There’s no avoiding the numbers: The cost of living in Canada, especially in its major cities, has been on a steady incline. Finances are complicated no matter what your situation is; whether you’re trying to make ends meet or creating an investment plan. For single people in Canada, these costs are significantly harder to shoulder. Between necessary expenses like housing and bills, combined with policies and systems that favour families and couples, there are a number of factors that put extra pressure on people living on their own. These are the added expenses that come with being single in Canada.
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Half the crowd, twice the cost
For people living on their own, it means covering all the bills. This includes internet, electricity, water, phone, and all other essential services needed for modern day survival. In addition to having to front these costs alone, you’re also not qualified to receive special bundle packages that benefit family/group plans. Being able to split these costs means either giving up personal space to live with roommates, or moving back home with your parents. Though this is just an accepted reality, it’s also worth noting that not everyone feels comfortable or safe sharing their spaces. But the reality for single folx is that you either fork over more money, or make sacrifices.
Related: 10 best apps that make budgeting easier.
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Navigating the fiery pits of the housing market
Renting or buying, the housing market is competitive. Landlords favour couples with dual incomes, leaving a single person fighting against two for the same rental property. Buying requires a high credit score, and a hefty upfront down payment. “It's up to you and you alone to qualify for mortgages, and save for retirement. That's a tall order for a single income home” says Shannon Lee Simmons, Founder of The New School of Finance. Though she notes that being single doesn't necessarily impact your credit score, it’s also clear: “The pressure to have these in good shape is much more because you can't diversify or rely on someone else if yours is not in good standing.” Even after you’ve secured a place to rent or qualified for a mortgage, you then have to cover all monthly costs with a single income.
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What’s tax got to do with it?
A major difference between a single income household and a dual income household is how taxes are legally filed. For common-law and married couples, both people can declare their partner’s income and fall into a lower tax bracket. This means they’ll receive a higher return, and either find financial gain or have less to pay off. Additionally, if one partner is a student and didn’t make an income during the tax year, the other can claim all student-related tax credits and see higher returns. For single individuals, there are little to no loopholes to benefit from during tax season.
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Single? No pooling allowed
Another tax break for couples? The declaration of medical and charitable expenses. When two individuals pool and claim their medical bills and charity contributions together, they can reach the threshold for receiving higher credits on their costs much quicker. For charitable donations, for example, they can receive up to a 29% credit for every dollar they’ve spent once the $200 threshold is met. Pooling costs is a steadfast way to save during tax season, and is, again, only legal for common law partners and spouses.
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Paying for health benefits? In this economy?
Even in Canada, where we flaunt our universal healthcare, medical bills can still add up and add up quickly. For people who aren’t given medical and dental benefits, these costs can be staggering; a single dentist appointment can set you back months. What’s more, most major health insurance companies allow for the partner of the beneficiary to be on their plan.
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Your parents’ plan won’t cover you for long
Even if you’ve been on your parents' plan, most plans are withdrawn after the age of 25. So this means that single people over the age of 25, that aren’t part of a work or school plan, are basically just left footing a giant bill, or paying their own monthly premiums.
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The quest to legalize fur-babies
For those with children, the spouse or common-law partner with a lower income can also claim child care expenses on their declaration. And, sadly, costs for pets are not tax-deductible, only human babies. Though our pets are part of our families, especially for those who have chosen or can’t have children, they’re not viewed as such. So once again, those that don’t have families, by the definition of the old book, are unable to claim any extra expenses.
Related: How much owning a dog actually costs.
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The mental costs of financial independence
While living on your own has plenty of upsides, it’s not an easy road to go alone. The pressure of saving for your future and covering all your living expenses alone is a lot to take on. And since society is dead set on profiteering off single people, resources are low. This can take an emotional toll on anyone; whether you’re financially struggling or feeling more secure. In financial terms, being single is double the pressure.
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Saying yes for the wrong reasons
This can even sometimes cause people to expedite relationships out of financial fear, and end up in situations they wouldn’t have if they had more financial support on their own.
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Building diamonds out of pressure
Though money woes can sometimes feel grim, all is not lost. Being single comes with a plethora of benefits; independence, sense of self, and constant character development. It may not always be easy to go it on your own, but Lee Simmons says it best, “You’ve got this. There are many different issues that also can exist if you live with a partner. Sometimes emotional, sometimes financial, and sometimes both. When you can look back at your life and say, I did that all on my own and this is how far I've come, there is a sense of accomplishment and pride. No one else can dictate how you live and spend your money. It's harder, but there's power in that.”