Where Do Solos Want To Live And What Do They Want From Their Homes?

For those of us living alone, what are the important factors when deciding where to live and what we want from our homes and living spaces? Our priorities and considerations are likely to be different from those of families or couples. We already know from Solos within our Community that future-proofing is an important consideration. Could it be that solo households do not move homes as frequently as couples and families who are either upsizing or downsizing? It is too early to say definitively, and as far as we are aware, there isn’t any available research on this topic as yet. However, we are picking up from our Community that more people appear to be taking a long-term view when choosing the perfect home for solo living.

Where Do Solos Want To Live and what do they want from their home?

With the growth of solo households contributing towards changing housing needs, in this article we consider:

  • The factors Solos consider when deciding where to live
  • The reasons why Solos would choose urban or rural living
  • What Solos want from their homes and living spaces, and
  • We hear from Solos in our Solo Living Community

What factors do people living alone consider when deciding where to live?

As more of us  live alone, very often for longer than we expected, here are some factors people living alone are taking into account when deciding where to live:

Affordability: Living alone means shouldering all living expenses independently. We have already discovered living alone is proportionately more expensive, and the cost of living alone is higher when compared to couples and families. Affordability becomes a crucial factor when Solos decide where they will live, encompassing rent or mortgage costs, utilities, food, taxes and other daily expenses.

Job demands and opportunities: Career considerations, such as proximity to job opportunities and the overall job market in the area, will be a significant factor for those of us living alone. We may choose to live close to where we work to reduce travelling time and expenses.

Safety and security: Personal safety is often a top concern while living alone as we likely spend more time going to and from places alone at different hours of the day and night. Prioritising areas with low crime rates and a general sense and feeling of security will be important to us.

Proximity to social and recreational activities: Access to social and recreational opportunities, such as restaurants, cafes, parks, and entertainment venues, is important for those who value an active social life allowing us to regularly maintain our social networks with friends and family more easily than if transport and getting to places was an issue.

Transportation and commute: Following the last point, living alone will involve regular commuting to work and other daily activities. Therefore, being close to public transport and the ease of access to road networks will help make commutes and travelling to meet with friends and family easier and will be crucial considerations. Many of our Solos mention the desire to live within walking distance of local and essential services, like shops, cafes, bars, primary healthcare, and hospitals.

Community and social atmosphere: Many of our Solos seek a sense of community and a level of social engagement with ease of access. Proximity to like-minded individuals, social events, and community activities can be important to people living alone.

Healthcare services: Access to healthcare facilities and services is a significant consideration, especially for people living alone and who may not have a support system nearby.

Quality-of-life amenities: Factors such as the availability of gyms, access to cultural activities including museums, art galleries, concerts, etc., and other quality-of-life amenities may influence the decision of Solos to live in a particular area.

Size and type of housing: The size and type of housing options, such as apartments, studios, or smaller houses, may be tailored to the preferences and lifestyle of individuals living alone. You can read what our Solos say about what they want from their living space later in this article.

Flexibility and independence: Many Solos will prioritise a flexible and independent lifestyle that often comes hand-in-hand with living alone. We may choose locations that allow easy access to amenities and services without relying heavily on others for support.

Natural environment: Our understanding of the link between nature, sustainable living, and personal wellbeing is growing daily. At Solo Living, we have always promoted the benefits of getting closer to nature and living sustainably as a way to live well while living alone. Therefore, preferences for living in urban, suburban, or rural areas, as well as proximity to natural features like parks and green spaces, can play a role in the decision-making process when deciding where to live.

Future plans and goals: Solos living alone may consider the long-term aspects of a location, including its potential for personal and career growth, to align with their future plans and goals. We do wonder if Solos are less likely to move homes in the future, considering the expense and what’s involved in moving home. We know some Solos in our Community are reaching a stage where they are looking at homes with a long-term view and are looking for places where they can grow and adapt while leading independent lives during the maturer stages of their lives.

Where Do Solos Want To Live and what do they want from their home?

Reasons why many Solos choose urban living:

Proximity and density: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found solo households in the UK predominately in urban areas. Because of high population density, urban areas bring people together. Living near others increases the likelihood of spontaneous interactions, arguably making it easier to meet new people and form connections. It can also be easier to meet with friends and family and engage in regular social interaction.

