Living alone is more common than ever in the United States.

Nationwide, more than 37 million Americans live alone, representing 29% of all U.S. households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

And the trend of living alone continues to rise. 

Overall, the number of people living alone has increased by nearly 5 million within the last decade. The pandemic also accelerated one-person households, with 2.4 million more people living alone today compared to pre-pandemic (2019). 

But which cities are home to the most people who live alone, and where has living alone seen the biggest increase?

In order to find America’s “loneliest” cities, we analyzed housing data across more than 170 cities with a population of at least 150,000 from the Census Bureau.

Key findings

  • Nationwide, 37,161,100 live alone, representing 28.6% of all households. 
  • The number of people living alone has increased by nearly 5 million throughout the last decade. 
  • Year-over-year, one-person households have seen an increase of 1.1 million.
  • Along with ranking No. 1 in the nation for the most one-person households, Washington, D.C. also ranks 2nd for cities with the most women living alone (30%) and 3rd for the most men living alone (27.9%).
  • “Loneliest” Cities for Males: St. Louis, Missouri (#1); Cleveland, Ohio (#2), Washington, D.C. (# 3); Birmingham, Alabama (#4); Cincinnati, Ohio (#5).  
  • “Loneliest” Cities for Females: Alexandria, Virginia (#1); Washington, D.C. (#2); Atlanta, Georgia (#3); St. Louis, Missouri (#4); Birmingham, Alabama (#5).

Which cities are the “loneliest” in America?

Loneliest Cities in America 2024

As younger Americans hold off on major life milestones, such as purchasing a home, marriage, and parenthood, it’s probably not surprising that the trend of living alone has been on the rise. 

Year-over-year, the number of Americans living alone has increased by 1.1 million, according to the Census Bureau. The pandemic also led to a rise in one-person households. Overall, the number of Americans living alone has increased by 2.4 million since 2019.

Top five “loneliest” cities in America

#1 Washington, D.C.

If you’re looking to find the loneliest place in America, look no further than the nation’s capital.

According to Census Bureau data, there are 326,970 households in Washington, D.C. Of those, nearly half (48.6%) are one-person households. Overall, 158,840 residents live alone in D.C., which is a 3% year-over-year increase from 2021. In D.C., 27.9% of males live alone, while 30% of females live alone. Washington ranks 3rd in the nation for men living alone and 2nd for the number of women living alone.

#2 Birmingham, AL

Among Birmingham’s 88,889 households, nearly half (48%) are occupied by one person. During the pandemic, the city experienced a 11.4% increase in residents living alone and that trend seems to be continuing. Year-over-year, the number of people living alone in Birmingham spiked by more than 3,800, according to the Census Bureau. 

#3 St. Louis, Missouri

Among households in St. Louis, 47.5% (70,513) are occupied by one person. In terms of demographic breakdowns, 31% of men live alone, while 29% of women live alone. St. Louis is also ranked the No. 1 “loneliest” city in the nation for men.

Overall, the number of people living alone within the city has increased 6.3% year-over-year.

#4 Atlanta, Georgia

Behind Birmingham, Atlanta is the second “loneliest” city in the South, according to our analysis. 

According to the Census Bureau, there are 110,979 one-person households within the city, which represents 44.5% of all households. Atlanta ranks 10th for males living alone (24%) and 3rd for females living alone (29.3%). Overall, the number of people living alone in Atlanta has increased 7% year-over-year.

#5 Cleveland, Ohio

Rounding out the top 5 loneliest cities in America is Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is the 9th loneliest city for women and the 2nd loneliest for men. Overall, 78,236 Cleveland residents live alone, which is 46.2% of households. However, Cleveland is the only city within the top 5 which has seen a decrease in people living alone. The number of people living alone within the city has decreased 1.1% year-over-year.

Where do men live alone?

When it comes to cities with the highest percentage of males living alone, St. Louis tops the list. Overall, 31% of men above the age of 18 (34,782) in St. Louis live alone. Coming in at No. 2 is Cleveland, Ohio, with 29.7% followed by D.C. (27.9%); Birmingham, Alabama (26.2%), and Cincinnati, Ohio (25.5%).

Where do women live alone?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of America’s loneliest cities are also the loneliest cities for women as well.

For example, Washington, D.C, Atlanta, Georgia, St. Louis, Missouri, and Birmingham, Alabama all rank within the top five overall loneliest cities, and they also rank within the top 5 loneliest cities for women. The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area in particular is home to a large number of one-person female households. D.C. ranks 2nd for women living alone, while nearby Alexandria, Virginia ranks No. 1. 

Where has living alone become more common?

Certain cities, in particular, have seen drastic increases in the number of people living alone, such as Oxnard, California, which is 60 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. The number of people living alone in Oxnard has increased by nearly 61% year-over-year. 

Another California city, Salinas, has also experienced a large increase in single-person households. Year-over-year, the number of people living alone in Salinas has increased by 48%. 

Living alone can have benefits such as more freedom and flexibility. However, it can also come with downsides, especially among older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults who live alone can face higher risks of loneliness as well as depression, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

If you’re in the market to buy a home for the first time or looking to rent an affordable studio apartment, it’s important to keep in mind where you want to live ⁠— and who you want to live with. If living alone is appealing to you, it’s always a good idea to weigh all the pros and cons before making the leap.

Methodology

To determine our ranking, we analyzed more than 170 census-defined places with a population of 150,000 or more via the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. Our analysis looked at the number of one-person households in each city as well as the number of males and females living in one-person households. To determine the average year-over-year increase, we analyzed 2021-2022 one-person household data. Data from the American Community Survey was not available for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Data for Macon, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; Columbus, Georgia; Spokane Valley, Washington and Rancho, California was not available from 2022, so these cities were omitted from the analysis. 

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey; National Institute on Aging

Fair Use: Feel free to use this data and research with proper attribution linking to this study.

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