Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Mar 31st 2008 at 7:04am UTC

The Singles Map

From the book, Who’s Your City?


This is a new, updated and improved version the singles map (inspired by an earlier map in  National Geographic) published in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

MORE COOL MAPS, here.

A Singles Map of the United States

Which cities have a surplus of single men (or women) – and what that means for the country

By Richard Florida

Which of these two decisions do you think has a
bigger impact on someone’s life: finding the right job, or finding the
right significant other? No one’s going to argue with the notion that
where you live affects your employment prospects. But the place you
call home has a lot to do with your chances of finding the right
partner as well. Having an enticing “mating market” matters as much or
more than a vibrant labor market.

It’s
not just that some places have more singles than others. If you’re a
single man or a single woman the odds of meeting that special someone
vary dramatically across the country.

By far, the best places for
single men are the large cities and metro areas of the East Coast and
Midwest. The extreme is greater New York, where single women outnumber
single men by more than 210,000. In the Philadelphia area and greater
Washington, D.C., single women outnumber single men by 50,000. I met my
wife outside Detroit, where the odds were greatly stacked in my favor -
single women outnumber single men by some 20,000 there.

In fact,
single women outnumber single men in many large cities around the
world, even though men outearn women at all ages, according to Lena C.
Edlund, a Columbia University economist. One reason young women in the
prime marriage years – the 25-44 age range – flock to big cities is to
compete for the most eligible men. And smart women who gravitate to
vibrant cities are more likely to stay single – for longer, at least -
because they rightly refuse to settle for someone who can’t keep up
with them intellectually or otherwise.

But women do have an
advantage in the American West and Southwest. In greater Los Angeles,
for example, there are 90,000 more single men than women. In Phoenix
and the San Francisco Bay Area, single men outnumber single women by
roughly 65,000. There are considerably more single men than women in
San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle, too. Each of these regions has grown
substantially over the past two or three decades, offering jobs in
everything from high tech to construction and services. As numerous
studies of migration show, men – especially those in regions with
declining economies – are initially more likely to move long distances
for economic opportunity, while women are more likely to stay closer to
home and family.

Being in a place where the gender odds are
stacked against you can be very frustrating. “When I was in Chicago, it
was never long between dates” says one single male. “When I’m hanging
out with friends [in the San Francisco Bay Area], often times in a
large room with few if any women, we routinely turn to the topic of how
the dating scene sucks.”

Greater Boston is unusual among large metro areas.
It is one of the very few with a near perfect balance of singles -
having just 1,600 or so more women than men – 604,960 men to 606,580
women. And this may be part of the reason why the region ranks third
for young singles on a ranking of more than 150 metro regions my team
and I compiled. The entire region surrounding Boston and its immediate
suburbs does well, too. Worcester; Portland, Maine; and
Portsmouth-Manchester, N.H., also score among the top five for singles
among small-medium-sized regions nationwide.

This high ranking is
good news, because singles attract other singles. Numerous studies have
found that young people pick where they want to live first and then
search for a job in those places. When Forbes magazine asked young
singles of both genders what matters most in the places they live, more
said “number of other singles” than said “great career prospects”;
things like “wild nightlife” and “low cost of living” came in much
farther behind.

The ability to attract young singles also bodes
well for regional economies. Singles are a large and growing segment of
the population and the workforce. With many postponing marriage until
their late 20s and 30s, and with a significant share of marriages
ending in divorce, singles now make up more than half of all American
households, compared with just 20 percent or so in the 1960s and 1970s.

In
our highly mobile society – where 40 million Americans move every year
and 15 million of us make significant moves to a new county, a
different state, or a different country – younger singles are the most
mobile group of all. People in their 20s are twice as likely to move as
30-to-34 and 3.5 times more likely than 45-54.

The end result of
these millions upon millions of location decisions is likely to be a
widening economic and cultural divide between the relatively small
number of fortunate regions that attract singles who can choose where
they want to live, and the larger number whose populations are older,
less-skilled, more rooted, or even stuck.