Diverse communities: Cities are often melting pots of cultures, backgrounds, and interests. This diversity can provide a plethora of opportunities to connect with people from various walks of life and interests – enabling people living alone and who enjoy urban living to foster a rich and varied social network.

Social events and activities: Urban areas host many social events, gatherings, and activities. Whether it’s community festivals, cultural events, or meetups for shared hobbies, cities offer a constant stream of opportunities to socialise and the possibility of making new friends.

Shared spaces: Public spaces such as parks, cafes, and recreational areas provide environments where people can naturally come together. These shared spaces create opportunities for casual interactions and the formation of social bonds. Solos are unlikely to underestimate the benefits of simply being around other people and the small joys of casual interactions like saying hello to a passing stranger or speaking with a shop assistant when they travel to and from places, attend events or speak with waiting staff when dining alone.

Networking opportunities: Cities often have a concentration of professional and industry-related networking events, making it easier to connect with individuals who share similar career interests, hobbies or goals. This in turn, can help Solos progress their careers or pursue varied interests and hobbies.

Online communities: Urban living is often accompanied by easy access to high-speed internet, making participation in online communities and social networks easier. This allows individuals to connect with like-minded people beyond their immediate physical surroundings.

Social apps: City dwellers can leverage social networking apps to discover and connect with people nearby who share common interests. These apps make it convenient to meet new friends or join social groups within a local area.

Community organisations: Many urban areas have community organisations, clubs, and volunteering opportunities. Joining these groups provides Solos with the opportunity to meet people while contributing to the community and creating meaningful connections.

Cultural institutions: Cities are home to museums, theatres, and other cultural institutions, providing a place for people to meet and connect. Engaging in cultural activities can increase the chances of meeting people who appreciate similar interests, and forming connections over shared passions.

Public transport: Commuting on public transportation provides opportunities for casual conversations. It’s not common for people to strike up friendly chats during their daily commute, leading to unexpected friendships or at least an enjoyable passing social interaction.

Where Do Solos Want To Live and what do they want from their home?

Reasons why Solos would choose rural living

However, people living alone cannot be stereotyped. Many Solos live in rural areas for various reasons where personal preferences and lifestyle choices play a significant role in deciding where to live. Here are some reasons why someone living alone might opt for rural living instead of city living:

Peace and quiet: Rural areas are often characterised by tranquillity and a lack of urban noise. Solos seeking a quieter and more serene environment may choose rural living to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Do you work in the city and travel home to the countryside for the peace and quiet and to escape city life? Add your comments at the end of this article. Like others, some Solos might prefer to live in less built-up areas with more space around them.

Connecting with nature: Rural areas typically offer closer proximity to nature, with expansive landscapes, open spaces, and natural beauty. Solos who enjoy outdoor activities, wildlife, and a connection with the environment may be drawn to rural living.

Privacy: Living in a rural area often means having more space between neighbours and fewer dwellings or buildings close by. This increased distance can provide a greater sense of privacy, appealing to Solos, who value solitude. 

Cost of living: In many cases, the cost of living in rural areas can be lower than in urban or suburban areas. Housing prices, property taxes, and other living expenses may be more affordable, allowing Solos to stretch their budget further.

Self-sufficiency: Some Solos appreciate the opportunity to be more self-sufficient in rural areas. They may grow their own food, have a garden, or even keep livestock. This lifestyle can be rewarding for those who value independence and a greater hands-on approach to living.

Escape from urban stress: Living in a rural area can provide a reprieve from the stresses associated with city living. The slower pace of life, absence of traffic congestion, and reduced population density can contribute to a less stressful lifestyle and better wellbeing.

Community connection: Despite the lower population density, rural communities often have a strong sense of community. People living alone may find a supportive and tight-knit community in rural areas, fostering social connections and a sense of belonging at levels they are comfortable with.

Escape from technology: Like everyone else, some Solos may choose rural living as a way to disconnect from the constant presence of technology found in urban areas. The slower pace of life and limited connectivity in rural areas can be seen as a benefit for those seeking a more unplugged lifestyle.

Where Do Solos Want To Live and what do they want from their home?

