Monday, May 14, 2012

seven tips for living alone

"being alone is very difficult." -Yoko Ono

i like yoko, like a lot, but on this, we disagree.

i have been living on my own on and off for the past 7 years, and it has recently come to my attention that living alone doesn't come naturally to some people. in the spirit of sharing experience and knowledge, and having coped with the difficulties of starting a life as a person living alone - my adjustment included eating french toast for every meal - i've compiled a list of my seven greatest tips for what will surely be a changing experience for anyone.

so here it is, expatkerri's seven tips for living alone.

1. get alone: when you first move into your new apartment alone, it can be very tempting to fill up your schedule with dinner plans and outings. such is life, especially in a big city offering live concerts and book clubs every night. however, part of the joy of living alone is that you have a place to go and do your thing without anyone bothering you, anytime you want. if you start to think of being alone at home as being somewhere, with someone (that person is you), you'll think of home as less of a last resort and more of a haven. With a little time, you'll soon look forward to being alone in your home.

2. get a hobby: at first, your newfound free time and personal space can be overwhelming. you might have many projects in mind that you want to start, but feel incapable of starting any of them for their sheer vastness. for this reason, picking one hobby to work on initially will help you narrow in on one task, and develop a sense of accomplishment for your time at home. expatkerri recommends knitting scarves for friends, starting a journal (of any kind), choosing an ethnicity of food to master, and video-blogging.

3. get tidy: there is nothing worse than living alone in a mess. not only is it unhygienic and unpleasant, it's also very hard to remedy the problem after it begins since there's no one on your tail to clean up. laundry piles can build up for months, and the good intentions with which you brought out the vacuum get covered in dust. you want to feel good when you come home, and that good feeling comes from having a good space to live in. the solution is just to do a 5-minute clean-up every day: wash dishes immediately after you use them. put clothes that need to be washed directly into the washing machine, and clothes that are still clean should go back in the closet right away. keep the bathroom clean and wash it before it's visibly dirty (once a week). you'll be surprised how little effort it takes to keep your apartment tidy and ready for guests.

4. get rid of your tv: since i moved out of my parents house at 17, i've had countless apartments in countless cities, all of them without tvs. i am absolutely of the belief that tv rots your brain, and living alone only makes you more likely to develop tv addiction and create poor sleeping habits. instead of exposing yourself to endless ads for prescriptions and remedies for diseases invented for profit, why not try reading the books you already own?

5. get a favourite radio station: though most people don't even own radios anymore, i still think they're a great item to have when you live alone. if you use it as your morning alarm, you'll be informed of the day's weather, and keep up with the news since there are no roommates to let you know when something big has happened. it's also nice to just have a voice in your apartment while cooking or emailing. here in korea i don't have my own radio, so i use online radio instead.

6. get creative: making meals for one can make you a lot more experimental in the kitchen, (because you'll soon tire of your old reliable meals like spaghetti and baked potatoes). don't get caught in the "i'm free so i can eat french toast for dinner every night" spell, since all those carbs will just end up making you sad. you'll feel a lot better physically and mentally after preparing yourself a little homemade pesto. i recommend heading over to veggiebelly for her super simple and delicious recipes, and freeze the extra portions to make a few days' dinners in one go.

7.  get ready: now that you're settled into your new clean apartment and experimenting with new recipes, the time will come when you want to entertain. just because you live alone doesn't mean you only need one spoon, one fork and one knife (i learned this the hard/embarrassing way when my guests ended up eating soup right out of the pot). set yourself up with a pair of wine glasses and cups of different sizes, as well as bowls and enough cutlery for a few good friends.

if you're still not convinced about being alone, watch this beautiful video and try some of her tips. especially the one about going to the movies alone.

let me be the first to welcome you to your wonderful new home for you and your mind. happy alone time :)

share you other tips for being alone as a twitter post here!


  1. I totally agree with you on all counts...except about the TV! I absolutely love having a television to watch movies, cooking shows, travel documentaries, the news, and more. Sure, there is a lot of junk, but I think if you're healthy about your TV usage, it can be a great learning tool as well as being entertaining. I know I could view all of this on my computer, but it just doesn't feel the same to me.

    But yes, living on your own is amazing! I've been doing it for ten years (give or take a few months with boyfriends he he). Great advice!!

  2. 100% of my support for every tip!
    About tv, I can't watch it for more than 10 minutes, for all of those ads and everything. I think the internet is much more interactive. (Like now I could just be watching a documentary about living alone, but instead we're talking about it -- much much healthy ^^)

  3. Getting a hobby is a great tip: learning Korean became mine, and it's enabled me to enjoy my time in Korea lot more. I now help organise a local language exchange here in Daejeon weekly.

    Now, I can't support the TV...I'd miss it too much and love watching crappy movies every now and again. I balance it with reading and blogging too. Just got a Kindle and it's amazing.

    Interesting tip about the radio station - I'd never considered it before. I always woke up to radio in the UK and loved it. Time to get on the App Store!

  4. I don't live alone, but sometimes I travel alone, and the TV tip is essential for that as well. Do you read Erica Jordan's blog? She addresses living solo as an expat as well! She's here:

    1. thanks so much for the comment and the blog recommendation! i just checked it out and i'm so glad i did, she has a lot of beautiful photos and useful posts! thanks again for commenting :)

  5. I have never lived alone, not even for one night!!!! But (hopefully) soon i will be moving out of home into a share house for university. Thanks for the tips!

  6. I could not agree more! My first experience living alone came after university and I instantly found it was a welcome change. Living alone in my home country helped prepare me for live abroad by showing me how to be alone without being lonely. I think this is one of the greatest lessons a traveler can learn- how to truly enjoy time with yourself.

  7. it's true, even when we are alone we're with ourselves. thanks for the comment^^

  8. I just love this post. I'm living alone since i was 20 and it's still my choosing. I cannot understand people who says that never cook beacause they living alone, or just can´t stay without tv. I love my independence, my time and my space, just for me... (and im sorry about my english, im practicing jajaj)

  9. Hi I'm a student and im researching into how people relate to their domestic environment, would anyone here please take my survey, its really quick and annonymous.


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