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Living alone takes a financial toll

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You may get to choose the wallpaper, but living alone can be eye-wateringly expensive, according to the Office for National Statistics.

More people in the UK are living alone – rising 16% between 1997 and 2017, to 7.7 million. The number of 45-64-year-olds living alone has risen 53% in 20 years. 42% of 55-64-year-olds who live alone are divorced, but more than a third of this group have never been married.

While more women live alone overall – due to higher average life expectancy – between the ages of 25 and 64, men are more likely to live alone – they make up 60% of those who do.

Only half of people living alone tend to have any money left at the end of the month, compared to two thirds of child-free couples.

At the same time, single people tend to have lower savings levels: 35% of people living alone say their savings wouldn’t last them more than a month, compared to only 14% of couples without children.

There is also an emotional cost: people living alone are less happy (6.8 out of 10 compared with 7.7) and more anxious (3.4 compared with 2.9) than couples living together without children. 

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “The sheer cost of living alone means basics like the bills and rent or mortgage swallow a huge chunk of your income – leaving your little or nothing by the end of the month. It means you’re less likely to have money set aside for emergencies, and you’re less able to save for a home of your own.”

“One reason why fewer younger people live alone – instead choosing to move in with partners, rent or buy with friends or siblings, or simply refuse to move out of the family home. Parents may be waiting for their ‘empty nest’ years to free up cash for paying off debts and saving for retirement. So if the nest stays crowded, it can end up pushing potential retirement back for years.”


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