In 2017, at least 7.7 million of us in the UK were living alone according to the Office of National Statistics, with one person households set to reach 1 in 3 of all households by 2020. It’s a global trend, particularly across Europe and the U.S. Living solo has become much more popular, widespread and in turn, increasingly recognised as an everyday way of life – just in the same way as being married, co-habiting or being a single parent is.
So what’s underpinning the change and how does it help explain why society is more accepting of living alone? Also, what impact does the trend have on how we are perceived by others?
For many, the rise in solo living has been enabled by financial independence. In years gone by, people would couple up to buy property, live comfortably and for the most part, share the load when it comes to the cost of living.
With increasing financial freedom people are buying or renting property on their own, without the need for a partner. All round, there is more choice for solos when it comes to living options. While it’s tough times for first-time buyers, some are finding opportunities to either buy or rent alone in spite of past trends and current financial woes regarding the economy.
Communications mean never having to be alone
Unless being alone is what you want! We’ve talked before about the benefits of solitude. But, the way technology has changed how we communicate has been transformational. The internet has revolutionised how personal interactions take place and with social media ever present, nobody has to be far away from being able to communicate with either loved ones, friends or strangers.
As living alone presumes no-one other than you is at home (unless of course, you are a single parent), technology means keeping in touch by a call, text, face to face video or email is only a message or a swipe away. While we do not suggest easier and faster methods of communication explains the increase in solo living, it is likely to be a vital factor in helping people feel supported and less isolated in our modern world and ways of life.
The status of women
The changing status of women has also had a significant impact on the way solo living has become a norm. By no longer needing marriage as a means of financial survival, and with the potential to have complete control over life, more women are living alone than ever before. As attitudes towards women at work and at home have changed considerably in recent decades, they, as well as men are now living alone and are doing so, without question.
Changing attitudes towards success
Defining success has traditionally centred around reaching a certain age (typically mid-twenties), getting a good job, finding a partner, getting married, having children and so on. It’s an established pattern, celebrated for years (centuries more like!). But, with solo living reaching unprecedented levels, our understanding of success is inevitably changing. Many of us either through default or intention – are focused on a very different path and definition of success, worthy of more recognition.
The focus on self-growth and self-worth is becoming noticeably more important in our lives. Generally, we are looking towards being much more in touch with ourselves and understanding who we are as individuals whether or not we live alone. For those of us living alone long term, this sense of individuality is arguably, stronger. Getting ahead both personally and professionally are hallmarks of solo living because we are self-reliant and taking strides to build successful networks around us.
Therefore, our changing attitude towards success and how to achieve it may also contribute to the spike in solo living figures. Consequently, as more people opt in, establish themselves and settle into a lifestyle, then society becomes more comfortable with it, too.
Living alone doesn’t have to be lonely
Thankfully, it seems people living alone are being looked upon as successful and regular folk! When living solo or being a singleton was once pitied, similar to the way divorce was once a taboo subject; solos are now somewhat admired as society catches up, while at the same time recognising that living alone doesn’t necessarily equate to a life of loneliness – a slowly outdated assumption. The growing number of solos who enjoy living alone and are confident in saying so is a testament to the benefits living solo can bring.
It’s time to embrace solo living
It’s time for everyone to realise living solo can precipitate different and wide-ranging opportunities in all areas of life as we actively seek life-improving experiences as well as tackle the challenges of everyday, ordinary life. In doing so, living alone can mean the quality of interactions we have with others is improved, as we go forth and go it alone – carving our own niche and building a life around living solo – rather than letting our living status define us. If you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace solo living!
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