Solo renters are paying a $7,000 ‘singles’ tax this year to live alone

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More and more people in the U.S. are staying single longer—and that will cost them in a society set up for couples and families. One significant example: Single people across the country pay just over $7,000 more per year than couples do to live in the typical one-bedroom, according to a new analysis by Zillow

Of course, the real difference varies by location and apartment. In New York, the difference is $19,500 per year—and rises to $24,000 for a one-bed in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the so-called singles tax is lowest in Detroit and Cleveland, at $4,483 and $4,387 respectively.

Zillow’s analysis divided the median rent in the 50 largest U.S. cities in half to find how much more a single person would pay compared to those splitting the cost. The company notes that singles can avoid this “tax” by splitting rent with other roommates.

Meanwhile, couples save around $14,000 collectively by living together, according to Zillow’s calculation—each would save the $7,000 they’d spend living on their own—and as much as $39,000 annually in New York.

“Even though rent prices are starting to cool, they are still significantly higher than they were a year ago,” says Amanda Pendleton, Zillow home trends expert. “Renters considering going solo this year must decide how valuable living alone is to them, and if the cost is worth it.”

The analysis comes as increasingly more people in the U.S. are living without a spouse or partner. In 2021, 37 million adults 18 and over lived alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And housing costs are just one of many single’s taxes that those who are unpartnered pay. Couples benefit from tax breaks, higher Social Security payments, and being able to split day-to-day expenses and bills. Unpartnered adults also have lower earnings than those who are partnered, on average—single men had median earnings of $35,600 in 2019, compared to $57,000 for those who are partnered—and they are less likely to be employed. They are also more likely to live with their parents. 

All told, married couples 25 to 34 had net worths nearly nine times higher than singles in 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported, based on data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Married couples are also more likely to own homes—which in turn helps build wealth.

And in this era of high inflation, that sting is even more pronounced. Even dating has gotten noticeably more expensive, with bar and restaurant tabs rising and entertainment options increasing ticket prices.

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