The difficulties of living alone tend to lie more on a societal level, outside the realm of personal decision making. For one thing, having a partner makes big and small expenditures much more affordable, whether it’s a down payment on a house, rent, day care, utility bills, or other overhead costs of daily life. One recent study estimated that, for a couple, living separately is about 28 percent more expensive than living together.
These efficiencies are an inherent feature of sharing costs with other people, but the barriers to living alone, for those who want to, would be much lower if housing (and health care, and education) weren’t so expensive. Moreover, the types of housing that are most commonly available for one person typically privilege privacy over togetherness, but the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. DePaulo has studied communities where single residents have their own spaces, but also plentiful shared areas with “the possibility of running into other people.” If you need to, say, move heavy furniture or get a ride somewhere in an emergency, your neighbors are easy to reach. More such options would make solo life easier.
With the rise in housing prices, the barrier to entering the housing market keeps increasing. A single-person household has fewer potential resources to draw upon.
Additionally, a good portion of housing is geared toward families or larger households. While some locations have plenty of smaller units – think studios to two bedroom units – other locations have larger residences. For example, suburbs are often full of single-family homes with 3+ bedrooms and more square feet.
Finally, housing in the United States is often tied to ideas of familial bliss. Those same private suburban homes are meant to enhance family life. Residences provide private spaces for nuclear families. They may have outdoor space for kids to play in and adults to use. Homes are a symbol of success and can provide a good long-term return on investment. Can a single person still enjoy and benefit from a house? Yes, but this may not be the typical image of life in a single-family home.