Walking around naked. Belting show tunes in the shower. Basking in some peace and quiet. There are plenty of perks to living alone. At the same time, there are plenty of concerns, from handling bills, to dealing with emergencies, to generally getting lonely.
Living alone means navigating the trade-off between greater independence and greater responsibility. This recent Reddit thread dove into that tricky territory, providing a ton of “pro tips” for living your best life in your own place. Whether it’s your first time living by yourself, or some pandemic-induced habits have you re-examining your lifestyle, here are the best tips that the good people of Reddit have to offer.
Stay on top of your bills
You don’t have a roommate, parent, or spouse to hold you accountable. A good chunk of comments on the pro-tips thread attested to the need for automatic payments. Then again, there are some bills you might not want to autopay. You can also set up manual reminders, like u/mbnc advises:
Use a to-do app on your phone and set reminders for everything you can predict with any regularity. I get paid on the 15th and last days of the month, so I have reminders in my phone on payday for what needs to get paid out of those checks. If you get bills by mail, have a place on a counter, end table, or something you walk by every day where you keep bills and nothing else.
Another tip from u/orions_shiney_belt: “Figure out the best distribution of bills across the month. Rent/Mortgage, insurance in the first half of the month, then utilities for the second half. Most companies will be willing to move the date due for bills, sometimes as much as 10 days as long as you are in good standing.”
The takeaway is to find a system that works for you, since living alone means being solely responsible for rent, utilities, and all other costs of living.
Clean a little bit every day
Try to take a few minutes every day to keep things tidy. As one Redditor puts it: “You don’t have a clean house, you keep a clean house.” This sentiment was one of the most popular in the thread:
- “Storage space is super important. If something doesn’t have it’s own dedicated storages space it usually ends up being clutter.” (u/DodgeGuyDave)
- “I like to do small things while I’m waiting around for something. Boiling water for noodles? Sweep the floor and empty the garbage. Something in the oven for 20 minutes? That’s enough time to clean the powder room.” (u/mrs_feather_bottom)
- “Fix the bed daily, don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight, do basic surface wipe downs (kitchen, bathroom counters). Putting off cleaning just makes it so much worse and more daunting; 15 minutes a day is all it takes to maintain.” (u/BasuraConBocaGrande)
- “If you’re expecting guests or even want guests to be a possibility: Plan and prepare. Have [toilet paper], paper towels, [feminine hygiene products], food, drinks, snacks, etc. at the ready. A good host is simply someone prepared to host.” (u/thatswhatshesaidxx)
Another tip is to work these mini clean-ups into your day, like when doing some dishes while you’re waiting for coffee to brew, or wiping down the bathroom counter while your shower heats up.
Be prepared with “plunger items”
“Plunger items” are items that you need to buy before the need for them arises. This includes said plungers, smoke alarms, first aid kits, cold and flu medicine, and so on.
Credit for the “plunger items” term goes to this user. Because this is Reddit, sometimes the most useful advice comes from the most NSFW usernames. They write that “hopefully, they’ll sit in a drawer and you’ll never need to use them, but if the need for them ever arises you’ll be so happy that you’re prepared.”
Have a basic medical kit
Like the preparedness advice above, many Redditors attested to the need for having a decent first aid kit ready when you need it. Buy a pre-made one, or assemble your own with the following basics:
- Anti-nausea, diarrhea pills
- Oral rehydration salts
- Ice pack
- Heating pad
Another reason to stock up on medicine and non-perishable foods before you get sick is to avoid spreading your illness when you have to go out to get supplies.
Learn how to bulk cook and freeze leftovers
Cooking for one is a challenge. I know I always struggle to try new recipes without getting tired of large amounts of single ingredients sold at grocery stores (I’m looking at you, celery. And you, cilantro.) The dominant advice here is to become a master of frozen leftovers:
- “It’s cheaper to bulk cook/freeze a lot. I always want a variety of things to eat, but shopping for one gets expensive quickly.” (u/InternationalLimit40)
- “Those single size oven glass trays (you know, the thing you cook lasagna in and such) with a lid are great for this. Make four servings of whatever oven dish you want, only put one in the actual oven and throw the rest in the freezer.” (u/JoeT17854)
- “It can be lonely and boring to cook for one. Keep easy to make meals in the house so you don’t always have the urge to order delivery. That shit gets expensive. Even just sandwich stuff, pasta, etc. Maybe I’m alone in this, but this would have saved me a ton of money.” (u/tombradysboy)
- “I bought a vacuum sealer. Best investment ever. Buy in bulk, freeze it, thaw as needed.” (u/Mrferg101)
The key to cooking for yourself is to cook for your future self, too.
Know thy neighbor
It’s easy to slip into feelings of isolation when you live alone. Many commenters wrote about how important it is to be proactive and introduce yourself to the people living around you. Even if you’re not interested in becoming best friends with your neighbor, it’s wise to know who lives around you in case of an emergency. It’s also just a nice thing to do. Commenter u/mbnc wrote up some nice insight into why you might want to create a sense of community where you live:
Get to know your neighbors, especially if you’re in a property with a lot of people in similar life situations. Obviously that can be easier said than done (hint: dogs help a lot), but the hardest part for me in transitioning to adult life after college was not having people to just randomly hang out with at random times, like I could with my roommates. Friends can take more effort to schedule events with and will often end up being relegated to the weekends, but the right neighbors are good for those nights when you just want to have a beer and watch TV with somebody after work. They’re also good for picking up packages, takeout.
Even if you’re not interested in becoming best friends with your neighbor, it’s wise to meet the people who live around you in case of an emergency (for you and for them). It’s also a nice, human thing to do.
The pandemic turned living alone into a serious cause for concern, but as long as you’re able to go out and connect with people in the world regularly, you can find a certain beauty to spending time with yourself in your own home. I felt u/colpanick put it rather beautifully:
Take some time to enjoy having a place to yourself. Learn a new skill with the freedom to suck without feeling judged, walk around naked, eat something that makes you extremely gassy and stink up the place, go to the bathroom with the door open, make a giant fort out of all of your furniture and blankets. Try whatever else you can think of that you may not be able to do with roommates. It can get lonely sometimes, doing things like this helps you appreciate your living situation.
The responsibilities of living alone can be stressful, but the benefits of alone time are so, so sweet.
One last reminder
While the Reddit thread covered a lot of ground, I want to throw in the single most important solo-living tip I know:
Don’t lock yourself out: Have a system to remember your keys so you aren’t locked out—and have a Plan B in place in case you do still lock yourself out.
Do lock yourself in: Always remember to lock the door behind you when you come home. Windows, too. Even if you live in a safe area, you’ll never be sorry that you took this basic precaution.