Richard Florida is
the author of the new book, “Who’s Your City?,” and director of the
Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman
School of Management. He can be reached at florida@creativeclass.com.

64 Responses to “The Singles Map”

  1. Tom Says:

    I think this map would be more informative if it was based on percentages rather than raw numbers.

  2. Jeff Says:

    This is opposite my own armchair, anecdote-based sociological theorizing. Forgive my being superficial and overly personal, but this map is almost the opposite I’ve experienced (save NYC and Atlanta) in terms of the numbers of attractive women. As an average-looking guy, the women I’ve ended up with while living in L.A. and Houston have been very cute to beautiful, whereas I had significantly less luck with average-looking women in Boston and Philadelphia. Same has been true from friends from college. I know I don’t have honed judgment in this arena, but guys seem to be similar everywhere. I know I sound like an ass, but I’d hypothesized that women, especially attractive ones, seeking higher education and/or adventure nowadays in higher percentages whereas their male counterparts take the factory or construction jobs, are more likely to move from their hometowns, especially to areas with good climates. The prom queen gets on the bus to stardom and L.A., whereas the king takes a job at his dad’s refinery.

    This now seems completely wrong. But there’s definitely something to the attractiveness of women thing beyond the social environment of certain cities pressuring women to be tanned, toned and bleached.

  3. Michael R. Bernstein Says:

    I concur with Tom. The same goes for the Creative Class map: per-capita concentration of creatives seems (at least for smaller metros) much more important than absolute numbers.

  4. Zoe B Says:

    But lots of ‘prom queens’ go to LA looking for stardom.

    When I was 20 I wanted to live in the East, for cultural reasons. I would have liked to visit the West, but not to live there. Lovely scenery, but the art museums generally were too young to have gotten much of the good stuff. And the interesting cities were far apart. In Philly I could take commuter trains to visit New York for the day, at a reasonable cost. Go to the beach? Free trip! I could take a bus to Atlantic City, and there they would give you the cost of your round-trip ticket in quarters. The older eastern cities have decent public transit, and I didn’t need to buy a car. Moreover, it was much cheaper to travel from the Midwest to the East, than to the West. I could afford to visit my folks.

    So, why do the young men want to go west?

  5. Michael Wells Says:

    Three questions.

    Do the singles numbers include gay couples and/or living together straights? If so, then the stats and ratios could be not reflecting reality.

    Second, do they include college students? If so the Boston region’s quarter million college students may be a big reason for its balance.

    Third, is it all ages and does it include widows? Not sure what the significance would be, other than in my experience men in the East and South tend to have less healthy lifestyle habits then the West and may die off earlier leaving single women??

  6. Michael Wells Says:

    Oh I see it says ages 20-64 at the bottom.

    What about immigrant Latino laborers — documented and not, are they mostly male and could that effect the Southwest includingSoCal?

  7. T-Rock Says:

    How do you know this has anything to do with dating habits of mobile upper middle class people? How much of the prevalence of single men in southwestern states, California, and Florida has to do with unmarried male immigrants working in construction? How much of the prevalance of women in cities with large African-American populations (Detroit, Chicago, DC, Philly, Baltimore, Atlanta, Memphis) has to do with the high rate of incarceration among African-American men? There are so many plausible explanations for these data that it’s absurd to conclude it has something to do with dating prospects.

  8. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) Says:

    I’m wondering how the realitive sizes of the local gay and lesbian single-populations skews the percentages? Certainly for the major “magnet gay ghetto” cities of NYC, Chicago, SF and LA the imbalances of single (straight) males should be even more pronounced. My suspicion is the for the lesbian population the actual affect of the marget-cities is less pronounced.

