Ever wondered what it costs to go on a date in America today? The Cost of Dating Index (CDI), developed by our panel of dating experts at Match.com, is a unique tracks the cost of dating in 10 major U.S. cities, allowing you to compare the price of coffee dates in Chicago ($6.70) or Seattle ($8), or the price of a romantic dinner in Denver ($52) or D.C. ($80), as well as other singles-oriented items and activities.

The CDI is based on six types of dates:
  • Coffee Date
  • Drinks
  • Lunch
  • Movie (and ice cream)
  • Romantic (dinner, theatre tickets and flowers)
  • Professional sporting event
The results? No surprises here: New Orleans (.81) is the least expensive city in which to date, followed closely by Denver (.86) and Seattle (.88).

At the other end of the spectrum, the bustling New York City(1.50) is the most expensive, almost 50 percent higher than the next-most expensive city, Dallas (1.06). Considering the radical difference in the cost of living between these top two cities, Dallas daters must have expensive tastes!

Value City Six-Date Total
1.50 New York $1,198.22
1.06 Dallas $844.11
1.04 Washington, DC $834.51
1.03 Los Angeles $823.02
1.00 San Francisco $790.31
0.92 Chicago $736.18
0.90 Minneapolis $721.26
0.88 Seattle $704.61
0.86 Denver $687.80
0.81 New Orleans $646.72

In addition to a basis of comparison, the CDI also provides detailed cost information by type of date. This information allows singles to determine the relative cost of particular activities.

Casual Dates
For example, the coffee date, long a solid choice for first meetings and informal follow-ups, is hands-down the best value. The average cost for a coffee date — a regular sized coffee and a cookie — was $7.37. The most expensive city for coffee dates was Washington, D.C. ($8.10). Conversely, prices in the Mile High City were anything but — coffee and cookie in Denver made a relatively modest date ($6.50).

Drinks were, not surprisingly, more than twice as expensive, on average, as java ($16.50 for two drinks v. $7.37 for two coffees and a snack) — and remember, kids, there are no free refills! Denver again posted the lowest price for a liquid date at $11, while San Francisco topped the list at $20.

Some singles prefer to meet for lunch, which may seem less suggestive than drinks, but propriety comes at a price. Lunch dates averaged $35.40 for two people. That's more than the average cost of two rounds of drinks or several coffee dates. The nation's best lunch value was found in New Orleans, where two can dine for $20. In stark contrast, there's Los Angeles, the highest-priced lunch city in the land, eating up your greens to the tune of $64 per duo. That's a lot to pay for a pile of arugula and a tumbler of wheat grass juice. But maybe you'll see Warren Beatty or Paris Hilton in the next booth.

Recreational Dates
Want to catch a movie? The average cost of seeing a first-run "blockbuster" film was $17.45 for two adults. You'll pay around $20 in New York ($20.50) and L.A. ($20), however. It's a better deal in New Orleans, where the same show will cost you $14.50 (you'll save on attitude, too). Feeling peckish after the film? Grab two ice cream sundaes at an average price of $4.41 each. When you add the nosh, New York remained the priciest ($35.50), almost as much as two movies and four sundaes in Dallas ($19.78). But in New York, moviegoers talk back to the screen, so you really are getting more entertainment for your money.

Sports fan? Tickets, grub and brew for two will set you back an average of $127.46, but ticket prices varied widely. The Washington Redskins are the priciest of the CDI city teams with the cheapest seats going for $68.06 per (either they won the SuperBowl last year and I missed it, or they paid a lot more to get Joe Gibbs back than they reported in the papers); they also boast the most expensive stadium dog ($4.00). The total tab for a Redskin pigskin party for two: $156.12.

Cheapest ball park eats are in San Diego/LA, Minneapolis and San Francisco, where dogs are $2.25 and beers run $4.25. Your best deal overall is in Seattle, where tickets are a scant $43.06 per. The entire package costs $103.62. Of course, you have to sit through a Seahawks game to get it.

Romantic Dates
For truly romantic evenings, nothing tops fine dining, the theater and a dozen roses for the lady. Average cost: $314.68. For just over the cost of two Seahawks games ($294.98), you could plan a lovely evening on the town in the Emerald City. But the least expensive city for a big night on the town is Chicago ($250.00), just edging out Denver and New Orleans ($251.98). Those with deeper pockets could opt for the Big D. Dallas topped index cities for the highest-priced romantic dinner at $85 per person. That's more than triple the $26 price in Denver and Minneapolis.

But no city comes close to New York, where dinner, a show and flowers will run you $539.98. The bulk of that is the theatre tickets — $190 each — more than double the fee in San Francisco, the next highest city at $81 each. Chicago's seats are the most affordable at $50.50. For those with a lot of patience but not much money to burn, half-price theatre tickets can often be acquired the day of the show.

So, singles. What'll it be? Two theatre tickets ($280) in The Big Apple or 200 cups of coffee ($280) in the nation's capital? Either way, it's a great buzz.

Many of the prices used in the index are available directly from the source. Tickets prices for movies and plays are available from the theatres, and prices for the NFL games are courtesy the NFL Team Marketing Report. To calculate flower costs, we used 1-800-Flowers.com, which often is the de facto market price in larger cities.

For dining/drinking excursions, we surveyed a variety of sources, including Chowhound.com, Coffeegeek.com, Fodors.com and Citysearch.com. Pricing for dinner, in particular, cannot be computed as an average, because MacDonald's and Elaine's are not comparable choices for a romantic evening. So, we chose restaurants that were consistently noted as great places for romantic dining in their respective cities by locals and tourists alike. Prices did not include tax, tip or drinks.

To create the index, we determined the total cost of all six dates in each city. The resulting totals were added together and divided by 10 (the number of cities) to get the average cost of a dating: $798.67. (After which you may be broke, but at least you'll know whether or not she loves you for you or for your bank account.) This number was then divided into the total for each city to establish its index value.