For single households, pandemic has been but a blip

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For single households, pandemic has been but a blip

[SHUTTERSTOCK]

[SHUTTERSTOCK]

The lives of people living alone changed during the pandemic, but not dramatically, according to the Korea One-person Households Report 2020 published by KB Financial Group Research Institute.
 
According to the report, the number of single-person households reached 6.2 million as of this year. In other words, 12 out of 100 Koreans are living alone. The research institute estimates that the number of single-person households would increase by at least 150,000 every year for about the coming five years, and by 2047, the number of single-person households would account for at least 30 percent of the population in most of the cities in the country.
 
The KB Financial Group Research Institute interviewed roughly 2,000 single-person households aged between 25 to 59.
 
Of all respondents, some 57 percent said they are satisfied with their life after the virus outbreak — a slight decline compared to last year’s 61 percent. A full 22.2 percent answered their life has become inconvenienced since the virus outbreak.
 
The biggest reason for dissatisfaction is the small space in which single people are confined.
 
About 42.5 percent said they voluntarily decided to live alone. Only 39.9 percent said they were driven by circumstances to live alone — the number was about 60.8 percent two years ago.  
 
One out of four people have said they experienced remote working at home. Of those, 51.5 percent said they were satisfied with working at home.  
 
In terms of the biggest advantage of remote working, a full 44 percent said “the absence of long commutes” while 17.5 percent said it is the abundant leisure time.
 
Of respondents who said they have experienced remote working at home, only 7.8 percent said they are unsatisfied with it. Of them, roughly 45.6 percent said “lack of efficiency” is the biggest disadvantage.
 
After the Covid-19 outbreak, single-person households spent less time outside of the home. Last year, at least seven out of 10 single-person households said they went places like bars, supermarkets, gyms, or cafes before they went home after work. This year, five out of 10 people said they went back to home right away without stopping anywhere.
 
Instead, they spend more time busy with hobbies.
 
Most of them spend their time at home watching TV or mobile videos followed by online shopping and reading books.
 
For people in their 20s or 30s, “home training,” or working out at home, has become a popular trend. Especially for young women, growing plants has also become popular.
 
“As single-person households are already used to spending much time at home, they are doing well even after the social distancing guidelines grind on,” a part of the report read.
 
According to the report, single-person households on average spend 1.41 million won ($1,270) per month.
 
About 34 percent said they spent less after the virus outbreak. They on average spent 250,000 won less per month, mostly due to reduced food and leisure expenses. But a full 28 percent said they spent more after the pandemic. In a month, they on average spent 240,000 won more, particularly on savings and investment.
 
Stock investment was especially popular among people in their 20s and 30s. Until last year, people in their 20s spent only 5.5 percent of their total assets on stock investment.
 
The number sharply increased to 13.3 percent this year, and people in their 20s have become the age group that spends most on stock investments. People in their 30s spend on average 12.9 percent of their total assets on stock market, while people in their 50s spend 11.4 percent.
 
The coronavirus pandemic prevented single-person households from saving money. According to the report, many single-person households had to withdraw money from their savings in order to make a living.
 
“Of all who said they spent more after the virus outbreak, many answered that they would like to secure cash by withdrawing money from their saving accounts,” the report read.
 
BY CHEA SARAH, MOON HYUN-KYUNG   [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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