Woman sitting alone in her living room eating a salad

6 Things I’ve Learned from Living Alone in My 20s

A young writer shares her experiences from her first four months of living alone

Mental health and wellbeingHobbies and Interests
By VoiceBox ·

Jai

Jai is a young writer from the Philippines. She is currently attending the University of the Philippines Diliman with a major in Anthropology. As an INTJ, Jai loves to learn new things, go on long walks by herself, and play Stardew Valley

6 Things I’ve Learned from Living Alone in My 20s

Today marks the fourth month since I left my hometown to live independently in a small studio unit in Manila. I’ve lived far away from my family before, but this time it’s different. I used to share a room with three roommates in university, and now I have an entire place to myself.

Living alone has always been my dream. I remember staying up late to create Pinterest boards of interior decoration ideas to get inspiration for how my own studio apartment would look in the future. I was so full of goals and visions. But present me would laugh in amusement at my old self. Why? Because independent living is not completely what I envisioned it to be. You know those expectation vs reality posts on the internet? They’re hilarious until you realize it’s happening to you as well, then it’s not funny anymore. Of course, there are things that turned out better than I expected. There are, however, some that I did not imagine to be ugly and underwhelming.

Best believe I’ve grown so much since taking this leap, so here are some points that encapsulate the lessons these past four months have taught me.

It will be difficult at first

Moving to the urban metro to channel the ~strong, independent woman~ within me was my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. That’s how much I wanted it to happen. Come move-in day, I almost asked my parents to take me home with them. I spent my first nights losing myself in wishful thoughts of having my family live just next door.

It only lasted a few days, though. Trust me. The adjustment part was difficult, but it’s normal. It will not stay long. That feeling will flee away like it was not even there in the first place. Not the difficulty of still having to prepare your own food after working for the whole day, though. I think I will never get used to that part. It sucks.

Living alone is expensive

When I still had roommates, we always shared our groceries, ride-share fares, and household items. Now, not a supermarket day goes by without me thinking, “Are there really no smaller containers/servings for this?”

If that was not enough, I also had to buy things for my bare studio unit with my own money—a refrigerator, dining table, shelves, and many other things that I was already born with the privilege of having in my hometown. I also have to pay my own bills now, and boy, do they take a huge chunk of my salary.

Basically, living alone means not having anyone to split the bills with. So, dear reader, I made the mistake of being too excited so that you will not have to. Save up first before moving out of the comfort of your parents’ house!

Planning for the week is the key

I used to think that I could just wing life as an individual living on my own. Lo and behold, I was wrong. 

What I learned (the hard way) is that regularly planning everything at the start of the week will not only spare you from stress but will also help you save money in the long run. I’m talking about all sorts of planning here — meal prep, work schedule, goals, and budget plan. Write them all down in one notebook. This way, your week will be more structured and less stressful. In general, I will just sum this tip up into a friendly reminder: always do something that your future self will thank you for later.

Yoga increases productivity

If you’re struggling with productivity, you can never go wrong with yoga. Being productive was a challenge for me as I always felt exhausted during the adjustment phase, but I’ve read that doing yoga in the morning, even if it’s as quick as a 10-minute set, will set your mood for the day and will exponentially increase your concentration, making you more productive! This is already tried and tested by yours truly, thank you very much.

Self-care is important

Unsurprisingly, I have to work day and night because the bills are not going to pay themselves. Otherwise, I would suffer a lack of water, internet, and electricity for the following days. We don’t have a choice, do we?

Amid this grind, I realized that I just become more exhausted than I already am if I don’t reward myself. And I can’t afford to be burnt out. So make sure that you, too, regularly pause and take some time off for self-care — watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show, and order your comfort food after a long day.

Remember: we cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill up your vessel and don’t forget to be kind to yourself!

Being alone is fun

I can write a whole article solely about why being alone is fun, but it still will not be enough until you get to experience it yourself. Imagine this: you get to do the things that you want without having other people look at you with judgment-filled eyes — eating directly from the cooking pot, consuming a whole pizza by yourself, drinking directly from the water container, and even going around the house naked (this is THE best).

Once you get comfortable in your own company, you will certainly prefer to spend your time on your own more than anything else. Fridays will be all about staying in on your pj’s instead of drinking out till the wee hours.

If one of these days you find yourself wanting to move out of your hometown and live independently, don’t hesitate! The best days of your life are ahead of you. I’m sure you won’t regret learning a lot about the world and yourself by living alone. I definitely am not regretting it so far, and I don’t think I ever will.

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