Ladyguide: How To Live Alone

With apologies to my boyfriend, there really is nothing quite like living alone. Sure, if you live with a roommate you have someone to split the bills with, and maybe (if you’re lucky) to help with the cleaning, or to kill a spider (or to look on in terror as you dispose of a baby mouse. I’m looking at you, Frank, the worst and grossest roommate ever). But living alone is just so blissful. It comes with its own set of challenges though, and since I loved living alone, I am bringing you my tips and tricks.

For some women, the biggest concern about living alone is safety.  When I was looking for tips on the internet I read a lot of, “Install a security system!” “Get a dog!” “Install motion detecting lights!”  I don’t know where these people live that they are able to afford/have the rights to/have the time to get dogs and security systems.  They might as well be saying, “Move into a gated community!” “Hire a security team!” Because really, I have never lived anywhere that any of these things would have been an option for me. But, you can get a deadbolt, which are not super expensive. You should also get the locks changed after you move in.  And always use your peephole, if you have one.  Keep your blinds/drapes closed at night and try not to leave expensive-looking items super visible in the window. You should also avoid advertising that you are a single woman alone, so make sure your first name isn’t visible outside your home on a mailbox or buzzer list.

One of the most valuable tips I ever heard at a self-defense class was that women tend to feel like they need to be “nice” to strangers and don’t want to seem impolite by refusing to talk to strangers.  This was specifically in reference to events happening on the street, but I think it applies to people coming to your door, too, or speaking to you outside your home.  If anything makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to tell someone to leave or even to call the police.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Black cat looking angry
This is my attack cat

I live in a building that requires people to be buzzed up, but I can’t tell you how many times food delivery has just shown up at my apartment door because someone let them into the building.  If this happens to you, talk to your super, landlord, or apartment manager.  Those systems exist for a reason, and if you live alone, there is nothing scarier than unexpectedly having someone show up at your door in a locked building.

As with any time you are alone, be aware of your surroundings when you are walking into your home.  Don’t talk on a cell phone or listen to your iPod when you are walking up to your door.  Be vigilant and try to pay attention to your neighbors, so you can notice if someone strange seems to be lurking around.

If you’re renting, learn your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.  This is true for every renter, but I have found that it’s harder to feel like you can approach your landlord when it’s just you with no roommate or partner to back you up. But if you know what your rights are you can feel confident going to the landlord with any concerns you have.

The other major concern women have about living alone is feeling too lonely or isolated.  I think this is especially true for first-timers who have always lived with parents, roommates, or partners.  Fortunately, this is easily remedied.  If you enjoy having people over, it’s a lot of fun to host a brunch and it’s super easy.  You may have to work on making sure you don’t get too isolated, maybe by setting up regular dates with friends.

One of the best things, in my opinion, about living alone is that you can take up any new hobby you want and have all the space you want to do it in.  Want to start painting? Do it in the living room! Play guitar! Cook in the kitchen because no one else is in there! Walk around naked, watch Lifetime movies, put up your collection of Sad Clown paintings.  You can do whatever you want! Enjoy!

17 replies on “Ladyguide: How To Live Alone”

I used to lament that I never got to live on my own — I went from home, to college (though I had a single), to roommates to moving in with now-husband. It was my only regret.

But life being what it is, I’ve had the odd opportunity to live on my ‘own’ multiple times since we became parents. I studied in Japan for 4 months (post-baby having) and my roommate succumbed to homesickness, leaving me with a tiny, tiny apartment all to myself. My husband has lived abroad for his field research probably 1/2 dozen times since we got together, so there’s been long months where its just me in the house — our daughter spends the summers he travels visiting grandparents around the country. And both of them lived in India for 6 months while I stayed here.

Sometimes I get a bit lonely while they’re gone. I find I need to moderate my intake of Lifetime Original Movies and buy plenty of peanut butter, because I will subsist entire on peanut butter and soda while responsible for myself.

I lived alone for 4 years when I moved to Chicago, unfortunately I a studio that was too small to host friends very often. But I really liked it. I could walk around in my underwear and do what I wanted and watch what I wanted, and I made friends with the guy next door, in case I ever needed to borrow some laundry detergent or have him keep an eye out while I was on vacation.

