Being a single parent is a challenge. Not only must single parents manage debt and other financial priorities, they must balance work and time spent with their children. Unfortunately, single-parent households are more likely to be impoverished, and not all states offer the same workplace benefits for parents. That could make raising children harder.
To determine where single parents may fare best, we scored the 100 largest metros on four key indicators:
Hereâ€™s what we found.
Children arenâ€™t cheap, and raising them is hard. This map highlights locations where being a single parent may be easier or more affordable. Hover your cursor over the dots on the map to review how each metro fared across our key indicators and overall.
This table outlines the 10 best places for single parents to live from a financial perspective. California and New York parents are in luck. Three of the top 10 locations were California-based and four were New York-based. The combination of their high income, affordability, time and workplace protection scores helped determine these locations rankings.
These locations had the lowest rankings due to their scores in our four key indicators. Single parenthood appears to be more challenging financially in Southern states, with locations in Texas, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina ranking in the 10 worst places to live as a single parent. Most notable are these 10 locationsâ€™ nonexistent (or very low, in the case of Chicago with a score of 10/100) workplace protection scores.
In order to understand how we ranked these locations, itâ€™s important to look at the four following categories that we scored. The average of the scores was individually calculated for each metric within each category and was used to determine the overall metro scores. Those sub-scores were calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, based on where each metro falls between the highest and lowest values among all the metros we reviewed.
The four key indicators that were scored and the metrics within each indicator are:
Comparing the difference between incomes of single-parent household and all households gives us a sense of whether single parents have a harder time earning money than other members of the community.
Child care expenses are an absolute necessity for single working parents. So, we wanted to see whether or not a typical single-family household would qualify for assistance from its state, and how much below the qualifying line they fall. This is significant because many assistance programs offer graduated subsidies depending on family income.
However, some states have long waiting lists for assisted child care, so falling within the qualification limit for subsidies doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that parents will actually get the child care they need to earn a living for their families.
How much time a single parent spends working impacts their time spent with family and can increase the amount spent on child care costs, such as if the parent needs to put their child in day care while they are away at work or commuting.
Parents in general, but especially single parents, can benefit from regulations that protect them when they take time off work due to family-related issues.
The following table breaks down the overall score for the 100 best locations as well as presents their subscores for each factor taken into consideration. Each column is sortable in either ascending or descending order. By sorting the chart, youâ€™ll see how the different factors contribute to their scores.
Based off our findings and further research, there are a few ways single parents can better manage their finance on one income and with children.
Consider your debt relief options: If youâ€™ve found yourself in debt and are struggling in repayment, you could review your debt relief options. Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy, debt settlement and debt management plans may be available to you. Learning how these options affect your credit score is something you should also research.
Review your personal loans options: Those with credit card debt or high-interest loans may want to consider refinancing or consolidating their debt into a personal loan with a lower interest rate. Doing so could reduce your overall costs for repayment. You could also extend your repayment term to reduce monthly payments, though this could increase how much total interest you pay on your loan.
Learn about government resources for parents: Single parents who are struggling financially may qualify for assistance through government or charitable programs, such as food banks. A 2017 study found that not all single parents were aware of the help that is provided at food banks or were not certain they were entitled to support.
Know your rights: Paid time off for sick children and protections against reprisal for going to parent-teacher conferences can make a big difference, although these policies may not be well enforced. Learn your rights regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act and any protected time off for school events you may be eligible for. Knowing what your rights are will help you protect yourself against employer repercussion.
Limiting our research to the current 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (â€śMSAsâ€ť), we tracked each metro across four categories. The data was derived from the 2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate from the U.S. Census (â€ś2017 ACSâ€ť), except where otherwise noted.
Each data series was scored relative to highest and lowest values across all metros. For each category, these scores were averaged for a highest possible category score of 100 and a lowest of 0. The four category scores were then averaged for a final score. The highest possible final score was 100 and the lowest was 0.