When you're about to take the plunge into living alone for the first time, it can be both exciting and a little scary. On the one hand, it can be nerve-wracking to think of being completely on your own when it comes to some of the less fun stuff — like cleaning, paying bills, and dealing with household maintenance. But on the other hand, it can be invigorating to know that your next place is going to be totally, 100 percent yours to do whatever you want with, with no one to ask you a million questions or tell you how to live your home life.
Even though it can be exciting to think about having your very own space, it's still completely normal to be worried about living on your own for the very first time. If you're used to living with roommates — friends, family, or a partner — you may be nervous about getting a little lonely when you're easing into having your own place. If you want a little guidance before making the big move to live by yourself, here are seven expert tips for making the most out of your very first solo living adventure.
Throw Yourself A Housewarming Party
What better way to get settled into your new home than by throwing yourself a housewarming party with your closest friends? Even if you only invite over a few people, having a housewarming party gives you a chance to show off your space, and to celebrate this new milestone in adulthood.
"Schedule a little housewarming party to celebrate your new space and independence with those closest to you," Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, tells Bustle. "This helps mark this occasion as a big life transition, because it is one!"
Don't Be Afraid To Lean On Your Support System
Whenever you're feeling alone, don't be afraid to lean on your support system, whether that means going out to happy hour or just having a friend come over to watch a movie with you.
"A largely overlooked aspect of living alone lies in the word 'alone,'" Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "While it’s great to have the independence it’s equally important not to get lazy about your friendships and leaving the house. There’s nothing worse than realizing at the end of a long day that you haven’t actually spoken to a real person all day. Make sure to keep a tight support system around you and keep up your social life."
Befriend People Who Work In Your Building
If you're moving into an apartment building or other shared living space, make a point to befriend the people who work there — that way, if an issue arises, you won't feel so anxious about reaching out to them for help all by yourself.
"Make friends with your super, doorman, and manager," Raphael Fetta, a real estate broker based in NYC, tells Bustle. "A friendly introduction, coupled with a small gift (think: six pack of good beer, nice bottle of wine), sets the tone for the rest of your time at your new place. These people can almost become surrogate family members, watching out for you and your property."
Introduce Yourself To Your Neighbors ASAP
Another easy trick if you want to feel less alone while living alone? Make connections with your neighbors, and don't be afraid to socialize with anyone who you hit it off with!
"Introduce yourself to your neighbors as soon as you can," Fetta says. "I once moved into a house in the middle of winter, and nobody was out. It wasn't until spring that I started meeting most of my neighbors, and it was much more awkward considering I'd already been there for over three months."
Make A Detailed Budget
When you're living alone, perhaps the scariest reality is that all the rent, utilities, and other living expenses fall to you — and only you. Instead of being afraid of the financial stuff, tackle it head on by coming up with a budgeting system that works for you, whatever that may be.
"A great budgeting hack to keep yourself from overspending is to embrace the 'envelope system,'" Jill Caponera, a consumer savings expert for Promocodes.com, tells Bustle. Once you’ve figured out your monthly budget, set aside a specific amount of money in individual envelopes to cover different categories of your budget and to ensure you don’t overspend. For example, if you’ve budgeted $500 a month for groceries, take that amount out of your bank account at the beginning of the month and put the cash in an envelope labeled 'groceries.' Using the envelope system helps to keep spending in check, and to quickly build up your savings account."
Set Up An Emergency Fund
On a similar note, make sure that you have an emergency fund in place when you're moving out on your own. That way, if anything should happen that majorly affects your finances, you'll have a cushion to pay your bills.
"Putting money directly into your savings account the moment you get paid is the easiest way to ensure you’re saving enough to cover your monthly rent or mortgage payment should you find yourself in a true financial emergency," Caponera says. "A best practice to follow is to set up automatic savings on your bank account and have money transferred from your checking to your savings account on a reoccurring day of the month."
Once you're feeling financially secure and have a plan for how to budget for your new pad, you can start doing all the fun stuff associated with moving out on your own: decorating, planning parties, and just enjoying your uninterrupted "me time." If you're willing to put in a little effort upfront, you can totally make the most of living alone — and maybe you'll even love it so much that you never want to have a roomie again.