Living alone is not all that glamorous it is made out to be. Though Hollywood chick flicks and sitcoms will tell you that this form of lifestyle is the most desirable way to lead a happy life, as opposed to- horror of horrors- living with your mother, when you do finally achieve your hearts deepest desire to have a home of your own, the glitter and the sparkles do not seem as shiny when viewed up close. For many today, living alone is not a choice as much as a compulsion. We traverse the length and breadth of the country and the world in pursuit of our dreams and achievements, convinced that our hometowns are too small to contain the enormity of our vision. But when faced with the grim reality of washing dishes, doing laundry and being lonely, then living alone doesn’t seem all that glamorous it is made out to be. Here are ten tips, personally assimilated and curated, to help you navigate the fiefdom of single living. Though even I am living and learning with each new step, hopefully my foolish mistakes can be fodder for someone else’s valuable lessons.
10. Travel And Transport
Do not underestimate the importance of location when selecting a living space. It is common economics that rent on apartment in a prime location will be sky high compared to the more affordable prices on a place that is far far away, hidden away in the suburbs. Also, places at the centre of the city tend to be tiny cramped spaces that look more suited for dolls living rather than actual sized human beings. My current bathroom is the size of my study bureau back at my parent’s place. Yet this is a compromise that you will have to put up with if you want to experience smooth, hassle free living. Large sunny apartments that are at one extreme end of the city might appeal to your aesthetic senses, but they are not convenient when you have to battle traffic at peak hour after a long tiring day at work. The money you save on rent is not worth the extra struggle you’ll have to go through every day to reach your abode. Rather settle for the tiny, cramped apartment at the centre of the city with easy access to bus and subway routes. Your pocket and your tired and exhausted body will thank you at the end of each day.
9. Little Tricks Go A Long Way
Before coming to live alone, I was least bothered with knowing the easiest way to remove food stains from fabric, the best dishwasher solution for fragile dishes, the cheat’s way to doing laundry and homemade solutions to keep insects away. Now, Pinterest is my bible for all householder dilemmas. It pays to know small tips and tricks that will save you tons of headache and inconvenience later. Collect these valuable bits of information from Google, mothers, aunts and friends who are veterans in living alone. My two cents to help you get started: Put bay leaves and boric acid flour balls to keep cockroaches away. Use a micture of vinegar and baking soda to unclog your kitchen sink drain. Use a mixture of dishwater soap and hot water to unclog your toilet. Burn pepper mint oil to get rid of mice. Burn eucalyptus oil to keep flies and mosquitoes away.
Sometimes your social life can take a serious beating while living alone. Not because you don’t have time, but simply because you can’t muster up the inclination. After a twelve hour workday, relaxing in the bath with a glass of wine and a book seems more appealing that heading to the club and dancing your blue away, especially if you have to report to work early the next morning. Make sure to have a good entertainment system in place to take care of your recreation needs when you choose to spend the night in. If budget is an issue, as it is for most people, prioritize on the spending. Get a good internet plan and skip on buying a television set. Not only will you save money on the initial investment, you will also save tons on the power bill every month. These days, you can virtually watch every show and news program on the internet. Torrent downloads, unlimited variety of music covers thanks to YouTube and a lot of other common licensed programs that will likely never be aired on television. Rather, invest in a pair of good speakers and headsets. Also it helps to buy a really good computer, but that is an investment you will never regret.
Synthetic air fresheners are really harmful for health. Studies show that inhaling them regularly have negative neurological and cardio vascular effects on health. Though scented candles are all the rage now, they are potential fire hazards and a concentrated source of carbon dioxide. Opt for the all-natural aromatherapy substitutes to keep your home feeling fresh and clean. When you enter through the doors into an empty house, these lip smacking fragrances will greet you, instantly lifting your mood and giving you a cheerful disposition. Buy bottles of your favourite perfumed oils, lavender, ylang ylang, patchouli, chocolate, orange, berry, eucalyptus, etc. Use a ceramic aromatherapy oil burner to burn them and place it in a safe corner of your apartment. Let it burn all day long. It will turn your empty abode in to a truly tempting haven.
