Living Solo in Jackson Hole
Just over eleven years ago, I made a commitment to Jackson Hole.
My devotion to this valley has been strong, never wavering. I remember falling in love with this incredible community immediately and deeply connecting with the people who called Jackson their home. It was amazing to fully tune in with the mindset of everyone in addition to being able to explore the wildest of spaces and places each day. I had finally found “my people” and never looked back.
My name is Rose Caiazzo. I am a single woman solopreneur that has lived, worked, and rented in Jackson for more than a decade. I was asked to write this article to bring further awareness to our community and elected officials from a single person’s perspective on affordable housing.
What do people living the solo lifestyle think about when it comes to staying in Jackson? Read on to discover some interesting dynamics you may not have crossed your mind. Perhaps you’ll come away with a better understanding of what this demographic thinks about when making Jackson Hole their home.
45% of Americans Are Single
For the first time in history, there are more single adults living in America than ever. Interestingly enough, recent studies also reveal that Americans are choosing staying single by choice. Back in 1960, the U.S. Census reported 72 % of adults were married. In 2017 there were 110.6 million unmarried people over the age of 18 -- which is just over 45 % of the adult population. A further breakdown shows 63 % have never been married, 23 % are divorced and 13 % are widowed.
Each person has their own experience with being single. Perhaps you are single now or have lived alone at one point in your life. It may have been a necessary short-term decision or it came knocking on your door unexpectedly one day. Perhaps it’s been a life choice for many years.
People that are single and living the solo Jackson life are different. And there’s no doubt that it certainly takes a good bit of grit, determination, and courage to survive and thrive here on your own.
We’re All in This Together… Right?
What unifies everyone looking to secure affordable housing is the desired outcome. Many of us yearn to own a home in Teton County.
Singles are part of the affordable housing demographic mix, however, what this demographic needs and can afford is very different from what that the traditional family, single parent, or people in partnerships may be searching for. Yes, we all put our names on a 10+ year waiting list to buy a home with our hard earned money. And, it’s true -- we secretly hope to one day tell our friends and family how “lucky” we were to win a house in a lottery.
But what if we’re not there yet? What are the struggles singles deal with before being selected for a home purchase of their very own?
Do All Single People Fit Into 1 Box?
In official terms, singles are defined by one characteristic: We are not married. But that doesn’t mean we all nicely fit into one box together and have the same outlook on living.
Millions of Americans who make up the single demographic are a very diverse group. Especially in Jackson! We are women and men of all ages and generations, social and economic categories, races, religions, sexual orientations, and job descriptions. We could be single living with a significant other, divorced, widowed, or never married.
There are a few issues single people renting in Jackson have in common though.
Rising Rental Costs: The cost of rental housing continues to rise astronomically in Jackson. It can be tough for a single person to afford escalating rent on their own. It’s downright scary and stressful to be in a predicament where you live in constant fear of rent hikes, and you simply cannot find another rental to move into. Many of us have accepted the fact that the free market has gone completely rogue in Jackson, and try our best to get around it in any way we can to survive to stay in the place we love so much.
Living on 1 Salary: Having only a single income to pay rent can be difficult for a person living alone. A family or couple might be able to split costs or a single parent may receive additional funds from the other parent to supplement their income. In the traditional sense – a single person living solo does not have someone to depend on for monetary benefits. That means after paying very high rent amounts, there may or may not be additional money for groceries, utilities, healthcare bills, home projects, pets, and more.
Singles Pay More: Over a lifetime, unmarried people can pay much more than married people for things like healthcare, social security, car insurance, and income taxes. When you look deeper into the costs of what a single person pays and how the family / married structure is offered many more discounts or tax credits – some people say it borders on the fine line of discrimination. I’ll let you make the call on that one after you do your Google research.
3 More To Think On
There are plenty of other items on a person’s mind when it comes to affordable housing for single people living solo.
The Self-Employed: If you work for yourself, no one will be handing you a regular paycheck. Can you guarantee your success as a self-employed individual in Jackson? Not really. How resilient can you be after the loss of a big client, or if a client decides they won’t pay their bill? What about the stress of investing money back into your business regularly to win more clients and the endless hours we work to get it all done? How many jobs will we need to supplement our income?
Family Time: What if your family doesn’t live in the local area? Do you spend money to travel outside the Hole to be with your family? Is that cost stress causing too? Not having family nearby in Jackson can be more difficult, especially for some people living solo. There won’t be a regular “helping hand” that might naturally come with having your own family or family in town.
Health Issues: Believe it or not, housing is critical for many aspects of healthy living and well-being. Recent research points to links between housing worries and an array of health problems like hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. It’s easy to say our health must come first, but with an escalating rent payment – sometimes we have to choose the latter to survive.
Singles Need Your Help!
The Jackson Hole Housing Trust, Habitat for Humanity and The Jackson Teton County Affordable Housing Department all know how home ownership can promote social ties and investment in our community. The question is how can our community work towards improving housing affordability for single people living solo?
About Rose Caiazzo: In 2007, Rose decided to trade the fast-paced east coast workplace for the life of an entrepreneur and amazing outdoor adventures in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She’s been in the pulse of the digital industry since its early stages and has assisted 120+ businesses in our valley with their social media marketing communications. Rose is also a professional voice over talent, where she records tracks for TV / radio commercials, online videos and voicemail systems for people locally and from around the world. In true entrepreneur style, Rose is now in the process of launching her third business, which will relate directly to the boom of the travel and tourism industry.