    Certainly in the smaller satellite cities the reverse happens as the bulk of the original 5-8% of the male population who are gay have migrated-away. Where I live in New Jersey there are almost no single gay men as the magnetic-poles of NYC and Philadelphia attract-away the gay population. Versus in the straight-male population there isn’t that social-pressure and geographic-sorting to relocate.

  9. Jimppy Says:

    The common wisdom regarding San Francisco is that straight guys gave it pretty good, since a lot of the male population is gay. Does this control for sexual orientation? Also, how about immigration status, which I would imagine explains some of the male numbers in places like Southern California?

  10. Political Animal Says:

    Hot Dating Cities

    HOT DATING CITIES….This is a pretty interesting map. It shows which American cities have a surplus of single men (blue) and which ones have a surplus of single women (red). What’s interesting is the distribution: virtually every city west of…

  11. Moving Says:

    A friend of mine sent me this image a few days ago – I move to New York in a few weeks to start an amazing job. As a single female in my 20’s, my friend is worried that I will never “find that special man.”

    I hope no one will ever base their decision on demographics – just go with your dreams.

  12. Adam Becker Sr Says:

    Tell us where you got the data and what software you used to plot it.

    Thanks
    Adam

  13. Robinia Says:

    Everyone is likely to look for their own reasons for this disparity… and some very good, plausible ones are brought up above. One that has not yet been mentioned is the difference in policy, state by state and region by region, in enforcement of child support court orders. It is very upbeat to think of all those young males moving west to respond to job opportunities, but, in my experience, single and divorced males often move west (I live in NY) at the point that they have decided to ditch responsibility for supporting the children they had with women they no longer like so much as they once did.

  14. Chris Bartlett Says:

    “By far, the best places for single men are the large cities and metro areas of the East Coast and Midwest. ”

    This presumes that these men are gay or bisexual, or that they are even looking for a partner. Since your book focuses so much on the importance of gay communities for creative economies, it was surprising to find this heterosexist interpretation of the data.

    Best regards, Chris Bartlett

  15. Chris Bartlett Says:

    Sorry- the comment above should read gay or bisexual….

    I shouldn’t be writing comments before I have my coffee! LOL

    Chris

  16. Chris Bartlett Says:

    Now I see what is happening– the blog software is deleting -not- because I put carats around it— well– I think you understand the point of the comment.

    Best regards, Chris

  17. williamP Says:

    I should chime in on the absolute vs. proportional numbers issue-

    These numbers are almost useless. If I’m in a big city, even a small percentage difference between men & women means a large difference in absolute numbers. But it’s the PERCENTAGE difference that counts — that’s what determines the experience of dating.

    Please give us the proportional numbers so that this data is actually useful…

  18. Wolf Says:

    I certainly wouldn’t consider San Francisco men marriagable material.

  19. Eleanor's Trousers Says:

    I second (third) all of those who questioned the GLBT populations of the larger cities. A single woman in a city with 80,000 more men than women doesn’t gain much benefit in the relationship arena if 100,000 of them are gay. Then again, with NYC’s gay population, the stats for women there may be even worse than they appear on the chart.

  20. Brian Says:

    Everybody is single in Boston because everybody is too picky, and nobody wants to settle.

  21. airish Says:

    These are just relatively gross census figures, it appears. Specifically, singles age 20-64. If you further filtered for appropriate demographics (age, education), it would be much more useful. For example, are single 62 year old widows or single 20 YO illegals working as day laborers relevant to your “dating pool”? A more useful measure would be singles, college education or higher, age 25-50 (or something like that).

  22. Justin Buzzard Says:

    RF, thank you for your new book. I appreciate it. I just reviewed it on my blog.

