While living in New York, have you wondered what life would be like as a single --- not just unattached — but living with no roommate, spouse or significant other? Would it be lonely and unaffordable over the long haul? You may already know. According to stats, 46 percent of Manhattanites are dwelling alone. That’s almost one in two people.
Each year, more and more city slickers of all ages are making what seems like the lonelier choice. But is it? In a society where two is better than one, why are so many New Yorkers choosing to fly solo? And if the single life is their preference, are they necessarily lonely? In this metropolis of eight million plus, New Yorkers have the option of savoring the solitude when needed, and mingling alone in public when desired with little to no awkwardness.
Scott, 43, who works in luxury retail, has lived alone on the Upper East Side for 12 years. “Just because I’m in the city alone doesn’t mean that I have to be exiled to my apartment eating take-out.” This applies to tourists traveling on their own too. Many New York restaurants have a bar where singles sit and eat dinner or drink cocktails on any night of the week, including Saturday, which is usually known as ‘date night’. “When I’m by myself, the opportunity is there to meet other people who are alone ---conversation can be easier on a one on one basis.”
As a singleton, you have the flexibility to do what you want when you want, with no extra eyes watching or ears listening. That means crazy behaviors like washing vegetables in the shower and nude meditation in the living room can go on indefinitely with no objections. You can be a complete neatnik or live in squalor, be an old cat lady, or the beer-guzzling bachelor littering your apartment with PBR cans and half-eaten Doritos bags. You can stay up and watch violet slasher flicks all night, or turn in early and wake up at the crack of dawn and practice yoga poses in your living room if you so choose.
The loners can have their cake and eat it too --- inviting overnight guests to break up the periods of solitude, or entertaining coworkers and friends weekly. They can turn off the cell phone, turn on the Mozart, and curl up with a good book without the interruptions. There’s no one to consider, listen to, or clean up after.
Amy, a caterer and event planner, has lived alone on the Upper West Side for 16 years. She likes eating cold leftover Chinese food for breakfast while watching the news. At age 45, she needs her own private quarters to escape the crowds and noise of the life in Manhattan. “My home is my sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and I have little tolerance for another person’s clutter.”
If you always thought living alone was for the wallflowers or anti-social, you’re wrong. The popular and the social butterflies often nest as singles too. Living alone provides a freedom that married, committed or roomies can’t have. But with that independence and solitude comes a price tag. And in Manhattan, it’s a hefty one at that. Yet somehow, someway, even if that little slice of New York is a one-room studio, 46 percent are making ends meet and the numbers are rising.
In a city like New York, living alone is typically a choice, (just check the Craigslist ads for roommates wanted), and staying home alone every night is no doubt avoidable. Activities for ones, twos and groups are abundant and available in any budget. For both visitors and locals, (especially if you’ve recently moved to NYC), try these alone. You might even like them better by yourself than with a companion.
New York is the one of greatest cities in the world to walk. Set out on foot and head somewhere different than the norm, or take the subway to a new neighborhood and get out and just start walking. My favorites include the East Village (East of Avenue A), Columbia University area, and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn.
See a show
Head to the theatre district a few hours before performance time, and you may be able to get a single ticket to the hottest show on Broadway. Sold-out shows like The Book of Mormon and Wicked may have single seats here and there to fill.
Eat at a diner
Manhattan is loaded with these old-time spots. Sitting at the counter can be a complete New York experience, and the food is usually fresh, hot and fast. The Washington Square Diner at 150 West 4th at Sixth Avenue in the Village is a classic. Even if you’re not hungry, have a coffee, watch and listen. You’ll be entertained.
Go to a park
This is my favorite thing to do alone in the city. It’s peaceful and serene, but still has enough activity to stimulate. I love grabbing a take-out lunch and sitting on a bench at the edge of Central Park. Best spots? Enter on Central Park South at Sixth Avenue, or at 72nd and Central Park West across from the Dakota. If you’re downtown, try Washington Square Park after eating at the Washington Square Diner. Often there’s live music including a baby grand piano just inside the arch. An afternoon will fly by, and it’s free. Who needs a date for that?
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