BAM Key Details: 

  • According to Zillow’s latest findings, the cost of renting alone has gone up this year by more than $100, now standing at an average $7,110 a year. 
  • On the flipside, cohabitating renters can collectively save an average of $14,220 a year by living together and sharing the cost of paying the rent. 

Zillow’s latest findings show an increase in the cost of renting alone as the average “singles tax” now exceeds $7,000 a year, exceeding last year’s penalty by more than $100. 

That means cohabitating renters are collectively saving an average of $14,220 a year just by living together and sharing the rent. 

In New York City, that annual savings can be as much as $40,200. 

Zillow is sharing this data to highlight its room listings feature, designed to make it easier for single renters to find someone to share the cost of keeping a roof over their heads. 

The “singles tax” rose in some metros but dropped in others

In New York City, being the only rent-payer in your household costs more than anywhere else in the country, according to data from Zillow’s New York City brand StreetEasy. Solo rent-payers in NYC pay an average of $20,100 more a year on rent—$600 more than a year ago. 


Source: Zillow

That amounts to an average annual savings of $40,200 for cohabitating renters in the Big Apple. That savings could help pay off debt, grow a retirement fund, or help one or both renters save for a down payment on a home. 

 In other pricey metros, including San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Boston—the singles tax has shown modest declines, offering renters a sliver of breathing room compared to the year before. 

But that tiny savings does little to mitigate the broader affordability challenges in these metros.

The cost of being the solo rent-payer

Obviously, you can share a space with others and still be the only one paying the rent. And the “singles tax” applies here, too. 

That said, with multiple-income households (which tend to be the norm among couples in this country), even if only one person is paying the full rent, others in the household often help with other expenses to spread the pain a bit: 

  • Internet & streaming services
  • Food & other groceries
  • Home furnishings
  • Car payments or other transportation expenses

As for solitary renters who are fine with taking on the full cost of rent, their situation is not without its perks. 

While some renters may envy their coupled-up friends for dodging the singles tax, solo renters enjoy perks that go beyond financial savings. There’s no arguing over which show to binge-watch next or disputes about whose turn it is to clean up after dinner. Still, it’s crucial for renters to really dive into what living alone costs in their area and decide if the price tag is worth it.

Emily McDonald

Zillow® rental trends expert