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Where Did My Money Go? The Cost of Being Single in Canada

By Royal Bank of Canada

Published July 9, 2024 • 4 Min Read

Being single can offer a sense of freedom and independence — you have the autonomy to make decisions without needing to consider a partner’s preferences or schedule. However, this independence comes with unique financial challenges. Single Canadians often shoulder a heavier financial burden without a partner to share with day-to-day expenses. The costs of housing, utilities, and even groceries can add up, making single life significantly more expensive.

Is there actually an incremental cost of being single?

Managing expenses on a single income may be more challenging than sharing costs with a partner who also earns. Single-consumer spending averaged $38,330 per year in 2021 compared to $64,871 for couples. Assuming that a couple’s spending was divided equally, each partner spent $32,435.50. This means single Canadians paid $5,894.50 more on average. Adjusted for inflation, in 2024 a single person living alone spends approximately $6,704 (1.18x) more than a couple to meet the same needs.

Where singles tend to pay more

Housing is one of the biggest costs for singles in Canada. In Canada, 4.4 million people live alone — almost a third of all households. For many singles, rent accounts for the highest percentage of their paycheque.

The average rent in Canada for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,944 per month (according to a May 2024 report from, with rent being higher in larger urban centres. This means annual rent alone would cost a single Canadian more than $23,328.

A couple splitting the cost of a one-bedroom apartment would each pay $972 monthly or $11,664 annually.

Couples are also at an advantage for 2-bedroom apartments. The average cost is $2,338 per month — so partners who share the rent equally would each pay $14,028 yearly. A single Canadian living alone would pay 66.3% more for rent than their coupled counterparts.

Cost of living

Single individuals often bear the full cost of utilities and other living expenses that could be shared with a partner. For instance, couples usually share phone and internet plans, but singles may not qualify for couples’ discounts


In some regions, tax codes favour married couples, offering them credits or deductions that single individuals cannot access.


Without a partner, saving for major expenses like buying a home, travelling, or retirement can take longer since there’s no additional income to contribute. Additionally, singles might need more of an emergency fund since they don’t have a partner to rely on in case of unexpected expenses or job loss.


Additional health insurance can be more expensive for singles, especially if they don’t have access to a family plan or spousal benefits.


In 2024, a single person paid an average of $540 per month for food, compared with only $481 if they lived with a partner. While that may seem like much, it adds up to $710 over the course of a year for a single adult. One reason may be that ‘family size’ or bulk packaging that helps save money may not be useful unless there are multiple people living in a household.

Where couples may pay more than singles

Couples tend to spend more on transportation per person than singles. Transportation costs single people $425 per month, whereas couples spend an average of $489 per month. This may be due to having multiple vehicles and the additional gas, insurance, and maintenance costs.

Another area where couples spend more than singles is recreation: hotel stays, flights, theatre tickets, etc. Travelling solo may be cheaper than as a couple. Hotels, for example, often charge per occupant. Multiple flights and concert tickets double the cost for couples.

One bright spot may be travel packages; often, there are savings to be had for couples and families.

Finding ways to save money as a single can be challenging. Let RBC’s NOMI Find & Save help you find more you didn’t know you had. 

The bottom line

Navigating the financial landscape as a single person in Canada can be daunting, with higher costs in housing, food, and taxes. While couples can share expenses and take advantage of certain financial benefits, singles must often pay more to meet the same needs. Despite these challenges, understanding where the additional costs lie can help single Canadians better manage their finances.

By leveraging tools and strategies designed to optimize savings, such as RBC’s NOMI Find & Save, singles can uncover hidden opportunities to stretch their budgets further and achieve their financial goals.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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