The very high price of being single

Rent is the big one, but there are several fiscal advantages to being in a couple

Love might be blind but it can also be very economical. People in long-term relationships are likely to spend a lot less on everything from homes and holidays to gyms and income tax than single people.

According to some estimates, a single person will have to fork out as much as €300,000 more over the course of half a lifetime than someone who is in a couple.

Here are just some of the ways being single can cost you dearly.

1 The single biggest expense for most of us is a roof over our heads. And the single person can be very harshly treated on this score, particularly if they have no interest in a house-share set-up. First, there are difficulties in finding appropriate accommodation. Stretching back generations, developers have been more inclined to build larger homes and apartments in order to maximise their profits, leading to a shortage of dwellings. Supply issues aside, the big problems arise when single people have to pay for their homes. The average monthly cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin 1 is €1,187, according to the most recent rental report from,published earlier this summer. A similarly sized apartment in Dublin 2 was €1,407. A two-bedroom house that might be more suitable for a couple in Dublin 1 costs €1,443, while on the southside of the city centre a two-bed apartment will cost €1,668. This means that a single person will have to stump up an average of about €1,300 each month to live close to the city centre, whereas the per-person cost for those in a couple will come in at just under €780. Spread out over the course of a year, the single person will spend more than €6,000 more than each of the people in the couple.


2 Getting a mortgage is even more problematic. Covering the cost of a home alone is hard enough, but qualifying for a mortgage is even more challenging, given the strict (and arguably sensible) rules on borrowing limits that have been imposed by the Central Bank in recent years. A loan-to-income limit of 3½ times salary means a single person wishing to buy a home costing about €300,000 will need a salary of almost €100,000 a year.

3 While a single person will use less gas and less electricity than a couple, the difference is not that significant. A couple who live in a three-bed house can expect to spend €1,211 each year on electricity and €964 on gas, taking the total spent on these two bills to €2,175. Assuming the bill is split evenly, the cost is €1,087.50 per person per year. However, a single person living in a one-bed apartment will spend an average of €797 on electricity and €529 on gas, taking the annual cost of heating and lighting their home to €1,326, or €238.50 more than each person in the couple.

4 When it comes to TV and broadband, the single person has to pay exactly the same as the couple. A popular offer from Virgin Media that includes TV, broadband and phone costs €95 a month, or €1,140 a year. A couple splitting that bill each pays €570. A single person has to carry the broadband burden alone.

5 Motor insurance companies alter their quotes based on your marital status. For a fully comprehensive policy covering a middle-of-the-road car, a single person with a good no-claims bonus can expect to pay about €600. A couple insured on the same car can expect to pay about €800, or €200 less each than the single person.

6 More than a third of mortgages in Ireland are issued to single people, and banks insist on them taking out mortgage-protection policies, as indeed they do when couples take out a mortgage. While the cost of such a premium depends on the value of the house, there are few people who will have much change out of €300 a year, a burden halved in the case of the couple.

7 The tax code does not favour the single person. A single person who earns a way-above-average €100,000 will take home €60,518 once all taxes are deducted from their salary. A couple who earn €50,000 each will have the same household income as the well-to-do single person, but will pay much less tax. The take-home pay of each of them will be €35,415, a total of €70,830. To put numbers like this into context, if both the single person and the couple work for 40 years and nothing changes in terms of their salary and the level of tax they pay, the couple will pay more than €412,000 less in tax than the single person with exactly the same household income.

8 The disparity is actually greater for those on a lower incomes. A single person earning €60,000 a year will take home €40,315, while a couple earning €30,000 each will have a combined take-home pay of €49.710. A married couple with one income of €60,000 will have a take-home pay of €42,115.

9 Single people also have to pay a premium for holidays. The average price of a room in an Irish hotel last year was €118 per night. This works out at €59 per person in a couple, whereas a single person has to pay the full whack. And then you have single supplements, which are imposed by many tour operators and hotels on the basis that the prices of holidays advertised are based on "per person sharing". Depending on where you go and who you book with, supplements can range from 125 per cent to 200 per cent of the per-person price paid by couples.

10 The average weekly grocery spend for a couple in Ireland is about €120 a week, while a single person will need to spend about €80 – or €20 more than each of the individuals in the couple.

11 Gyms typically incentivise couples to join together, which lowers prices. One Escape in Smithfield, Dublin, has a fee of €140 a month for a couple, whereas the fee for a single person joining is €79. That may seem like a small difference, but spread out over the course of a year, it sees the single person spending €118 more on keeping fit than a like-minded couple.

12 It is not all bad news for single people, however. There are some areas where they get to claw back some cash. They are saved the cost of Christmas, birthday and Valentine's Day presents, which, if spread over the course of a lifetime, could save someone at least €15,000. And they don't have to contend with people snoring in their beds and hogging the TV remote.