Newton Is Hot for Rich Singles?

Money magazine has Newtonians scratching their heads with their recent findings that the Boston suburb is a hotbed for rich singles. Citing the town’s single population of 31.2 percent and median family income of $145,639, the site almost promises that you’ll be able to bag a rich spouse, going as far as to note that Sumner Redstone, at 90, is still on the market.

So what’s the deal? How is the posh neighborhood you move to when you want to put your kids into good schools suddenly a haven for singles? You have to look much closer at the numbers. If I’m correct, it looks as though Money pulled their figures from the 2010 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census. That survey’s “social characteristics” data count the number of adults and families living in homes. The thing is, they count “adults” as anyone age 15 and older—which means they’re including a fair share of teenagers living with their parents. According to our Best School’s Guide from 2011, Newton North and South high schools had a combined enrollment of 11,934, making them the largest district on our top 50 districts list (they ranked 12th overall, by the way). Of that, about 4,000 students attend Newton North and South High Schools, and countless more likely continue to use their home address during college, or after college as the case may be. In the American Community Survey, they found 11,849 males and 13,473 females who were 15 and over and had never married. The survey doesn’t dig deeper to find out exactly how old these “never marrieds” are (never mind the fact that we need a better name for these people, but I digress), but knowing the size of the high schools, it’s fair to say that a almost half a fair percentage of those “singles” are actually teens.

All is not lost though, if you’re looking to relocate for romance, particularly a rebound. A total of 7.1 percent of men in Newton are either separated, divorced, or widowed, and that number jumps up to 17.1 percent for women. So maybe it just needs a new nickname: Cougartown.

Update: thanks to Peter M. for noticing my numbers were off. I had confused our 2010 best list of high schools with our 2011 rankings of districts. But counting those 15 and over as “adults” does still skew the numbers.