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Modern life: Number of people living alone doubles

Those aged 20-30 can expect to live alone for 15 years. Picture: Getty

Those aged 20-30 can expect to live alone for 15 years. Picture: Getty

  • by ANGUS HOWARTH
 

The number of people living alone has more than doubled in 40 years – with one in five now living on their own, a new study has revealed.

Today’s young adults are set to spend 15 years living alone on average, with the number of single households more than doubling to 8.7 million UK adults, compared with 3.8 million in 1974 – despite the soaring cost of living in recent years.

Researchers found more Brits are living alone for longer with little or no financial back-up plan should things go wrong.

Solo dwellers spend £2,000 a year more on household bills than couples, with one in four people currently living on their own set to run out of savings within a fortnight if they suddenly lost their income, according to the research by insurer LV=.

The biggest rise in people living on their own is among the 35 to 44 age group who now account for 1.2 million single households, compared with just 148,000 in 1974.

The research also found that not only are more people living alone, but for longer too. Those in their 60s and 70s today will live alone for ten years during their life while those aged 20 to 30 today can expect to live alone for a total of 15 years due to a longer life expectancy, marrying later and higher divorce rates.

However, almost half of those living alone do so either because they enjoy their independence, do not feel ready to live with somebody else or prefer to do so to help focus on their career.

The study suggests people living alone fork out £1,826 a year more on housing and utilities than an individual in a couple, even with the single person’s council tax discount factored in.

It found single households paying £1,392 a year more on mortgage and rent than someone living in a couple, £294 more on utilities and £140 more on household goods and services. Overall, a single dweller will spend 6 per cent more compared with someone living in a couple household.

The higher cost of living means solo dwellers have less money to spend on dining out, shopping and leisure activities, according to the study.

Researchers found the average couple household will have £6,000 in savings – three times more than a solo dweller.

Sixty per cent of solo dwellers don’t have a financial back-up plan – such as income protection – should they be unable to work and lose their source of income. Of those who do have a back-up plan, 31 per cent say they would use their savings if they lost their job.

Richard Rowney, of LV=, said: “People’s living arrangements are changing and more people are choosing to hold on to their independence for longer and live alone.

“While the freedom of living alone has many advantages, it is important to realise the financial cost of independence.

“A worrying number of people do not have a back-up plan, such as income protection, which would pay out if they were unable to work.

“Regardless of whether you live alone or with a partner, it is important to consider a protection policy that would enable you to carry on living in your home if the unexpected 
happened.”

 

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