Is it cheaper to be single?
According to RateSupermarket.ca’s annual “Cost of Love” study, the price of the average two-year Canadian courtship that ends in a wedding has hit $61,821.60.
Granted, their study assumed you’d spend $255 on a fancy date, rather than $20 on cover for a drag show, but it’s something to ponder. Could it actually be cheaper to be single? We spoke to people at every stage of relationship, from the long-time single to newly married, to figure out whether you should start ghosting on your Tinder date, or consider locking it down.
If you’re single, you’re far from alone. Sixty-four percent of millennials reported being unattached in 2014 (up 12 percent from 2004) but society still likes to make us feel like cave trolls if we’re without a partner for over a minute. And in a country where the average price of renting a one-bedroom apartment has skyrocketed (hitting nearly $1,800 in Toronto and Vancouver), you may feel even more pressure to find a special someone to share your life and your utilities bill.
It doesn’t have to be this way, according to Mike Dougall, a 33 year-old a chef in Toronto. Single by choice, it’s been over ten years since he last lived with a girlfriend. Now, he splits a house downtown with three friends who each only pay around $700-$800. “I really couldn’t see myself living without roommates,” says Mike. “Not only is it financially irresponsible, but it’s also socially better for someone who’s decided to be single for most of their life.”
Casually dating and not-so-casually spending
Netflixing and chilling might be free(-ish), but actually getting to that point with someone is expensive. You’ve got to impress them first. “Most of the dates I go on are first dates,” says Mike. “Taking people out for dinner and drinks every time adds up pretty quickly.” Let’s say you spend $60 a date, four times a month. At the end of the year, you’ll have spent almost $3,000 just to have awkward conversations about Ayn Rand and fantasy football with randoms.
And that’s not even counting the costs of getting ready. People in relationships tend to let themselves go a little, while desperate singles feel forced to keep up appearances. Consider the monthly cost of a gym membership ($40-70), beauty appointments ($25 for a wax, $20 for a manicure), and new clothing (oh, let’s say $100 for some stuff from H&M).
The hidden costs of moving in together
Erica Woods, 30, and Sarah Buchanan 35, met through work in 2015. “We were smitten kittens,” admits Erica, and so she quickly paid for movers and left her apartment to move in with Sarah. Within three months, Sarah’s landlord announced he was selling the place, and Erica found herself having to pay for movers yet again. This led to some uncomfortable discussions about exactly who should be paying for what. “Eventually we realized that we were arguing about $400 in the scheme of a life together,” says Erica. “So, we decided to dial it down a notch.”
Living together will provide you with some quick rent relief, but it’s important to also consider these kinds of hidden costs. After paying the movers ($150-$450), there’s always the dreaded couple’s IKEA trip. “When you’re combining your furniture, there are some things that you might really like, but someone else thinks is ugly,” says Sarah. “Suddenly, you have to go buy things that are in your taste overlap zone.” Best to budget $800 for some new partner-approved furnishings.
Ok, so you’re settled in. Now you’ve gotta eat. The couple uses an app called Splitwise, where each partner enters payments as they happen and the app keeps a running tally. It’s a great way to keep things equal, without having to hunker down with your receipts at the end of the month. That’s not to say that it’ll eliminate fights entirely. “When we first got the app, Sarah kept calling it Splitsville,” says Erica.
Sarah laughs, “Yeah, that may have been a Freudian slip.”
Celebrate your eternal love and newfound bankruptcy, all in one night! Canadian couples now spend an average of $22,429 on their weddings, all to see their aunt Carol get hammered and dance to “Hotline Bling.” Once you count the honeymoon, this figure creeps up all the way $27,899.
Simon Borer, 35, and Karen Munk, 31, got married in 2014. “Initially I thought the wedding was going to be a lot smaller,” says Karen. “Then I learned how big Simon’s family was.” The couple kept it affordable by holding the wedding at a family friend’s farm outside of Kingston, and enlisting their friends to provide the music, band, and even serving staff, all of which dramatically decreased their bill.
What about that married couple stereotype, that you’re effectively giving up your social life? Your entertainment bill is going to shrink when you’re mostly cuddling on the couch, right? “If anything I’ll go out to bigger, more expensive concerts now,” says Simon. “To me, this is more of a 20’s vs. 30’s thing. I used to go to $5 shows. Now I can afford to drop $50 to go see the Flaming Lips.”
“We’ll start slowing down eventually,” says Simon. “But then I’ll just blame that on the kids.”
So what’s the verdict? Is it cheaper to be single?
Let’s look at the essentials. When you’re single, you’ll need to cover rent ($1,600 a month for a one-bedroom), groceries ($300), and dates ($240, plus $90 for personal “upkeep”). Oh, and you’ll definitely wind up with a cat. Budget $81 a month for food and vet bills.
When you’re in a couple, you’re probably splitting rent ($800) and groceries ($225), but have to factor in moving expenses ($1,500 flat), obligatory birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day gifts ($300 a year), and romantic couple’s getaways for when the spark starts fading, or your ex swings by drunk again ($1,200 a year).
Using these numbers, being single will cost you $138,680 over five years, compared to just $70,500 when you partner up. Time to pick up some roommates off Craigslist, or consider swiping right on that “sapiosexual” philosophy grad student with the soul patch. Hey, times are tough.