2022’s Best Cities for Single Dads

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Raising kids as a single, working dad is a balancing act of competing priorities — kids, job, soccer, dance classes, and butterfly kisses.

So, which cities best help single dads juggle all of those responsibilities? 

LawnStarter ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Single Dads to mark Father’s Day on June 19.

We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities on 36 key indicators of an ideal environment for solo dads and their kids. Some examples include child care costs, public schools quality, and access to parks. 

We also looked at family-leave policies and social support programs for dads, such as those offering parenting classes or financial assistance for children with disabilities.

Check out our ranking below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert insights.


  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology
  5. Post-Pandemic Parenting

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreAffordability RankChild Care RankHealth and Education RankHome and Outdoors RankWork-Life Balance RankCommunity Support Rank
1Naperville, IL63.80263819528
2Overland Park, KS63.1345716115121
3Sioux Falls, SD60.301112105142114
4Olathe, KS59.095671920136147
5Cary, NC59.08310457177526
6Frisco, TX58.92173683164143
7Bellevue, WA58.136183183829138
8Omaha, NE58.02206233313344
9Lincoln, NE57.902821098121173
10Irvine, CA57.3827167324937
11McKinney, TX56.978831216177158
12Plano, TX56.721089154713825
13Lexington, KY56.525341762126132
14Madison, WI56.4675697487172
15Boise, ID56.3926592219128166
16Scottsdale, AZ56.35744356181199
17Arlington, VA55.721614692140103
18Pittsburgh, PA54.91638545812751
19Huntsville, AL54.7615247475119164
20Eugene, OR54.6018710744463161
21Portland, OR54.541261171196569
22Buffalo, NY54.001764867221384
23Seattle, WA53.882317232773979
24Fremont, CA53.3014200143225193
25Cincinnati, OH53.14993771141241
26Chandler, AZ53.001312325978850
27Sunnyvale, CA52.9812198247014110
28Gilbert, AZ52.749121496810040
29Des Moines, IA52.7437406142141102
30Baton Rouge, LA52.74129141311877178
31Little Rock, AR52.73251373120131174
32Salt Lake City, UT52.418239101301149
33Minneapolis, MN52.35491288996539
34Elk Grove, CA52.0724161343636171
35Wichita, KS52.0635364091149116
36Virginia Beach, VA52.0244113377182159
37Knoxville, TN52.00146315254116172
38Chesapeake, VA51.82221123937183145
39Syracuse, NY51.7419210979576134
40Vancouver, WA51.539113954456167
41Fort Collins, CO51.5211313027506485
42Grand Rapids, MI51.4910251149511848
43Boston, MA51.48175192541492
44Spokane, WA51.3771133751084365
45Akron, OH51.3615465461214527
46Atlanta, GA51.2242382135925
47Lakewood, CO51.19761473136919
48Kansas City, MO51.0345297610114471
49Austin, TX50.8361332815413512
50Winston-Salem, NC50.8213070781190151
51Torrance, CA50.81321841614119135
52Aurora, IL50.7436987725107101
53Anchorage, AK50.743097872716956
54Oklahoma City, OK50.7233322118216621
55San Francisco, CA50.533819433353290
56Chattanooga, TN50.447838639514796
57Amarillo, TX50.3946169380176124
58Denton, TX50.361048826162123200
59Fort Wayne, IN50.2729421107816193
60Rochester, NY50.23197921561511144
61St. Paul, MN50.0997129112867139
62Tulsa, OK49.94732168145148131
63Raleigh, NC49.945776421618052
64Louisville, KY49.8234913312515763
65Greensboro, NC49.7810752111527862
66St. Louis, MO49.7267271614313933
67Indianapolis, IN49.65588047136155106
68Mobile, AL49.63702311587154195
69Tallahassee, FL49.56184458612493185
70St. Petersburg, FL49.30518714039151153
71Alexandria, VA49.225014497416366
72Albuquerque, NM49.14626610613112934
73Sacramento, CA49.0713116460562016
74Joliet, IL49.05189115810120167
75Rockford, IL49.0113954856691105
76Richmond, VA48.91150127536012543
77Denver, CO48.85691368328683
78Salem, OR48.6015990120155858
79San Diego, CA48.60127168301371710
80Columbus, OH48.43103491754413054
81Tampa, FL48.43108555914015860
82Santa Rosa, CA48.38142162201632422
83Dayton, OH48.3517951704911746
84Durham, NC48.3156101661677975
85Worcester, MA48.2913319358892141
86Toledo, OH48.2415355132311528
87Huntington Beach, CA48.2266176727333168
88Henderson, NV48.142112011411710149
88San Jose, CA48.1481195486926126
90Orlando, FL48.12120265117116214
