In a recent Moneyville post where I discussed how it’s more expensive to be single, I received a lot of feedback – not only in the comments, but my inbox was flooded with messages from people offering their own insight. In fact, I probably received more e-mails from that one post, than all of my other articles combined.
What I talked about just scratched the surface of what seems to be a sensitive topic. A quick scroll through the comments, and it’s obvious that people have strong opinions. But still, the numbers don’t lie. It is significantly more expensive to be single. For example, did you know that over the span of a lifetime, a single person will end up paying over $385,000 more on essential living costs, than somebody living as part of a couple? And when you add that on top of discretionary spending, it turns out that singles end up paying around $7,400 extra each year, compared to those who are shacked up with their significant other. The numbers shocked me. Seriously?!
And then I started to think about it, and it seems to be about right. I mean, my mortgage/strata fee/property tax each month costs me approximately $16,320/year (or $1,360/month). Cut that in half, and that’s already $8,160/year I could be saving if I were splitting the cost with someone – and that’s just my housing expenses!
A one-bedroom apartment might cost you $1,000/month in rent. Split that between two people, and all of a sudden, your housing costs get slashed in half. If you’re single, you’re responsible for that entire amount yourself. Or, if you’re single and choose to live with a roommate, a 2-bedroom apartment might cost $1,500/month ($750 each) – which is still more expensive than the one-bedroom you could have shared with a significant other. If you had one, that is. And what about if you lose your job? If you were living with a partner, they would be able to cover your expenses until you get back on your feet – but will a roommate? Probably not. And what about if you’re living on your own? You’d better have a healthy Emergency Fund!
Single homeowners who have to pay strata/maintenance fees, and property tax also have it rough. For example, I produce less garbage/recycling, use less heat/hot water/amenities, and use less city services than the couple who lives beside me. Which means that I’m essentially subsidizing their overall strata/maintenance/property tax costs, because I’m paying the same amount as the two of them combined, yet I’m using far less. Fair? You tell me!
It’s true that when you’re single, you can spend and save as you please. Because there’s nobody else depending on me financially, I pretty much do whatever I want with my money – like travel to Toronto, NYC and San Francisco to watch the Blue Jays play. Or eat hummus and pita every day for dinner for a week straight (what? It’s good!). Or order a huge iPhone “slide to unlock” magnet for my fridge, because it looked awesome. But, it can also be a lot harder to manage your money. For me, it’s not just the big expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries) that hurt my budget, it’s the little things that always add up so quickly. Gas. Dinner parties. Gifts for friends. Household furnishings. Cleaning products. All of these things cost the same whether you’re single, or living with someone. The only difference is, when you’re single, you have to pay for it all yourself.
All of these added expenses will also mean that you will have a harder time paying off debt – not to mention the fact that you will end up paying much more interest too. Oh, and it will also be much harder coming up with money to save for retirement, for travel, for school, for a car, or for anything else you’ve been planning on buying. So basically being single not only affects you in the present day, it’s also affecting your future.
Still though. My days of living with a roommate are over, and plans of shacking up with a significant other are so far into the future that it’s laughable. Living on my own is worth every penny, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world right now.