Lessons Learned From Living Alone

I live alone. For the first time in all of my dozens of years on this earth, I’m the queen of my own castle. I went from 3 siblings to 300 freshman dorm-mates, to one zillion sorority sisters, and once I graduated, logic and budget and fun told me to just keep the cohabitation trend going. I consistently had 1-3 roommates from the years of 2005-2013. One of them remained constant from college to Chicago to Nashville and we were really close to qualifying for common law marriage, but then she got actually-married and saved us both from the embarrassment.

So on a (very) cold day in December when I pulled my rusty Penske truck up to my 2nd floor walk-up, and didn’t have to figure out whose boxes were whose, or draw straws for the bigger room, or pick which utility bill I’d have in my name, I knew I was embarking on an adventure.

 

It’s only been a few months, but here are some lessons I’ve learned from living alone:

 

You will find out definitively if you are an introvert or an extrovert.

My mom warned me that I would be lonely and isolated if I lived by myself. But this is because she’s always been convinced I’m an extrovert. Jokes on you, mom (Jk, love you!) because I’ve always known in my heart of hearts that while I am outgoing and social, I recharge best alone. This lesson was especially potent for me because I work from home, so I don’t even have co-workers to get some human interaction with. But days have passed where I haven’t seen a soul (in my defense this was in the middle of Chicago’s most brutal winter,) and I’ve never felt more refreshed.

 

It’s always pants-optional o’clock.

Without roommates or their friends/boyfriends ruining things, you can confidently and happily wear whatever you want around the house without fear of an awkward run in, “Oh, sorry! I thought you were going to the gym, Lisa. I’ll put pants back on.” This is freedom at its finest.

 

You are cleaner/messier than you think.

This one works both ways. When your house is a disaster it’s clear that it wasn’t always those pesky roommates who were to blame (but wasn’t that a glorious justification to have on deck?) And when it’s clean you can take comfort that you have yourself to thank and even more importantly, that it will stay that way. There’s just something so nice about knowing that the asshole who left their dishes in the sink again…is you.

 

You talk to yourself. A lot.

I’ve always known I was a chatterer, but it gets worse when you live alone. Maybe it’s about making a noise in an otherwise quiet house, or maybe I am losing my mind (it’s possible,) but I have found myself muttering out loud more than once. And by ‘I have found myself,’ I mean I’ve had guests in town who overhear me and call me out.

 

You will run out of food and you are the last line of defense and it is the worst.

I was guilty of the most offensive of all roommate offenses: eating food that does not belong to me. I always (usually) replaced it or fessed up, but it was such a lovely backup plan for those moments where you just need a snack/smoothie/soup and your side of the pantry is bare. Living alone means that when you are out of groceries, you are actually, painfully out of groceries and I guess the Thai delivery guy is going to have to make his well-worn route to your house for the 2nd time this week (and it’s only Wednesday.) Or something.

 

THE TV IS ALL YOURS FOREVER AMEN

I do not have DVR, but if I did I’d be so happy that it was only my shows on there. And even sans DVR, living alone means that if you want to slum it and watch American Idol this season (because J.LO,) then you can do so and no one can complain about it or judge you.

 

You enjoy drinking alone.

And dancing alone, for that matter. And no, this isn’t a commercial for tampons. No need to call my loved ones and prepare them for a possible intervention, it’s simply a living-alone-luxury that I never knew about until now. It’s quite lovely to craft a fancy cocktail just to curl up with a book, or pour a glass of wine while you cook for yourself. Or, ya know, put on “Dancing On My Own” in your kitchen on a Monday night for no reason except that you can.

Just the other night I was reading a heart-wrencher book in bed, and as I shed a few tears, I realized how special it was to have the privacy to do so. When I threw my iPad next to me in bed and turned off the light, I was grateful all over again for this time in my life where I get to rule my roost and make the rules. And the crazy part? Living alone is the farthest thing from lonely I have ever felt.

 

This article was originally published on April 4, 2014.

  • Chelsie | Chelsie, Darling

    love this!!

  • Love it!

  • Catherine

    I really like this feature, but I encourage you to include the interviewee’s name in the actual image. I suspect that with Pinterest, Tumblr, blogs, etc., the attribution will quickly be lost, and I’d like to see these inspiring women get/keep the credit for their wisdom. 🙂

  • cheers!http://underthestarsandsun.blogspot.com/

  • Amen.

