Living by yourself for the first time is one of the most exciting things you can do. Not only does it make you feel independent but the fact that you have your own space for the first time in your life feels incredibly cool. There are no more of the ‘my house, my rules!’ issues that you may have had with your parents, and you’ll probably feel extremely relieved to leave your old college roommates – and the dirty dishes they always used to leave in the sink – behind. But living by yourself for the first time definitely isn’t perfect. Here are some tips on how to cope with different aspects of it.
Now that you have your own place, you get to decide exactly what you want it to look like. If it’s rented then obviously there are limits to what exactly you can do when you want to change things up – you might not want to paint the walls and end up losing your security deposit, for example. But there are other things you can do to brighten it up, even if it’s a small space. If you can’t paint the walls, what about brightly colored wall hangings? You can also get cheap rag rugs to make the floors a little more colorful, and soft snuggly throws that you can put over your couch so you can snuggle up on there during the winter. If your bed isn’t quite comfortable enough and you’re getting a sore neck or back when you get up in the mornings, why not try out new pillows and a memory foam topper on your mattress? Finally, make sure that you open the curtains every morning and let the sunlight stream into your home. This will add some natural light and heat to your home, meaning that your energy bills might just go down. You could also add LED bulbs to your sockets for the same effect – they use less electricity and they last for longer.
If you’ve only just moved out, then chances are you’ve never really had to think about your finances before. You’ve probably already realized that organization is absolutely key to staying on top of your money. Make a spreadsheet so you can list your incomings and outgoings each month. If you’re spending more than you’re bringing in, you might be in trouble, so you need to rein it in a little. If you really want to budget, take out the cash that you want to spend that week from the bank. Making sure you don’t put anything on your credit card will ensure that you don’t spend more than you want to. Finally, if you have any debts, make sure that you pay them back as quickly as you can so the interest doesn’t accrue. Not only will this ruin your credit rating but it’ll also mean that you have to pay a lot more money back in the long run. You’ll soon find that very few material possessions are worth being in debt for.
If you’ve never lived by yourself before then chances are, you’ve never had to figure out all your own bills – so it might come as a huge shock to you when they start rolling in! The most important thing to do is to stay organized and to pay each bill as soon as you get it. You should also make sure that you know just about how much your bills will come to every month so you don’t end up accidentally using the money for something else. Remember that there are plenty of things you might be charged for that you didn’t think about before. Not only is there your cell phone bill but you’ll also have to pay for internet, TV (if you’re looking for a good deal, check out http://www.suddenlink.com/television), electricity, gas, water… And the list goes on. It might seem overwhelming, but that’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re as organized as possible.
Without the watchful eyes of your parents on you, it might be difficult to get motivated every now and then – but believe me, after the third Saturday in a row you’ve spent watching Netflix in bed, the unmotivated life will get old fast. Make sure that you set yourself goals, whether that’s personally or professionally. If you’re living in a new city, you might be wondering how exactly you meet new friends. Look online for meet-up groups and people who share your interests. You might find a book club where you can talk about your favorite authors to your heart’s content, or maybe you want to join a rock climbing class and fulfill a lifelong ambition to finally get to the top of one of those huge climbing walls in the gym. Maybe you want to find a new group to game with – but no matter what your interests are, there will be others out there who share them. Make it your mission to find those people and to make plans with them, so you have a reason to get out of bed at the weekends. If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself to do things like cleaning during the week, make sure you reward yourself at the end. You’ll probably also find that you feel much happier about taking care of your own space than you did about cleaning your room back at your parents’ house.
Your Love Life
When you move out for the first time, you might expect your love life to take off with a bang (not literally!). Now you’re no longer having your every move observed by your parents, but the truth is that real life doesn’t work that way. When you’ve left school and college, you have to work much harder to meet people and form friendships – and the same applies with relationships, particularly as you might start to realize that there are more people your age in long-term relationships than you’ve ever noticed before. If you don’t want to be in a relationship and you’d rather focus on your career for now, go for it! But if you do want to find a partner then you need to be aware that you should actively look for someone. Join dating websites and make sure that you’ve spoken to people thoroughly before you meet up with them – and tell a friend where you’re going and what time you’re expecting to be home by. If you’re out at a cafe with your friends and you get talking to someone, why not be brave and ask them if they’d like to go for coffee some time? You have nothing to lose. Just make sure that you feel safe with whoever you’re with and trust your instincts – if someone seems unsafe or creepy to you, make an excuse and go home. Make sure you never tell anyone your home address – keep your apartment your sanctuary and your escape until you fully trust whoever you’re dating.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re living by yourself – after all there’s no one there to judge you as you finish off that family sized bag of potato chips instead of making yourself dinner. But you’ll soon find that it isn’t a great way to live. Not only will you feel bloated and you might gain weight, but your skin and hair will soon become greasy and lacklustre. It’s important to make sure that you’re cooking and eating healthy meals containing all of the food groups. You could try batch cooking if you’re spending a little too much on your lunch at work every day, or you could make salads to take in with you. If you don’t have much time to buy groceries then you could get them delivered, or get a fruit and vegetable box every week so that you can experience different foods and be inspired about new ways to cook. You also need to make sure that you exercise. One of the best things about living alone is that you can get sweaty and red-faced in your sports bra and shorts while you do a yoga or aerobics video in front of your laptop, without any fear at all of being judged!
Make sure that a friend or family member knows where you are all the time and that you stay in communication with people. As we said before, trust your instincts – if you’re in a situation that makes you remotely uncomfortable then it’s time to hightail it out of there and get yourself home. Download Uber or another taxi app to make sure you can always get back safely. If you’re worried about offending people then you can always use the stomach bug excuse – no one wants to question or get closer to that! Make sure that your windows and doors are tightly locked at night and when you go out and make sure you install an alarm. If you’re really worried about security and you have plenty of time at home, you could even use this as the perfect opportunity to get the dog you’ve always wanted.