Single women face unique challenges when it comes to homeownership, including lower salaries and a more volatile workforce experience. According to a recent Zillow analysis, the gap between the percentage of young single men and young single women who own a home nearly closed in 2021 but widened again last year. In 2016, the gap was 10.1 percentage points, with 29.6% of young single men owning a home compared to just 19.4% of young single women. This gap began to shrink as more women entered the workforce and their income rose, and by 2021, it was just 1.8 percentage points. However, the first year of the pandemic saw many women leaving their jobs to take on caregiving responsibilities, which had a significant impact on single women’s homeownership rates.
Despite women’s remarkable resilience in returning to the workforce, single women’s homeownership rate dropped to 24.5% in 2022, wiping out almost half of the gains made since 2016. In contrast, single men experienced a 2.7 percentage point increase in the homeownership rate, reaching 33.1%. Single women seeking affordable homeownership may find more options in cities like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, or Detroit, whereas those in cities like Cincinnati, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, and New Orleans may face the largest gender-based discrepancies in housing affordability.
To achieve the dream of affordable homeownership, single women may need to consider creative solutions or even doubling up in a home. While owning a home can provide greater control and stability, it is important to understand the challenges and disparities that exist in the housing market. The pandemic has reminded us that progress is not always linear, and it will take continued effort and solutions to address the obstacles that single women face in achieving homeownership.