If you’re thinking about ditching the roommates in favor of your own place, go for it. Here’s how to live alone and love it.
During my freshman year, my college overbooked a bunch of dorm rooms. A room that was normally meant for two people had to be transformed into one that could house three people.
Not everyone had to deal with this predicament, but I was one of the unlucky who had to share two closets between three women. I disliked everything about the entire experience so much that when it was time to find a home sophomore year, I wanted to live alone in a studio apartment.
From the moment I found my first place — a tiny studio with a walk-in closet and Murphy bed — I loved living alone. Now, 16 years later, I am still happy to have a place to call my very own, even if it’s a rental.
While I understand that living alone isn’t for everyone, if you’re thinking about ditching the roommates in favor of your own place, I say go for it. If you’re worried you’ll hate being by yourself, keep reading — here’s how to live alone and absolutely love it.
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Create a sanctuary. The first thing you need to do is find the perfect place. Take your time when you’re house hunting. Make a list of your apartment non-negotiables. Do you want lots of closets? Is it important for you to have a dishwasher? Do you need a parking spot? Come up with a short list of things that you cannot live without, and then don’t sign a lease until you’ve found a home that fits all of your criteria.
If you’re going to spend lots of time alone in your home, you’ve got to really, really love it. It’s also crucial to make sure that you feel safe being alone there at night.
After you move in, do everything you can to make it a comfortable sanctuary. Paint the walls, hang photos of your friends and family, and splurge on the chaise lounge you’ve always wanted. This is your corner of the world, and you are free to do whatever you want with it. Create a space that you look forward to going home to.
Stay busy. When you’re home alone, whether it’s a Monday night or a Saturday afternoon, keep yourself occupied. Decide not to be bored, and then come up with projects for yourself. Organize your closet or take up a new hobby like sewing or baking. Subscribe to your favorite magazines and collect books so you’ll always have ample reading material.
Sign up for Netflix, HBOGo or AppleTV, and start watching a couple of exciting shows. Set up phone or FaceTime dates with your friends and family members who don’t live in your town. When all else fails, call your parents. Why? Because staying busy will ensure you don’t start to think negatively and begin to feel lonely.
Get a pet. One way to ensure that you never feel alone is to get a pet. A dog, cat or even fish is another living, breathing creature that you can communicate with. A pet can be a great source of comfort for many people. It may cause you to look forward to going home to cuddle with your adorable golden doodle.
Having a dog also ensures you have to get out of your house multiple times a day. You’ll have to go to the dog park and take your pup on regular walks.
Change your environment. When you get caught in a downward spiral of negative thinking — and it will happen; it happens to everyone — you must get out of your head. Sometimes the best way to do this is to change your environment.
Leave your apartment, even if you’re in the middle of washing the dishes. Go on a walk around the block, pop into Whole Foods for a pint of ice cream, or go to your favorite neighborhood café for a coffee or glass of wine.
Change your environment, and it will be easier to change your thoughts. Another way to do this is to psychically change something in your apartment. I’m always moving items like candles, books, coasters and pillows around in my place. It takes the focus off of the thoughts running through your mind and forces you to be more present.
Entertain guests. It’s your home, so why not invite over whomever you want whenever you want? Inviting people over is a great way to ensure you aren’t alone in your apartment.
I have an open-door policy with my friends. They know that they can buzz me from downstairs at any time of any day, and if I’m home, I’ll let them in and invite them to a drink and chat. If I’m traveling, I like to tell my friends and cousins who live in the suburbs that they can crash at my place if they need some alone time in the big city. It may seem crazy, but making my home a “home away from home” for my friends and family ensures I’m rarely sad and alone in my apartment.
Embrace the solitude. There are many perks to living alone. You never have to clean up after your roommates or beg someone to take out the trash. You never have to dread going home because your roommate’s lame boyfriend might be lurking in your living room.
Make a list of everything you love about living alone, and then when you start to feel lonely, pull the list out and remind yourself how great you have it.
Over the years, many people have asked me if I get lonely living alone. I always answer with a “no, not really.” Being alone in my apartment is the only time and place where I can truly be me. There is no one to judge me or my actions. I accept and love myself the way I am. If I want to go to bed at 9 p.m., I can, and nobody has to know. If I want to listen to “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift over and over again, I can and nobody will stop me. If I want to waste hours on Saturday morning watching cooking shows on Food Network, I can, and nobody will try and change the channel.
Have I ever felt lonely living alone in my apartment? Yes, I have, but 99 percent of the time, I embrace the solitude and enjoy me, myself and I.