Truths I’ve discovered about living alone
For a grand total of two weeks now, I’ve lived alone. For many in London, this is either a dream scenario or a total nightmare. Usually it’s pretty unattainable – especially at 23 – and the hazards of flat-sharing can take their toll, so for some the idea of having your own place sounds like cloud nine. On the other hand, cities can be notoriously lonely, and for others the thought of coming home to an empty flat with everlasting residual damp and a boiler you’re a bit frightened to use is as sad as it gets.
I was probably in the latter camp, but I was spurred on by the support and know-how of my parents as well as the excitement of designing the place from scratch (the house was a real fixer-upper), not to mention the longest exchange period in the history of house buying during which I came to terms with the concept of inhabiting my abode alone. True, the property right now is so stuffed with Scandinavian flatpack furniture that it could practically be an IKEA pop-up exhibition and the area is up and coming, but it’s never been lost on me that despite the waiting and all the expense and the inevitable bumps in the night terror, I’m pretty lucky to be where I am.
So I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learnt in my fortnight – the first of many – on my own.
- Everything costs more the first time round. Be it internet set up costs, estimated water bills, insurance premiums, a TV licence, the first outlay is pricier relatively speaking than any other time. So just roll with it, spend like money is going out of fashion.
- You talk to yourself when living alone, just to make some noise. My singing voice has come on leaps and bounds from the acoustics of my kitchen.
- Accept that it’s weird when something weird happens, and there’s no one there to say ‘that’s so weird’ to. You say it out loud anyway, an example being this very evening, when I was watching Planet Earth on Netflix and a lion ate an elephant. Weird.
- Some sort of good TV package is an absolute must; no box sets and no housemates make Olivia a dull girl.
- Switch everything off at the wall. The bills, the bills!
- You will feel as though you’re squatting somewhere unless you have in-date bread and milk at all times. Groceries are the mark of adulthood.
- There’s a mad urge to have a fully stocked kitchen immediately, with all the non-perishables Tesco sells. I bought tinned peaches, four bags of pasta and three cartons of tomato passata, mainly just to fill the cupboards.
- At some point, you’ll look into the laws on trespassing. You know, just so you’re covered.
- There are certain TV shows and films that are just out of bounds alone. American Horror Story, you’re out.
- Devoting one whole weekend to your sofa, duvet and books/TV/newspapers will seal the friendship deal between you and the new place. Order in food, don’t get dressed, have ginger nut biscuits for breakfast, who’s going to stop you?! Not the new house, it doesn’t judge, even if it does leak electrically charged water all over you the first time you have a shower.
- Embrace the fact that household disasters, as above, will happen. Roll with that too.
- You’ll make plans for living on your own that categorically will not happen. Such as: learning to bake better than Mary Berry; going for a run every morning before work, because you know, you have your own shower now; doing pilates on your living room floor, again, because you have your own floor now, etc. None of these will happen, probably.
- Understand that you’ll swing from feeling like Carrie Bradshaw to Bridget Jones and everyone in between, depending on who you’re talking to. Note, when undertaking point ten, you will be Jones.
- Above all, remember that fortune favours the brave.