More and more people these days are living alone. The most recent statistics show solo living once more on the rise in the UK, after a downturn in the previous decade. The majority of those are found in the mid-range of people aged 25 to 65, when we’re generally fully employed, either pre or post-family or increasingly frequently, with no plans for a family at all.
Some attribute the rise in solo households (amongst those who choose to live alone) as not only due to increased economic and emotional stability, but also to improved communications, meaning that when you have the internet at your fingertips, living alone does not necessarily mean being alone. Some psychologists are beginning to understand that loneliness is something that can be experienced even when in a relationship, while solitude is a step on the road to self-actualisation.
For many of us, however, the costs of living alone can sometimes contribute additional pressure to a lifestyle already packed with a stressful job, demanding relatives and a busy social life. It can be daunting to face the entire range of costs involved in renting a home or paying a mortgage, including council tax, utilities, internet or phone, TV licence, parking and commuter transport. Couples can get tax breaks, family discounts and allowances, not available to the solo living person, suggesting in many cases that people who live on their own, are a frequently overlooked consumer group.
How many times have you attempted to book a holiday and been advised that there’s a ‘single person supplement’? That the cost of accommodation might be more expensive for one person than for two? That said, while there are specialist, key players in the travel industry attentive to the needs and now more than ever, able to cater for the solo traveller (given the huge rise in solo travel) – there are other sectors, in which a lack of fairness seemingly becomes apparent. Not too long ago, the Guardian pointed out other instances including theatre, cinema and aeroplane tickets, as not so frequently recognised examples.
The minute you have another individual contributing to household expenses, the costs of your food, fuel, entertainment and transport are going to go down. Gym or sports club membership might add to the costs of a solitary life, and subscriptions to online libraries, websites or entertainment networks must all be paid out from one income. But, group or family memberships of many clubs and institutions are per head cheaper, while bulk buying of food and home cooking cost proportionally less and where laundry and fuel bills can be shared. Couples can also share the use of a car, the cost of insurance premiums and other car-related expenditure.
On the flip side, companies are taking note and almost all hotels will offer friends and family discount and other services, with ferries and planes, keen to benefit the family and friends traveller. Other more logical offers more suited to the solo dweller apply to family-orientated activities if purchasing as a group, and increasingly many stores and services offer better deals if you are connected and willing to direct friends towards their product or service. However, there still seems to be a gap in the ability of solo households being able to access offers directly catering for them.
While this might be familiar territory for the solo dweller, the rise in solo living to unprecedented levels, inevitably makes the ‘solo pound’ grow in ever-increasing importance. That’s one of the reasons why we are here. Solo Living endeavours to navigate our way around the cost of living for solo households and the impact it has on our daily lives. We want to get to grips with the issue by exploring and discussing how the dilemmas in the marketplace might be and are already being addressed. With your support, we like to think the future is bright!