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The 5 Stages of Living Alone for the First Time

Living Alone

Maybe you had a nightmare roommate situation. Maybe you moved to a new city, solo. Maybe you just decided it was time to Adult and have a place of your own! Whatever the circumstances, living alone for the first time can be a wonderful and equally challenging transition if you’ve been sharing your home for a while. To give you a little advice on living alone, here are what we’ve identified as the five stages — and how to navigate them with grace so that your new pad quickly feels like a treasured haven of YOU.

1. The “Oh No What Have I Done” Stage

After the buzz of settling everything in its place has subsided, you sit down for your first solo dinner and hear… nothing. Only the clink of your fork on your plate. When you have some crazy idea, there’s nobody to listen to you, except your cat. And then there’s the first time that you can’t get the peanut butter jar open no matter how hard you try, and consider smashing it with a hammer because what else is there to do?! Feeling lonely and a little overwhelmed by your independence is natural at first, but it will pass as you gain confidence and comfort.

Make the best of it by taking it one step at a time. During your first few weeks, it might be helpful to invite friends over regularly to help you settle in and feel a little more confident as you make your space your own. Learn who you can count on to be at your door when you need support, and develop a network of friends and family who you know can check on your house or rescue you when you can’t find your keys. (Also: check out 8 Steps to Moving Out for the First Time!)

2. The “I Can Do Whatever I Want” Stage

Want to leave the dishes in the sink for days? Sure! Not brush your teeth until noon? Nobody is going to notice! Or on the other end of the spectrum, when you go grocery shopping, you never have to worry about someone using all of the ____________. It’s all exactly where you left it. After the panic comes the wild joy and freedom of having a space that is completely under your governance. Expect at LEAST a few days of shameless marathons of your guilty pleasures without a worry that your roommates will judge.

Make the best of it by honing your adult skills and nesting. Hard. Take all of this wild and free energy and decorate, organize, and set up your space just the way you want it. And don’t worry, you can always move it again later… (Also: Check out our Tips for First Time Renters.)

3. The “Everyone Has Forgotten About Me” Stage

Now that you live by yourself, you don’t automatically have built-in social time and will need to seek it out. You might have forgotten to call your friends in the jubilation of Netflix marathons and haven’t talked to anyone but your co-workers in days. And let’s be honest, you don’t consider that socializing. As you make the transition into solo life, remember that reorganizing your social calendar will also take some time too.

Make the best of it by finding a tribe of other solo-living people. You’ll probably stay in touch with your past housemates, but friends who also live alone are more likely to also seek out social time regularly in the form of potlucks, coffee dates, or other outings.

4. The “I AM MIGHTY!” Stage

Eventually, you will get tired of self-pity, you’ve eaten all of the Girl Scout Cookies you can imagine, and you decide that it’s time to pull yourself together and start living. You take yourself grocery shopping and stock up on healthy foods. You get a haircut. And you stop moping and start aggressively living. Sometimes, maybe, a little too aggressively — remember when you used to sleep?

Make the best of it by planning. Allot time to go out and be social, but also preserve your solo and rest time at home. It may take you some time to find a good balance, but it is worth striving for! A few nights of being social, a few nights of staying home alone, and you’ll probably find your happy place.

5. The “Yes!” Stage

Eventually, you settle into your zone. You find your routine. You organize your social calendar. Living alone feels like an amazing opportunity to really get to know yourself and how you like to live when it’s just you making decisions. You learn that you really like having a clean house and going to the gym at 6am without having to worry about being loud and clumsy. And although there will likely be moments where you wish someone else was around, there will also be moments that you are glad nobody else is around. Eventually, it will feel like your Way of Life, and you will come to treasure your sanctuary home.

Make the best of it by really letting your creative, quirky, and eccentric sideshow at home. Use it as a space to learn about yourself and cultivate the lifestyle and home you want!

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About the author

Unpakt Team