Friday, 3 April 2015

How To Love Living Alone

One of those "meeting someone new" questions (other than whether I have a boyfriend) is inevitably "who do you live with?" It really makes me wonder how meeting new people has become just so tiresome sometimes. Anyway, life confession number two: I live alone.

Home-inspo in spring pastels - metal candle stick, heart shaped bowls, tidy drawers, wine glasses, Leon cookbook, pineapple lamp and champagne saucers - all from Oliver Bonas.
Personally, I love living by myself and I always knew that (being rescued by Prince Charming aside) I'd live alone once I was earning money and able to pay the rent. The pluses: I don't have to talk about "my day" when I get in from work, I can take my bra off within 10 seconds of getting through the front door and I can pass on a night out in favour of Netflix without anyone questioning my excellent decision-making. Apart from my parents I've never lived with anyone so living alone feels normal! At university I lived in student accommodation but I had my own room and en-suite and we didn't have shared kitchens so despite "living" with 600 other students it definitely didn't feel like it. I've never flat-shared with friends, obviously never lived with a boyfriend and so have spent all of my "grown-up" life living alone - over the past 3-and-a-half-years I've learned a lot about myself and a little about this hole "how to be an adult" thing.

As much as I love my friends, I'm glad I don't live with them. I've never had to fight over the unwashed-up washing up, argue over bills, been kept awake by my friends' "nocturnal activities" or had friendships fall apart under the strain of being in one anothers space. Not seeing people all the time means that I can always be (or try to be) my "best self" when I do see them and no one has to put up with my bad moods, my 6.15am alarm clock and my habit of taking 30 minute showers. I'm an only child and this is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to living alone - what I lack in sharing ability I make up for with my never-ending ability to keep myself busy and entertained. I never feel bored or lonely living by myself, the older I get the more I feel that those feelings are things we have to solve within ourselves anyway - don't look to other people to make you feel less lonely / less bored / less sad because only you have the power to ultimately change that.

Here are my top-tips / advice for how to live alone and love it:

 1. Bills bills bills. Let's start with the boring one. If you're living alone then you and only you are responsible for these. Be organised, set up direct debits or actually pay the bills when they come through (I make diary notes of when they are due and when they need to be paid). You can get a 25% discount on Council Tax so make sure you apply for this and submit regular metre-readings to your electricity supplier as this can reduce the price.

2. Food shopping. Cooking for one isn't the most cost-effective or fun thing to do - especially as most things are sold in quantities to feed a family of four. I only food shop for 1-2 days at a time so that I don't end up wasting food as there's no point filling the fridge only to get busy with work / my social life (the later being preferable) and throwing limp lettuce away after a week. My go-to dinners are stir-fries, courgetti and egg-based dishes all of which are easy to make a single portion of.

3. Bedtime rituals. When I first lived alone in a little rented flat with a cupboard-sized kitchen I frequently found myself staying up until 2/3am online, reading magazines, sorting out my wardrobe (nothing like it being 2am and having every item of clothing you own strewn across the floor!).... There's no one else around to remind you that it's bedtime! Nowadays I have a night time routine which has done wonders for my sleep patterns - a long bath with lavender oil, reading my Kindle and turning off the laptop somehow results in much better sleep than falling into a Wikipedia black hole for 3 hours.

4. Decorate! Even if you rent, you still have all the power when it comes to decorating. In my rented flat I jazzed up a bland Ikea sofa with a £60 polka dot cover which instantly made the place more "me". In my current flat I have grown-up soft greys, Scandi furniture and a few girlie accents. I constantly burn incense and scented candles which I could never do when I lived at home - small rebellions, eh? Create a Pinterest board of inspiration and whatever your budget you can make a place look like yours.

5. Safety. Ok, a serious one but if you're living on your own then you need to feel safe. If I'm out with friends we always agree to text one another to make sure we've all got home safely if it's late as its not like anyone is here to notice if I don't come back (morbid but true). This may seem very early 00's of me but if you're meeting someone from Tinder / OkCupid / POF then always always tell a friend even if you just dress it up as dating gossip. 

6. Party time. A downside of solo living is that your place is likely to be pretty small (at least if you're in London and haven't won the Lottery). My flat is tiny so I'm not going to be hosting NYE or having a Skins-esque house party anytime soon but I can still have friends over for drinks or for an indoor picnic and play hostess.

7. Tidying. Living alone is no excuse not to wash-up, do laundry or create a "floordrobe". I know it's not the funnest of tasks but keeping tidy will make your place feel bigger and make you feel calmer. I know I have hoarder tendencies which could remain un-checked without flat mates so every few months I have a huge clear-out and it feels so therapeutic.

Do you / have you ever lived alone?


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7 comments

  1. Nodding along to all of this as I sit with my skirt button undone, watching Netflix and eating more snacks than are recommended. Plus this way no-one has to see the balancing tower of paper shopping bags that are almost taller than me now ;)

    PS. Heartbroken that I'm gonna have to miss the annual indoor LilyLippy picnic.

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  2. I can honestly say that I've never lived alone. If I did right now my house would be covered in shabby chic vintage finds and ditsy floral prints...not really Alfie's taste. ;-)

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  3. Lol at Michelle's comment. Love the pineapple!
    x

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  4. I've lived on my own for the past two years and I love it! I lived with uni friends for two years but it was such a relief to get my own place where there was no one to steal my food and make a mess! x

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  5. I'm moving away for University in September so although the bills aren't really relevant to me i found this post really useful! Thanks for sharing :)
    Jen,
    Jennifer's Journal x

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  6. When I was in my early twenties I could never understand why anyone would choose to live alone - the idea of living in a flat with a load of other single twenty somethings just seemed so exciting. Now that I'm a little older, I realise that living alone would definitely be my ideal situation. I'm an only child too, so I really enjoy my own company and would love to have a place that I could make my own and walk around naked in if I wanted to, haha! x

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  7. I love living with other people, but finding the right people to share with is HARD, especially in London! I'm just bored too easily and love to know someone will be there to hear about my day, as much as I'll be there to hear about theirs. But hey, I don't mind (eventually) having the party flat, since you do host the best indoor picnics! ; )

    - Elodie x
    http://www.elle-yeah.com

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