of these smaller metros is the center of a male-dominated industry: Williston is at the heart of the North Dakota oil boom, and Gillette and Rock Springs are Wyoming mining towns. In fact, rural areas and smaller metros generally have a higher ratio of men to women.

All the Single Ladies
Women outnumber men in the big three power centers of the Northeast: Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York. The ratio is highest in the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick metro, which is just over the Maryland border from Washington, D.C. Nine of the 10 metros with the highest ratio of women to men are in the East: Oakland is the only exception.

# U.S. Metro

# of women living alone per man living alone

1 Bethesda-Rockville-
Frederick, MD


2 Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV


3 Boston, MA


4 New York, NY-NJ


5 Raleigh, NC


6 Richmond, VA


7 Atlanta, GA


8 Baltimore, MD


9 Peabody, MA


10 Oakland, CA


Among 100 largest metros, excluding those with few singles living alone.

The ratio of women to men tends to be highest in larger metros. None of the smaller metros are skewed toward women nearly as much as Williston, ND, is skewed toward men, but Napa, CA, and Santa Fe, NM, are two of the small metros with the highest ratio of women to men.

Uptown Girl, East End Boys
Billy Joel and the Pet Shop Boys – who otherwise couldn’t be more different – were both onto something. Billy Joel’s New York City had an uptown girl and a downtown man; the Pet Shop Boys sang of London’s West End girls and East End boys. The data back them up. In every big metro, there are neighborhoods where men outnumber women and neighborhoods where women outnumber men, as these maps make clear:

Singles in New York City

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Best Places To Live If You Want To Lose Weight

Still sticking to your New Year’s resolutions one week into 2013? Losing weight is among the most popular–and most difficult–of resolutions, but you’ve got a better chance of shedding those pounds in San Francisco or Boston than in Las Vegas or San Antonio.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
January 9, 2013

It’s been a long holiday season of sugared bacon and brown-butter cookies. Now begins the January push to lose weight–the #1 New Year’s resolution. Weight loss isn’t only about willpower; your environment matters too: cheap food, suburban sprawl, and long commutes all contribute to America’s obesity problem. Which metros give you a fighting chance to get back into fighting shape? Instead of doing crunches at the gym, we’ve been sitting at our desks crunching the numbers to figure it out.

Because there are many ways to lose weight, we combined five different measures in our final ranking. Each of these measures reflects a different weight-loss strategy:

  1. Eat healthier food. This first measure looks at local food options. We used the ratio of “slow food” establishments (supermarkets, specialty food markets, and full-service restaurants) divided by “fast food” establishments (convenience stores and fast-food restaurants). Metros with more “slow food” and less “fast food” scored higher. San Francisco, New York, and Cape CoralFort Myers, FL, did best on this measure.
  2. Get to work on your own steam. By walking or biking to work, you incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. We used the percentage of workers who commute by walking or biking. Metros where many people live in downtowns near their jobs did well on this measure, as did metros with better weather. New York, Boston, San Francisco, Honolulu, Middlesex County, MA, and Portland, OR, had the highest share of workers getting to work on two feet or two wheels.
  3. Hit the gym. If you live 20 miles from your job or your town is snow-covered six months a year, you won’t be walking or biking to work, but you can join a gym. We used the number of gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers per 1,000 households. Suburban metros like Fairfield County, CT (next to New York), Middlesex County, MA (next to Boston), Long Island, NY, and Lake County–Kenosha County, IL (next to Chicago), have the highest density of gyms.
  4. Do more outside. Hate the treadmill? Then hike, ski, run, or surf. To get a measure of all of the outdoor sports opportunities in a metro, we used the number of sporting-goods stores per 1,000 households. Metros that do well on this measure include metros near mountains like Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs; beach areas like Ventura County, CA, San Diego, and Honolulu; and the outdoorsy Pacific Northwest metros of Seattle and Portland.
  5. Join a program. Don’t want to go it alone? Weight-loss centers offer education, counseling, and support. We used the number of weight-loss and diet centers per 1,000 households. Philadelphia, Orange County, CA, and Camden, NJ, have the highest density of these centers in the US.
Merry Christmas, Knoxville! Happy Holidays, New York! Visualization Preview

Check out the full infographic

Merry Christmas, Knoxville! Happy Holidays, New York!