  23. Bilwick1 Says:

    Interesting to see that Atlanta still has a surplus of unattached women. When I came to “Hotlanta” in the 1980s, I was no little excited by the prospect that there were reportedly nine single women for every single man. Quickly, I got the impression that either the figures were wrong or I was doing something wrong. I asked a woman I knew–engaged, fortysomething, educated, lower-middle-class–where the horde of single women I’d heard so much about was hiding itself. She said, “Oh, those are yuppie women out in suburban condos. They wouldn’t be interested in you.” Since then many of the yuppies and yuppesses have moved in-town to gentrify some of the neighborhoods, but my friends’s observation–along with her later modification that many of the single women in Atlanta were divorced rednecks or unmarried ghetto mamas (her statement, not mine, folks)–makes me wonder if these figures alone neglect crucial considerations of class and race when it comes to dating and mating.

  24. Pure Pedantry Says:

    Useful graphic: disparity in the number of single men and women by city

    What an astonishingly useful graphic (click to enlarge):…

  25. Wil Says:

    I am married so now retired from active hunting for women, but the truth is that the largest concentration of beautiful women in the USA is in Los Angeles. The map probably includes the millions of Mexican day labourers to boost the male numbers in California…. If you want to see a large percentage of blondes go to Seattle. ….. There are lots of men in San Francisco, (my capital) but most of them are gay.

  26. d_in_washington Says:

    A sad fact about the biggest female-heavy cities: Many or even most of the missing men are behind bars.

    You’ll notice the largest red dots are for Washington D.C., Baltimore, Memphis and Atlanta. (I’ve excluded New York because it the somewhat vague “northern NJ.”)

    These four cities have majority-black populations.

    In a nation where 1 in 9 black men are imprisoned (per a February Pew report), a sizable portion of the male stock is missing from these cities.

    It’s no surprise that places like Baltimore would register the loss most acutely.

    Using the national 1:9 figure, a quick calculation shows that in a 600,000-person city like Baltimore, which is 65 percent black, you could expect to find 21,000 of its black men behind bars. That alone could explain Baltimore’s lopsidedly female nature.

    The math yields the same results for Atlanta and Memphis, where the map says women outnumber men by about 20,000.

    Washington — my home — apparently has about 50,000 more men than women. It’s unclear though what areas are included, as Mr. Florida references “greater Washington D.C.”

    In any case, the phenomenon doesn’t necessarily imply a mating bonanza for men in these East Coast cities. If the above theory holds true, there are racial and economic differences in the singles scene that could pose barriers.

  27. flip Says:

    I live in san diego ca (BIG BLUE DOTS).
    I’ve gotta say that one reason why we’ve got such large amounts of “single men” in the large metro cities (LA San Fran & SD) is because of the very large homosexual populations. I don’t think that the census data is omitting the people who can’t “get married” that live here and have moved here from elsewhere (such as my next door neighbor) just to be around other gay men.
    Secondly, a single person will find it very difficult to get a place to live out here with the highest housing rates in the nation. you’ll need a geeky tech job to make enough to move out here by yourself. Unless you’re already married and get transferred from somewhere else the dual income the ability to get a nice flat with 2 rooms and a parking space is doubtful.

    The inland agricultural areas are heavily populated by single illegal immigrants that sendabout 14 billion/year of earnings down south via western union to their families.

    Now I’ve met quite a few women from the east coast and I can tell you that the stats are misleading. Those women as pointed out above are more “single” as in looking for a male and more devoted to competing in the business world than to being as single woman ready for a real relationship.
    They are harsher, colder, far more quick to judge and far more demanding than anyone looking to be in a relationship should be (not to lower standards) but to realize what is important in any marriage is who your partner really is vs their paycheck.
    Their singularity is a Phenomenon that is culturally based imo.

    Forget the great unwashed masses of lower income breeding projects in the south…

    I’ll stick to taking my chances here locating one of the few females that are available and up to “my standards”.

  28. Joe Says:

    I question the data.

    Philadelphia for instance is a cess-pit when it comes to finding good women. The conspicuous few that are single are low quality, often smokers with bad skin, often with kids, or worse they are skanky party girls with Herpes. I suspect that the problem with the data is that they have included college students, who spend most of their time on campus and not circulating among other singles even on Friday night.

