AUSTIN (KXAN) — Archita Tekriwal and Dhruv Verma sip their drinks across from each other at Jo’s Coffee. Despite the rush of tourists and locals on South Congress Avenue, they are calm and content as they enjoy the moment together. They’ve come so far since meeting on Bumble a year and a half ago.
Their story of finding love taps into a number of reasons why Austin‘s vibrant dating scene has been touted as one of the best in the country.
Austin ranks No. 1 in the United States for dating in a list published by Sperling’s Best Places, a data analytics website with more than 2 million monthly visits. The ranking included 80 metropolitan areas in America, including Seattle, New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles.
Among the criteria that made Austin number one were its young population, online dating scene, and number of dating venues. Austin received a perfect score. It beat second-placed Colorado Springs by nearly 12 points, while Colorado Springs only beat third-place San Diego, Calif., by 3.7 points.
Austin edged out the second-highest-rated Texas city, Fort Worth, by 20 spots.
If an entire Netflix reality show about people in their twenties in Austin isn’t enough to prove it’s a “young” city, the numbers tend to back it up. Only about 9% of Austin’s population is over the age of 65 according to US Census Bureau data. That’s significantly lower than the national average of 16% and the Texas average of 12.5%, as reported by the 2020 American Community Survey.
Analysis of data from Sperling’s Best Places estimated that 18-24 year olds made up 13.4% of Austin’s population. Of that 13.4%, the analysis estimated that more than four-fifths were single, meaning there are approximately 110,226 single 18-24 year olds in Austin’s dating pool. That’s almost double the total population of San Marcos.
Austin’s large number of young people and singles directly contributed to its high ranking. Austin is a crowded college town where it’s easy for young singles to get together, the ratings site said.
Of all the cities on the list, Austin has the highest percentage of 18-24 year olds.
Hannah Boesenberg and her boyfriend Adam Hotchkiss met and started dating in Austin when they were randomly assigned to be roommates in off-campus housing. Both UT students agree that the number of young people in Austin, especially on the UT campus and downtown, makes it easy to meet.
“A lot of people like to come to the UT campus even if they don’t go to UT, so it’s easier to find people,” Boesenberg said. “And people like to go to Sixth Street and… stuff like that. There are a lot of young people there. So it’s pretty easy to find people in your age range (so far).
Hotchkiss said he sees Austin attracting more young people and becoming an even better city to this day.
“A lot of public figures are moving to Austin. It also brings a lot of young people looking for opportunities,” he said. “And generally if you’re younger, you’re more ambitious, so you’re looking for more employment prospects. (Austin) brings in a lot of young people looking for opportunities.
Katy Goldey, associate professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at St. Edward’s University, explained that young people have so far been developmentally oriented and therefore tend to play a large role in the dating scene of a city.
“(In) life stages and life course development, one of the big challenges that adolescents and young adults… face is called intimacy versus isolation,” Goldey said. “The big big challenge for the young adult (is to) connect with another person.”
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, online dating is now the most popular way for heterosexual couples to meet in the United States. Austinites have plenty of ways to hang out online.
The city is even home to the headquarters of Bumble, an international dating app with 23 million new matches made weekly and 94,000 new users daily, according to its website. On his website, he called Austin “one of the most fun cities in the country.”
Samantha García, North America and Latin America marketing manager at Bumble, said Austin is the perfect place for online dating because the city has a large, cutting-edge dating pool. She said online dating makes it easy for people to sort through this pool and find compatible people.
“Through online dating (and) through the technology we have on Bumble…you can actually find people who love country (music) or find people who have the same interest in exercise,” García said. . “Bumble is a brand rooted in kindness, respect and equality. And in my opinion, I think the Austin community reflects those things.
Online dating in Austin proved successful for Celeste Alfonso and Corey Wilson, who met using Bumble on Alfonso’s first day in Austin. They have been together for four years now.
“I come from a small town in South Carolina, and I can definitely say that I preferred the bigger city when it came to dating,” Alfonso said. “(Austin Bumble is) such a melting pot, so no matter what your hobbies are or what type of person you like, you’ll most likely be able to find it.”
Wilson said he would recommend dating while in Austin, “because one day a gorgeous brunette from South Carolina might correspond with you on Bumble and change your life.”
Once daters have found their partner, online or in person, Austin has plenty of romantic events and places to take them.
The city scores relatively high in hangouts per capita “and knows how to have fun because they spend more money on socializing than any other area,” Sperling’s Best Places wrote.
This was a deciding factor in Austin moving ahead of many major cities, the ratings site said.
“Big cities that everyone associates with socializing, like Los Angeles and Miami, weren’t particularly well ranked (because they had) lower scores in categories like cafes per capita,” Bert Sperling said. , president of Sperling’s Best Places.
Austin, on the other hand, has a variety of these types of places, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
One of them is Jo’s Coffee on South Congress. Jo’s describes itself on its website as “a hub of community activity” and hosts many events that couples or those looking for romance can attend.
The cafe attracts many couples with the large, much-photographed mural on its wall. The mural, in cursive letters, reads “I love you so much”.
However, that mural isn’t all Jo’s has done to stand out as an outstanding meeting place in Austin, said Carolyn Garlock, general manager of Jo’s South Congress.
“We do our best to make those who visit us feel welcome and comfortable,” Garlock said. “Jo’s has a unique way of making you feel like you’re in an intimate setting in a very public space, which means it can be a safe place to get to know someone or engage a conversation with a stranger.”
Tekriwal and Verma said they enjoyed Jo’s Southern Congress. The pair hails from Singapore. Verma, a 2018 UT graduate, wanted to bring Tekriwal for a date at the iconic cafe while visiting Austin.
“(In other places) you can’t really walk around, see nature, see these kind of cool neighborhoods,” Verma said. “You just end up in a mall or a movie theater or restaurants. Not as diverse and vibrant as Austin.
Austin’s perfect score has proven accurate for couples like Boesenberg and Hotchkiss, Alfonso and Wilson, and Tekriwal and Verma, as they all credit the city with a significant role in their romances.
“Austin just had a great vibe!” Tekriwal said. “It’s like this everywhere. Like what it doesn’t matter what day it is. Monday evening, Sunday evening, even during the day it’s great.