Is It Better to Live Alone or in a Couple After 50?

The big question that could change our living arrangements forever.As we get a little older and become more comfortable in our skin, our habits can evolve. What worked well for us at 30 may no longer feel like the right fit at 55. We may start to prefer quiet time spent doing the things we love over the hustle and bustle of a crowded house. Could this be why some older people are embracing solo living as they head past their fifth decade? And is it better to do it alone or live in a dedicated partnership?

Happy mature woman at home

We have taken a closer look at how older people are choosing to live right now. As well as the benefits and drawbacks of living alone after 50. Find out more, below.

The Big Numbers

Before we dive into how living alone can impact people over 50, it’s useful to take a look at the numbers. And the statistics make for interesting reading. In the UK, in 2017, there were 2.43 million people living alone aged between 45 and 64. This is compared to just 1.5 million in 1996. This 53% leap is no small jump. So, what is driving people to live alone in ever-increasing numbers through their middle age and beyond?

Why Are More People Living Alone After 50?

With such a huge increase in people over 50 living alone, the big question is why? And the truth is there is no one answer. It’s a mixture of social, cultural, and personal factors. A high divorce rate has contributed to single person households, as has the choice of many older people to stay single or simply live apart from their partners. An interesting trend that has recently emerged is the rise in married couples or long-term partners who choose to live apart despite enjoying healthy and successful relationships. They simply opt to enjoy their space as well as dedicated couple time. It’s called ‘living alone together’ and offers a refreshing spin on modern romantic partnerships. No fighting for the bathroom or over the remote control ever again!

Are Women Better at Living Alone?

The Office for National Statistics has found that within the increased numbers of older people living alone, the majority are women. And while this can be explained in some ways by the longer lifespan of women, it also seems to be a growing personal choice. Living alone offers women the ultimate freedom to explore their personal passions and live on their own terms. With women (particularly older women) traditionally seen as occupying a domestic and caring role, solo-living provides the opportunity for this group to dismiss the stereotypes and tread their own path.

The Benefits of Solo Living

We know that more people over 50 are choosing to live on their own, but does this choice offer tangible benefits in terms of health and happiness? It seems that for many people it does. These are just a few of the upsides of solo living:

You Set Your Own Schedule

Setting your own schedule is not only a useful perk of living on your own. It’s been shown that people with a clearly structured schedule could enjoy better mental health. It’s also liberating to make decisions based on only your needs.

You Are More Active

Living alone often means less time spent on the sofa with the TV and more time getting active. Older people who live alone simply have less to distract them. This means they won’t skip their fitness class because their significant other has plans or forget about their daily walk because they need to start dinner prep. It seems living alone may be good for your physical health too.

You Can Develop Your Interests

By choosing to live alone, you have the time and space to take up that hobby you have been thinking about for decades or join a special interest club that catches your eye. More free time means more time to explore your passions.

You Have Stronger Friendships

Even the healthiest romantic relationships usually mean cutting back on some outside friendships. Often, there isn’t enough time to support a large social circle or expand your current one. Living alone means you can dedicate more time to building and maintaining important friendships.

You Will Sleep Better

Snoring. Fidgeting. Stealing the duvet. These are all things that stop being a concern when you choose to live alone. Having a bed to yourself is an amazing luxury and one that’s bound to see you enjoying a better night’s sleep.

Could a Partnership Offer Better Support?

Ok. There are some great benefits that come from living alone later in life, but could you be missing out on the joy of sharing your life with someone you love? For some couples, the idea of being apart even for a short time is unthinkable. Here are some of the benefits of cohabiting:

You Always Have Someone to Talk To

It may sound silly but having someone to tell about your day, to share your dreams with and just to have a chat with about the small things in life can be incredibly meaningful. Living together and sharing these intimate conversations can help to form a deeper bond between you.

You Have More Financial Freedom

Pooling finances and resources can make sense for a lot of couples. Many of whom have lived together for decades. In turn, this provides you each with a little more financial freedom to indulge your own passions. For many partnerships or marriages, the level of connection and trust that comes from combining your incomes is an important part of the relationship.

You Share Every Part of Your Lives

Sometimes it’s important to have that person who knows every part of you. Your quirks, likes, and dislikes intimately. That knows just how you like your morning coffee or the way you prefer to arrange the duvet cover. For some people, this level of intense intimacy only comes from living together.

It’s More Practical for Long-Term Relationships

Do you want to manage two sets of clothes, mortgage commitments, and utilities? Having a long-term relationship and living separately can turn into an organisational nightmare. Living together helps you to streamline every aspect of your lives.

The Bottom Line

The real answer to this question is that there is no one size fits all way of living. Or a single living arrangement that works for everyone. But it’s important for all people, regardless of age or how they live to have a strong support network of family and friends. Loneliness is real, and it’s easy to become isolated as you get older whatever your living arrangement. People who choose to live solo have to make a greater effort to connect with the world around them, while those in a committed partnership need to ensure they maintain a sense of themselves outside the home.Remember too, that romantic relationships don’t have to fit the mold and cohabiting is a choice you both have to make. The strength of your relationship isn’t linked to whether you share a bedroom or even a front door. You should choose a living arrangement that suits your unique needs and preferences. Never feel pressured to live in a way that simply doesn’t feel right. However you choose to live, live well.


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