91Irving, TX47.97599499100165129
92Milwaukee, WI47.93160111031138311
93Lubbock, TX47.73981780195132183
94Charlotte, NC47.7248721381159453
95Colorado Springs, CO47.6779132361307038
96Corpus Christi, TX47.59802870153190155
97Birmingham, AL47.571572515263143186
98Reno, NV47.46931051241068286
99Fullerton, CA47.45145190456728169
100Pasadena, CA47.42134179431382113
101Peoria, AZ47.3419116143107111154
102Chula Vista, CA47.3195177291434591
103Tempe, AZ47.3113810816411473140
104Springfield, MO47.3014922125174122119
105Shreveport, LA47.301112041191103170
106Murfreesboro, TN47.296558129148159190
107Springfield, MA47.2716717416221195
108Modesto, CA47.27401575016053104
109Washington, DC47.1631196165261657
110Nashville, TN47.149075135111153157
111Orange, CA47.061281716912123194
112Tacoma, WA47.06871549515163112
113Chicago, IL47.01921031692310824
114Mesa, AZ46.9377122108939783
115Augusta, GA46.93165818113106196
116Macon, GA46.86122151901898192
117Jacksonville, FL46.86727112610417559
118Montgomery, AL46.698419173175134149
119Salinas, CA46.69161169386452119
120Jackson, MS46.461717118179146191
121Cleveland, OH46.44193641284013732
122Yonkers, NY46.35147134147744017
123Glendale, CA46.3216818656110224
124New Orleans, LA46.30121471788586198
125Escondido, CA46.261581751043441122
126Providence, RI46.0917212515771768
127Las Vegas, NV45.74116961211339931
128Kansas City, KS45.6212574117134173125
129Miramar, FL45.6111499102149174162
130San Antonio, TX45.5813660109158167136
131Columbus, GA45.5710112171164105188
132Miami, FL45.5219034909917845
133Aurora, CO45.51117138628272130
134Pembroke Pines, FL45.464379100189181197
135El Paso, TX45.3013150167109171152
136Arlington, TX45.269681107156187163
137Tucson, AZ45.081561101301577661
138Hollywood, FL45.051109912211919197
139Hayward, CA45.03119199657250187
140Jersey City, NJ44.9586149189841542
141Enterprise, NV44.90521401191859698
142Rancho Cucamonga, CA44.86391598119249179
143Phoenix, AZ44.8510511914411610264
144New York, NY44.8318513112755557
145Pasadena, TX44.681006114181199113
146Oakland, CA44.68142197134513020
147Newport News, VA44.5868114159142172115
148Glendale, AZ44.55831181609411276
149Bakersfield, CA44.4788145841964894
150Corona, CA44.46941651457960108
151Thornton, CO44.41471471772974118
152Santa Clarita, CA44.3841191641655974
153Savannah, GA44.33174101911268481
154Cape Coral, FL44.3085111154122188180
155Baltimore, MD44.28641371766510423
156Memphis, TN44.0416262174144150146
157Fontana, CA44.001091668816657176
158Philadelphia, PA43.95152126155591796
159Fresno, CA43.89173151981862730
160Honolulu, HI43.881991355511285137
161Killeen, TX43.8310641153152196111
162Fort Worth, TX43.735484179150192123
163Anaheim, CA43.691781811169235142
164Riverside, CA43.63135170921784687
165Fort Lauderdale, FL43.491446814618316829
166Norfolk, VA43.36177106131103185184
167Dallas, TX43.2314882166127189109
168Clarksville, TN43.2174351869019880
169Oceanside, CA43.161371781051704470
170Garland, TX43.16123931935319415
171Pomona, CA42.901881739112847117
172North Las Vegas, NV42.831121241877610936
173Garden Grove, CA42.6716418513913937177
174Stockton, CA42.64140150961935887
175Port St. Lucie, FL42.6455115163184193182
176Houston, TX42.521557815016818641
177Midland, TX42.41174320010220089
178McAllen, TX42.3814130192181160160
179Spring Valley, NV42.261241401831478999
180Bridgeport, CT42.161951521681721273
181Hialeah, FL42.0418186172123184127
182Long Beach, CA41.891701881231693847
183Grand Prairie, TX41.786094185180195133
184Paradise, NV41.511631401841298755
185Oxnard, CA41.0318018014815942175
186Santa Ana, CA40.961911821808631181
187Mesquite, TX40.8689771988819778
188Laredo, TX40.7215153182194180165
189Fayetteville, NC40.451894694198113150
190Los Angeles, CA40.13194189113187342
191San Bernardino, CA39.991861631371885182
192Moreno Valley, CA39.9616616013619062148
193Paterson, NJ39.6819815619913210128
194Palmdale, CA39.371151871511776699
195Ontario, CA39.0316915814220054107
196Newark, NJ38.871961531971461818
197Brownsville, TX38.8718318195197170156
198Lancaster, CA38.0911815518819956189
199Detroit, MI37.3920010219617315677
200Sunrise Manor, NV36.8818214019417611035
2022's Best Cities for Single Dads Infographic is based on the amount of single dads, childcare workers, babysitting cost, and more!