What do people living alone want from their living space?

Flexible spaces and multi-purpose zones As demand for solo homes grows, Solos will want living spaces that allow for easy rearrangement of furniture to accommodate various activities like a dedicated office area, kitchen/dining/living, a place to sleep, of course; but also space for hobbies like crafting. An open layout can provide a sense of spaciousness and facilitate the creation of different functional zones within a single area. However, some Solos still prefer individual rooms for these different purposes.

Versatile furniture: Modular or convertible furniture that can serve multiple purposes, such as a sofa that transforms into a bed or a dining table that doubles as a workspace, a coffee table that can be raised to become a dining table or ottomans with hidden storage, can be useful in a solo home that maximises functionality without sacrificing space.

Compact furniture: Optimising space with furniture designed specifically for smaller spaces, with smart features like built-in storage or the ability to fold or collapse when not in use, will likely be in demand. For example, fold-down or wall beds that can be tucked away when not in use, allowing the room to serve other purposes. Decorative elements can easily be transformed into guest essentials, like screens that unfold into a privacy partition will offer some solutions when living with limited space.

Good storage: Customised storage solutions that maximise available space, such as floor-to-ceiling shelves or built-in cupboards and wardrobes, and beds with drawers or storage drawers underneath, will likely become the choice of people living alone who are looking for smart options when considering how to optimise the space they have in their home.

Gardens: Some Solos regard having outdoor space in the form of a garden, yard or allotment as essential. They will look for homes providing indoor and outdoor space as an essential part of their wellbeing strategy. Equally, there are Solos who do not want to maintain a garden, and for those who do and with limited outdoor space – balcony gardens with potted plants and vertical gardening can provide a bridge and a way to connect with nature. For Solos with busy schedules, low-maintenance outdoor spaces like a small paved patio or deck can be desirable.

Garage/driveway: Garages can serve as not only parking spaces but also secure storage for items like bicycles, tools, or seasonal items. Garages can also double as a DIY workshop or hobby space. Like others who have cars, Solos want easy access to parking close to their homes.

Convenient access: Solos also want easy and quick access to public transport from their homes.

Secure bicycle storage: For Solos who prefer cycling, having a secure place to store bicycles is essential.

Energy efficiency: Solos might look to buy and use energy-efficient appliances to reduce electricity consumption and offset their carbon footprint. When it comes to heating solo homes, smart thermostats that can learn and adapt to heating and cooling preferences will help Solos optimise energy use.

Low maintenance: Solos lead busy lives, and as they take care of every aspect of household management, they will seek homes and living spaces that are low maintenance. They will look for durable and stain-resistant materials for flooring, countertops, and furniture to minimise the need for constant cleaning and repair. When it comes to decor, opting for a minimalist aesthetic can reduce the need for excessive possessions and simplify cleaning and maintenance routines.

Technology integration: Solos will benefit from smart technology and centralised systems that allow them to control various aspects of their home, from lighting to security, heating and electric vehicle charging points – helping them to stay on top of energy bills and maximise the efficiency of their homes.

High-speed internet: We cannot underestimate how important high-speed internet and broadband are to people living alone, allowing Solos to stay connected, work and participate in a modern world. Reliable and high-speed internet connectivity to support remote work, video streaming, and other digital activities is essential.

Safety and security: For personal safety in homes, Solos will look for smart devices like keyless entry systems and security cameras for added peace of mind. 

What Solos say about where they live and what they want from their living space at home

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We asked members of our Super Solos Living Alone Community a two-part question on this topic – what factors do you think contribute to the ideal location and type of home that can help make solo living easier and enjoyable? Here is what they had to say.

Lesley: I have lived in a park home 36×12 for almost seven years, and it’s amazing how much stuff you DON’T need. I can do my housework in less than 90 minutes (can vacuum it all in 15mins), my bills are very reasonable, and I’ve learned to be quite the magician at utilising the space I have.

Kim: City homes tend to be smaller for the same spend, so it’s all about lifestyle choice. I live in a mid-century end terrace (which folk historically would have raised families in), but I can’t really imagine living anywhere smaller! I am a total minimalist and culled a lot of possessions when I moved out of my previous Edwardian-period home. I wanted a smaller house with a large garden, which I got.

