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Cities with the most singles 65 and over

Because Market used data from the 2021 American Community Survey five-year estimates to determine which U.S. cities have the most singles over 65.  

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An elderly man walking on a path through a city.

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The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to exceed 80 million by 2040, more than doubling the number of seniors from 2000, according to the Administration for Community Living. With such a trend comes various risks that warrant societal intervention. Due to retirement and the accompanying loss of social networks, as well as spousal loss, seniors are especially susceptible to loneliness. Approximately 58% of women age 75 and older are widowed compared to 27.9% of men, owing to gender differences in average life span.

According to the National Institute on Aging, chronic loneliness is not only bad for mental health but physical health as well. In fact, a 2018 AARP study on loneliness determined that lonely seniors incur an average of $134 more in Medicare costs every month than more socially connected seniors. Cumulatively, this represents an annual spend of $6.7 billion. Therefore it is crucial that seniors maintain social networks during their golden years, and many American cities have enriched their communities with plenty of opportunities to do so.

Using data from the 2021 American Community Survey five-year estimates, Because Market looked at the 10 cities in the U.S. with the highest number of singles aged 65 and over. Census data does not specify people in nonmarriage relationships; they are included as single people. Cities in this analysis are limited to places with populations of people 65 and over of at least 5,000.

#10. Petersburg, Virginia

A historic college.

Stephen B. Goodwin // Shutterstock

- 65.9%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (3,669 people)
- 73.8%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 15.7% never married
--- 20.8% divorced
--- 37.3% widowed
- 53.5%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 17.5% never married
--- 22.9% divorced
--- 13.1% widowed

Rich in historical significance, Petersburg is an independent city fit for its higher-than-average senior population. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places and features a well-preserved Old Town Historic District. Because the town is more affordable than the average American city, senior residents are able to make the most of their retirement or Social Security income. The cost of living is 10% below the national average. Organizations within the city also host events exclusively for single seniors, such as galas for those who would otherwise be alone during the holidays.

#9. Hartford, Connecticut

A park in Hartford.

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- 67.2%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (9,378 people)
- 76.6%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 22.0% never married
--- 25.8% divorced
--- 28.8% widowed
- 53.0%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 18.2% never married
--- 22.9% divorced
--- 11.9% widowed

Hartford has done well to accommodate its nearly 10,000 senior singles. The city offers four senior centers in addition to many other senior resources, including clinical care. In fact, senior residents may enjoy a better quality of health in Connecticut, as the state is ranked fourth in America's Health Rankings' 2022 Senior Report based on criteria including clinical care quality, physical environment, and social factors. Additionally, college tuition is waived for all residents 62 and older, allowing senior citizens to earn degrees tuition-free.

#8. Detroit, Michigan

An older couple walking along the water near downtown Detroit.

gg5795 // Shutterstock

- 67.4%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (61,390 people)
- 75.9%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 15.1% never married
--- 23.8% divorced
--- 37.0% widowed
- 55.4%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 18.7% never married
--- 22.6% divorced
--- 14.1% widowed

As one of the states that do not tax Social Security, Michigan features several cities ideal for senior residents, though Detroit outranks them all. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging advocates for the city's 139,000 senior residents, ensuring their interests are represented at all levels of government. The city also has a healthier air quality than the average American city, with just 10 unhealthy air quality days annually compared to the national average of 16. The city's well-renowned hospitals are considered some of the best in the state, offering senior residents top-quality health care.

#7. Cleveland, Ohio

A family walking along the shore of Lake Erie.

Jason Sponseller // Shutterstock

- 67.6%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (35,857 people)
- 74.0%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 15.8% never married
--- 23.5% divorced
--- 34.7% widowed
- 58.8%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 19.3% never married
--- 25.0% divorced
--- 14.5% widowed

In 2015, a group of 34 organizations in Cleveland conducted a wide-ranging survey to find ways to accommodate the city's aging population. The result was a three-year action plan to transform Cleveland into an "Age-Friendly City." Now, the city boasts various services for seniors covering areas including health, finances, social services, and more. Residents can also enjoy the city's close proximity to Lake Erie in addition to plenty of attractions such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland's reputable health facilities offer senior citizens and their loved ones greater peace of mind during their golden years. Additionally, the cost of living in Cleveland is 27% lower than the national average.

