In South Africa, households were formed at about twice the rate that the population grew between census 1996 and census 2011 and the number of single-person households ballooned by 150%. In this paper, I describe trends in household formation and living alone between 1995 and 2011, made possible by prior work to address data quality concerns in the household survey data I use. I use household heads as a proxy for household formers since I have one head per household in my data. In South Africa’s patriarchal context, household headship is probably a more reliable proxy for these purposes than it may be in other contexts. I show a surge in household formation in the late 90s was driven by prime-aged and older women and Black African men and likely connected to new freedoms afforded to these groups after the transition to democracy. Household formation then steadied in the 2000s, hiding variation in who formed what types of households. Astonishing growth in the rate at which South Africans live alone was led by Black African men, a group historically associated with circular labour migration. Women instead are heading up complex households including children. More households only consist of adults of a single sex, mainly because more households are single person. These changes seem tied up with long-term marital decline. By 2011, most female heads were never-married; most people living alone were never-married; and the growing majority population group of never-married adults persistently increased their propensity to form households over this period.