Roommate horror stories are a dime a dozen. If you’ve ever shared your space with another person, you can probably rattle off a laundry list of annoyances that come with cohabitation.
We tend to rationalize dealing with a roommate in any number of ways. We need the rent money. We need help cooking or cleaning. We don’t want to be lonely. But the reality is, living alone doesn’t have to be so daunting after all. In fact, it can be really awesome.
Four months ago, I took the plunge and leased a one-bedroom apartment with no experience to lean on. If you’re kicking around the idea for yourself, these five lessons should be helpful as you live alone for the first time.
You have to balance freedom with responsibility
One of the benefits to living alone for the first time is that you’re finally in control of everything around you. The bad news, however, is exactly the same. Unfortunately, the days of blaming your roommate for the pile of dishes in the sink or the crumbs on the floor are definitively over.
If you’re a bit of a neat freak, you’ll welcome this change – I know from experience. For the rest of you, it’s time to buy some cleaning supplies and face the new reality.
You don’t own as much as you thought
One of the unsung benefits of living with other people is the ability to use some of their stuff. From kitchen utensils all the way up to the TV in your common area, the burden of ownership now squarely falls on you.
Sure, that first time you reach for a spatula that you don’t own is annoying. Slowly but surely, though, you’ll fill in the gaps and you’ll learn how to live alone like a damn pro.
Good cooking is efficient cooking
Cooking for one is a unique challenge when you are living alone, likely worth an entire post of its own. Ordering in every night can be both pricey and unhealthy, however, so you’ll have to learn to feed yourself.
The trick is to cook for 2-4 people, using the leftovers for lunch at work or a quick dinner another night. They won’t work for everything, but food storage containers can be a huge help. Don’t be afraid to make good use of your freezer, either.
Simply put, silence sucks
The easiest way to drive yourself insane while living alone? Silence.
Cord cutters in particular will find this more difficult, but there are plenty of ways to keep the dead air from getting to you. Pick up a good Bluetooth speaker for music or a Chromecast for streaming to fill the void – probably with a good phone charger to go with it.
Your phone can become a crutch (don’t let it!)
From someone in his mid-twenties, I fully understand the grip that smartphones have on our daily lives. Scrolling through social feeds all day is very easy to do, but it’s also a time suck.
With so much time to yourself, you finally do have the time to pick up that hobby that’s always escaped you. So go read a book. Learn to play guitar. Write something. Instead of letting social media consume your free hours, use your time doing things worth sharing on your own feed.
Of course, these are only lessons of my own experience. As someone also living alone for the first time, I’ll hope to read some lessons from the rest of you in the comments below!