#6. Bessemer, Alabama

A small main street in Bessemer.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP // Getty Images

- 67.8%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (3,493 people)
- 72.9%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 9.5% never married
--- 24.9% divorced
--- 38.5% widowed
- 60.2%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 12.4% never married
--- 27.2% divorced
--- 20.6% widowed

Bessemer is a small Birmingham suburb named after Alabamian steel-manufacturing process inventor Henry Bessemer. The city's climate is senior-friendly, with little snowfall and warmer-than-average temperatures year-round. The general cost of living in Bessemer is 14% lower than the national average, a trend also reflected in the city's senior resources. In fact, the average monthly cost of assisted living in Bessemer is $525 lower than the national average.

#5. Trenton, New Jersey

An aerial view of Trenton.

Mihai_Andritoiu // Shutterstock

- 67.9%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (7,367 people)
- 78.9%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 18.1% never married
--- 25.2% divorced
--- 35.6% widowed
- 53.5%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 15.9% never married
--- 22.7% divorced
--- 14.9% widowed

New Jersey's state capital, Trenton offers residents close proximity to Philadelphia and New York City without the accompanying high costs. In fact, Garden State retirees also enjoy no taxes on Social Security income and a cost of living 5% lower than the national average. Additionally, the state has earned a reputation for its support of its senior population. In the 2020 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, an analysis that assesses states' quality of services and support for its senior citizens, New Jersey ranked in the top quartile for affordability, quality of life and care, and support for family caregivers.

#4. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

A historic downtown street in Harrisburg.

Ludmila Ruzickova // Shutterstock

- 68.0%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (3,690 people)
- 71.9%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 11.4% never married
--- 19.7% divorced
--- 40.8% widowed
- 63.3%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 16.0% never married
--- 32.9% divorced
--- 14.4% widowed

Located alongside the Susquehanna River, Harrisburg offers its senior residents tax benefits, affordability, and quality health care. Pennsylvania is one of just 15 states to offer its senior residents no taxes on pensions or Social Security income. Health care is robust; there are 346 physicians per 100,000 residents, significantly higher than the national average (210 per 100,000). Pennsylvania also offers financial support for those requiring assisted living but unable to afford it on their own. The Harrisburg area also features many museums and parks in addition to a variety of shopping and dining options.

#3. Euclid, Ohio

A park in Euclid.

RGodfrey // Shutterstock

- 68.6%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (5,634 people)
- 77.0%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 16.0% never married
--- 23.9% divorced
--- 37.1% widowed
- 54.5%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 20.9% never married
--- 21.4% divorced
--- 12.2% widowed

Euclid is a quieter alternative to the senior-friendly but bustling nearby city of Cleveland. With fewer than 50,000 total residents, the population enjoys a close-knit community atmosphere. The Cleveland suburb has taken proactive measures to ensure senior citizens can enjoy high-quality living thanks to its senior department. Senior-oriented initiatives include transportation services for those 60 and older and pharmacy delivery. Additionally, the town hosts many events every day, ensuring its residents stay connected with one another during their golden years.

#2. West Hollywood, California

An aerial view of West Hollywood.

komuna photo // Shutterstock

- 68.6%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (3,692 people)
- 71.9%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 24.9% never married
--- 20.6% divorced
--- 26.4% widowed
- 65.1%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 34.6% never married
--- 24.2% divorced
--- 6.3% widowed

Located within Los Angeles County, West Hollywood is a senior-friendly locale of Tinseltown. The city became one of AARP's Age-Friendly Communities in 2016 and has implemented an action plan to accommodate its aging population. Titled the Aging in Place/Aging in Community Initiative, the program has been so successful that the city received an award for aligning with the California Master Plan for Aging. Additionally, senior residents have over 400 senior living options to choose from in the area.

#1. Pontiac, Michigan

An aerial view of downtown Pontiac.

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- 73.1%: Percentage of people over 65 who are single (5,194 people)
- 84.4%: Percentage of women over 65 who are single
--- 6.6% never married
--- 36.8% divorced
--- 41.0% widowed
- 54.7%: Percentage of men over 65 who are single
--- 12.6% never married
--- 29.3% divorced
--- 12.8% widowed

Pontiac is a small town located about 20 miles outside Detroit. Its governing county of Oakland offers all-encompassing senior services ranging from companion animal initiatives to hotlines for those feeling lonely. The city's senior residents can rest assured that the local population takes their health seriously. According to America's Health Rankings, residents have a higher-than-average flu vaccination rate and are more likely to remain physically active during their lifetime.

This story originally appeared on Because Market and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.