If you’ve got an adblocker turned off, then I bet you’ve seen some local singles in your area.
Unfortunately, side-bar local singles ads don’t inspire a high degree of trust. Frankly, I can’t believe that Brad Pitt is a mile away and looking for love.
The good news is, there are better ways to meet local singles than by clicking dodgy ads.
And even better news: it doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Although dating sites are keen to take our money, there are so many free options in 2023 that you don’t have to splash out if you’re not in a position to do so.
So if you’re asking, “How can I meet local singles for free?” there are a lot of options. From free dating apps to sites with free trials, love might be a click away. Or you could do things the old-fashioned way through meetup groups or your local network.
Here are the best ways to meet local singles for free:
- Free Dating Apps
- Attend An Evening Class
- Find Local Meetup.com Groups
- Say Yes To Going Out
- Ask Around!
There are a lot of great dating apps out there, but we shouldn’t have to deal with a paywall to find the love of our life! Free dating sites and apps are a great way to find local singles without interrupting your investment portfolio.
Here are a few apps you can use to do just that.
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The Best Free Dating Apps
If you’re looking for the best dating apps period then I’ve got you covered. But without a doubt, the best way to meet local singles without spending a cent is to take advantage of the plethora of free dating apps.
And there’s something for everyone – from date night to the rest of your life, no matter what you’re looking for there are local singles out there with the same thing in mind. Let’s take a look at the best free dating apps.
Hinge is “designed to be deleted” – meaning that users are serious about matching you up for good. And while it’s aimed at singles who are looking to get out of the dating game, there are plenty of people on there looking for something more casual.
For access to Hinge’s basic features – including liking people (up to 8 per day, matching, and messaging, you don’t need to pay a thing. And although there’s a paid version called Hinge Preferred that I explore in full here, you can still get great results on the free app.
Hinge is most popular with people in their 20s. This is a demographic that’s usually pretty tight for cash so the free version of Hinge is a hive of activity. This makes it one of the best free dating apps around.
Let’s get ready to Bumble is, inexplicably, not the tagline for this great free dating app. Bumble, with its app and desktop-based service, gives you a functional range of features without you walking headfirst into a paywall.
Bumble is online dating with a twist though. In the Bumblesphere (that’s another coinage) only the women can message first. The idea is that it turns the usual online dating dynamic on its head, and allows stronger connections to blossom as a result.
For serious Bumbleheads there are two paid options – but they really are options. You can still match and message on the free version, but you’ll be limited in how much swiping you can do in any 24-hour period. So pace yourself.
For a while, Tinder was the daddy of free dating apps and the mother of online matchups. And although now there are a few rivals on the scene, Tinder still can’t be overlooked as a route to finding local singles for free.
The free version of Tinder lets you match, chat and meet local singles, and while there are a few perks you can pay for (such as seeing people who’ve liked you without relying on the luck of a match), only around 10% of Tinderers are paying for this privilege.
Tinder’s swipeathon-style of matching arguably promotes a hookup culture based on brief attraction rather than sustained amore. But Instagram’s #tinderwedding proves love-at-first-sight can last more than a night.
And I’ve unraveled the world of Tinder in my Tinder Hacked guide so if you’re looking to make the most of a free dating app, there’s a headstart!
One thing that apps like Tinder reveal is that when it comes to local singles, it’s a pretty big pool. What if we could narrow it down a bit so we’re not swiping the night away?
OkCupid asks its users a wide range of questions and then, with the wave of a magic wand (or, okay, a lot of math), calculates your chance of compatibility with a potential match.
Access to OkCupid’s algorithm, along with matching and messaging, is completely free. But without the paid version you won’t know who likes you until you like them back, so get liking to meet your match!
Match.com is one of the most popular dating sites with over 20 million users, and they’re so confident in their system that they guarantee you’ll meet someone in six months. The only catch with Match.com is that it costs a pretty penny.
So why is it on the list? Because you can often take advantage of a free trial, and get Matched up without paying up.
Messaging on Match.com is usually behind a paywall, but with a 7-day free trial, you can get access to its millions of singles and super-effective system.
And they’re frequently running promotions, offering premium features for free or opening messaging up to all users for the weekend. Half of the userbase on Match isn’t coughing up, so you can bet that when these promotions run it’s a fiesta of free love: think the summer of ‘67… only entirely online.
CoffeeMeetsBagel was originally a dating app for New Yorkers, but now this is a dating app for everyone, even if coffee’s not your cup of tea.
In CMB jargon, your matches are your bagels. That makes you the coffee, I guess? And you can dip in without splashing out, as matching and messaging are completely free with CMB.
CoffeeMeetsBagel’s quirky name hints at not taking things too seriously, but it’s not an app for superficial flings either. With a user base primarily aged between 30 and 49, there’s a degree of maturity here. This is more smoked salmon and cream cheese, less PBJ in your lunchbox.
And CMB brings you daily matches that their algorithm chooses, getting you out of the endless cycle of swiping.
For the recently single, “plenty of fish” can become a reassuring mantra. There’s always someone out there who’s right for you and Plenty Of Fish helps you cast the net.
With a fully functional free version that lets you match, message and maybe even marry you can sign up without diving right in. Although POF will frequently be upselling their premium version (and when they’ve got you hooked on likes it’s hard to resist) there’s no obligation to pay up.
But it definitely encourages it: if you’re adamant about keeping your wallet closed, the ads get tiresome. Fortunately, if you do take the plunge into payment, it’s one of the cheaper dating sites out there.
Plenty Of Fish isn’t about catch and release – they’ve got a more mature user base who are mostly looking for a relationship. The algorithm takes a traditional approach to compatibility, pairing you up based on your interests and outlook.
