Three months ago I got my own place. It’s a cute little apartment to call home. But, let me tell you this did not just happen overnight. I was torn between taking some time off to go to London for a Marketing program, or moving out of my parents house and getting my own little spot.
I was saving up for a place to call my own for several years, but was afraid to make the financial commitment. Not to mention, I have always been a homebody. I would rarely sleep over at my friends houses as a kid, because I have always preferred to be in the comfort and safety of my own home. The only time I lived anywhere besides under my parents roof was when I moved to Miami and slept on an air mattress on my brothers bedroom floor for 4 months, on my soul-searching venture.
Everywhere I have lived I have been in close proximity to my parents or my brother. That has always been my safe zone. But, I was smothered with the desire, and the absolute need to have my own space. I am turning 27 this year and seeing as most of my friends are living on their own (minus their roommates, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, kids, or step kids), I figured it was time to get out there and be a grown woman. I was not 100% confident about the transition and I was about to take on responsibility of more bills than I’ve ever had and just enough money to cover my monthly expenses.
I only spent a week looking at apartment options before I signed my first lease. I knew when I found something within reason to my price range I had to call and setup an appointment to check it out. So I did. One day after work I went to look at an available one bedroom, one bathroom; I was stoked!
When I walked in to the apartment I couldn’t believe it. I was flooded with disappointment. The layout was terrible. The floors were so ugly. I just wanted to give up and stay at my parents, where it’s pretty, clean and heavenly (like a resort). I began to wonder why I was moving out at all. I could wait till I’m married. I could wait until I was making more money to afford a nicer place. I could do more research and move somewhere more affordable, so that I could live in a newer apartment or condo. But, I was ready now and I was tired of waiting and prolonging this whole experience and transition. I was ready to spread my wings and be free, independent and strong.
The property manager later showed me a unit that was going to be available even sooner. The second place I looked at had an open floor plan with a separate dining area and a nice patio outside of the living room. After scoping it out and getting a feel for the place I sat down in the leasing office and signed what felt like my life away. “Hello adulthood!” I realized shortly after living on my own that new doors opened, different experiences arouse, my emotions were more stable but broader and I was covered in confidence.
Taking this step of faith was a great decision. No, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I would even walk around my apartment saying to myself “What have I gotten myself into?!” But that’s the beauty about doing things that are outside of your comfort zone, they liven up inside. Taking on new challenges is a wonderful feeling. It is extremely rewarding and I highly recommend it. (Read: 10 Reasons Solo Vacations Are Amazing)
Before moving out, I did not feel extremely confident about taking on all this new responsibility and living alone in a strange place around strange people. To understand more about the people living around me, read my other article: The Dinosaur Who Lives Above Me. Days before my move I began to get a lot of anxiety and was pretty scared. I knew I couldn’t let that stop me from pursuing something I knew I needed to do.
I’ve been on my own for a few months now and have learned so much about myself and life in general. I have grown and transformed into a much more confident and quiet skillful human being. I would like to share with you some of the many things I’ve learned and hope they help you in your transition to living on your own.
1. Grocery Shopping
There is strategy involved with grocery shopping. If you manage your schedule accordingly, you can avoid a lot of aisle traffic and produce lines. I suggest going grocery shopping in the morning before 10am or in the evening after 7pm. Most people do not wake up and go grocery shopping so the lines will be short and you will be able to scan every aisle without bumping your cart into another. Or having a lady ram their cart into you, jamming all ten fingers, leaving them bruised for a few days because the little lady was not paying attention.
I have grown to love the art of cooking and experimenting with different foods and seasonings. There is endless opportunity in the things you can create, meals being one of them. Plus, you can throw dinner parties and serve something nice for that special someone.
My advice: Practice a meal before you prepare it for someone you are trying to impress. Also, keep an eye on everything. You don’t need the place to catch on fire and your special someone comes over to an apartment that smells like burnt chicken and ashes. 😉
I have found that cleaning my apartment is one of the most therapeutic things besides swimming in the ocean or tanning for hours. I actually love cleaning. Call me cray-zay, but it’s true. I recommend using organic or non toxic cleaning products. Also, incense are great! I usually have at least one stick burning when I’m at home.
4. Setting Boundaries
When you live alone your friends and family will try to invite themselves over whenever they want. You have to set boundaries and let them know they can not just show up unexpected. Make it clear they need to call you ahead of time. Also, if you need rest and would like time alone, don’t feel bad about telling a friend or family member so.
5. Bills, Bills, and Mo Bills
Be a grown up and pay your bills ahead of time. When my mail comes in I sort things out by the due date. On top I have whatever it is that needs to be paid for the soonest. Thanks to online and automatic bill pay this process has becomes much easier.
6. Coming and Going at Night
This is no joke. You have to be careful and aware of your surroundings.
Last week I was face to face with a couple raccoons in the middle of taking the trash out. I stood there on the sidewalk, mid stare down with this freaky little creature that was looking at me like he wanted my soul and I thought to myself as if I was talking to him, “Hmm well.. Are you going to step aside, so I can take this trash out or am I going to have to turn around..?” Needless to say, 4 seconds later I bolted back to my apartment with the sound of that critter running behind me. I dropped my trash at my front door and shut the door behind me. The good news is I made it inside my apartment unharmed but signs of a minor heart attack.
Always be on guard when you are coming and going at night. Have your keys out and stay off your phone between your car and the front door.
7. Don’t Let Loneliness Get The Best Of You
It tough living alone and not having someone around to hang out with all the time, but that does not mean it’s a good idea to just start hanging out with undesirables. Allow your standards to be raised as you blossom into this strong and independent person. Music helps me in times of loneliness. I also have my brother to call and have deep intellectual conversations with, usually regarding nonsense, but always uplifting (Hi Rick! I’m a lucky sea-star. I love you.).