There’s no doubt more 20-somethings are carving dents in their parents’ sofas these days than ever before, but that’s not exactly the end of the story. The rate of singles under 30 who are living on their own is more than 10 times higher than it was just 60 years ago, says Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University.
, Klinenberg breaks down what’s so appealing about paying more to live alone in an ever-fluctuating economy.
A lot of it has to do with the changing stigma surrounding solo-dwellers, he told Marketplace.org’s Kai Ryssdal. Rather than contributing to our nation’s overpopulation of stray cats, people are beginning to value singles for contributing to more to the economy, he says.
“The story that we’ve always told about singles and people who live alone is that they get withdrawn and isolated, they feel lonely,” he said. “But in fact, the data show that compared to married people, adults who live alone are actually more social…They’ve been a kind of invisible and unappreciated force for economic productivity and growth. If you took singles and all their purchasing power out of cities, they’d be in real trouble today.”
And cities are catering to solo-dwellers more than ever. In New York City, one out of every two homes is a one-person household and real estate developers are designing complexes to suit singles who don’t mind giving up square footage to rent their own place.
Baron Brown (disclosure: he’s a friend of this reporter) moved to Manhattan for work two years ago. It only took a year and a half of living with (and cleaning up after) two roommates before he decided striking out on his own was in his best interest. (See 7 ways to tell your rent’s going up.)
The 25-year-old, who works in advertising, isn’t making major bank this early in his career, but he says forking over $150 more in rent is well worth the value of a little solitude and extra space in the fridge.
“Getting my own place, even in an expensive city like New York where rent is always on the rise, was a no-brainer,” he says. “It just feels good to have a space to call my own, as life in the city is nothing if not unpredictable. I’d certainly had my fair share of grievances living with other people and I decided that it was worth the extra expense to have some peace of mind, to ensure that my living quarters were entirely under my control.”
His reasoning falls in line with Klinenberg’s stance:
For 20-somethings today, claiming their stake in adulthood has less to do with engagement rings and His & Her towel sets than being able to afford a mailbox with just one name on it–their own.