Like many others I, rather abruptly, had to move out of the apartment I was sharing with three other roommates during my senior year of college due to the coronavirus pandemic. Being that I was in such a rush to move out, and that I'll be working rotating days/nights as a nurse, I decided that it was a good time to experience living alone for the first time, despite having some hesitations about it. While I’m sure that I have much to learn, here are my five biggest takeaways so far about moving out on your own.
1. Your social life will fall behind.
Living alone has completely altered my social scene (and inevitably would have, even without situational social distancing). My previous roommates and I grew to be friends, leaving us with built-in hangouts at any given time. Not only that, but the very nature of having four people living together meant that most days, at least one of us would have someone else over. Even on my nights in, I was almost destined to interact with others. Now, it takes effort and awareness to maintain social relationships. I have to reach out if I want to see or talk to anyone, but on the bright side, I also know that I have complete privacy whenever I want or need it.
2. Your schedule is completely your own.
My roommates and I didn’t have any set schedule together, but now that I’m living alone, I am completely independent in setting the pace for my day. Being a morning person, it’s nice to be able to wake up, turn on music and make my coffee without having to worry about waking others up. The downside is that sometimes, the minute I run out of things to do, it’s tempting to just call it a day and go to sleep. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also tempting to stay up until the wee hours of the night just because I can. I’m still learning to embrace the balance of enjoying the spontaneity and maintaining consistency in my routine.
3. Your cooking skills will grow exponentially.
When I was living with roommates, the meals I made were typically quickly thrown together or pre-made. We had a decent kitchen, but storage and space were limited. Two of my roommates worked the night shift, so I tried to be as mindful as possible about making noise in our common space. Now that I’m on my own, I have an entire fridge and pantry that I get to stock. I’ve not had any huge cooking failures yet (knock on wood), and have felt a lot more creative in the kitchen.
4. You may not realize it, but being surrounded by only your stuff feels great.
I’ve learned that I’m very sensitive when it comes to my environment. People who have been in any of my previous bedrooms have commented on my intricately designed “shrines,” quotes, and collages. It’s not an aesthetic thing, per se, but being surrounded by items, words, and photos that carry meaning to me help create feelings of safety that I desire to have in my own space. Not only do I appreciate living in my own “safe haven,” but using my creativity to design and decorate it however I want has been an enjoyable project.
5. Nobody is there to bail you out.
My roommates and I never assigned chores because we all felt obligated enough to do what we could when we could to help out, and we never had a problem stepping up to the plate when it was needed. We were able to pick and choose what we wanted to help out with because we each had different preferences. Now that I’m on my own, it’s completely up to me to do everything, without any external obligation. I also don’t have anyone else to borrow clothes from, ask to steal a glass of wine from, or call at midnight when I’ve realized that I’ve lost my keys (again). Worst of all, I have to pay all of the bills.
Overall, I’m glad that I decided to take the plunge into living alone. While my daily routine has changed and I have a lot more responsibilities now, I’ve been surprised by how easy the transition has been. There are many things that are different, of course, but overall the experience has felt unanticipatedly natural, and I’m excited to see what else I will learn.