The Average Date In America Costs More For Some Than Others

According to Pew Research Center data, about three out of 10 Americans are single and half aren't looking to partner up with anyone else either, as they're content to be single or are prioritizing other parts of their lives at the moment. As for the other half who are looking to start a relationship, it all begins with dating. And, as with pretty much everything else these days, dating can get expensive — especially if you find you don't have the budget for an average date in America, which, according to a study by MoneyGeek, is $123. This covers dinner and a movie, a very common choice for a first date.

In MoneyGeek's analysis of movie ticket prices and 500 restaurant menus across 50 major cities in America, it found that dinner and a movie in Miami cost the most at $156. The District of Columbia at $153 was second, and Seattle followed in third place, with a date in the Emerald City costing you $150. This said, the real eye-opener was the breakdown of the percentage dinner and a movie would cost a person in those 50 cities. For Miami, $156 represented 20.7% of a person's weekly earnings, while for people in San Francisco, $134, the ninth-most expensive total, accounted for only 8.4%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for the fourth quarter of 2023, median weekly earnings for full-time workers was $1,145. An average date that costs $123 would take away 10.7% of those earnings. Not to mention that more than half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, with some estimates putting this number at over 60%.

Monthly dating costs

When creating a budget for the month, you likely have a "fun" category, which would include any discretionary (i.e., nonessential) spending, such as dining out, entertainment, or subscription services. When dating, this budget category is most likely where you'll pull money from to cover the cost of your dates, as the other budget categories are surely already apportioned to the penny. With this said, while your discretionary funds offer some wiggle room, much of the money in this category is also likely already accounted for, such as for monthly subscriptions. (See how using autopay to pay for subscriptions can cost you.) So, when you suddenly need to come up with extra money to make a date happen, it can be stressful.

In a survey about the cost of dating, credit-building company Self Financial surveyed over 1,000 people and found that 67.9% of them feel stressed over finances when it comes to organizing a date. And while nearly 75% of respondents answered that they'd opt for less-expensive date ideas, 64.6% also said they felt that spending more on a date would increase the chances of the date leading to a more successful relationship. Online dating service, Match, meanwhile, reported in its 12th annual Singles in America survey that people are spending $130 a month on dating, or $1,560 a year.

Ways to save on a date

In Self Financial's survey, it also found people spending over $100 on average on dates, and that it takes seven dates before a couple would classify themselves as "in a relationship." So, right. Dating isn't just one date, it's many. So, spending $100 or more on a date, or $123 for dinner and a movie, per MoneyGeek, can get costly fast. The good news is, though, that these surveys have also found that people are open to something more casual, especially for a first date. While Self found couples spending $701.96 on average across seven dates, it also found the average person spending less than $60 per date, with women spending about 20% less, on average, than men.

And so, while dinner and movie may be a typical date, it doesn't have to be your go-to. In fact, we recently rounded up inexpensive date ideas that aren't at all embarrassing to suggest. Match found in its Singles in America survey as well that 84% of singles preferred casual first dates. Also, 30% of them were open to doing free activities on a date, staying local to save on gas (29%), and enjoying a home-cooked meal versus going to a restaurant (25%). That right there would make a big difference in the findings from MoneyGeek, as dinner, at $96 on average, accounted for 78% of dinner and a movie. Note that going out for drinks averaged only $12.