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[STUDY] 10 best cities for single female homeowners in the U.S.

single female moves into new home

    Single ladies are looking for mortgages across the U.S. One in every 10 homebuyers is a single female, and a majority of women prioritize homeownership over marriage (41%) and children (31%). Single women also outpace single men in homeownership in every single major U.S. city.

    This shift comes as women’s financial independence is on the rise, with more women earning master's degrees than men and more women working now than ever before. While women still make 81 cents to every dollar earned by a man, the gender pay ratio is rising in many metropolitans across the U.S., giving single women more cash and buying power.

    We conducted a study to see where single female homeownership is most common, and which cities offer incentives for these buyers. Here’s what we found:

    • In every major U.S. metropolitan area, single women outpace single men in homeownership
    • Detroit is the best city for single female homeowners and also has the highest rate of singles in the country.
    • Single female households own the largest percentage of property compared to single male households in Columbus, Ohio.
    • San Jose, California is the worst city for single female homeowners due to high housing costs and a large gender pay gap.

    Single women outpace single men in homeownership in every major U.S. metro

    Of the estimated 77,708,394 owner-occupied homes in the U.S., 9% are owned by single women. Compare that to the 4.2% of owner-occupied homes owned by single men and you discover that single women are 4.8% more likely to be homeowners.*

    While single women homeowners tend to pay more than single men for homes and resell for less, single women are better at paying their mortgages than men.

    We took a look at household trends from the U.S. Census Bureau to see which metro areas had the largest percentage of single female homeowners compared to single male homeowners. For our findings, we compared single female owner-occupied household data to single male owner-occupied data per metropolitan area for the top 50 metro areas in the U.S.

    Single female homeownership trends:

    • Columbus, Ohio has the most single female homeowners compared to male homeowners
    • New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee came in second and third, with a difference of 8% and 7% respectively
    • Portland, Oregon has the smallest gender gap between single female and male homeowners

    Below, we analyzed the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas to see where single female homeowners outpaced single men in key economic centers. We also looked at Zillow's home value index data to see where housing was most affordable for both single female and male homeowners.

    Here are the 10 best cities for single women to own homes

    We determined the top cities for single female homeowners based on the following categories: single female homeownership rate, gender pay gap ratio, Zillow’s home value index, price-to-income ratio and number of singles in a given metro area. If you’re a single female looking to buy a home, you might want to look up listings in Detroit, which came in first on our list based on the factors above.

    Detroit is home to affordable housing, the highest percentage of singles and a high percentage of single female homeowners (10.11%). Plus, the gender pay ratio is 92.4%, well above the national average. While Detroit made headlines for a housing crisis that saw 31,000 homes abandoned, the city is seeing a resurgence now that it’s out of bankruptcy.

    Here’s our top ten list:


    1. Detroit, Michigan

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 10%
    • Gender pay ratio: 92%
    • Home value index: $36,293
    • Median income: $29,481
    • Percent of singles: 74%

    2. Memphis, Tennessee

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 12%
    • Gender pay ratio: 89%
    • Home value index: $97,574
    • Median income: $39,108
    • Percent of singles: 67%

    3. Hartford, Connecticut

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 9%
    • Gender pay ratio: 100%
    • Home value index: $117,440
    • Median income: $33,841
    • Percent of singles: 74%

    4. Baltimore, Maryland

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 10%
    • Gender pay ratio: 85.60%
    • Home value index: $152,180
    • Median income: $48,840
    • Percent of singles: 71%

    5. Buffalo, New York

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 9%
    • Gender pay ratio: 92%
    • Home value index: $105,695
    • Median income: $35,893
    • Percent of singles: 69%

    6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 11%
    • Gender pay ratio: 86.40%
    • Home value index: $187,772
    • Median income: $43,744
    • Percent of singles: 70%

    7. Columbus, Ohio

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 13%
    • Gender pay ratio: 81%
    • Home value index: $174,109
    • Median income: $51,612
    • Percent of singles: 62%

    8. Richmond, Virginia

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 10%
    • Gender pay ratio: 100%
    • Home value index: $242,406
    • Median income: $45,117
    • Percent of singles: 69%

    9. San Antonio, Texas

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 11%
    • Gender pay ratio: 89%
    • Home value index: $187,718
    • Median income: $50,980
    • Percent of singles: 57%

    10. Birmingham, Alabama

    • Percent of single female homeowner households: 9%
    • Gender pay ratio: 69%
    • Home value index: $64,840
    • Median income: $33,770
    • Percent of singles: 72%

    Single women are seeking financial independence when purchasing homes

    Owning a home can be a way to build wealth. As more single women are working now than ever before, there’s been a rise in prospective female buyers looking for real estate investment opportunities.

    Jolinda, owner of Richmond-based design consultancy Shapes & Colors, advises first-time homebuyers to aim low when it comes to their mortgage. “Every single lender out there wants to sell you a higher loan than you need, but I found a house at a price that was comparable to my rent and now I don’t stress about making my mortgage payment.”

    Here are some more purchasing tips from single female homeowners:

    1. Connect with like-minded mentors: Learning how to manage personal finances can be daunting, especially if you didn’t have financially focused role models growing up. Find coworkers or people in your community who can offer support and accountability.
    2. Remember that having information is your superpower: A lot goes into buying a home, and not every expert you talk to will have your best interest at heart. Learn as much as you can about personal finance and buying a home so you can work through the process with confidence.
    3. Set money aside in an emergency fund: It’s a good idea to set aside at least six months of income (when possible) to cover unexpected costs.
    4. Have a long-term plan: Buying a home is an investment that grows over time. The longer you own a property, the more equity you build. Make sure to come up with a long-term plan in case your life circumstances change.
    5. Consider a roommate: If you’re feeling house-poor after moving in, a roommate can be a great way to reduce costs. This can free up some of your cash to put toward savings, furniture or other expenses.

    single female homeownership quote

    single female homeownership quote

    single female homeownership quote

    Even as single female homeownership booms, data reveals that gender disparities remain: While women are better at paying their mortgages than men, they statistically pay more for mortgages when they buy, then resell their properties for less.

    Fortunately, gender isn’t a rating factor when it comes to your homeowners insurance. We still recommend shopping around to get the best rates, since monthly premium quotes are determined by a number of factors and are calculated down to the ZIP code.

    Methodology

    We found the percentages of owner-occupied households for single females and single males by dividing each from the total number of owner-occupied family households using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. To find the difference between single female and male household percentages, we simply subtracted the percentage of single female households from male households.

    To find the best cities for single female homeowners, we rated the top 50 metro areas on a weighted scale of factors within these five categories: single female homeownership rate, gender pay gap ratio, home value index, price to income ratio, and number of singles.

    The cities that earned the highest score from the sum of these factors were chosen as the best for single female homeowners to move to in the United States. To get the overall score of cities, we multiplied the score of these factors by two. See how we weighed each category below:

    Price/income ratio — 30 points
    Compares home value index to median income

    Single female households — 30 points
    Percent of owner-occupied households of single women

    Gender pay gap ratio — 20 points
    Income equality ratio

    Percent of singles — 20 points
    Number of unmarried people 15 years of age or older

    Sources:

    U.S. Census Bureau | AAUW | Zillow

    The ZebraResource Center