17 Reasons Why So Many People in America Live Alone

Living alone is on the rise, and with changing societal norms, increased financial independence, and changes in relationships, more and more people are opting for the solo-living lifestyle. We’ve compiled a list of 17 reasons people across America are choosing to live alone.

Rising Individualism

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With more value being placed on personal space and independence, there is a shift in cultural norms where individuals are normalizing and valuing self-sufficiency over communal living, or living with partners. This individualistic ideal and culture are impacting lifestyle choices and are more accepting of singletons.

Delayed Marriage and Relationships

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America’s younger generations are more accepting of being single, and according to Axios, “Over the last 50 years, the marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 60%.” On top of this, they say that “the number of women entering their first marriage between the ages of 40 and 59 has jumped 75% since 1990.”

Higher Divorce Rates

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Higher levels of divorce over the last decades have led to an increase in split households and individuals living alone as a result. The improved accessibility and societal acceptance of divorce have made it much easier for couples and caused an increase in couples over the age of 50 getting a divorce.

Urbanization and Housing Trends

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According to The Hill, “Living alone is much more common in large cities. Singles now make up more than 40 percent of households in Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Denver.” This can be in part attributed to new urban living accommodations, which have smaller, individual living spaces.

Technology and Connectivity

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Instant messaging and video calling are just some of the technological advancements that reduce the need for cohabitation in our society. Social media platforms also help to provide a sense of community for those living alone, allowing singletons to be independent while remaining in touch with friends and family.

Education and Career Prioritization

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As Americans go in pursuit of higher education and impressive career moves, these have started to take precedence over relationships and cohabitation. Social norms have changed, and there is a bigger emphasis on personal development and career advancement than traditional living arrangements.

Social Mobility and Transience

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Increased social mobility, the gig economy, and better access to travel have meant a shift in norms, allowing for more transient lifestyles and solo living. People are more easily able to move for job opportunities or personal preferences, and there’s less of an issue surrounding moving away from family.

Aging Population

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With more and more boomers reaching retirement, Forbes says it is interesting to note that “it’s estimated that 26 million Americans over the age of 50 are living solo, making this the quickest-growing demographic in the U.S.” Increased life expectancy as well as assisted living advancements make living independently or in senior communities an attractive prospect for retirees.

Mental Health Awareness

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With better knowledge of mental health conditions and the societal shift toward recognizing the importance of personal space for mental health, living alone is being popularized as a choice for better mental health management. Living with others can create stress and anxiety and impact personal well-being.

Rise of Single Parenting

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Decreases in marriage and increases in divorce mean that 23% of U.S. children live in a single-parent home. Pew Research says, “The U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households.” This rise could also be somewhat attributed to the opportunity to adopt or have children through alternative methods as a single parent.

Gender Equality and Independence

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As women gained access to and acknowledgement within the workforce, they enabled future generations to create financial and social independence, allowing them to choose to live alone. Where women of the past may have relied on the income of their husbands, women now are empowered to live however they choose.

Accessibility of Real Estate

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The real estate market of modern times offers more opportunities for solo dwellers, especially as urban spaces are developed and more single-occupancy living spaces become available. On top of this, there has been an increase in financial incentives and housing policies favoring individual homeownership or renting.

Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

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With a bigger societal focus on mental health and well-being, living alone is being seen as a journey to self-discovery and personal growth. There is more value being placed on being alone in order to improve creativity, introspection, and self-care.

Changes in Family Dynamics

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According to Vox, U.S. birth rates dropped by 23% between 2007 and 2022. “Today, the average American woman has about 1.6 children, down from three in 1950, and significantly below the ‘replacement rate’ of 2.1 children needed to sustain a stable population.” This has created a shift in family structure and, therefore, living arrangements.

Shifts in Religious and Cultural Norms

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Over the last decades, the U.S. has seen a decrease in the influence that religious and cultural expectations have on living arrangements. As a result, society is more accepting of diverse lifestyles and living choices, and attitudes toward solo living are evolving.

Increased Educational Attainment

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With younger generations being educated to a higher level, people are delaying starting a family and therefore living independently. This higher level of education is leading to individuals prioritizing their careers, finances, and personal growth over cohabitation.

Changing Attitudes Toward Intimacy and Relationships

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Another cause of more Americans living alone is the shift in the perception and values of intimacy and relationships. Marriage is on the decline, and casual dating is on the rise, delaying serious commitments. As a result, there is a greater acceptance of non-traditional relationship structures, where cohabitation doesn’t necessarily play a part.

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