The Cost of a Parents' Night Out in Each U.S. City

By Andrea Pisani Babich
Romantic candle light dinner

There’s nothing like raising children to bond a couple together – or to cast into oblivion the things that brought them together in the first place. Even the most devoted parents need a night to themselves, without the distraction of their children, to rekindle the sparks that inspired them to embark on the adventure of raising a family together. 

Depending on where you live and how you plan to spend such a night, a parents’ night out date could set you back a pretty penny, and the cost may make these special nights few and far between. Even so, a little bit of research and planning can help pave the way for your own perfect date night, or maybe even a few each year.

Whether you’re planning an annual budget in your current location or researching the cost of living in a new location, don’t forget to factor in the occasional parents’ night out. Keep reading to learn how much it will cost in your city.

The Most Expensive Cities for a Parents’ Night Out

graphic of most expensive cities for a parents night out

If you live in any of the cities that made our top 10 list, you already know that the price of living in such a large, vibrant city is steeper than in other parts of the country or even in the next nearest city. And even a modest night out on the town with your significant other will reflect just how much more expensive it can be.

The cost of a couple’s night out in most of the cities that made our Top 10 List is over $200. 

You could probably have guessed which cities made our top 10 list, but the ones that are missing may come as a greater surprise. Some notable absences include Chicago, where an average date night overlooking Lake Michigan costs almost $62 less than one in San Franciscothe most expensive city for dinner and a movie with your partner.

San Diego, CA; Houston, TX; and Atlanta, GA also might have been contenders but failed to make our list of the top 10 most expensive cities for a parents’ night out date, offering slightly more affordable date nights for couples. 

The Least Expensive Cities for a Parents’ Night Out

graphic of least expensive cities for a parents night out

If you live in or visit anywhere within a 20 mile radius of San Antonio, you might want to take a drive over to spend a day and cap it off with one of the least expensive urban date nights in the country.

An affordable date night is not the only attraction to experience in San Antonio. A visit to the Alamo serves up some inspiring American history, and right across the street, the famous San Antonio River Walk winds along the riverbank and features shopping and dining to the tunes of strumming mariachi. Four important 18th century missions await you in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which also features tours of the park. Fall in love all over again as you wander through the beautifully cultivated Japanese Tea Gardens, then spend the evening enjoying an affordable dinner for just the two of you. Not a bad day for weary parents!

Two other Texas cities landed on our list of the least expensive cities for a parents’ night out – El Paso and Arlington. Turns out, Texas is hot and getting hotter, and I’m not talking about the weather. According to Business Insider, Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the US because of its relatively low cost of living – no personal income tax! – the natural beauty, and a plethora of higher education opportunities. 

There’s very little variation in the costs of a date night in these cities with the highest cost being only seven dollars more than the lowest cost. All of the cities that made this list are located in the central portion of the country, which is coincidentally also home to many of the most affordable places to live in the country.  

The Most and Least Expensive Cities for Each Element of a Parents’ Night Out

graphic comparing prices of elements of a parents night out date

When you break each element of an evening out, you’ll find that the costs in the most expensive cities are about twice those in the least expensive cities.

So when you are snuggled together in the theater chuckling at Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in Oklahoma City you can feel even better about your night out thinking about all those people in New York City paying twice as much to watch Leo and Brad recreate Hollywood’s Golden Age. New Yorkers, you have the City That Never Sleeps, so there’s that. 

The Average Cost of a Parents’ Night Out in Each U.S. City

graphic of costs of a parents night out date in each city

You might be surprised to learn the relatively narrow range of costs for parents’ stepping out, especially when you consider the vast differences between the most expensive cities and the least expensive ones.

For instance, the average household income in San Francisco –  the most expensive city to spend a night on the town –  is $94,000 per year, while the average household income in San Antonio is about half that. And yet, the cost of a date night in San Antonio is only $100 less than one in San Francisco and will still put you back about $150, an amount some San Antonians might spend on a week’s worth of groceries.

Interestingly, the largest single expense of a modest date night goes to the babysitter, whose rate doesn’t change whether you indulge in two wagyu ribeyes at your favorite steakhouse or chow down two value meals at McDonald’s. Charging an average hourly rate of $17, your babysitter is not only the most expensive element of parents’ night out but possibly the most important since the whole point of the evening is to reconnect with your partner without the kids coming between you. So totally worth the money if Grandma and Grandpa don’t live nearby. 

Summary

What does all this have to do with sleep? More than you might think. Setting aside money and taking the time to share some one-on-one time with your partner is one important way to nurture your relationship. 

Our research shows a happy romantic relationship and sleep satisfaction go hand-in-hand. And if you sleep separately, as some couples do to ensure a good night’s sleep, a parents’ night out date offers you a rare opportunity to spend precious hours alone with your partner. 

So, whatever the cost, a parents’ night out date is not only an investment in your sleep satisfaction but also in the one relationship that holds the whole family together. At Mattress Advisor, we say that’s well worth the price.


Methodology

We based our analysis on a set of assumptions to define a standard parent’s night out date to gather consistent data for each city. These elements include a babysitter, a standard dinner for two, 20% tip, two movie tickets, and two cocktails.

The cost of a babysitter was calculated using Care.com’s standard babysitting rates for each city for five hours to cover the time needed for the date night. The costs of a standard dinner for two, movie tickets, and cocktails were derived from Expatistan’s cost of living calculator, a widely cited resource for reporting cost of living rates in different cities.

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