So you’ve finally decided to move out of your parents’ house and bid life under their roof farewell. Living alone for the first time can feel like a dream if you’re tired of dealing with other people. You get to choose what city to call home, select your own décor, and most importantly, make your own house rules.

As exciting as it may all feel, it’s actually also your baptism into the world of “adulting.” Moving forward and living by yourself for the first time means being responsible for everything. This includes paying bills, cleaning up after yourself, doing your laundry and groceries, and even brushing up your cooking skills. There’s also the matter of feeling the occasional pangs of loneliness, which take some getting used to especially if you’re from a big household.

Still, living on your own could turn out to be your best life decision yet. Here are some helpful tips to help guide you through this whole experience, to get you settled into a solo routine you love.

Related article: 5 Signs It’s Time To Move On & Change Cities!

Advice on living alone: Be strategic about where you’re moving to.

There are lots of pretty and Instagram-worthy apartments out there, but you’ll also want to consider what neighborhood they’re in. Will you be commuting a lot to get to work or college? Then you’ll want to live somewhere within walking distance of the nearest train station and bus stop. Is there a grocery or a convenience store nearby for midnight cravings? How’s the crime rate in the area?

Be practical about your choice of the neighborhood when you’re living alone for the first time. Research the average rental prices in the places you’re eyeing to check if they’re within budget. Make sure you’re also feeling the atmosphere of the community—are the neighbors friendly? Is it a nice area for daily walks or jogs? Having that emotional connection can do wonders so you feel welcome and right at home in no time.

Related article: 10 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Design your personal haven.

It’s important that you feel as cozy and as comfortable as possible when you’re living by yourself for the first time. Depending on your personality, this can mean having a certain color palette or furniture or choosing a home with lots of natural light.

This is probably the most fun thing about living alone for the first time. Check out nearby garage sales and flea markets for unique pieces that make you feel good. Look for inspo on Pinterest, splash those walls with your favorite shade, and display artwork that lets your personality shine. Not sure about your personal style? This is the perfect opportunity to experiment and find who “you” really are!

One common piece of advice on living alone is to add a few potted plants. They’re a good mood-booster and we find it’s nice to take care of something.

Related article: The Greatest Design hacks for your Small Apartment

Stick to a budget when you’re living by yourself for the first time.

You’ll soon realize that going solo can get pretty expensive since you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket. This is why it’s crucial you come up with a realistic budget that you actually stick to when you’re living alone for the first time. List down the monthly cost of your utilities, Netflix subscription, gym, groceries, rent, and recreational activities like shopping and eating out. Tighten the purse strings wherever you can so you can keep an emergency fund. In case you’re wondering, that’s six months’ worth of your income.

There are gazillions of budgeting systems online, that help you split up your spending into different categories and track your outgoings. Getting used to this level of care is difficult, but developing good money management is a skill to be proud of.

Chat with your neighbors.

Here’s some advice on living alone: get to know your neighbors. This can be especially difficult if you’re shy or an introvert, but trust us, it goes a long way. Sure, you can always catch up with family and friends via Zoom or FaceTime, but nothing compares to establishing a sense of human connection when you’re living alone for the first time. You never know when you’ll need their help for anything, like keeping an eye on your house for a few days. You don’t need to be BFFs with them, but isn’t it nice to be able to say hello and smile at that lady across the street every morning? It will also make you feel less physically alone or afraid whenever loneliness strikes or in case of an emergency.

Set up a healthy routine when you’re living alone for the first time.

It can be hard getting out of bed every morning when you’re living by yourself for the first time. A little structure gives you something to look forward to each day and keeps you productive. Fit in time for housekeeping, cooking, doing groceries, working out, and doing the laundry.

Some final advice on living alone: Make sure you don’t pack your schedule too much that you end up exhausted. Squeeze in some time to grab coffee with friends, go camping, or visit that new art exhibit in town. Before you know it, you’ll find that balance where you have enough time for yourself and your social activities. Going solo is fulfilling and it can prepare you for the next stage in your life – whatever that may be.

Related article: What is Coliving and Why Should You Consider It?

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