America’s largest non-Christian religious minorities tend to live in bigger, more expensive metros. As a share of the total metro population, New York has the most Jews; Chicago and Detroit have the most Muslims; San Jose has the most Hindus; and Honolulu has the most Buddhists.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
December 20, 2012

Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans. It also stands out as the only federal holiday with religious origins: all other federal holidays commemorate events or people in American history or mark the start of the secular calendar. America is a predominately Christian country: 76% of adults identify as Christian, only 4% identify with a non-Christian faith, and the remaining 20% either identify with no religion or declined to answer (American Religion Identification Survey, 2008). But for America’s largest non-Christian religious minorities–Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists–Christmas has a different meaning. To be sure, many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists join Christian friends and family in Christmas celebrations. Others create alternative traditions: Chinese restaurants and movies are packed on Christmas, for instance, and the Society of Young Jewish Professionals organizes annual “MatzoBall” parties on Christmas Eve in several cities.

In honor of Christmas, we took a look at the metros with the most and least non-Christian religious minorities in America. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists together account for 9.6% of New York’s population – more than any other metro — followed by Edison-New Brunswick, NJ, and San Jose, CA. (See note at end on data source and definitions.) At the other extreme, Greenville, SC, Knoxville, TN, and El Paso, TX, have the fewest non-Christian religious minorities as a share of their population – making “Merry Christmas” a more appropriate holiday greeting than in New York. Each religious group has a very different geographic pattern, so let’s look at each separately first before pulling it all together.

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School Districts People Flock to – and Flee From

Parents “vote with their feet” by moving to better schools. We looked in every part of the country to find which districts attract parents with school-aged kids. Should you follow in their footsteps?

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
August 28, 2012

The back-to-school season is upon us. Across the country, millions of children are preparing to hit the books. Many of those kids will be entering school for the first time, making this season a huge transition for them and their families. But for many families, starting school isn’t the only transition. Our analysis of Census data shows that 57% of households where the oldest child is between 5 and 9 years old said they moved sometime in the previous five years. Lots of factors go into the decision of whether to move and where, and for parents, this decision is largely driven by what matters most to their families: affordability, more space and of course good schools.

To figure out which school districts are the “most attractive” – in the sense that they attract families with school-age kids — we looked at the number of elementary school kids (by which we mean kids aged 5 to 9) and the number of preschoolers (kids aged 0 to 4) living in every school district in the U.S., according to the 2010 Census. The ratio of elementary school kids to preschoolers shows whether families move to or away from a district as kids approach school age. Since the Census is a snapshot in time, we can’t track individual families to see whether and when they actually moved to a different school district, but the ratio does reveal their overall movement patterns.

Here’s why: if families never moved, then the number of 5-to-9 year-olds would be very close to the number of 0-to-4 year-olds in an area, and the ratio would be very close to 1. (Nationally, the ratio is 1.01.) Children don’t just magically vanish after age 4; nor does the stork drop 5-year-olds from the sky. Therefore, a ratio below 1 indicates that more families are moving out of an area than are moving in as children reach school age. And vice-versa, a ratio above 1 indicates that more families are moving in than moving out. The higher the ratio, the more “attractive” the school district is, because it literally attracts more families with school-age kids.

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Eating Towns, Drinking Towns

The coasts dine, and the heartland drinks.

What are you doing tonight? Will you and your friends be going out to eat or meeting for a drink? Like everything else, where you hang out depends on where you live. Using Census data, we found the metros with the highest density of restaurants and bars, adjusting for the number of households (details at end of post). We didn’t try to measure quality since that’s a matter of personal taste, and the best-restaurant or favorite-bar debate can get fierce. Instead, we focused on the quantity of restaurants and bars that locals can choose from. Look at the top 10 lists below: some places are eating towns, and others are drinking towns, but few are both.

Eating Towns

San Francisco has the most restaurants of all large metros in the U.S., adjusted for the number of households. No other major metro comes close: at 39.3 per 10,000 households, San Francisco has nearly 50% more restaurants relative to its size than #2 Fairfield County, CT (the southwest corner of the state nearest New York City). All of the top eating towns are on or near the ocean. If you want lots of restaurants to choose from, move toward the coasts.

Top Metros for Eating Out
# U.S. Metro Restaurants per 10,000 households Median price per sqft of for-sale homes
1 San Francisco, CA 39.3 $459
2 Fairfield County, CT 27.6 $222
3 Long Island, NY 26.5 $217
4 New York, NY-NJ 25.3 $275
5 Seattle, WA 24.9 $150
6 San Jose, CA 24.8 $319
7 Orange County, CA 24.8 $260
8 Providence, RI-MA 24.3 $146
9 Boston, MA 24.2 $219
10 Portland, OR-WA 24.0 $129

Note: among the 100 largest metros.

Living in a great eating town isn’t cheap: homes for sale in seven of the top 10 eating towns have a median price per square foot of $200 or more. Why are eating towns more expensive? Many people are willing to pay more to live near restaurants. But, more importantly, high-income people have more money to spend on eating out, so the high-cost places where high-income people tend to live can support more restaurants.

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