In the United States, 11% of people under the age of 30 live alone (U.S. News). I lived alone for two years when I was in graduate school, and I loved the experience. However, living alone, especially in an urban area, can be expensive. If your budget is tight, there are ways to live alone and stretch your money. One of the best strategies is to find ways to share services with other people who are living alone.
Consider the following techniques:
Don’t buy more house or apartment than you need. It is tempting to want to live in a bigger place, but try to buy or rent only the space you actually need when living on your own. This will save you not only on monthly rent or mortgage payments, but also on utilities including heat and air conditioning, which can be very expensive. You will also save on the furniture you need to buy to fill the space.
Share services. Chances are, if you live alone, you don’t generate enough garbage to fill a disposal container on your own; consider sharing with your neighbor. You can each shave your garbage disposal cost in half.
Share subscriptions. Likewise, if you get subscriptions such as the newspaper or magazines, share them with a friend or neighbor. Once again you save half, and you each get to read the latest from your favorite magazines.
Share food bought in bulk. If you take advantage of a service such as a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture), you may find that you receive too much fresh produce for one person. Instead, split the cost with a single friend, and you each will get fresh, organic fruits and vegetables for half the price. (Be sure to see more food saving tips for singles.)
Share rides. If you cannot take public transportation, consider car pooling. Just sharing a ride with one other person can save you gas money, which is particularly important as the cost of gas continues to rise. Share a ride with more than one other person, and your savings increase. However, the headaches can also increase. Before you enter this type of arrangement, make sure you carefully consider the terms. Whose car will you use? How will you split the gas expense? How will you handle irregular schedules?
Examine your auto insurance. Some insurance companies will charge you more if you are the sole policy holder, especially if you are in your twenties. You may want to see if adding one of your parents to your policy would lower the rate. (Of course, this is assuming your parent has a clean driving record and lives nearby.) Sometimes having an older person on the policy with you reduces the premium.
While living on your own offers you a chance to grow personally as well as offers you privacy and peace and quiet you may not experience when living with others, it can be expensive. If you find a trusted neighbor, coworker or friend, you could share several services and slash your living expenses.
If you are living alone, what do you like to do to save on living expenses?