If you're about to venture off into the world of solo living, you may be thinking one of two things — this is going to suck, or this is going to be the best thing ever. Hey, you may even be feeling a mixture of both. That's because living alone for the first time is all at once exciting, overwhelming, and scary. And it's totally normal to feel every single emotion.
So it's a good idea to figure out how you'll cope — good, bad, and otherwise — as soon as you start the apartment hunt. I say "cope" because you're probably used to parents and siblings, or friends and roommates, milling about 24/7. Without them around for advice, and company, and security, you may find that living alone can be quite the shocking change. When I first lived alone, I was all about the freedom, but I also felt desperately lonely (and scared, and overwhelmed, etc.). It was a major change, and one that took a while to get used to.
Living alone takes some adjustment, but it usually turns out to be just fine. So if you're about to sign your very first lease, then check out the tips below for some ways to successfully live the solo life.
1. Don't Be Scared
One of the biggest differences between living alone, and living with others, has got to be the fear factor. When you live solo, there's no one nearby to cling to when something goes bump in the night, and one to assure you there is not, in fact, a ghost lurking in the shadows. So be sure to remind yourself that everything is fine, the door is locked, and help — if you truly do need it — is not that far away. Your sanity will thank you.
2. Do Look For Some Extra Security
OK, so you shouldn't freak out over every creak in your apartment. But you should take some extra measures to actually make sure that you're safe. As Angela Colley noted on Realtor.com, "When you are apartment hunting, look for rentals with added security features like: gated complexes, exterior security doors, deadbolt locks, interior door chains, [and] alarm systems." With some of these safety measures in place, you'll feel (and actually be) even more secure.
3. Resist The Urge To Be A Total Slob
If you're an organizational goddess, then you may be looking forward to maintaining a spotlessly clean apartment. If not? Well, things can quickly get out of control. By all means, enjoy being your truest, slobbiest self (I sure did when I lived alone, and it was the best). But do remember to pull out the vacuum cleaner every now and again. A clean apartment feels so incredibly grown up, and you'll be happy to come home to it. I promise, it's worth the effort.
4. Practice Relying On Yourself
If you aren't used to spending time alone, living by yourself can get a bit maddening. "With no roommate to go home to and blow off steam with after you’ve had a bad day, it’s imperative that you actually like yourself and develop healthy coping mechanisms when you’re sad," said Ryan O'Connell on ThoughtCatalog.com. It may feel tricky at first, but it will get easier. Plus, this sort of self-reliance is a good life skill to have, so you might as well work on it now.
5. But Remind Yourself To Go Out
It can be easy to get all comfy in your solitude, and never go outside again. But whatever you do, don't fall into this lifestyle. As Lucy Maher said on Refinery29.com, "Avoid feeling like a shut-in by being somewhat structured — and committed — about getting out or hosting guests. That might mean signing up for twice-weekly Pilates classes or volunteering after work on Wednesdays." Figure out what will occasionally get you out of the house, and stick to it.
6. Be Nice To Your Neighbors
Being nice to your neighbors is super important for safety — they can look out for you, or check on your apartment while you travel — as well as for your sanity. So head outside every now and again, and be sure to get people's names and phone numbers when possible. "If you have a community pool, visit on the weekend when people are likely to be out. If you have a dog, take walks around the neighborhood and introduce yourself to the other pet owners. Before long, you will know everyone in the neighborhood and feel right at home," Colley said.
7. Have Some Emergency Numbers On Hand
You don't want to be looking for the plumber's number as your toilet overflows, or rummaging through your contact list once the electricity has gone out. Simply keep an emergency contact list nearby, suggested Maher. That way, you can save yourself the stress, and assure problems get solved ASAP.
8. Go Nuts With Decorating
Decorating is one of the most exciting things about getting your own place. And it's even more exciting when you get to call 100 percent of the design shots. So start dreaming about your ideal decor, and planning how you'll want to decorate each room, Colley suggested. It can really make the experience of living alone that much more awesome.
9. Learn Some Handy Skills
Sure, you can call your mom in a panic about a leaky sink, or demand that your handy friend come over to set up your Playstation. But living alone may also be the perfect opportunity to learn to do these things yourself. Give it a try, and then revel in your self-reliance.
10. Remember To Grocery Shop For One
If you're used to living with lots of people, then you may have gotten used to huge grocery shopping hauls — giant boxes of cereal, pounds of apples, huge bags of spinach. But when you live alone, large amounts of food usually ends up going bad, since it's impossible to eat it all on your own. So start modifying your shopping list, buying less, and keeping non-perishable staples on hand, Maher suggested. That way, you'll always have something to eat, but nothing will go to waste.
11. Stick To A Budget
This is a big one, since you'll be paying for rent, electricity, and groceries all on your own. The best thing to do is to start off early with a budget. Like, before you even move in. As Colley said, "Browse rental ads to get a feel for average rent prices, research utility and food costs in your area, and compare those expenses to your income. Once you have a budget set up, you will know how much rent and household costs you can afford and you won’t have to stress it later."
12. Let People Into Your Dwelling
Again, the urge to be super anti-social will be strong. Fight it off by inviting people over all the time. "The cool thing about living alone is that everyone will want to come over to your house to hang out since there are no pesky roommates lurking around," O'Connell said. Take advantage of this, and enjoy.
13. Revel In The Glory That Is Your Privacy
Most of us eventually end up moving in with a room mate or partner, so milk this private time for all it's worth. Walk around without pants, leave your cereal bowls on the table for days, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Because that's what living by yourself is all about — learning to hang out by yourself, and finding that good balance between enjoying yourself, and also successfully running an apartment. Once you get the hang of it, I promise you'll love the experience.
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