10 Tips For Living On Your Own For The First Time

Living independently for the first time can be scary. Prepare yourself and learn how to live well on your own with these helpful tips.
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If you've read any of my other articles, you know that I've been living in an apartment with my boyfriend and two of my best friends for over a year now. This is my first experience living on my own (other than living in a dorm room for the first two years of university).

Living independently is an exciting and stressful time. There are so many added responsibilities that I didn't have before when I lived with my parents.

As I adjusted to living alone (kind of) as an adult, I've grown to be more responsible and organized. Although, it's a bit different since I do live with three other people who can help me out around the place with tasks.

Nonetheless, I've learned a lot over the last year and would like to share my discoveries with anyone also living alone for the first time.

10 Tips for Living Independently

Here are a few beneficial tips to help you succeed at living on your own for the first time:

tips for living alone
Image Source: Pexels | Karolina Grabowska

1. Cleanliness is all up to you.

This is probably the most important aspect of living independently that people need to know. A clean home is a nice home. If dirty dishes are filling the kitchen sink, clothes are lying all over the floor, papers are sprawled across counters, or anything is disorganized, it feels icky.

My roommate Sydney and I deep clean around the apartment once a week, and tidy up here and there daily. We have terrible allergies and maintaining a clean home minimizes the allergens and dust forming inside.  It feels better to live in a properly clean and organized home. Such an environment is much more inviting and relaxing to be in.   

one good tip for living on your own
Image Source: Pexels | Andrew Neel

2. Live minimally.

One realization I had as I unpacked my boxes from the move to my new place is that I have too many unnecessary items. I have a bunch of clothes and knick-knacks that I've culminated over the years. Because I have a small apartment, it was necessary to go through my belongings and give some away to Goodwill.

I decided to sort through my items every month and get rid of the excess items I don't need. Minimalism is an aesthetic I strive for because materials are not meant to be held onto forever. I'm also not a fan of clutter or anything taking up space for no purpose.

Having fewer items means an easier move in the future if you move to another place.

good smells means a nice home
Image Source: Pexels | Castorly Stock

3. Fill the place with good smells.

I love good smells and being surrounded by them. Lighting a fragrant, pleasant candle creates a wonderful atmosphere in your new space. A comforting scent makes it feel more like home. 

In my bathroom, I have an adorable wax melter that I like to use when I don't feel like lighting a candle. About every month, I switch up the wax scents for a nice change. Sometimes, when I'm feeling more traditional, I have a pink champagne scented candle I'll light for a fresher smell. Positive smells boost my mood.

pro tip for living on your own
Image Source: Pexels | Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

4. Take out the garbage often. 

This is an addition to tip #3. Leaving the garbage cans and bags to pile up can stink up your whole place. Taking out the garbage myself took a while to learn after moving into my apartment. At one point, I had three big bags of garbage sitting by my front door for two weeks that I hadn't taken out to the bins yet. It made the whole apartment reek! It took me way too long to realize that I needed to make an effort with that.

Whenever I leave the apartment for classes or work, I try to remember to take the garbage out with me on the way to my car. I'm already on my way out, so it's no trouble. My roommates and I also alternate who takes the garbage out. That way, there's not just one person always burdened with that task.

helpful tips for living in a new place
Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro

5. If you do get a roommate (or a few), choose wisely.

Finding two other roommates to live with me and my boyfriend was a tedious mission. We knew we wanted to live with someone we were already acquainted with so that we wouldn't have to worry about living with strangers. Luckily, two of my friends from the theatre were looking for a place to live.

My main concern was finding people that I would get along with as roommates. Living with anyone is a lifestyle adjustment. I was glad to have chosen roommates who are thoughtful, considerate, and willing to learn how to properly live independently like me.

A pet is a wonderful roommate
Image Source: Alyssa Hubbard

6. Adopt a pet.

A little after a month of living on my own for the first time, my boyfriend and I adopted our first pet, a big, black, polydactyl cat named Abraxas (Brax). Rescuing this cat was the best decision I've ever made in my life. He brightens my day every day just by existing. Brax is a wonderful company and an even better cuddle buddy.

Owning a pet is also a great way to learn responsibility. Pets require a lot of time and effort to keep them happy and healthy. They're another living creature you need to take good care of so they can live a full life with you. I make sure to feed Brax twice a day and scoop his litter box every night. My boyfriend gives him his medicine once a week and trims his claws once a month.

We feel very responsible after a year of owning a pet cat. Our lives are also filled with more excitement and love with Brax around.

knowing this is the key to living independently
Image Source: Pexels | Daria Obymaha

7. Learn how to cook.

Admittedly, after taking a year of cooking classes in high school, I still have poor culinary skills. I can't even make rice in a rice cooker. It's that bad. However, I'm blessed to have a boyfriend and a roommate who enjoys cooking (and is good at it too).

Believe me, you don't want to spend a bunch of money on fast food or takeout multiple times a week because you don't know what to cook at your apartment. Preparing a homemade meal is tastier than any other food. It's even tastier knowing you made the effort to cook a whole meal for yourself. If you know how to cook, you're already doing well on your own.

Something to know for living alone
Image Source: Pexels | Markus Spiske

8. Be mindful of electricity usage.

After the first month of being in our apartment, we quickly learned how much the electricity bill can add up throughout the month. Our first bill was around $200. As all of us are broke college students and young adults, we can't afford to drop that much money each month. We made a mental list of all the big appliances that use the most electricity and limited our usage with those.

Super helpful hint: Wait until nighttime to start the dishwasher or wash laundry. The electricity prices are much lower during "off" hours, which means you can save money. Similarly, electricity prices increase a lot in the summer between 2-7 p.m. Try not to use as much electricity in that time frame so you don't have to pay an absurd amount of money at the end of the month.

a fun thing to do when living on your own
Image Source: Pexels | Blue Bird

9. Decorate the place.

Decorating was something I never thought too much about when I lived with my parents. I've lived in the same house in the same room since I was born. I had a variety of decorations spanning from when I was little to 18 years old. I brought many of my decorations to my apartment when I moved. It's like bringing a piece of my old home with me into my new home.

Filling your first place with your choice of decorations makes it unique. It's a physical representation of your identity for visitors to admire. Your home becomes a part of you. It bonds you, especially as you begin making lovely memories there to remember forever. 

Living independently is fun
Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

10. Love being on your own.

It may seem strange and alarming when you first move out of your parent's house into your own. In a little while, you feel liberated to have your independent space to do whatever you want there. You make your own rules; you get to do what you want. As long as you're being safe and responsible, living on your own for the first time is a thrill.

Being an Adult

Adulting is hard. There's no manual to guide you as you grow older and become more independent. Moving into a place of your own for the first time is exhilarating yet scary. We are all just doing the best we can as we go along. I wished someone gave me a bunch of tips before I went out on my own. I hope these tips can help ease your stress a little as you move on to the next chapter of life.

21 | uni student | aspiring author | overthinker | theatre kid

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