Special Report

Toughest Cities to Be a Single Mom

Best Cities for Single Mothers

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 56.1 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $1,106
> Median income for single mother household: $30,827
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 53.9%

While the average two-bedroom apartment in the Atlanta metro area rents for $1,106 a month, the high wages in the city make the Georgia capital relatively affordable for single mothers. The typical single mother household in Atlanta earns $30,827 a year, about $5,000 more than the median income for single mother households nationwide. All things being equal, a single mother in Atlanta would need to work 56.1 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of her income on rent, a shorter workweek than in most U.S. cities.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, Georgia has one of the best state preschool programs for 4-year-olds in the country. In Atlanta, 53.9% of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in school, more than the 47.5% national figure.

Source: benkrut / Getty Images

9. Peoria, IL
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 52.1 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $798
> Median income for single mother household: $24,084
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 56.7%

In Peoria, 88.0% of single mothers are in the labor force, a higher participation rate than the 82.4% national figure. The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour, one dollar more than the federal minimum. To afford the $798-per-month average rent for a two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of her income on rent, a single mother in Peoria earning the median income would need to work for 52.1 hours a week, fewer than in the vast majority of U.S. metro areas.

Affordable preschool programs can provide children with an educational foundation for the rest of their lives and help single mothers better balance work and child care responsibilities. In Peoria, 56.7% of 3- to 4-year-olds are enrolled in school, far more than the national enrollment rate of 47.5%.

Source: TomasSereda / Getty Images

8. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 84.6 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $1,831
> Median income for single mother household: $30,690
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 62.9%

High-quality, affordable preschool programs can help single mothers better balance work and child care responsibilities. New York City introduced a universal pre-K program in 2017, and in 2018, 94% of the city’s preschool programs met or exceeded the quality thresholds of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, an assessment tool developed by child education experts. Currently, some 62.9% of 3- and 4-year-olds in the New York metro area are enrolled in school, the seventh highest enrollment rate of any U.S. city.

Public transit can also increase access to educational and professional opportunities for single mothers. In the New York metro area, 31.2% of workers commute using public transit, by far the largest share of any metro area in the nation. These strong factors compensate for New York’s low housing affordability.

Source: Jason_Ray_Photography / Getty Images

7. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 52.2 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $826
> Median income for single mother household: $30,524
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 50.6%

Low rents and high wages in the La Cross-Onalaska metro area help make the area relatively affordable for single mothers. The average two-bedroom apartment in La Cross rents for $826 a month, less than in the majority of all metro areas. The typical single mother household earns $30,524 a year, about $4,400 more than the median income for single mother households nationwide. All things being equal, the typical single mother would need to work 52.2 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in La Crosse and have income left for other necessities, a shorter workweek than in the majority of U.S. metro areas.

Source: beverett / Getty Images

6. Cedar Rapids, IA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 48.5 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $812
> Median income for single mother household: $29,425
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 51.5%

Affordable real estate and a strong job market make Cedar Rapids one of the best cities for single mothers. Some 89.2% of single mothers are in the labor force, the 13th highest participation rate of any city. And just 2.5% of the labor force is unemployed, far less than the 3.7% national figure. The typical single mother household in Cedar Rapids earns $29,425 a year, about $3,300 more than the median income among single mother households nationwide.

The average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Cedar Rapids is $812 a month, less than in most other metro areas. While in the vast majority of U.S. cities the typical single mother earning average wages would have to work more than 50 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in accordance with recommended budget guidelines, in Cedar Rapids a single mother would have to work 48.5 hours, one of the shortest workweeks nationwide.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.