Online dating might look like a young man’s game but the world of online dating is inclusive. OurTime is a dating site geared toward the older generation looking for love.
It’s built for over 50s and has a pretty balanced user base by gender. And there’s an app as well as a desktop version which makes browsing easy.
Unfortunately, dating sites for older daters user usually cost a pretty penny. And although OurTime is primarily a paid option, there are a few interesting features for those seeking local singles for free. Firstly, you can sign up for a free account in five minutes and start sending winks to profiles that take your fancy.
And while messaging is behind the paywall on OurTime, they’ve got a fancy feature called Reply For Free which lets premium members chat to users who haven’t paid up. Thanks to Reply For Free, you can still make connections with a free account.
SilverSingles is another great choice for daters over 50 and with SilverSingles you can match and meet without parting with your gold.
Although a fair number of features are locked behind the paywall – including messaging – you can make a SilverSingles account for free and the free trial period lets you explore the site and its inner workings without committing – until you find someone to commit to.
And crucially, the free trial lets you search by location so you’ll get a snapshot of the local dating pool.
Unlike a lot of dating sites out there, the SilverSingles gender balance actually favors straight guys, and 59% of its users are women. The browser and app-based design are easy to use and give you the choice of platform for finding the one.
Ah, Facebook. It’s where we’re shopping for new cars and sharing the latest scientific vaccine data, so why shouldn’t we be looking for love there too?
Facebook Dating launched in 2019 and fortunately, they keep the dating sphere separate from your regular profile – that means your friends and colleagues won’t encounter your dating profile. But it’s easy to get started as you can transfer your information from your Facebook profile to your Facebook Dating profile.
Facebook Dating is only available on the app version of Facebook – you can’t find it on the browser. And Facebook has more data on us than anyone, so they’re well-positioned to introduce you to local singles, and their business model means you’ll never have to pay for premium.
Premium Facebook… can you imagine the outcry?
Should I Pay For A Dating App?
I’ve just given you ten free dating app options and you’re asking if you should pay? Well, it’s a good question.
Most free dating apps are going to try to persuade you to pay, so it’s natural to ask: should I pay for a dating app? Well, the added features are nice and all, but don’t let them persuade you to cough up. The real reason to pay for a dating app is that it brings you closer to a pool of premium users who are serious about ending their singledom.
But it depends on which dating app you’re talking about. Premium features like unlimited likes might just increase the quantity, not the quality of your matches.
Is It Easier To Meet Singles If You Pay For A Dating Site?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch – unless maybe your date is getting the bill. But is there such a thing as a free date?
Dating apps lure you in with free profiles and trials and then start upselling premium features. And it’s tempting when you’re hungry for lunch… Uh, I mean love.
So is it easier to meet singles if you pay for a dating site? If you pay for a dating site you’ll have more opportunities to match and, if you’re in the right place, people might be more serious about looking for love. A little more conversation and a little more matchin’.
But the vast majority of dating app users are on the free version, so why shouldn’t you be? If you put the work in, crafting clever openers and making genuine connections, you can meet local singles without paying the premium.
And if you’re looking for quick flings and happy hookups, then free dating sites are full of swipe-happy local singles. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little more serious it might be worth checking out the cheap dating sites that aren’t quite free.
In fact, one of the reasons that eHarmony is so successful at matching people is because everyone has paid up – so if you’re looking for the one rather than just anyone, check out a free trial of eHarmony here.
Meeting Singles Without Dating Apps
If you’re the kind of person who swirls a fine cognac while listening to the gramophone and lamenting the lost ways, then a dating app might not sound right for you.
So does anyone still do it the old-fashioned way?
Although your coupled-up friends might not believe it, you can still meet singles without dating apps. While your cell phone might offer a shortcut, we can still meet-cute out in the real world.
Attend An Evening Class
Remember those early college days, the instant friendships with your classmates brought about simply by sharing a pen? The classroom breeds connection, and the learning doesn’t have to stop once school’s out. Evening classes could introduce you to anything from circus skills to learning a foreign language, and they could introduce you to your future partner too.
Find Local Meetup.Com Groups
Meetup.com is a site that’s all about bringing people together, but romantic connections are way down the priority list. If you’re desperate to get into the dating game, then Meetup.com groups might be a little slow for you, but you’ll broaden your network and meet like-minded people. You never know where it might lead.
There’s bound to be a worthy cause near you, so if you can spare the time why not try volunteering at an organization that shares your values? When you volunteer you meet people from outside your social bubble, but they’re guaranteed to care about some of the same things you do. It’s like hacking the dating app algorithm in real life!
Say Yes To Going Out
Whether it’s hitting the bar after work on a Thursday night or going to your little cousin’s birthday party that you’d rather avoid, you can meet local singles by just getting out there. Start saying “Yes” rather than staying in and it’s inevitable that you’ll meet people – and they might just be the one for you.
Everyone loves to play the matchmaker, so why not give your friends or family members a chance? Let your nearest and dearest know you’re looking for love – the perfect person might be right around the corner.
The loneliness of single life can be oppressive – whether it’s lasagna for one and TV reruns every night, or solo adventures you wish you could share.
But actually, you have opportunities at your fingertips. Whether that’s swiping on your phone screen, taking up pottery, or volunteering at the animal shelter is up to you.
And meeting local singles doesn’t have to break the bank. There are millions of people using the free versions of everything from Hinge to OkCupid, so why not join them?
Yet even when you take paid apps out of the equation, there is still a lot to choose from. Try my dating app quiz to narrow it down.