by Zara Mohammed, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 14th August, 2019
Whether you are leaving home for the first time, going off to live at a University Campus, or transitioning from living with your partner to being single, living alone can be both an exciting and scary step.
So here are 7 tips to help you make the most of your experience, feel safe, and enjoy your newfound independence!
The reality of living alone may not actually dawn on you until you are sitting in your new abode by yourself, surrounded by boxes, and it dawns on you, that it's just you in a room. It can be a scary experience if you've never done this before, and anxiety can easily set in.
There is plenty to freak out about after all - what if you feel lonely? What if you don't feel safe at night? What if there are problems in the house that you come across that you don't know how to deal with on your own?
Initial fear is natural and we all experience it. It's okay to freak out a little bit. But in order to deal with your feelings, you simply have to give yourself some time to adjust to your new surroundings and situation.
Everything is unfamiliar right now and it will take some time to get used to things and settle into a routine that makes you feel safe and secure.
Before you can settle in, you will probably need to unpack a few things. Once you start seeing familiar items around you it will start to feel more like home. The next best thing is distraction.
Don't let your imagination and thoughts run away with themselves. Get unpacked, make some food, chat to friends on the phone or settle in at night to watch a film. Once you start doing ordinary things in your new space you will get used to being by yourself, and start to enjoy your independence.
One of the main things that cause anxiety when you have moved into a new home, especially if you are now living alone for the first time, is feeling unsafe.
It is common to worry about your safety when you suddenly find yourself alone in a space and responsible for yourself. It is daunting and this will take some getting used to.
There are some things you can do to help you feel more secure in your new home though.
Get To Know Your Space Well - Sometimes it can make you feel more at peace if you simply familiarise yourself with your space. So check out if there are any fire escapes or emergency exits or safe rooms, and maybe think about planning escape routes in case of a fire or break in.
Preparing yourself mentally like this can help to put your mind at ease because you know that you would know what to do if the worst happened, and so you don't have to keep thinking or worrying about it.
Get to know how all of your doors and windows work, and if there are any locks that need installing by your landlord.
Duplicate Your Keys - It can give you peace of mind to know that someone you trust has a spare set of keys in case you lock yourself out of the house.
Your landlord will probably have a spare set anyway, but find out if you can get more to leave with friends or family. At least then if you do find yourself locked out you may not have to pay to have the door knocked in, which can be stressful and expensive.
Get To Know Your Neighbours - You will start to feel more at home and safer once you become more familiar with your neighbours.
It is always good to know who you are living next to, so why not introduce yourself so that in the future if you have any problems you have someone to turn to for help or advice. If your neighbours know more about you they will be more inclined to look out for you too.
One of the most effective ways to settle into a new home is to familiarise yourself with how everything works. Once you have all of the information about how your new home works and how your neighbourhood functions you will feel more in control and more settled.
Some of the things you may be interested in finding out are about when the bins are collected and if there are recycling facilities.
You may want to take note of when you see the postman doing the rounds. If you drive or have friends and family who do then you may want to find out about parking in your area. Other things of interest might be finding about your local shops, cash points, laundrette and libraries.
Getting to know the facilities in your area can be a fun process, so get online or go for a wander around your new neighbourhood to see what you discover.
The fun of moving into your first new home and living by yourself is being able to fully express your personality and enjoy your independence, so make the most of it by having fun with personalising your living space.
You may have to check with your landlord to find out if there are any restrictions like not being able to put things up on the walls, but there are always methods to get around things like this so that you can enjoy the vertical space in your home.
Here are some great ideas to get you started in personalising your space.
Get Some House Plants - Bringing a bit of nature into your home is one of the most effective ways to make it feel more homely.
All you need are one or two decent sized green plants and maybe a vase of freshly cut flowers to brighten up you space and make it feel more friendly and welcoming.
Make a Pinterest Board - Pinterest is such a great space to gather inspiration. There are so many home decor ideas online that you can literally spend hours exploring Pinterest to inspire your new space.
You can also check out home interior blogs and Youtube channels. A favourite website of mine for home inspiration is Ikea.
Soft Furnishings - Invest in some cushions, throws and rugs as soft furnishings are great for helping to bring your space together, especially if you don't have many belongings yet and the place feels a little sparse.
You can easily add colour and texture with fabric, and with a bit of clever colour coordination you can transform a barren space into a home that feels like it has been designed to your tastes. Focus on large areas like your bedspread and curtains for big impact to help bring rooms together quickly.
Finally, once you have everything unpacked and looking pretty it is time to invite your friends and family around to celebrate your new home.
The best thing about throwing a little housewarming is that you get to make good memories in your space, and people bring you little gifts to help you feel settled in.
If there are certain things you need don't be afraid to hold a housewarming with a theme - for example, why not make a list of all the home items you are missing and ask everyone you invite to your housewarming to choose something from the list to offer you.
The great things about this is that people don't have to necessarily buy you new things, they can find a new home for things that they don't need themselves.
Here is a list to remind you of some of the things you might need in your new home.
Electrical Goods - Toaster, kettle, microwave, blender, heaters, dehumidifiers, lamps etc.
Laundry Stuff - ironing board, iron, laundry airers etc.
Food & Drink - For the party or for your pantry!
Plants & Home Accessories - For making your place feel homely
Household Misc - Hoover, mops, dustpan and brush, cleaning products, toilet brush, bathroom mat, towels etc.
Living alone for the first time is a sharp learning experience because there are many things that you may now have to consider that you didn't have to think about before.
It can help to put your mind at ease if you work out your budget ahead of time so that you don't have to deal with any unexpected expenses further down the line.
Here are some of the things you may want to consider.
Rent, Council Tax & Bills - These are probably the first things you thought about when you moved out, so you have probably catered well enough for these in your budget, but it can be a good idea to set up direct debits to make sure that you don't have to worry about missing payment deadlines.
When payments are made automatically all you have to worry about is making sure that you have enough money going into your account each month to cover everything.
Food Budget - Food is probably one of the main areas where money is easily frittered away, and when you live by yourself you will find that shopping and cooking for one is something that you will have to think about and prepare for if you want to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy wallet.
Make sure that you have a decent sized freezer because this can really come in handy if you want to be more frugal and cook in bulk. Cooking in bulk and freezing portion sized meals is a great way to eliminate the hassle of cooking for one every single day. And when you have meals already prepared you will spend less money on fast food and takeouts.
Emergency Cash - It is always useful to keep some emergency cash in the house. Not too much mind you, but maybe enough to pay a cab fare or enough to nip out to buy milk and sugar.
If your home runs on coin meters it can also be useful to keep a stash of the coins your meter takes so that you don't have to go to the bank or your local shop to get notes changed whenever your electricity runs out in the middle of the night or morning before work.
One of the best things about living by yourself is being able to come home after a long day at work and be totally by yourself, not having to answer to anyone, and spending your evening doing what makes you feel most relaxed and at peace.
You should make the most of your privacy by keeping your home a sacred space. Once friends or neighbours become accustomed to "popping in" on a whim, you may start to feel less relaxed at home, having to be prepared for unexpected visits.
So start as you mean to go on and maintain your home as a private sanctuary, a place to unwind and be alone.
Invest in good curtains or blinds to prevent prying neighbours from spying on you so that you can feel comfortable walking around in your underwear if you so wish.
Don't be afraid to unplug or switch off your phone if you want to have an uninterrupted hour in the bathtub or reading time before dinner.
Everyone is entitled to personal space and privacy, but sometimes we forget this because technology means it is easy to expect instant access to anyone and everyone. Claim back your personal space, and enjoy your privacy.