Good news, single people: Living alone not only gives you the freedom to vacuum in your underwear and leave crusty dishes in the sink; it also has a societal benefit. As a so-called “singleton” or “solo” (barf), you’re helping make your city more sustainable.
That’s what Devajyoti Deka of Rutgers’ Alan M. Vorhees Transportation Center argues. In a study called “The Living, Moving and Travel Behaviour of the Growing American Solo,” Deka found that people who live alone -- about 28 percent of U.S. households, a threefold increase since 1950 -- also live more sustainably, dwelling in apartments instead of single-family homes, commuting shorter distances to work, and owning and using cars at lower rates than couples and families. And solo dwellers tend to prefer living in cities.
Which all makes practical sense, of course. One person needs less space, and the cost of owning and maintaining a car is much more of a burden when not shared. Urban areas present more job opportunities, and solos can pursue them without being held back by a partner’s career or family obligations. (Deka found that solos make at least $5,000 more per year when they live in the city.) Plus, discounting the few misanthropes out there, most people don’t live alone because they want to be alone, and living in a dense city neighborhood offers plenty of social outlets to ward off loneliness.
Catering to a growing solo population means cities also must cater to their more sustainable lifestyles.