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Single Households Rise by Half a Million Over Last Decade

Mon 02 Jun 2014

According to recent data from the Office for National Statistics, the amount of “singletons” now living completely on their own has soared over the last ten years.

The term “singleton” was first introduced by Helen Fielding when she released her Bridget Jones books, where someone given this tag was thought to be a young professional with a very unsuccessful love life.

The 2011 Census showed that 7,067,000 households had only one person living in them, that’s a whopping 12.8% of the housing population. In 2001, there were just 6,503,000, meaning there was an increase of 564,000 over the ten year period.

The research also found that despite London having the most expensive housing, it still had the highest number of single person households. The survey found that more than 35% of households in London housed only one person.

Even though the figure was at 35% in 2011, that was actually slightly lower than previous years, whereas increases in single households were seen in the north of England, the Midlands and the east of England.

Regarding the capital, the City of London has the most single households at a huge 56%, with three other London boroughs not far behind – Kensington and Chelsea (37%), Westminster (45%) and Camden (41%).

There are many potential reasons behind the increase, including the fact that young professional people are living and working in London now, even if they have another family home somewhere else in the country.

Outside of London itself, Liverpool, Hastings and Norwich featured quite high up on the list of places with singleton households, and survey released last May found that Nottingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle were the “hotspots” for singletons, with over 108,000 households occupied by only one person in Nottingham.

The figures also found that the number of households occupied by a single female resident was higher in 9 out of 10 locations, with Manchester being the only place that didn’t correlate.

A recent survey identified four main different types of single households in the country as: young professionals just getting onto the property ladder, residents who suddenly find themselves single from 30 onwards, young single males with barely any prospects and older female retirees.

The MD of Experian Marketing Services, Nigel Wilson, who carried out the survey, said:

“On the one hand many young single households have good levels of disposable income as they don’t have the responsibilities associated with married and older age groups, such as children or mortgages.

“On the other hand there’s a group of single people of a similar age with very different prospects and are cash poor and time rich, alongside older singles who themselves have different income levels and outlooks."

On the flip side, there are also now more than three million people living in overcrowded households of six or more people. This data also came from the Office for National Statistics and makes it the fastest growing category within the property industry, with a 25% increase in the last ten years.

The increase in overcrowded homes is thought to be down to many different reasons, including children moving back in with their parents or never leaving once they reach their twenties, and what is now called the “sandwich generation”, where homeowners care for both their children and their elderly parents under one roof.

With the two extremes increasing significantly, it is hoped that the property market will settle down over the next couple of years with an increase in supple to match the current demand for homes.

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