How to Love Living Alone
My freshman year of college, UC Berkeley 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.
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. It should be welcoming and relaxing.
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. Orphan Black and Empire are two of my favorites that are starting new episodes soon. 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 that you don’t start to think negatively and begin to feel lonely.
Living alone doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your time alone in your apartment, so go out! Walk around your neighborhood, become a regular at your local bar, and make plans with your friends. Visit museums, public gardens and parks, coffee shops, and fitness studios.
One of the reasons I’ve been able to successfully live alone is that I have a very active social life. Some weeks, I’m out six nights out of seven. This means that when I finally do find myself at home, I’m relieved to have quiet time to myself.
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 that 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.
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. If there is a mess, you can only blame yourself. Embrace the solitude! 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% of the time, I embrace the solitude and enjoy me, myself, and I!
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 cafe 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.
Make it a point to hang out with your closest friends often. Set up a Sunday dinner at your sister and her wife’s house. Meet your cousin for happy hour after work twice a month. Call that friend who loves checking out new restaurants, and tell her you want to join her at the next hot spot. When you surround yourself with your loved ones as much as possible, you won’t be afraid of being alone in your apartment.
It’s your home, so why not invite over whomever you want whenever you want? I’m a huge entertainer. Sometimes I go all-out and throw an elaborate dinner party for 10 with individual cornish game hens and a decadent homemade coconut cream pie for dessert, and other times I have an old friend over for red wine, takeout pizza, and the latest episode of The Bachelor. Inviting people over is a great way to ensure that you aren’t alone in your apartment!
I also 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. At least 10 of my friends have keys to my place. It may seem crazy, but making my home a “home away from home” for my friends and family ensures that I’m rarely sad and alone in my apartment.
You probably won’t live alone forever, so make the most of this time now, and enjoy the present! Everything in life is only temporary, and you never know if or when something tragic could occur. A parent could become sick and force you to move home. Your place could become infested with bedbugs and have to move out. You could meet the love of your life who wants to move in with you. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so today, be happy in your place. If you start wallowing in loneliness, think of me. Know that I’m alone, too. If I’m alone and you’re alone, there are bound to be other young people solo in their apartments, right? That means you and I are not that alone, after all. Take comfort in that.
Below you’ll find some snazzy pieces to make your apartment an oasis from the outside world.
Do you live alone? What’s your secret to loving the solo lifestyle?