    Look here: http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/PickUpLines.html

  29. Elmer Says:

    How is this map different from the one published in the February 2007 issue of National Geographic?

  30. K Says:

    @Jeff:

    >> As an average-looking guy, the women I’ve ended up with while living in L.A. and Houston have been very cute to beautiful, whereas I had significantly less luck with average-looking women in Boston and Philadelphia.

    You’re thinking more women == more hot women, which is fine so long as each city shows the same distribution of hotness. However, if each city follows a different hotness distribution, you have to go the other way. That is, more hot women in LA means more men in LA; these imply fewer hot women in NYC, and fewer men in NYC (which should correlate automatically).

    Furthermore, if the hotness distribution is highly skewed, it will grow more so with time. As hot women settle for average men — as you mention, through your own experience in LA — the not-so-hot women lose the matching opportunity, and have to ship somewhere they’re more competitive.

    Someday, the markets will equalize.

  31. UNCoRRELATED Says:

    Where the Boys Are

    This is kind of a startling map–all the men appear to be west of the Mississippi river, and all the women are east of it. The head count doesn’t really tell the story though. Its not just how much of…

  32. Andy Says:

    Since the population density of men and women is *roughly* 50/50, this map could only be true if:

    A) There is a disproportionate number of gay men on the east coast and gay women on the west coast — i.e. the men of the east coast are dating each other far more than average, “freeing up” single women.

    B) There is a disproportionate number of men, period, on the west coast and women on the east coast, meaning that NY/northern NJ apparently has 200,000+ more women living in the state than men, making them single by default unless men are dating more than one woman at a time.

    B is the obvious answer.

    I’m not saying this article is wrong. I just think they should specify that there is more women, single or not, in certain areas, and more men in other areas.

  33. Liz Says:

    I’d be interested to see where they sourced the data from.

  34. Mycle Heupel Says:

    Hi Prof. Florida,

    thanks for your outstanding work!

    I know you cooperate also with European researchers. Will there be also
    city maps of European cities available? I live in Germany right now, planning to leave for London. Anyway, the world is changing fast. Any competent hint could be helpful in making choices. (I am a composer/musician/inventor/author).

    All the best,

    Mycle

  35. Anon. Says:

    I seriously doubt this data has controlled for socio-economic factors, orientation, and a viable dating pool. Philadelphia is filled with low-income single moms, but who wants to date someone from 45th Street+ or Germantown? Meanwhile, if the San Francisco data was limited to straight men/straight women, it shifts wildly in favor of guys (i.e., more straight women to straight men). Note, that is different from the “San Francisco area,” which could include the East Bay or the Peninsula. If you live and date there, you’re screwed.

  36. Chris Dunham Says:

    A map showing the “Predominating Sex” of the U.S. population in 1890 correlates nicely with your findings. I’ve written about it here:
    http://www.genealogue.com/2008/04/where-boys-and-girls-are.html

  37. In the Agora Says:

    Where the Wild Things Are

    Richard Florida, chronicler of the “creative class,” posted an interesting map and article on his web site the other day. Florida’s map tracks the disparity between the numbers of single men and single women between the ages of 20-64 in…

  38. In the Agora Says:

    Where the Wild Things Are

    Richard Florida, chronicler of the “creative class” and author of the new book Who’s Your City?, posted an interesting map and article on his web site the other day. Florida’s map tracks the disparity between the numbers of single men…

  39. Julio Gonzalez Altamirano Says:

    I think the use of counts instead of proportions overstates the disparities between communities. I provide an alternative map and data here:

    http://elvaliente.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/towards-a-better-singles-map/

  40. ryan Says:

    Well, i live in nyc and i can tell you its impossible to meet women here. Everyone here is in their own little clique and won’t talk to anyone outside of it. So annoying.

  41. kitchencanad Says:

    still there. my first took I assumed community every about it is a

  42. bianca Says:

    Where’s Hawai’i?

