2022’s Best Cities for Single Dads

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.

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking: 2022’s Best Cities for Single Dads

Rank City

1 Naperville, IL

2 Overland Park, KS

3 Sioux Falls, SD

4 Olathe, KS

5 Cary, NC

6 Frisco, TX

7 Bellevue, WA

8 Omaha, NE

9 Lincoln, NE

10 Irvine, CA

2022’s Worst Cities for Single Dads
Rank City
1 Sunrise Manor, NV
2 Detroit, MI
3 Lancaster, CA
4 Brownsville, TX
5 Newark, NJ
6 Ontario, CA
7 Palmdale, CA
8 Paterson, NJ
9 Moreno Valley, CA
10 San Bernardino.

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 momsmarital longevitycat 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.

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.

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.

More at : 2022’s Best Cities for Single Dads – Lawnstarter

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