Highlights and Lowlights

Suburbs — the Smart, Affordable Choice

It’s clear from our top 10 that ’burbs are best for single dads and their kids. Life tends to move at a slower pace in these sprawling, less populated cities, such as Naperville, Illinois (No. 1), Frisco, Texas (No. 6), and Irvine, California (No. 10).

For one, these smaller cities are among the most affordable: Each dollar Dad earns goes further in these cities than in others when measured against the local cost of living.

Academics, however, is where these suburbs deserve the highest marks. Half of our top 10 cities also tied for first place in Public Schools Quality, and six of them also have the highest shares of college-educated men.

So, if you’re a brainy single dad, think ’burbs.

Regular Chart Toppers

Some suburbs share a family trait — that is, they’re family-friendly in general, not just toward unhitched dads.

Chicago suburb Naperville, Illinois (No. 1), and Seattle’s eastern neighbor Bellevue, Washington (No. 7), for example, are consistently at the top of our family- and pet-themed rankings, such as our studies on the best cities for new moms, marital longevity, cat lovers, and dog parents.

Overland Park, Kansas (No. 2), which is part of the Greater Kansas City metro area, and Cary, North Carolina (No. 5), on the outskirts of Raleigh, are also usual strong finishers in these series.

If Pops decides to pop the big question to a special someone down the road — or adopt a four-legged child — he and the kids can simply stay put.

Regional Child Care

Both the South and Midwest are known for their warmth, but that’s not why these two regions dominated the Child Care category — child care services are simply cheaper here.

Nearly our entire top 50 cities for Child Care are located in these two regions, with Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at the very top. The three exceptions include Salt Lake City (No. 39), Scottsdale, Arizona (No. 44), and Buffalo, New York (No. 48). 

The rest of the country occupies the rear half of these child rearing metrics, with California cities filling out most of the 10 worst spots. Nearly everything is more expensive in the Golden State, especially record gas prices.

This cost of parenting trend is generally consistent with the cost of living indices in these regions. The East and West tend to be the most expensive, while the South and Midwest are more affordable.

(A)lone Star State

If you want to spend regular quality time with the little ones, you might want to avoid Texas — except Frisco (No. 6), McKinney (No. 11), and Plano (No. 12).

Lone Star State cities make up seven of our bottom 10 cities in the Work-Life Balance category. That number doubles when we expand to the bottom 25, with Midland coming in last — in the nation, not just in Texas. Men in this state work some of the longest hours in the country. 

And when it comes to state legal protections for working dads, well — there are none: no paid leave, no wage replacement, no sick leave for child care, and no time off for their kids’ school events. In Texas’ defense, several other states also lag behind in providing those benefits.

Ask The Experts

Single dads juggling working and caring for the kids may also be stressing out or struggling financially. In the Best Cities for Single Dads, there are more support groups, social programs, and government incentives to help.

We reached out to some experts to find those resources and weigh in on other family matters.

  1. What are the best ways for single dads to find social and emotional support if they don’t have a strong network?
  2. What less familiar government incentives or social programs are available to single dads (or single parents in general) struggling financially?
  3. How are societal pressures and expectations different for single dads vs. single moms?
  4. What are some meaningful ways that busy single dads can spend more time with their kids?
Alicia Pieper
Assistant Professor
Daniel J. Puhlman Ph.D., C-LMFT
Assistant Professor of Family Studies, College of Education and Human Development
Allen Sabey, Ph.D., LMFT
Core Faculty, Marriage & Family Therapy Program, Therapist, The Family Institute
Alicia Pieper
Assistant Professor
Kent State University

What are the best ways for single dads to find social and emotional support if they don’t have a strong network?

Develop their own support organizations. Find other single fathers with similar problems. Single mothers have had support organizations for years. Men need to create similar organizations.

How are societal pressures and expectations different for single dads vs. single moms?

Most women are socialized to be self-supporting, independent, but also “motherly.”