To help make living alone easier and enjoyable, Kim says:

A city or town centre, 2 or 3-bed home, with a biggish garden (if you like gardening), a sustainable home (fantastic insulation, air source heat pump, whole roof solar etc.), off street parking and an electric vehicle point, great public transport, great community engagement, in an area with rising house prices to maximise your investment.

Heather: I live in an Edwardian 2-bed mid-terrace. It’s HUGE with a cellar and a tiny concrete yard.

For me, it’s perfect as I don’t like gardening, and I keep the spare bedroom off-limits to my cat. It gets used for foster cats and visitors. Downstairs I have a room for me and a room for working from home. I’m not a houseproud person, so I don’t invest hours each week cleaning.

The space gives me everything I need to work flexibly for my lifestyle. I would struggle with anything smaller, especially as all my family live in different regions and countries.

Anni: I live in a mid-terrace 2008 modern home. I didn’t want a brand new build, nor did I want an older home (been there, done that). It has two bedrooms (one is very small), an upstairs bathroom and a downstairs loo. It’s also supposed to be for small families but I find it perfect for me as a lone person. The rooms are small, but I had a ‘required’ list which included a bathroom with a window (minimising chances for dampness etc.), a downstairs loo (for when I get older), a decent-sized kitchen that accommodates a dining table and chairs (this doubles up at my home office space). A bonus is a utility room, but I’ve never had one in larger homes, so it’s not a necessity. I’ve always liked and chosen to spend more time in the kitchen than in my living room. Living alone, I require a home with minimal upkeep that I can afford to heat if I need to and that I can afford to maintain, particularly looking to retirement and beyond. It’s the perfect balance between cosy and enough space to move freely without feeling hemmed in.

Although not asked about, I have a designated parking space, and that was a must on a terrace as I have no driveway.

Patricia: I live in a small 3-bed semi. I’d love a utility room with a back door to keep more of the dog’s muddy feet out of my kitchen and somewhere to put the hoover and dog crates and all the other stuff I don’t want to look at. Like many modern houses, mine is severely lacking in cupboard space but it’s home, and it’s all mine, and I love where it is. I only want a little bit more space, just to make it a bit more practical and manageable.

Janet: I have a one-bedroom terraced bungalow which suits me perfectly. The only issue is having somewhere for the odd guest to sleep. I got rid of most of my possessions when I sold my last house to go travelling in my camper, so don’t have a lot now, which suits me. I plan to immigrate to New Zealand in the near future and will take just a suitcase of possessions with me. Travel light, travel far

Anna: I live in a two up two down terrace, I need at least another two rooms, and I’m quite minimalist. I hate using my dining room as a multi-purpose room.

Ronda: I prefer to live tiny, less space to clean. Currently, I have a three-bed, one bath on a large section, but bedrooms 2 and 3 require minimal upkeep, but it can feel too big some days. I lived happily in a one-bedroom, 42-square-meter apartment with my ex-partner. Storage and designated spaces are important when living small and being a minimalist ( I currently live in New Zealand but also lived in Glasgow for eight years).

Ana: I live in a large studio flat with a separate kitchen and my own garden. I also have an allocated unit in the basement for storage and access to the communal garden. It is enough for me, but I would like to have a bit more space in the future so that I can have friends stay over.

Karen: I have a small A-frame on a wooded lot. Storage isn’t the best, but I don’t have to deal with lawn maintenance. Ideally, I’d like to be a little more remote, but I have good neighbors.

Debbie: I’ve been giving this some thought lately, especially as I’m getting older. I already have a small house with a small garden, but it’s in an isolated position & if I had to give up driving, has no accessible shop & the bus stop is a twenty-five minute walk away. So with regard to location, I’d like to be within reach (no more than a ten-minute stroll away) of a convenience store & bus stop, the latter of which had a route near a railway station. I wouldn’t want a bungalow or ground floor flat as I believe going up & down stairs is good exercise. A reasonable size garden is also a must as that too, will keep me fit & provide an interest.

