There’s no such thing as a cheap date in New York City.
“Dating definitely comes with a hefty price tag in this city,” says Soho resident Eric Lee, 24, who goes on about three dates a month and estimates that he spends $100 and $150 each time.
The Black Tux calculated the average cost of transportation, dinner, tip, movie tickets and a post-date nightcap in the top 50 cities in the US. The typical NYC date-night tab rings up a full 10 bucks higher than the next most expensive city, San Francisco, and about $14 more than Bay Area city San Jose.
“Maybe you do have to spend thousands of dollars [on dates],” Lee says with a laugh. “If that’s true, maybe that’s why I’m single!”
For guys on the prowl, such as Jack M. Freedman, the cost is so prohibitive that he’s changed his whole game. He prefers to take potential mates out for daytime meals or coffee rather than shell out for dinner.
“For me, it’s coffee and cake on the first date — at most I might spend $10,” says the 37-year-old poet and founder of a publishing start-up on Staten Island.
Freedman adds that if the partner seems like a good fit from the outset, he may spring for dinner. Otherwise, “I can’t picture shoveling out on the first date.”
Daniel Greenberg, 21, says skimping out can be hard to do in New York City, where the expectation among many women is to be “treated nicely.”
“Especially on these first dates, no matter how much a girl likes you, you just can’t be cheap,” says Greenberg, a Williamsburg resident who works at digital marketing company MSCHF and says his dates could run as high as $380.
But dating expert Maria Avgitidis says there are plenty of ways to date in the city without coming across as stingy: “Think about dates that are activity-based, instead of dinner- and wine-based,” says Avgitidis, CEO of Agape Match, a Midtown matchmaking service.
She suggests off-the-wall ideas such as being a tourist for a day and cheekily checking out the Statue of Liberty, or doing karaoke. (She loves the country night at Hill Country Barbecue Market.)
Also, it’s OK to cut the date short if it’s not going well, and save yourself the cash, Avgitidis says.
“Tell your date, ‘Let’s take a walk on the Highline,’ and then if you’re having a good time, pop into the Whitney,” Avgitidis says. “If you’re not having a good time, say you have something else you need to get to.”
Then again, you’d have to go pretty far if you want to spend less: The cheapest city for a date, the analysis found, is Oklahoma City ($87.85).
“I’d much rather live in New York City and pay more for dates than live in somewhere like Oklahoma,” Greenberg says.
But take heart: It’s not always about who can spend the most on dates. Though single ladies like RT Zhang, 26, are increasingly splitting the bill when going out, the cost of the excursion is irrelevant if the date itself sucks.
“I focus on the person and the quality of the conversation, no matter if it’s over coffee, ramen or Per Se,” says the Soho digital-marketing manager. “If someone tries to impress me with a fancy dinner, it actually turns me off.”