One of the incentives of living alone, sans roommates, is that you can decorate your house just the way you want it. The furniture of your choice, your artwork, the messiness or neatness according to your degree of comfort and your choice of light, furnishings and memorabilia. It is a very uplifting experience to design a place only and absolutely according to your sensibilities. It makes a house a home, a sanctuary to escape to when the outside world gets too much to handle. Surround yourself with items that inspire and stimulate you. Put up pictures that make you happy when you look at them, arrange for bright or neutral colour pops as you see fit. Basically, you are the king of your kingdom. Make sure it reflects your sense of style and aesthetics. Scourge for deals in flea markets and vintage thrift shops or designer dens, as per your budget. Not only will you like coming home to the sanctuary you have created for yourself, you will impress the hell out of family and friends who come over to visit.
A messy clutter sounds whimsical and bohemian when beheld in artistic Parisian movies. But it can be a nightmarish experience when you are trying to navigate the pitfalls of living alone. Organize your belongings according to categories and assign a place for every item in your household, be it groceries, utensils, clothes, jewellery, shoes, electronics, books and so on. At the end of the day, make sure that everything goes back to its rightful place. In the morning when you are in a maddening hurry to get out the door, you don’t have to waste precious time hunting for wallet, keys, socks and clean clothes. Nothing is a more shocking wake up call than to dish out clothes from the laundry basket for lack of something clean to wear. Similarly arrange your householder schedules. Chart out days you are going to do laundry, dust the house or clean the bathroom. Divide up the tasks evenly through the week, avoiding the weekend as much as you can. Weekends are the time for fun and relaxation and catching up on precious sleep. You don’t want to be stuck doing inane chores then. If you schedule one task every day of the week, then the load is very light while the house remains sparky clean.
This point directly follows the above one. You need to get your organization in order so that the hygiene issue can be efficiently dealt with. Even a slight slack up in this routine can mean smelly stinking house, infestation of rats and roaches and overall an extremely unpleasant place to live. Coming home at the end of the day to a mountain of dirty dishes is the least attractive part of living alone. Yet as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility”. Organize your schedule such that you can tackle different hygiene related chores on different days so that it does not get too overwhelming. Use effective cleaning tools while going about these tasks. But don’t neglect them or let them pile up. You will thank yourself when you are blissfully sinking into a soft bed covered by clean sheets in a nice smelling room, free from vermin, at the end of the day.
Unless you are one of those creative people who come alive in the kitchen, cooking is yet another hassle that you have to deal with while living alone. I myself enjoy cooking tremendously, yet groan at the thought of whipping up my own meals. That is because the real job begins after the hot meal has been hungrily devoured. Dirty counter tops, vegetable peels and wastes, mountains of dirty dishes everywhere. The nightmare is enough to send me to bed hungry. Eating out all the time is an expensive and unhealthy option. Rather follow some simple tips to lessen the tragedy that is extra work. Go grocery shopping in bulk, cook extra quantities and freeze them. Use the food processor mercilessly, blitz everything from ginger garlic pastes to onions and chillies. It will taste the same whether you chop them finely or make purees of them. Instead of making dessert, eat delicious cold fresh fruits or better still- ice cream. Have raw foods whenever you can. It’ll save time, money and effort and is good for health. Cereal and milk for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and salad for the evening meal. Have lots of fluids like water, green tea and juices. They will supress hunger, thereby reducing your cooking time. Google is a treasure trove for tips like this.
Living alone can be an incredibly isolating and lonely experience. I am glad that I traded in lunatic psychotic roommates for complete privacy, but I do not cherish the loneliness that is a part and parcel of this experience. Use this time for self-reflection and actualization. Read, meditate and ponder upon things that you would otherwise not have had a chance to. All these are very enriching experiences that you will be infinitely better off for having tried. Living alone is an interim period in one’s life. Someday soon either you would be married or living with a partner or spouse, your own children perhaps or even back with your parents. Then there will be days you wish you had some quiet peace to yourself and look back longingly on the days you lived alone and had all the peace you needed. This is a short privileged period of existence. How you spend your time when you are alone defines the kind of person you are. Practice good habits, sleep in a little longer or simply do crazy things that you can’t do around other people.
Given the terrifyingly violent times we live in, safety is the biggest threat when it comes to living alone. Make a duplicate copy of your house key and give it to someone you trust. Befriend some neighbours you feel you can trust. Steer clear of the ones who feel suspicious about. If strangers knock on your door in the middle of the day, keep your door open wide while they detail the nature of their visit. When you are home, keep the key hanging from the lock. Invest in a good alarm system. Keep a list of important numbers like ambulance and police on your side table. Also keep the numbers of people you might need in an emergency on speed dial in your home. Always be cautious of gas leaks and fire hazards. Keep in mind to turn of switches when you are done using them. In short, be responsible. Be safe.