Jenny: Hitting 50 soon with arthritic feet, knees and hips (due to a ballet career), I’m currently looking at buying a bungalow whilst I’m mobile enough to get it up to standard. I already struggle with stairs in the morning, so being solo means a bungalow will extend my independence – I hope. The problem is they’re generally expensive and pretty much always need renovating. It’s a bit tricky on your own, especially if you need to live in it whilst getting the work done. I’m quite stressed about the whole idea!

Janet: Somewhere on the outskirts of a town or city. Neighbours to notice if you’ve not been seen for a while. Accessible to local facilities.

Helen: I already live in a bungalow. I’ve been here for 20 years, so there really is no need to move as I get older. I’m within walking distance of work and local shops. Ideally, I would like an extra room for crafting, etc., but that isn’t going to happen, unfortunately.

Bertie: Somewhere near a village centre, but in a rural setting.

John: I like the city centre for its convenience to local amenities and employment, although I have noticed decreasing opportunities to get involved in the local community over time. Public open space is essential, too, I need somewhere local to exercise, enjoy the natural surroundings and just be outside – even more so living in a flat with no outside space.

I would prefer a small townhouse or mid-terrace, but with all things, you can only cut your cloth with what you can afford.

Rose: Low maintenance. Walking distance to a shop, pub, community centre, GP surgery and beach! In an area with a good mix of people, young and old.

Lesley: I live in a small, 2-bedroom ground-floor flat. I do not drive. I live under a 5-minute walk from the train station that gets me into Glasgow. I’m only about 10 mins walk from a small retail shop. 3 mins on bus to the town centre. Perfect for me.

Helen: I think the biggest advantage is the Internet and WiFi. The Internet makes the world appear smaller and services at your fingertips. Rural is great. But I would be lost without my internet connection.

Katie: Able to walk to shops, restaurants, and coffee shops with no hills. Live on flat land with good transport – tubes and buses. Friends living nearby and living near a train station so it’s easy to get away (if you don’t drive). No stairs as when you get older, it is not so easy for many people. If you live in a flat, make sure it has a lift – carrying suitcases upstairs is not easy (I know I’ve done it). A safe area, well lit up, safe to walk around at night with a gym and places to join so you can meet people.

Ada: My ideal would be a small bungalow in a warm/sunny country (for mobility and health reasons, respectively). Access to local shops, a bus ride to a train station and living within a community with activities I can dip into and neighbours to interact with.

Judith: For me, it’s being near friends, parks, shops, theatres, social activities, public transport and the countryside. The house? I would like to move to a bungalow, easy maintenance!

Jan: Community

Debbi: I have a small house within walking distance of transit and shopping. It has some stairs and narrow doorways, which are not ideal for ageing. I don’t really enjoy keeping up the yard much, but I have a friend who helps. One day I think I will want an apartment with activities and meals in a community.

Kristen: I live in a tiny house on wheels in a small intentional community. We look out for each other, but we have privacy when we want it. I love communal meals, which we have on Sundays and any special event, from a milestone birthday to successfully remembering your computer password.

Kate: I’m able to walk to shops, restaurants and coffee shops with no hills. I live on flat land with good transport links friends living nearby. I’m near a train station,, easy to get away (if you don’t drive). No stairs as when you get older, they are not so easy for many people. If you live in a flat, make sure it has a lift – carrying suitcases upstairs is not easy (I know I’ve done it). A safe area, well light up safe to walk around at night. A gym, and places to join so you can meet people.

 

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1 thought on “Where Do Solos Want To Live And What Do They Want From Their Homes?”

  1. I am in my late fifties and live in a small Victorian terraced with a small garden space that is sufficient. All rooms are small but I still have three beds, when the children or family want to come. My plan is to do B&B with the en-suite bedroom at the top so I can top up my income and keep it going when I have to stop work. I am right by the station and close to everything so I walk everywhere. I have good neighbours. Hopefully I won’t have any need to move.

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1 thought on “Where Do Solos Want To Live And What Do They Want From Their Homes?”

  1. I am in my late fifties and live in a small Victorian terraced with a small garden space that is sufficient. All rooms are small but I still have three beds, when the children or family want to come. My plan is to do B&B with the en-suite bedroom at the top so I can top up my income and keep it going when I have to stop work. I am right by the station and close to everything so I walk everywhere. I have good neighbours. Hopefully I won’t have any need to move.

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