I Regret Not Making The Most Of Living Alone — Here’s How You Can Avoid Making The Same Mistakes

I lived alone for 6 months when I was 20 years old, and sometimes I can't help but feel like I completely wasted the opportunity. Despite having wanted to live alone for a long time and being so sure that I was cut out for it, I didn't even last the full year I had intended.
The glamour of living alone, especially as a young woman in her twenties, is a dream we picked up from Carrie Bradshaw and her friends. From the outside looking in, it seems sexy, fun and fulfilling. But it isn't long at all until the realities of loneliness and life catch up with you, and if you haven't done things just right, living alone can feel like a big mistake.
Looking back, I see a few different reasons for my failure to thrive while living solo. Knowing what I do now, I regret all the great aspects of living alone that I didn't make the most of. What would I do differently, you ask? Read on so that you might learn from my mistakes.

Timing is everything

On a different timeline, in a different universe, I'm living alone just a few years later into my twenties, and it's going really well. One of the key mistakes I made when I lived alone was doing it way too early (who even knows anything when they're 20?!). Even though I'm a huge introvert who has always preferred a night in by myself to a giant rager, they say your early twenties are for socialising for a reason — there's a big difference between being alone and being lonely, and those 6 months I lived by myself were some of the loneliest of my life.
It's also probably the only time in your life where the squalor of shared living still feels romantic and fun, and you should milk this time for all it's worth. If we're lucky, we have a lifetime of our own company ahead of us — and the business of adult life only makes spending time with friends harder. Don't wish it away.

Know that it's bloody expensive

This is a fairly obvious one, but the worse the cost of living crisis gets, the more important this becomes — living alone is extremely expensive, so much so that you can barely enjoy the peace and tranquillity when a giant dollar sign is hanging over the whole thing.
My rent was sky-high, and I didn't have the funds to decorate and furnish the space in the way I really wanted, which quickly shattered my Pinterest-board aesthetic apartment dreams. This is where it becomes important to weigh up cost versus benefit: how much will you enjoy the feeling of independence versus how much of a toll will that feeling take on your bank statement?

Entertain whenever you can

I didn't throw as many dinner parties as I'd planned when I lived alone, and if I could do it again, I'd host them so regularly that it would almost become annoying. I think I might be able to count the times I cooked for someone else (or even myself) in that apartment on both hands, which is a bit depressing.
The loneliness and stress really started to eat away at me, making it harder to put more effort into things like cooking, cleaning and hosting. But truthfully, that's where half the joy of living alone comes from. Sharing that space, the space that's just yours, with the people you care about from time to time makes it all worth it. The times I did have people over were the times I felt most proud of the space I had created, and the times it really felt like home.

Invest in good homewares

I don't even think I owned a vacuum when I lived by myself, and not investing in stuff like that was a big mistake. There were many times when I didn't have something I needed, and this made it feel like I was staying somewhere temporarily, as opposed to an actual home where I was living full-time.
As much as you have to be careful with your spending when you live alone, there are some things that might not seem necessary but definitely are, from cleaning products and equipment to kitchen utensils to decorative, long-lasting homewares — the things that turn a space from a house into a home, in both a functional and sentimental sense.

Actually spend time there

Ironically, living alone was when I was going out the most and not actually committing to enjoying the space. Something I've realised is that it takes time and energy in a space or room to become connected to it, and this was something I didn't do enough of in my solo apartment.
In order to combat the loneliness or sense of static that can come from living alone, I was always out somewhere — at the beach, the shops, the park, eating out. And as fun as doing those things might be, I wasn't spending enough time in that discomfort I was feeling at home. Sometimes you truly need to sit in a negative feeling to work out what you can do to change it. And sometimes you simply need time to get used to things — I just didn't give that part of my life enough time to fall into place, or for me to truly fall in love with the solo living lifestyle.

Being single helps

When I moved into my apartment, I had just gotten into a serious relationship, and the number of nights I spent at my place versus his was embarrassingly low. Living alone and singleness can often go hand in hand, as it's the optimal time in your life to put yourself first. When you're in a committed relationship and you're invested in spending time with one other person, living alone loses a lot of its charm.
While it was certainly fun when we stayed at mine and had the place to ourselves, we quickly grew too big for the space. It became cluttered and messy, and hanging out, just us two, started to feel a bit claustrophobic. This isn't to say that you can't live alone and be in a relationship, but it does mean that you have to think more about where you're going to be spending your time and what's going to be worth it.
I'll never regret living alone — it taught me a lot, and I feel so grateful that I got a chance to experience something I'd dreamt of for so long. But I do regret not taking full advantage of the opportunities it presented me. Living alone is not just about signing a lease on a one-bedroom apartment — it's a commitment to a certain kind of lifestyle and perspective. And when you do it right, it's truly wonderful.
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