Lessons From My First Year Living On My Own

I’ve technically been living on my own for 7 months now, but “first year on my own” sounded like a better title. Regardless, I’ve reflected a lot about my experiences thus far and I felt like some of them were important to share amongst my fellow post-secondary peers!

1.  Invest time into picking your roommates/housemates.
I cannot stress the importance of this lesson. We are often blinded with the excitement of potentially living with our best friends or just finding random people to lock down a lease on an ideal place to live. But, we need to take into consideration that these are the people who you will be sharing a home with! So, some important questions that we should reflect on ourselves and then discuss with our potential housemates/roommates are:

  • Is a clean and organized place important to you? Do you have expectations of sharing chores?
  • Are you an introverted person or extroverted? Are your potential roommates introverted or extroverted?
  • Are hosting parties a possible expectation?
  • Are you an early bird or nighthawk? What are your potential roommates?
  • How does everyone feel about significant others staying over?

I am extremely lucky in having had all these conversations with my roommate before we signed our lease and it has been such a fun experience. We realized we agree and are similar on all those topics, which resulted in starting off with strong communication between us and a good foundation on how our apartment functions.

2. Groceries take more time than you think!
One of my biggest realizations was the time required to shop for groceries. I never took into consideration how much time is required to:

  • Take inventory of what foods you already have and what you foods you need
  • Look up recipes
  • Make a list
  • Call a parent to consult on various cooking questions
  • Find everything you need in the store
  • Debate whether you really care about the brand name ketchup or not
  • Get home and unpack
  • Portion some foods to throw in the freezer
  • * sigh * I’m exhausted just writing that out!

Rule of thumb, I usually allocated about 2.5 hours every 2 weeks to working my way through that list.

3. As lame as it sounds, making a budget will save you.
Budgets are super intimidating and stressful. On one hand, we don’t really want to map out our financial situation for the year because we know it’s going to be tight. A part of us doesn’t really want to deal with the mental distress of knowing that an empty bank account awaits us at the end of the semester. Although on the other hand, it does prepare us and our families for what’s ahead and outline some possible steps and/or solutions to ease the burden. This knowledge and proactive planning will result in long term relief.

4. Have fun! Living on your own is such an exciting adventure to begin on!
Although our budgets may show that we don’t have a lot of wiggle room, find some creative ways to make the house/apartment uniquely reflective of you and your roommates/housemates! Poster sales happen at least once per semester on campus, Wal-Mart always has some go-to décor, and even look on Kijiji! Find even the smallest ways to celebrate this newfound freedom and entrance into adulthood!

Best of luck!

– Abbey