One of the most stressful and intimidating parts of going through a separation or divorce is the process of moving out and living separately from your ex. This time can be confusing, uncomfortable, and continually heart-breaking.
With that said, this stage of life can also be empowering. Living alone as a single parent takes decisiveness, organization, and downright bravery!
If you are reading this article, you or someone close to you is likely going through this stage of life. You may have questions, confusion, or fears about what you need to do to get through the learning curves of this process. If this sounds familiar, you are in the right place!
In this article, we will talk about the following:
● What the “average” single-parent home looks like across the United States
● Type of home
● Average household income
● Other options for single parents besides living alone
● Intergenerational living
● Tips for single parents living alone
Let’s jump right into it!
What does the “average” single-parent home look like in the United States?
Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered in a sentence for a variety of reasons.
The first reason is that there is truly no such thing as “average”. Every parent, every family, and every household looks completely different from one another, which makes it impossible to compare one situation to another. If you are reading this article in hopes of finding a guideline to compare and contrast your own life with, it’s time to re-evaluate what information you are looking for and why!
The second reason is that the United States is a huge and highly-populated country that consists of countless states, cities, counties, and economies within the walls of its borders. The financial impact of living alone will vary greatly depending on your location, as will the opportunity for housing and resources.
To give you an idea of what you could expect, we will be sharing the following information about housing opportunities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and
● Average household income for a single parent
● Other details of single-parent culture, liveability, etc.
New York, New York
● The average single parent makes $55,305 per year.
● Despite its high living costs, New York City can be a great location for single parents due to daycare availability, several options for schools, extracurricular opportunities, and child-friendly activities everywhere!
● Single parents are the second most common household head in New York City (New York Census)
Los Angeles, California
● The average single parent makes $82,040 per year.
● Housing is extremely expensive in Los Angeles, which leaves most single parents living in small apartments.
● Some LA residents express that to “make it” in LA, you must have an income of at least 65K per year.
● The average single parent makes $53,715 per year.
● According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago was ranked the #2 city in the USA for single moms. This considered access to job opportunities, the ability to earn a livable income, and
affordable and effective childcare.
● The average single parent makes $50,708.
● While the cost of living in Houston is generally lower than that of the other listed cities, Houston ranks much lower for single parents overall.
● Although not the most easily accessible resource, there are rent and utility assistance programs available for tenants in need. Check it out here.
Is living alone the only option for single parents?
Living alone is certainly not the only option for single parents! While society and the media have painted a picture that “grown-ups” need to move out, buy a home, and live happily with their spouse and children in the said home until retirement, the real world has a lot more flexibility.
Here are some options that can help you to cut costs and maybe even have some company:
● Inviting a roommate
Depending on custody and other separation details, it may be financially wise to split housing costs with a roommate, whether you are renting a room out from your home to bring in some extra cash flow, or you are the one paying for a room at in someone else’s home.
Having a roommate comes with a lot of benefits from saving money, to having someone to
spend time with, to having someone to water your plants when you’re not home.
● Housing up with another single parent
If there is one thing single parents should know, it’s that they are never isolated in their experiences. Do you have a friend who is going through a similar life experience who is also looking for housing for themself and their children? Moving in altogether could be the next step for both of you!
Parents will get the perks of having a roommate… plus a lot more! Depending on the comfortability and trust level between the two newly independent parents, this could be an opportunity for new friendships, siblingships, and even blended family-like experiences.
● Intergenerational living
As mentioned earlier, society has done a painfully good job of convincing young adults that there is only one “right” way to do things. While Western culture
is very individualistic, other cultures across the globe value a much more communal way of living, which includes intergenerational housing.
Intergenerational housing is when children continue to live with their parents into their old age while having children of their own. These children then grow up to care for their elderly parents, while continuing to have families and pursue their own
lives as well.
While this way of living will not work for everyone, it can be a wonderful option of living that can save money, improve interpersonal relationships, and help to build a strong support system for parents and children alike.
What should a newly single parent who is going through the process of living alone keep in mind?
Downsizing from the typical nuclear family home to a single-parent home or otherwise will be challenging. It is a huge change!
Anything related to separation or divorce can be tough because you never know what is going to stir up difficult emotions. Just know that it is okay to feel confused or unsure throughout the process.
When you are struggling emotionally, seek help from loved ones, trusted friends, or a therapist. Doing so will not only help you to feel better and more supported, but it will show your children that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness!
Finally, remember that YOU make your house a home! Whether you are moving into a large home that is abundant enough for your whole family, or you are moving into a small apartment that you hope is only temporary, do what you can to make it comfortable and somewhere that you want to be.
During the ups and downs of separating, moving, and trying to settle down into a new lifestyle, remember to give yourself grace. Allow yourself to make big decisions, make mistakes, learn from your experiences, and become better for them. At the end of the day, the building you sleep in at night is not what matters most… you and your children are!
While you may be in the thick of things now, trust that things will get easier. Before you know it, you will be doing better than ever!