  43. Adele Says:

    Ok Guys,

    Here is a good one. I am really stumped as to where to move, although at this point I am considering Montreal, Canada.

    I am nearly 48, single, never married but beautiful. I do have high standards but not unreasonable. Looking to live in a cosmopolitan city that offers a strong economy, safety, diversity, strong supporter of the the arts and opportunities to meeting quality men. I would like to remain in the states and have considered New Hampshire, or upstate New York to be near family, but I thought I might be a bit too old for the bar scene (I never liked them anyway). I currently live on the west coast and dislike L.A. Any ideas?

    Signed,
    Adele

  44. EMBCaptian Says:

    I would agree with the assessment of Philadelphia as far as single women are concerned. Not many to chose from from what I see and I tend to get picky. Now I am not of the creative class at all don’t want to be either. As a NYC transplant and a Pilot (Thats a real job, not playing with adjectives or pixels), I have seen a lot and wont date a woman till I’m certain shes sane, educated (at least be a smart tech) and is more right of center, than others.

    Although I can say this about the so called creative class, you definitely know how to raise the rents.

  45. EMBCaptian Says:

    I would agree with the assessment of Philadelphia as far as single women are concerned. Not many to chose from from what I see and I tend to get picky. Now I am not of the creative class at all don’t want to be either. As a NYC transplant and a Pilot (Thats a real job, not playing with adjectives or pixels), I have seen a lot and wont date a woman till I’m certain shes sane, educated (at least be a smart tech) and is more right of center, than others.

    Although I can say this about the so called creative class, you definitely know how to raise the rents.

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  55. Single Florida Says:

    There’s some great information in this blog, but I guess it’s mostly from the book. I’ll definitely have to look into it. Thanks!

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  57. John Says:

    I totally agree with these statistics. Coming from the West Coast the change in gender ratios are astounding. Not to mention that east coast girls are also more well rounded and worldly then west coast girls. Coming from Seattle where girl to guy ratio seems to be about 1/6, and most of them a bit out of shape covered up by their North Face jackets, since there is not a whole lot of motivation to work out when the sun doesnt come out much. And for those girls that are somewhat good looking in the NW, they know it and have the attitude and high maintenance to go with it. Same goes for Cali -mostly very high maintenance, flashy and fake girls. By moving to DC I noticed a switch in ratios – 6 girls to every guy about. Again, a lot more educated, worldly and well rounded girls in the bigger east coast cities (NY and DC).

  58. marshall Says:

    I totally agree with the statistics too. I have so many super attractive girl friends in Atlanta, and we are all active, involved, intelligent…and we struggle to find a decent looking guy who’s not married (because most are by the age of 25.) seems as though there is a line of girls waiting to date guys, waiting to see who gets divorced so we can try to snatch him up before its too late. Girls are aggressive too, simple supply and demand dynamics here. we’ve all resorted to the fact that this is a great place to cultivate your female friends, and the weather rocks, and we are happy. i guess its all about trade-offs. finding a suitable male counterpart is what we have all sacrificed to live here in the nice weather.

  59. Elaine Says:

    I did live in San Francisco for almost 12 years. I can assure you that it is the most difficult city to meet quality single, straight men. The straight men are more boring and conceited than in ANY city, and I have lived in many metropolis cities and have traveled extensively over the last few years.
    The city is FULL of gay and bisexual men, and women as well. It’s a gay mecca, and if anyone tells you something different, they don’t know that city.
    Also, most all men want young Asian women since the men there are so immature.

  60. susan Says:

    Here is a list delineaing this map by county, it’s based on census info (so it ahttp://www.epodunk.com/county_data2/mw14.htmllso doesn’t break down by homosexual or age)

    http://www.epodunk.com/county_data2/mw14.html

  61. susan Says:

    oops sorry wrong one. It is here
    http://www.epodunk.com/county_data2/

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