It’s not uncommon for people to share their whole lives with others.
Think about it.
We grow up living in a home with our families. Some of us go to Uni, where we live with other students on and off campus. After Uni, we get jobs and prepare to join the ‘real world’, and either move back home or into our first ‘grown up’ places with some of our Uni or childhood friends. Over the next couple of years we watch friends fall in and out of love, live with different people, and move further away or closer to home. Eventually, friends start to settle down and go from living with friends to living with significant others. If they’re lucky, those significant others become life partners and then that’s it.
It seems that always living with others is the rule rather than the exception; my parents and most of my friends all fall within that rule.
So what happens when you’re the exception?
When I made the decision to move to London without really knowing anyone, I had a decision to make.
Do I find random flatmates (as they’re called in the UK) to live with, or do I try my hand at living alone?
I chose to live alone, and I am absolutely LOVING it.
Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned while living alone.
1. Making a flat a home takes time
I love my little flat. It has light blue walls, high ceilings, crown moulding, and pretty curtains. When I saw it for the first time, I immediately knew that I wanted to live in it. Still, just because you move your belongings into a flat that doesn’t automatically make it feel like home.
I moved to London with 2 1/2 suitcases and only a handful of meaningful personal belongings. So after I’d unpacked all of my stuff, it didn’t really feel like there was enough of me. I started with small practical things, like getting a full set of towels and a new bed spread and pillows and sheets. It probably sounds silly, but even having those things made me feel more comfortable.
Over time, I’ve added some other touches; I bought a standing mirror, some artwork, and a few wall hangings. I’ve started a little book collection on the mantle and have pictures from home on display.
The flat felt more and more like home with each added personal touch, and now it’s one of my favourite places in London.
2. Living alone doesn’t mean you’re going to be lonely
There was a part of me that was a bit worried I would feel isolated while living alone. Luckily, it’s been quite the opposite. I’ve learned that while I’m outgoing and social, I like to recharge on my own.
I’ve also realised that I have sometimes felt the most lonely when I have lived with other people. I like to spend time with the people I live with, and could usually be found in the living room or the kitchen, offering to cook for my roommates or asking them if they want to watch a movie. If the answer was no, and I found myself watching television in the living room while my roommates were up in their rooms, that would make me feel more lonely than I ever have while living alone.
Sure, there have been times when I wished I had a flatmate to listen to me vent about work or someone to commiserate with when I’m hungover and watching Netflix on Sunday. Generally though, I’ve found it so refreshing to come home to my own little flat in a foreign city that I’ve made my home.
3. you don’t need as much as you think you do
Honestly, it is shocking how little groceries I need for one person. When I first moved to London, I was buying all this food at the supermarket because I thought I would be cooking myself these delicious meals and would want to eat different things everyday. In reality? I ended up throwing away a lot of food until I learned to only buy what I really need to get me through the week.
Umm V, you only just realised that you shouldn’t buy food just because you ‘think’ you’ll eat it?
I know, I know. Welcome to the part of the blog where Victoria learns how to be an adult.
The same goes for clothes and all types of belongings really. I enjoyed hitting the shops when I first moved here since I didn’t really show up with too much clothing. Even now though, I find myself wearing the same things in various combinations each week. So do I really need that going out top when I usually end up wearing a jumper to the pub anyway? Nope.
4. Self-care becomes more important
It’s easy to let dirty dishes pile up in the sink or laundry go without being done when there’s no one around to comment on it. It’s also easy to order take-away and watch Netflix and get sucked into the little cocoon that is your own flat.
Those who know me from the US are probably laughing right now, seeing I am notorious for having a room that looked like a tornado had just blown through it. Now I feel better when there are no dishes in the sink, my laundry is done, and the flat is clean. This doesn’t mean that I don’t let some clothes lay on the floor and a few dishes in the sink - I’m only human! But since I don’t have any other space to escape to besides my own, I’m much more aware of keeping a tidy house.
Not only that, but I’ve learned to cook more healthy meals for myself and have figured out how to do my BBG workouts in my living room. I try to fall asleep at a reasonable hour (preferably before 10:30) and listen to what my body and my mind need. When you live on your own there are no distractions and you aren’t left with anyone but yourself, so you learn quite quickly what you need in the self-care department to feel good about yourself.
5. Pants are always optional
This is my favourite perk. I can wear whatever I want around my flat with zero fear of finding myself in an uncomfortable situation.
That awkward run in with a roommate’s boyfriend when you were dashing to the kitchen to get a snack with no pants on? Doesn’t happen.
When your roommate suddenly shows up from brunch with her cohort while you’re watching television in nothing but an oversized t-shirt? Also doesn’t happen.
As long as I don’t have visitors I run a pants free household and that, my friends, is the definition of freedom.
Living alone is a unique experience and it certainly isn’t for everyone. If you do decide to try it, chances are you will find yourself feeling more capable and independent than ever. And more pants-less!