10.11.2023 | 4 minutes estimated reading time | Print this article

Single Brits need to earn £71,260 to afford the same lifestyle as the average couple

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that life is more expensive when you don’t have someone to split the bills with, but for Singles’ Day 2023 (11/11), new data by Raisin UK has revealed that single Brits need to earn £71,260 to afford the same lifestyle as the average couple. We found: 

  • The number of people in the UK who are single is steadily increasing, and in 2022, the number of people living alone stood at 8.3 million*, with women making up more than half (53%) of these single households
  • While the gender pay gap has been well documented in the UK, there’s another financial disparity beneath the surface of this liberating lifestyle: the relationship finance gap
  • With singles shelling out up to £2,100 a month on general expenses such as housing and bills, we calculate that they would have to find an extra £10,640 a year in order to bridge the gap with couples

Whilst not everyone aspires to the picket-fence lifestyle, many do, so we looked at how much it would cost, on average, to have a mortgage on a two-bed semi, own and run a car and have enough money to comfortably follow the 50/30/20 rule (where 50% of your monthly income is spent on essential needs, such as bills, housing and food, 30% is on wants and 20% on savings) for both singles and couples. 

Our data showed that, in 2023, the cost of this average lifestyle works out at £2,100 a month for singles and £2,424 a month for couples, meaning that while couples splitting things down the middle end up paying just £1,212 each, singles would need to find an extra £886 a month in order to keep up with the Joneses.

And in order to maintain this lifestyle and follow the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, where unavoidable expenses come to no more than 50% of your net monthly income, singles would need a gross income of £71,260 – well above the UK median salary of £38,000. Couples, on the other hand, only need a yearly income of £36,875 each to comfortably cover their monthly expenses of £1,212 each – showing it truly pays to be in a relationship.

Of course, securing a mortgage in the first place can be incredibly difficult on one person’s salary, which means single people are more likely to rent than own a home (less than a third of first-time buyers in 2023 were one-person households**), and with private rent averaging £935 a month, singles may struggle more to save money and get out of the rent cycle in the first place. 

When we looked at the equivalent lifestyle for those renting, rather than owning, the two-bed semi, it’s an equally bleak picture: singles cough up £1,772 per month for rent and bills, while couples share total expenses of £2,097 – only £1,048 each – giving them £723 extra a month to spend, invest, or put towards the future. 

Raisin UK co-founder, and personal finance expert, Kevin Mountford, says: “These figures paint a stark picture when it comes to how much a single person would need to earn in order to have the type of lifestyle that the average couple can take for granted. With winter coming, an ongoing cost of living and a housing crisis, these numbers are unlikely to get much better any time soon. For those who can afford to, savings rates are currently still relatively high, so opening a flexible easy access savings account and topping this up – even only with small amounts, when it’s possible to – can mean your money grows over time, and can help you to feel more positive about the future.”

Methodology and data

*ONS data on families and households in the UK in 2023
**Uswitch data on first-time buyers