Men are socialized to be “manly” to be strong, aggressive, protective, a “take charge” mentality. Men are teased if they “act like a girl.”

A single father is going to have to learn how to be nurturing, to show emotions, to be “motherly” when they become a single father.

What are some meaningful ways that busy single dads can spend more time with their kids?

  • Encourage their employer to allow them to work part-time from home.
  • Be willing to spend their free time with child-oriented activities rather than participating in free time with their buddies.
  • Give up working overtime or accepting promotions that will require more time.
  • Participate in volunteering at school.
  • Start their own company, which will allow them to work at home.
  • Take the child to work with them if it is safe.
  • When doing household tasks, encourage the kids to help (many young kids love to “help” their parents).
Daniel J. Puhlman Ph.D., C-LMFT
Assistant Professor of Family Studies, College of Education and Human Development
University of Maine

What are the best ways for single dads to find social and emotional support if they don’t have a strong network?

For single Dads, creating a support network around their children can be incredibly helpful. Men tend to center friendships and social networks around activities like sports, business, games, etc., where conversations and interactions are built around a common experience.

Getting involved in activities in which their children are involved is a great way to build a network. Single dads can introduce their children to their own personal interests and support their children’s growth and learning in these activities based on their own skill sets and abilities.

Coaching or volunteering in activities also provide opportunities to connect with other dads and like-minded individuals.

Attending events focused on children and engaging with other parents can be instrumental in connecting with others in meaningful ways.

There are of course more structured activities and supports (i.e. support groups, parenting classes, clubs, etc.) that bring together single fathers often provided by social-service agencies that can be excellent ways for fathers to engage with other like-minded individuals, as well.

What less familiar government incentives or social programs are available to single dads (or single parents in general) struggling financially?

Every state and local municipality varies in the extent to which programs are available to fathers. Unfortunately, father-focused programming is lacking across the board, although some communities are better than others.

I suggest reaching out to the professionals in the local organizations and searching websites to see what is available in each specific community. Families or fathers with lower incomes have more resources available to them, especially financially, and it would be valuable to reach out to your local health and human services departments to see what is available and what criteria are needed to participate in the programs.

How are societal pressures and expectations different for single dads vs. single moms?

Fortunately, the climate on this topic is shifting. Historically, single fathers were not as common as today, and the single parenting world was pretty well dominated by single moms.

As more fathers are taking active roles in their children’s lives independent of the involvement of their ex-partners, single-fathering has become less taboo. In some ways single fathers have been given more credit for their involvement with their children.

Mothers are often assumed to be actively involved with their kids and being a single parent is expected, whereas fathers who step up as single parents have been an exception rather than a rule.

Many single fathers report being approached with compliments and surprise at their engagement with their children, which, while helpful, can be off-putting to some fathers, suggesting that their involvement as a father is optional.

What are some meaningful ways that busy single dads can spend more time with their kids?

The key for busy single fathers to better engage with children is to structure their lives and activities around the needs and interests of their children.

If fatherhood is central to a man’s identity, they will be more likely to arrange their lives in ways that make sense to be a more engaged father, and sometimes that is very challenging and requires sacrifice. Sometimes this can mean taking a less active role in their careers and making active sacrifices to be present for their kids.

Maybe careers and jobs that require frequent travel, burdensome performance expectations, or have poor family policies are not the best fit for single fathers who want to be actively involved. This can be challenging for some careers and so other strategies may be more beneficial.

I suggested getting involved as coaches or volunteers for children’s activities in a previous question, which I think applies to this one, as well.

Participating in activities with children or setting up activities that are natural and organic to the needs of the family environment can be helpful. Letting kids participate in activities, such as home maintenance, car repairs, or lawn care, can be great ways to accomplish needed tasks, teach your children life skills, and build a strong relationship with them.

Allen Sabey, Ph.D., LMFT
Core Faculty, Marriage & Family Therapy Program, Therapist, The Family Institute
Northwestern University

What are the best ways for single dads to find social and emotional support if they don’t have a strong network?

Single dads often have a lot of roles and responsibilities, and they can find it difficult to take care of themselves as much as they do for others. So, it’s a feat for some to just acknowledge that they need social and emotional support. That’s often the hardest step.

Once single dads are aware that they need more support than they currently have, consider if there are any friendships that could be strengthened by initiating doing things together or calling to talk.

There is a socialized barrier that many men feel that prevents men from expressing or acting on their desire for stronger and deeper friendships.

Men who are looking for social and emotional support can trust that there are many men who feel similarly, but who may be equally reluctant to reach out.

