Size Matters: New York Used to Be Full of ‘Singletons,’ But Bigger Apartments and Rising Prices Means Living Alone Is Harder Than Ever
“This is an incredible thing. It’s new. No human society in all of history has organized life in this way,” enthused NYU sociology professor Eric Klinenberg. He had met The Observer at Jacques Torres in Hudson Square to discuss his new book, Going Solo, which investigates what Mr. Klinenberg sees as a desire of a large number of people to live alone. In the book he coins the term “singleton” for this supposed emerging group—take that, BoBos!—and he calls Manhattan “the capital of singletons.”
“The typical New Yorker gets married after 30 these days,” said Mr. Klinenberg, “and they have children even later. We had a huge number of years where we used to live with other people. Now we’re free to do what we want to do.” In his book, Mr. Klinenberg cites numerous statistics over the past 50 years that do show a gradual shift in this direction, from the standard (expected) nuclear family to the rise of what he calls “the cult of the individual.”
“Most people we interviewed said that after a few years of living with roommates they are ready for a place of their own.” Mr. Klinenberg said. He has a whole host of reasons why: “Roommates who don’t pay rent on time, roommates who don’t like the person you are dating …” etc., etc.
The idea of the New York loner is as old as the city itself. Look no further than the solemn, solitary Statue of Liberty. But recent trends actually point away from a city of “singletons,” not toward one. Read More