The start of this month marked the milestone of living alone for a whole year.
Before now, I’d been living in houseshares since leaving my parent’s home a decade ago for university.
A decade. Ouch.
Houseshares are great. You save a bit of money, always have company, share chores and bills and meet some lovely people.
However, nothing beats having your own space.
As an introvert, I relish time by myself, and sometimes sharing a home with a couple of others could be a little stressful. Fortunately, I’ve never had a nightmare housemate, and I’ve made friends with everyone I’ve lived with (and on one occasion, fallen in love).
However, even with the loveliest housemates, house sharing can become tiring and frustrating. Sharing the load with cleaning, hogging the bathroom, unexpected noises (yep) and kitchen etiquette are just a few of the things that can come between good friends under one roof, no matter how well you get on.
Living on my own has not been easy at all times; things break, my bank account is suffering a little more, and it’s not always easy liaising with letting agencies, internet companies and landlords. But it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve made.
In fact, I’d recommend that everyone gives living alone a chance if they get the opportunity. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but it’s a liberating experience.
The benefits of solo living, for me, outweigh the bad.
I asked the folks who watch my Instagram stories if they had any questions about living alone, and there were a lot more than I expected! I thought I’d answer a few of them in this blog post – just in case you’re curious, or thinking of making the leap yourself.
Here’s what living alone for a year has taught me.
“Do you get lonely?”
Living on my own, I’ve never felt any more lonely than I did when I was in a houseshare. I’m lucky in that I enjoy my own company and need a lot of time to myself, especially when I have a lot going on! However, it does happen. If I ever feel lonely, I do a number of things to try and help myself out:
- Get out – go for a walk, go for a coffee, go shopping
- Watch a film I’ve always wanted to watch
- Call a friend
- Get busy baking in the kitchen
- Get stuck into a book
Sometimes the feeling lingers, though, and I just have to ride it out. But living alone has never made this any more frequent.
“Do you think everyone should live alone at some point in their lives?”
Yes, absolutely. If you get the chance, you can afford it, and you think you’d be able to cope, then definitely give it a go. If you rent, it’s not permanent so you won’t be stuck there forever. You never know if you don’t try.
I also think that it’s rare in life to be truly alone. For so many people, you often go from living with family, to living in a houseshare, to living with a partner (and then, maybe kids, and then you really will never be alone again!) so, if you get the chance to try living alone for a period of time, it could be an experience you may not get again.
I’m very glad I’ve done it. I’ve learned some life skills and an extra layer of independence that I didn’t have when I shared responsibilities. It scared me, but I proved I could do it. It’s been really empowering.
“What are the best and worst bits about living alone?”
Best: having control over everything; knowing there’ll be nobody home when I need to be alone; not having to clean up after anyone else; being able to buy nice things like vases and photo frames; having the run of the kitchen; being able to shower when I want.
Worst: dealing with landlords; being limited re: decorating; not being able to split any of the costs; the occasional lonely moment; having nobody to look after you when you’re sick. Specifically for my flat, thin walls.
“Do you get worried by strange noises?”
Not really, because I know it’s probably my upstairs neighbours or someone outside; I think it’s less scary when you live in a block of flats because you know there are other people about.
I think you just get used to it; I find having music on all the time is a nice way to avoid things being eerily quiet! I’ve also been known to sleep with pink noise playing or ear plugs.
“What things have made you feel vulnerable?”
Answering the buzzer to people I don’t know (I tend to avoid that); checking that things are properly locked; getting home at night (I text friends to say I’m back otherwise nobody will know!); that there’s nobody here to help if I get injured or sick.
“Are you still able to save money?”
I don’t believe we should dodge talking about money. I am very lucky that my salary means I can afford my rent and bills and still do some nice things each month too, but I try hard to be very careful with what I spend. I’ve learned to budget. Some months I can save a bit; some months I can’t. But my bills always come first.
I think my advice would be to just be super aware of your outgoings, make sure you can pay rent and council tax each month, and be aware you might have to make some changes to your lifestyle, especially if you’ve never had to pay rent before.
Living is surprisingly expensive; the cost of water will always surprise me, and you have to buy boring adult things like descaler and hoovers. You will hate having to spend your money on everyday items, but you get used to it (and eventually you’ll get excited about limescale remover!)
“Do you have any Secret Single Behaviour?”
Nice Sex and the City reference!
Nothing worse* than eating peanut butter out of the jar when I’m cooking, or singing in the shower at 10pm.
Sorry to disappoint!
“Do you walk around naked?”
I asked for that one, didn’t I?
*that I’m going to tell you about!
5 thoughts on “Lessons from living alone”
I did at one time live alone and I too loved it. That was before I was married. Also did the roommate thing and for the most part, it was great. I did have one roommate that I had to get rid of after she ran up my phone bill refusing to pay for her own calls and for other reasons as well.