Living Alone Is Expensive AND Makes You Crazy

Alden Wicker

Living alone can make you crazyWant to live alone? You’ll be paying for it in more ways than one.

In one of the more entertaining New York Times trend pieces we’ve read, the author sheds light on all the ways going solo can turn you crazy.

One in four Americans now live alone (one in two if you are talking about New York City), so that means one in four Americans have the freedom to do one or all of these things:

  • Eat peanut butter naked in the kitchen at 2 a.m.
  • Run in place during TV commercials
  • Speak conversational French to yourself while making breakfast
  • Sing Journey songs in the shower (well, we do that anyway)
  • Remove only the clothes you need from the dryer, thus turning it into a makeshift dresser
  • Wear white flax pantaloons around the apartment
  • Never, ever close the bathroom door
  • Put a Post-It note up reminding yourself to close the door when people come over
  • Ask your cat’s opinion on your writing
  • Eat six or seven times an hour, mainly cereal
  • Drink champagne in the shower at 8 a.m.
  • Play Madden for 10 hours straight
  • Forget to put a skirt on and leave the house that way

Two of us on the editorial team live alone ourselves, but we haven’t developed any quirks that are nearly this amusing. It’s worth noting, however, that we’ve only lived alone for less than a year. Who knows what would happen to our sense of propriety in the long term?

The Real Cost of Living Alone

Now that we’ve demonstrated all the kinds of crazy living alone can breed, let’s bring this back down to LearnVest terms. When you decide to live alone, not only will you have to consider a higher rent, you’ll also be paying more for utilities, living room furniture and decorations, and kitchen accessories like plates and a blender. If you’re living with a significant other, you could also share food expenses.

This blog post has an interesting rule of thumb called the square root rule, in which the cost of living is the square root of the number of people living together. So the square root of 1 is 1, meaning all the costs are yours to take care of. But living with two people means together the cost of living is the square root of 2, or 1.414. So you’ll pay 70% of what you would pay if you were living alone. Living with two other people brings your expenses down to 50% of what it would cost to live alone.

So if your rent check is taking up more of the recommended 30% of your budget and you find yourself wandering out the door without pants on, maybe it’s time to consider getting a roommate.

Tell us: Do you live alone? Have you developed any strange (yet endearing) quirks?

More From LearnVest

When choosing a roommate, make sure to ask these five questions.
Don’t rush into moving in with your significant other before reading how it affects your finances.
Couples who live together before marriage accumulate wealth faster. Why?

  • Brittany M

    I live alone and I LOVE it. Not only because there’s no one around to witness all the quirks, but because it allows me to be as frugal as I need to be in order to get my finances in order. I live without television and home phone. I keep the thermostat really low. I cook super super cheap. I’ve never been able to negotiate that kind of behavior from anyone I’ve lived with before.

    • Single Girl

      I have to agree with Brittany. Living alone after having lived with roommates allows for greater financial responsibility. has become my laptop television set, space heaters allow for one room heating, and I negotiate my bills down like a pro after trial periods. Cooking from home has brought out the healthy domestic diva as well.  I find there are benefits to both living arrangements however. I just prefer the commentary of my own thoughts for now. :)

    • Joe

      What do you do without tv for entertainment i live alone as well and if it wasn’t for tv i would be so bored

  • Bigeeta

    I think this article knocks the notion of being independent and self-reliant, which is especially important for women, which is the main audience of this website, if I’m getting the right idea about Learnvest.  Regardless of the target audience, it also condescends to the notion of personal freedom which is the basis of the American lifestyle.  Most of the habits listed are the perks of living alone which collectively illustrate the lack of judgement one endures when living alone.  When will independents stop being punished for not wanting to be with other humans 24/7 or for not having a co-habitating relationship?  Isn’t the main indication of adult maturity not being needy and co-dependent?  I think this article is not helpful or encouraging and I resent its implications.  From a Reluctant Roommate :-(

    • Anon


  • Lrmfacebook

    Well stated ladies! I’ve lived alone for almost 18 years, bought my 3 bedroom 8 years ago and LOVE all my closet space! I socially interact with my neighbors and bring people home when I want to without having to worry if a roommate/boarder wants to have friends hang out. Living alone taught me self control, independence and self-reliance. When the toilet overflowed and the pipes sprung a leak, it was up to me to fix it and learn how to take care of future issues by attending “Do It Herself” workshops at my local Home Depot. The staff there has taught me everything from fixing small leaks to regrouting tile to lawn care. And, where I used to hide from big spiders, I now know how to kill mice and fish out dead vermin from my pool.

  • Leashad

    The one drawback to this website is that the perception is that the readers are ‘fresh out of college and money is tight”. As a 56 year old woman who lives very comfortably in my own home, my last roomie was the one that I had in my 30′s, and that lasted all of 6 months. 
    I don’t suffer from any of the quirks stated in this article (as though drinking champagne in the shower at 8 a.m. is something you have to do alone), and I’m insulted that the implication is single living means that you’ll be unable to have whatever you want out of life. A few years ago, instead of a roommate, you would have been pushing marriage. Sister are doing it for themselves, honey, and I’m sure that I am not the only single person living well. These articles are becoming more and more stereotypical, and appear to be written by people who have zero world experience.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot understand posters who read an article and then argue that it’s “insulting” or “condescending” etc. If it’s accurate information, it’s accurate information. This article doesn’t say not to live alone. It talks about the cost of living alone. Each person can weigh the cost v. benefit for themselves based on their own preferences, but that weighing needs to be informed, no?

  • Mary Gooder

    I like living alone, sometimes it’s the only time by myself I get in a city like New York. Ah, I miss country life. 

  • Emily

    I will soon be 19 years old and have been living in my own apartment since the month of my 18th birthday (paying my won bills). I would not trade this past year for the world! I am in a serious relationship right now that may end up in us living together in the future, but I am certainly not rushing that future. Yes, it is expensive, no it has not been easy, but I find the cost worth it. The only real issue is there isn’t anyone to keep my cleaning duties in check… so sometimes those can kind of get a little lax… ;).