There are also some wonderful organizations around that are explicitly aimed at creating and strengthening friendships for men, including the Mankind Project and Everyman.

How are societal pressures and expectations different for single dads vs. single moms?

As I mentioned above, it is generally more natural for women (e.g., single moms) to reach out to a friend for support. But that is just societal conditioning.

Men and single dads need just as much support just as women and single moms, but dads are often more reluctant to share that they are overwhelmed or struggling.

What are some meaningful ways that busy single dads can spend more time with their kids?

Research that I’ve conducted with young children and their parents indicated that, by far, the two best ways to show love and affection toward children is through physical and verbal expressions of love (e.g., “I love you,” “It’s so fun spending time together”) and through playing together. Play is how children communicate, and there are endless ways of playing together with children.

Single dads can make driving together into a game (e.g., take turns making up sentences to a story), bath time into a game (e.g., time how long they can hold their breath underwater), and eating meals into enjoyable conversation (e.g., ask if they could have a superpower, what would it be).

With teenagers, asking simple questions and just listening to understand (rather than quickly giving advice or trying to help them feel better about something) helps them to feel comfortable sharing and coming to their parents. It’s much more about the quality of time rather than the quantity of time.


We ranked the 200 largest U.S. cities from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 200) for single dads based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across the weighted metrics below. 

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Cost of Living373205Min. Value
Median Annual Income for Working Men3$33,137$124,424Max. Value
Housing Affordability for Male Workers223.173.3Max. Value
Copays as a Share of Household Income10%22%Min. Value
Share of Working Men in Poverty22.0%18.5%Min. Value
Share of Children Under 18 in Poverty23.4%48.4%Min. Value
Child Care
Baby Supply Stores per 100,000 Residents107Max. Value
Child Care Workers per 100,000 Residents258494Max. Value
Hourly Cost of Babysitter2$11.50$20.50Min. Value
Annual Cost of Child Care3$5,864$24,081Min. Value
Health and Education
Hospitals per 100,000 Residents206Max. Value
Quality of Public Hospitals35087Max. Value
Family Practitioners per 100,000 Residents25132Max. Value
Share of Uninsured Children20.5%12.0%Min. Value
Food Insecurity Rate15.4%18.0%Min. Value
Quality of Public Schools35.510.5Max. Value
Home and Outdoors
Median Air Quality Index125101Min. Value
Walk Score11297Max. Value
Pedestrian Fatalities per 100,000 Residents1011Min. Value
Average Yard Square Footage177619,855Max. Value
Percentage of Residents Within 10-Minute Walk of a Park210%100%Max. Value
Percentage of Land Used for Parks and Recreation20%80%Max. Value
Crime Index2085Max. Value
Water Quality Violations Present (1=Yes, 0=No)101Min. Value
Share of Homes with Severe Housing Problems29.6%32.4%Min. Value
Work-Life Balance
Average Length of Work Week (in Hours) for Men33746Min. Value
Average Commute Time (in Minutes) for Men21747Min. Value
Share of Men with College Degree210.9%75.9%Max. Value
Maximum Length of Paid Family Leave Allowed (in Weeks)2012Max. Value
Share of Wage Replacement201Max. Value
Availability of Job Protection in Paid Family Leave Policy (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Availability of State Law Allowing Sick Leave for Child Care (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Availability of Protected Time Off for School Events (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Community Support
Single Dads per 100,000 Residents13421,618Max. Value
Number of Fatherhood Programs205Max. Value
Dad Support Groups per 100,000 Single Dads204Max. Value

Sources: AreaVibes, Care.com, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Child Care Aware of America, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, LawnStarter Internal Data, Livability, Meetup, National Center for Children in Poverty, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, NeighborhoodScout, Niche, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trust for Public Land, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Walk Score, Workplace Fairness, and Yelp

Post-Pandemic Parenting

In recent years, paternal roles have changed, and attitudes about family have shifted, especially during the pandemic.

What hasn’t changed are the struggles of single parenting, like finding child care, relying on a single income, maintaining work-life balance, or holding a steady job.

Solo dads now juggle some of the same pre-pandemic responsibilities like putting in extra hours at work for additional income, taking the kids to dance or soccer practice, and prepping meals.

Doing all of that alone can leave dads vulnerable to stress and hardship.

That’s why support in every possible form is so important: Every bit of help — even clean air and a spacious yard for kids to run around and play while dad tries to get work done — can make a huge difference. 

And you can help your dad, too. Mow his lawn for Father’s Day this June 19, or hire a LawnStarter pro to take that chore off his hands so you can spend more time with Pop this weekend.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Staff Writer