A recent report suggests that the added cost of living solo, compared to living with a spouse or partner, is $388,059 over the course of a lifetime. The study was conducted in the UK. The economic disparity was calculated based on these considerations:
- Mortgage or rent costs more per person when just one person pays the bill
- The average annual food bill for any one person is greater for people living solo than for couples living together
- Solo-living singles pay more per person on “essential bills” such as utilities
It is also interesting that the expenses of solo-living singles are greater even though, according to the report, they go out less often, vacation less often, and spend less on their appearance than coupled people do. (A few stereotype-challenging findings there, don’t you think?) Also, as I mentioned in this post, in the UK, singles living solo get a break on their property taxes.
The $388,059 figure was computed by converting from the British currency. In the US, though, there are even more costs to single life (as described, for example, in Chapter 12 of Singled Out). In some important ways, singles do not need to be living solo in order to be charged more per person and receive less – it is simply their marital status that disqualifies them from access to perks and benefits.
One of the stateside descriptions of the study was at The Consumerist. The site briefly described the results of the report, then added this quip: “do they not have roommates in the UK?” In a way, it is a fair point. But consider: In all the stories you have read about couples or families struggling to get by, when have you EVER heard the suggestion that they should take in borders, or share a place with some other people? More evidence, perhaps, for the notion that privacy is something only coupled people need or deserve.