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1 in 3 England & Wales Households Have Just 1 Occupant, New Census Data Reveals

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Newly released Census data shows that 30% of England & Wales homes are single occupancy.

Despite growing uncertainty in the UK’s economic outlook, living alone has continued to be a popular choice for many. In fact, 1 in 3 households across England and Wales are single occupancy – a similar figure to the 31% in the 2011 Census.

Conveyancing solicitors, Bird & Co, have analysed recently released ONS Census 2021 figures to ascertain the top areas in England and Wales where people are living alone.

The study revealed the 10 Counties and Unitary Authorities, as well as the 10 Local Authorities, with the highest percentage of single occupancy across the country.

What’s more, the percentages of 1-person households in 2021 were compared against the percentages in 2011, to show the percentage increase of 1-person households over the past 10 years.

Each set of data has revealed a top 10 list:

10 Counties/Unitary Authorities with the Highest Percentage of Single Occupancy

The study found the percentage of 1-person households in 2021, revealing the 10 Counties and Unitary Authorities with the biggest increase in 1-person households. The areas, alongside the percentage of single occupancy households, were:

  1. Blackpool, 38%
  2. London, 35.19%
  3. Brighton and Hove, 34.7%
  4. Isle of Wight, 34.7%
  5. Torbay, 34.7%
  6. Tyne and Wear, 34.54%
  7. Darlington, 34.2%
  8. Kingston Upon Hull, 34.2%
  9. Merseyside, 34.2%
  10. County Durham, 33.9%

The study found Blackpool had the highest number of one-person households, with Inner London, and Brighton and Hove taking second and third place.

With the average single occupancy in England & Wales standing at 30%, the areas in the top 10 have a higher average than other UK spots. Overall, it’s clear that coastal and city regions are attracting those who wish to live alone more so than country areas.

10 Counties/Unitary Authorities with Largest Increase in Single Occupancy Households

The study also found the top ten Counties and Unitary Authorities across England and Wales with the highest growth in one-person households. This was found by comparing the percentage figures in 2011 and 2021 to reveal a percentage increase.

The 10 areas with the biggest increase in 1-person households, alongside the percentage increases across the last 10 years, were:

  1. Slough - 5.7%
  2. City of Bristol - 3.5%
  3. Nottingham - 2.6%
  4. Inner London - 2.4%
  5. Outer London - 2.1%
  6. Reading - 2.1%
  7. Manchester - 2%
  8. Thurrock - 1.9%
  9. Brighton and Hove- 1.7%
  10. Bath and North East - 1.6%

Interestingly, Slough has seen the biggest increase in single occupancy homes, with an increase of 5.7% since 2011. Despite having some of the highest house prices in the UK, many areas in and around London also saw an increase in the amount of single occupancy.

10 Local Authorities with the Highest Percentage of Single Occupancy

The study also found the percentage of 1-person households in 2021 on a more hyper-local scale. The Local Authorities, alongside the percentage of single occupancy households, were:

  1. City of London, 51.0%
  2. Kensington and Chelsea, 43.7%
  3. Westminster, 42.7%
  4. Norwich, 38.9%
  5. Camden, 38.7%
  6. Blackpool, 38.0%
  7. Liverpool, 36.8%
  8. Barrow-in-Furness, 36.2%
  9. Islington, 36.1%
  10. Hammersmith and Fulham, 36.1%

As we can see, the majority of Local Authorities in the top 10 list were London boroughs, apart from Norwich, Blackpool, Liverpool, and Barrow-in-Furness.

Daniel Chard, Partner at Bird & Co, said: “The release of the 2021 Census data has already surprised us. Despite growing concerns over people facing the cost-of-living crisis on a single income, 1-person households are still a popular choice, especially for city locations.

“It will be interesting to see how the situation changes next year. We may start to see cheaper locations rising in the ranks.”

Ready to Embrace Solo Living?

Whether you’re thinking of embracing the independent lifestyle or are simply browsing, we hope this list has given you some inspiration as to where you’d like to live in the UK.

Despite growing economic uncertainty in the UK, the housing market still has a fair amount of momentum behind it, with the total sales so far this year being 1.3 million. So, if you haven’t already, now may be the time to get yourself on the property ladder.

For more conveyancing advice about how to make the process of buying and selling a property smooth and efficient, visit Bird & Co’s website or call 01476 591711.


The data presented in this article has been taken from the Office for National Statistics. All figures used in this study are as up to date as possible, generally taken from an official document published in 2021 or 2022. Time frames between sources may vary slightly, but all publication dates can be found via the link to each independent data source.

The data was assessed at a Local Authority level, as well as a Counties/Unitary Authorities level. County averages were ascertained by grouping the figures for Local Authorities in that area, with Unitary Authority figures standing alone. This allowed us to get a better sense of how other areas compared against London.

Although this data was sourced via reputable sources, its interpretations are of the Bird and Co researchers.