Live Alone? You’re Not Alone! Solo Living Is The New Normal
By Rachel Belle
I have lived alone for a decade. No roommates, no spouse, not even a cat. Sixty years ago I might have been labeled a lonely, old maid, but today, I’d probably be called an independent, single woman. There are more solo dwellers in the United States than ever before, and single living has been on the rise in places like Europe and Japan for even longer.
Eric Klinenberg has a new book called “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.”
“As a species, we had never done this before 50 or 60 years ago. Literally, for the first 200,000 years of the human species, there was no society, in our history, that sustained large numbers of people living alone. Today, it’s completely common. “
He says the change is astronomical. In 1950, about four million Americans lived alone, accounting for 9% of all households. Today, about 32 million Americans live alone, and they represent about 28% of American households. Older people might see solo dwellers as lonely creatures, who camp out in front of the TV, depressed, just waiting for the phone to ring.
“There’s a strong history of concern about isolation in American life. But what I discovered, to my great surprise, is that people who live alone today are actually more likely to socialize with friends and neighbors than are people who are married. Conventional marriages today can be selfish, they’re greedy marriages, which means they pull people into the home and out of the public.”
I completely agree. I am out and about all the time, motivated to leave the house if I want to be social. When I come home, I’m so happy to have some quiet, alone time. I also don’t miss having roommates: fighting about bills and fretting over someone’s dirty dishes in the sink.
“Let’s face it, we live in a time when we are over connected. We’re hyper connected. We’re constantly working or on our cell phone or on Facebook, chattering all the time. It can be so nice to come home to a place of your own, get off the grid, decompress a little bit. That doesn’t mean you’re being anti-social, it just means you get some control over your time and your space.”
Klinenberg says all of us single person households are good for the local economy.
“Cities like Seattle benefit from the incredible spike in people living alone because people who go solo tend to go out at night. They spend time in bars and cafes and restaurants. They spend their money too; they tend to have more disposable income than other people. The rise of singles, and people living alone, has been a boost to American cities everywhere.”
I think companies should be appealing even more to single people: my biggest complaint is at the grocery store. All I want is to buy a half a loaf of bread! Products are often sold in large amounts, with suburban families in mind.
Oh, and for the record, Klinenberg does not live alone. He says this is not a book about urging people to live alone and he doesn’t have an agenda. He’s merely providing the facts.
Eric Klinenberg is doing a book event at Town Hall in Seattle on February 29th at 7:30.