What I Learned After A Year of Living Alone

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I feel like living alone is almost a rite of passage. As in, if you can do it, you’ve made it; You’re emotionally strong enough to be alone, you can physically and financially take care of yourself. You are GROWN. Between family, college, roommates, a brief marriage, and another roommate, I’d lived with other people my entire life.

I’d lived in San Diego from 2006-2010 and in 2014, at age 30, was wanting to go back for just one more year. I decided that when I got there, I’d live alone and see how it went. Just one year seemed like a good enough time span to try it out. I lived alone from April 2015 to June 2016. I did it! And here’s what I learned:

I need a lot more sleep. When there wasn’t anybody around to talk to, I just went to sleep when I got tired. I realized my body wanted to be asleep around 9:30 or 10pm. Whenever I went to sleep that early, I woke up naturally around 6am. I felt completely rested and was able to have really productive days. My body felt great. One point for living alone.

It’s not as fun to cook for just yourself. Cooking for 1 seems useless sometimes – all that work for just a little bit of food. Or you end up using a Pinterest recipe that is made for a family of 4 and you wind up eating the same leftovers for several days in a row (which makes you start to hate the meal or throw it out). I wouldn’t say I love cooking, but I do like cooking food to share with other people. I refuse to waste money on eating out at restaurants all the time, so I had to make myself get in the kitchen sometimes. It was harder than when I lived with other people. (I feel like this is a contributing factor to why Americans eat out so much… but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post) One point for having a roomie.

Living alone is boring. I know a lot of people need their space and alone time. I like my alone time, just like the next person, but living alone 24/7 was incredibly boring… For me anyway. It was nice to decorate my place exactly like how I wanted it and it was nice to leave the dishes in the sink overnight if I wanted, but that was about the extent of it. I lived with my last roommate, Tamara, for 4 years. Even though we were rarely home at the same time, it was nice to have a chat before bed, or see each other in the kitchen in the morning, or discuss life shit while we were both trying to get ready for an evening out in our shared bathroom. I didn’t realize how much having just a little interaction throughout the week affected me until I didn’t have any. One point for having a roomie.

I did what I WANTED. Because I was alone I had to make a valiant effort at keeping myself doing the things I loved, so I wouldn’t go a little crazy. I joined a rock climbing gym and went alone but ended up making some great new climbing friends. I took tap classes for the first time in a decade with my good friend Ryan on Saturdays. I got up early every weekend to take Tango hiking on the trails or playing through the surf on the beach. I read tons of books from the local library. Living alone reminded me that I have many passions and doing them helped keep me sane. I think we all forget to engage in what drives us. We’d be a little better off remembering that doing what we love makes us love ourselves a little better. You should do this whether you have a roommate or not, but living alone definitely pushed me towards doing it regularly. One point for living alone.

I wasted a ton of money. If you own your home, I can see how it seems worth it to have that asset as yours alone. As a renter though, I felt like I was wasting tons of money each month to pay to live by myself. When you live with others, splitting rent, utilities, internet, groceries, etc. makes a HUGE difference. The money I used to save by keeping living expenses low allowed me to pay off my 20’s debt and then have way more for savings/investment/travel each month. Marketwatch reported that 62% of Americans would be shattered by a $500 emergency. In this day and age people spend almost all of the money they make. The less money you spend on living expenses, the more money can go into your savings/investment accounts. Even if you own your place, having a roommate means you could pay down your principle balance on your mortgage faster, saving you tons of money in interest in the long run. The thought of throwing money away for the past year makes me a little sick. One point for having a roomie.

I need my people. Over the past year, I realized more than ever I wanted to be with or talk to those I love way more often. Being away from home is a an issue itself, but simply not being with anybody I was close to on a daily basis left me craving social interaction. I felt lonely and way more needy, which was not my jam. I felt like I was constantly calling on my friends because, other than Tango, coming home to an empty house sucked. One point for having a roomie.

 

Final Score:

Living Alone: 2. Having a Roomie: 4.

Conclusion:

Living alone is not for me. Spending that year alone made me realize a lot of what I needed. And I realized that I didn’t need a space of my own. I needed my people. While I’ve got plenty of close friends in San Diego, seeing them here or there wasn’t enough. I needed interaction on a more personal and regular basis. I needed way fewer living expenses to make myself feel financially secure. Admittedly, experimenting with living alone in San Diego (voted among some of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S.) while being self-emplyed probably wasn’t the smartest move, but it’s done now and I made it through.

While waiting for paperwork and legal stuff to process for me to be able to move in with my man-friend in Canada, I’ll be living with my mom in Kentucky. Since I’ve been home, she and I have had a blast living together. It’s been a welcome change. It’s nice to cook dinner for the both of us. It’s nice to watch movies and binge on Stranger Things together and walk Tango through the neighborhood at night. It’s nice to be able to join forces on the daily crossword puzzle in the paper. It’s just nice overall. Having a roommate (a really good one who you know, trust, and are close with) is just a better fit for me.

How many peeps live alone?

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Who loves it? Anybody else dislike it?

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Comments

  1. I’ve been living on my own now for two years, and I have to say I found myself nodding in silent agreement at the vast majority of these points – especially what you say about cooking. I watched Into The Wild last week (great film), and the last enduring message – “happiness is only real when shared” – left an indelible impression on me.

    • Ami says:

      Thanks for reading, and for your comment Trevor. I loved that last line (as well as all her other ones – that book was filled with highlighted lines after I read it) and just kept coming back to that same feeling. Things weren’t awful, but I enjoyed myself way more with a roommate…

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