Number of Brits living alone has doubled in a generation

9 May 2014, 13:06

Number of Brits living alone has doubled in a generation

The number of people living alone in the UK has doubled in a generation – that’s the conclusion of a new study by the insurer Liverpool Victoria. Nine million people are now living alone in Britain – a rise of 129 percent since 1974. The study concludes the shift is the result of people marrying later coupled with longer life expectancy and higher rates of divorce. VoR’s Simon Parker reports.

The insurer Liverpool Victoria wanted to find out how people prioritized their spending.

It would be easy to assume that as people feel the economic pinch, fewer would opt to live alone in preference of cheaper shared housing options.

But Liverpool Victoria’s analysis of government data shows that the number of single households has in fact more than doubled in forty years – and now stands at 9 million.

Addy Frederick from the insurer told VoR:

“The way people are living has changed. People are choosing to live by themselves for longer. My husband and I celebrate our new anniversary this Saturday and I don’t blame people, to be honest, for not wanting to live together. It is nice to have the freedom to come and do what you want, be able to come home and shut the door and everyone out.

“People like their own independence. Whereas before there might have been a stigma on living by yourself – it is a refreshing change that people are saying ‘yes, I want to live by myself and that is ok.’”

The desperate singleton lifestyle once bemoaned by the fictional character Bridget Jones now appears to be the norm.

The 2011 census showed that in some areas popular with young professionals – such as parts of London and other large cities – people living alone are now the dominant group.

Francis Swerford-Bailey, a 29-year-old, who grew up in Oxfordshire but now lives alone in Brighton, says he’d rather pay more to live alone and have a higher standard of living.

The research by Liverpool Victoria suggests that while couples have an average of £6,000 in savings to fall back on – those who live alone typically have just £2,000.

Almost a quarter of single people also said their savings would run out within a fortnight – but for most the freedom of living alone now outweighs future financial security.

Addy Frederick from Liverpool Victoria says the way we live has changed.

“Younger people don’t want to settle down and we see that people are marrying later. You do get people who are co-habiting but I think there are more people who want to live by themselves. We have seen an increase in divorce, so people do get married and then end up living by themselves.

“We have seen a spike actually in people that live by themselves at the age of 35-40 . I think a divorce will play a part in that.”

The trend of living alone has been attributed to people marrying later and it’s not confined to people in their 20’s and 30’s.

Older people who have been divorced are choosing to live alone, and also people who have lost long term partners are opting to live by themselves instead of cohabiting.

Singleton Francis Swerford-Bailey says people are surprised he chooses to live on his own – and that stigmas sometimes exist about the people who do so.

The research shows that those living alone pay an average of £1,800 pounds per year more than couples – on household expenses such as council tax and utilities.

Individuals may well be feeling the effects of the economic downturn – but the British economy appears to be benefiting significantly from the Bridget Jones generation who are opting to go it alone.

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