But for the last year, I’ve lived with my younger sister, and I like it so much better. This surprised me because I’ve always relished my own space, but I think, living away from family and in a different neighborhood than most of my friends, I was fairly isolated before. And with a roommate, I can afford a 2 bedroom apartment, with a living space separate from my bedroom and therefore I have MORE personal space. And we have parties all the time because our place is big enough. And I get to take turns grocery shopping and scrubbing the toilet and mopping the floors. And if we want a steak dinner or a cable package or new throw pillows, I get to split the cost. Plus, it’s my sister, so we can talk/fight out issues without any weirdness or passive aggression because I have a lifetime of experience arguing with her. And I love to cook, so now I have someone to cook for.

I’m glad I lived alone for a few years (it helped me to grow up), but I don’t think that’s a situation I want to go back to. And I also think it’s good for me to have to compromise and share space with another person; I think those skills will come in handy if/when I live with a significant other.

I’ve never lived alone — went straight from living at home to living with my husband. Despite what a scaredy-cat I am, it does sound like fun sometimes. I think the best part must be getting to make the place entirely yours. (Within reason, of course, if you’re renting.)

I’ve lived on my own for 14 of the past 17 years (shared intermittently with family members up to 10 years ago). I love it. I can’t imagine sharing with anyone ever again (apart from my cats). This past weekend the temperature soared again and I spent most of the time in my undies, with uncombed hair and no makeup. It was great!

There is no one to complain about having to share the bed with my two cats, or about how much TV I watch, or how my books clutter up the place, or a 1000 other things. I know that not everyone is happiest when living alone but I am definitely one who is. I think it’s great when you find out what living arrangement works best for you…and you can then make that happen.

I spent a month or two living alone in a one bedroom in college after my roommate decided to move in with her boyfriend. I loved it! I ended up moving into upperclassman housing off-campus because my mom was paranoid about me being by myself and the rent was high. I’m looking forward to the day that I will be able to live by myself again.

I love, love, love living alone. Even if you like your roommates it’s still more work to be mindful of their needs. I spend all day accommodating other people out in the world and when I get home I like not having to make any concessions.

If I do start to feel lonely, I turn to the internet. I either gchat/email/facebook with friends or visit websites (and comment on blogs!) to reassure myself that there are still people out. Maybe even people who would notice if I died alone at home and didn’t show up to lab for several days.

F*********************ck, I miss living alone. I had my own studio apartment for three years when I was in college. Now that I have adult bills, I have roommates. If I didn’t have my car payment I could totally live alone. I miss knowing walking in around in whatever I wanted (ie undies), having the tv and radio on loud (I have a roomie now that goes to work at 4am) not being annoyed by messes because I know they are mine, having all the space in the fridge, not having my current roomie’s cats.

My apartment was run by a management company which was nice because it wasn’t some sleazy landlord like a lot of the places around me. I also learned how to do a lot of household repairs myself so that I wouldn’t have to rely on the maintenance crew. Although I did befriend the main maintenance guy because he wasn’t creepy and that helped to get my problems fixed fast (also being vocal and quick with problems with management kept them happy with me because I didn’t let things get out of hand). I’m not going to lie though, there were a few nights were I slept with a knife hidden between my mattresses because it can get scary by yourself.

My next goal is to just live with my boyfriend (we have similar living habits) but he wants to live in a roommate free situation first before he lives with me because he has never lived alone. Its only fair

I lived alone for three years and really hated it. My apartment was in a nice building with a doorman. I was so incredibly lonely! I had always lived with people and found it very difficult to live by myself. I did all the things people are suppose to do when living alone. But it really did not help.

I always thought of myself as a loner, but realized while I may frequently like to be alone, I like to have other people in my house.

Agreed on the knowing your rights front. Generally speaking, if you live in the US you can find out that information on your State Attorney General’s website. (New Yorkers, you can read that info here: Tenants’ Rights Guide.)

If your landlord is screwing you, don’t be afraid to call him/her on it. And if you continue to be screwed, call your State AG. That’s what they’re there for. Far too few people take advantage of the folks that you elected who and out there for the express purpose of protecting you.

I moved into an apartment by myself 2 years ago (I was 19). Yes, my parents help pay for it, and I realize I’m incredibly blessed, because I love living alone. Everyone thinks I’m a total freak for doing it so young but I (hardly) care. It’s awesome. The only night I was scared was the first night – it was my first night living outside of my mother’s house, let alone all by myself. I got through it by watching Gone With The Wind in bed with my cats.

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