Singles eat at least two meals a day alone and enjoy drinking alone as well, and often live in one-bedroom flats measuring just 16 to 33 sq.m, according to a report by KB Financial Group's research center.
They live in small rental flats that they can afford on their own income rather than buying a house that would require them to turn to their parents for help. And they prefer to live close to their workplaces as they do not need to care about factors like good schools and safe streets that trouble people with children.
Although their lifestyle entails a degree of loneliness, most singles are satisfied with the convenience and privacy, according to the report. The report is based on a survey of 1,500 singles between the ages of 20 and 40 who live alone and earn more than W12 million a year (US$1=W1,158).
The number of single households rose from 3.17 million in 2005 or 20 percent of the population to 5.2 million and 27.2 percent last year. And while most singles used to be widowed and elderly, now 52.8 percent are under 40.
◆ Enjoying Privacy
The survey showed that a considerable number of singles enjoy the privacy of eating alone and doing other things by themselves. Some 35.7 percent said they choose to live alone to be closer to school or work, and 29.7 percent said they feel more comfortable living alone.
When it comes to housing, 33.7 percent live in studio apartments and 40.2 percent in small homes measuring 16 to 33 sq.m. Some 72.5 percent rent their homes, either monthly or by way of jeonse or Korean-style deposit lease, while only 13.1 percent own their home.
Among singles who rent or lease, 75.3 percent said they come up with the money by themselves. Many singles said they are comfortable living alone, with 77.2 percent saying they eat alone, 67.6 percent shop alone and 46.9 percent exercise alone. Asked how many meals a day they eat alone, 41.5 percent said two and 10.2 percent three, rising to 17.8 percent at weekends.
◆ Satisfied with Solitude
Some 84.4 percent are especially fond of not having to rely on others to make decisions, while 75.9 percent said they like being able to use their free time for themselves. Also, 34.7 percent said they chose to live alone, compared to just 19.2 percent who said they had no choice.
Asked if they want to keep living alone, 49.7 percent said yes, though 46.2 percent are concerned about loneliness and their psychological wellbeing and 54.1 percent of single women said they worry about crime.
Overall, however, women tend to be happier living alone than men. Some 70 to 80 percent of women in all age groups said they are satisfied to live alone, while men become more dissatisfied the older they get, falling to 53 percent in their late 40s.
Suh Jeong-joo at KB Financial Group said, "The fact that there are more singles who choose to live alone due to the convenience and freedom shows that the lifestyle is likely to grow in the future. We need to consider this group as a new consumer class and take a more positive view of them."