- Jenna Schillenger,
BLOOMINGTON—“I feel like most people here are single and ready to mingle.”
Although the above statement was uttered by an Illinois State student on the Quad just days ago, there is some truth to it. Nearly 52 percent of Bloomington residents are single and “ready to mingle;” and with dozens of cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques located in the downtown area, just minutes away from Redbird territory, Bloomington is the perfect place for some mingling.
So much so, that Kiplinger has noticed. According to the magazine, Bloomington ranks No. 2 on the “10 Best Cities for Singles” list, just behind Ann Arbor, Mich. According to Kiplinger, “Bloomington singles hearken back to some charming heartland ideal: Well educated, well paid and exceptionally nice. State Farm's corporate headquarters employs more than 14,000 people, contributing to the area's high median income and 40 percent bachelor's-degree rate.”
“I guess I’m in the 52 percent, and I can’t say that I hate it,” ISU senior Paige Smith said, laughing. “I’ve noticed that there are a large amount of single people here, and it really is a perfect area for us. There are a lot of activities to do that aren’t necessarily ‘family-oriented,’ and from what I’ve noticed, there are so many more jobs here catering to younger people compared to other places.”
With its “sky-high percentage of creative types,” mixed with good jobs as Kiplinger put it, Bloomington beat out cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York, posing a cost-of-living score of 95.5, mirroring its median household income of $57,642 with a metro population of 166,706.
“It’s hard to believe that Bloomington, of all places, beat out huge cities like New York and L.A.,” ISU junior Jenna Schillenger said. “Bloomington is a very nice area, though. I always see people out walking, enjoying the downtown area, and just going out with friends.”
However, as the No. 2-best place for singles, is it the best city to live if single or is it the best place to live if looking to find other singles to mingle with? Unfortunately, that is a topic Kiplinger did not touch upon.
“It all makes sense now, maybe why Bloomington is so highly ranked is because us singles can’t find each other,” ISU junior Rich Thompson said. “This really is a nice place to live if you are a single person, but maybe why it’s so nice is because everyone here loves being single. Sure, there are tons of singles here, but most, from my experience, aren’t looking to change that anytime soon.”
While Kiplinger attributes Bloomington’s high ranking to its level of employment, downtown attractions, and overall economic level for unmarried residents, it does not offer exact places or activities for singles to interact and mingle with other singles.
“I really don’t know the best places to meet other single people other than at parties or bars, which is mostly for the college scene,” Smith said. “It’s not something that I’m super concerned about now, but it is interesting to think about. If this is the best place for singles, then where do you meet other singles in an appropriate environment?”
Besides the Bloomington nightlife, top attractions, according to the travel guide “10 Best,” include: Miller Park, Miller Park Zoo, Constitution Trail, Upper Limits, McLean County Arts Center, Beer Nuts, Inc., Evelyn Chapel, Illinois State Theatre, Moraine View State Park, and Funks Grove Pure Maple Syrup. Additional attractions include the array of independently owned restaurants, perfect for a first-date such as Great Harvest Bread Co., Conklin’s Barns II Dinner Theatre or Garden of Paradise Restaurant.
“I really enjoy Miller Park and checking out the local restaurants around it, it’s so scenic and beautiful,” Schillenger said. “There are a lot of quaint places to visit around Bloomington, I think people just don’t care to visit them. A lot of single people, especially college-aged singles, are only interested in going out and enjoying the nightlife, so doing that in a day setting is like something foreign.”
While the local attractions offer excellent choices for destinations for singles seeking singles, according to Thompson, single people will only mingle when they are ready to do so and ready to step outside their comfort zone.
“I know there are fun things to do here, but meeting other singles, especially ones of the opposite sex, has to be intentional,” he said. “Until people are ready to stop outside their comfort zone and get to know people they don’t already hang out with, Bloomington will remain a city full of single people. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, it’s just interesting.”