  • Ashley Gervin

    I’m so unbelievably thankful I stumbled upon this article. I am 24 years old and fled the nest at age 17. I’ve always had roommates or a boyfriend to live with and next year I will be finally on my own. For weeks I’ve been thinking of how lonely and isolating it will be to live on my for the first time in my life but after reading this article, I feel like my fears and doubts are gone. Thank you for this beautiful article!

    http://ashleydenaexo.blogspot.com/

    • Lyndsay Rush

      Ashley! I love this comment, and your story. You are going to love it or at the very, very least, learn from it. 🙂

      • PK

        Lyndsay.. what’s the name of the book you were reading?

    • Mini J

      Since you wrote this a year ago.. how has it been? Living alone 🙂

      http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/originailzUK

  • This was great! I JUST moved to my own studio last weekend after living with 3 roommates and I’m so excited for the freedom to do whatever I want.

  • Meghan

    I love this article. This just described how I’ve felt living alone to a T. thank you, Lyndsay.

  • Dana Boone

    This spoke to my non-lonely living alone soul. Living alone and having the freedom to cry, sing, dance, cook, Netlix marathon, etc. with no one else to judge/interrupt/bother you is lovely.

  • I loved this piece! It spoke to me in so many ways. I am currently 8 months into my first time living alone, and I love it! It’s not always easy, for sure (I am so guilty of the dirty dishes thing), but as a fellow introvert there is just nothing like having my own space to recharge without feeling like I’m snubbing my roommates. I really think that every young woman should try it once.

  • Brandi

    AMEN TO ALL THIS! This season of living alone is freeeeeedom (no pants, no sharing, no talking when I dont wanna, no cleaning up after anyone but me, no waiting for the washer or the shower, etc. etc. etc.) and its beautiful and also probably ruining me for future roommates and/or husband. 😉

    • Lyndsay Rush

      hahah that’s what I’m afraid of, Brandi!

  • I miss living alone. And even more now. Thanks. 🙂

  • Jessica

    For starters, the reference to drinking a glass of wine while dancing to Robyn… I think we may have been separated at birth 🙂 I too have always had roommates and am out on my own now at 32, also in Chicago, and am loving every second of it (especially the pants-optional days). I cook great meals (and also occasionally order in too many days in a week), shake my tail-feather whenever I damn well please and the only one there to look at me like I’m crazy is my dog. Enjoy it!

  • lookseelove

    Loved loved loved! Well thought out and written!

  • I don’t live alone but I do spend all day working from home by myself while my bf is at work, and I love it. I’m an introvert too so I’m really in my element without people and it’s not lonely at all.

  • AMEN! I moved into my own quaint 700 sq. ft. space last weekend and already, I’ve established a no-pants rule for when I have no guests over and it is one of the most undervalued, best thing in the world. Thank you so much for the article!

  • CityGirl

    LOVE! Great article, even better writing.

    • Lyndsay Rush

      that’s so nice! Thank you!

  • this was really such an incredible and wonderful piece! good job!

  • Living alone is the BEST feeling ever. When I moved to LA, I moved in with 5 friends who’ve i’ve known since high school, 5 BOYS. No bueno. Needless to say, that didn’t work out, and now that I’ve moved out we’re all much better friends. Nothing better than watching WHATEVER you please while you drink white wine and cook for one!

    http://erinhughesstylist.com/lastlooksblog/

  • Marianela Guinand

    This is a fantastic article! I moved into my own studio apartment about 7 months ago and soon came to realize every single point mentioned is absolutely true. What had me cracking up was #4. I find myself talking out loud a little too much sometimes and I’ve been getting so comfortable with it I realized I have started talking to myself at work out loud. I’m sure people think I’m a tad crazy now!

    http://www.lovevividly.com

  • Anna

    Oh wow, you are just like me!

  • Love this article. I have never lived alone in my life. Moved out from my parents with my guy, married him and that is it. But I do wonder, and I do love love my alone time, how it would be to live alone. I am very social and extroverted but need my alone time like air.
    Could you pls share, what was that sad book you were reading?

  • Thobeka

    I’m currently on an “I live alone and love it” high! This piece resonates so loudly with me!

  • sighmoan

    This is so perfect! People never seem to believe how much I love living on my own, so I’ll be referring them to this article from now!

  • Megan

    It’s like you read my mind… I always tell people that the two years I spent living alone were the BEST YEARS of my adult life (I’m half kidding)! I agree 100% with every. single. thing. you wrote in this article. Now that I am married, I am so thankful that I had those years where I learned to be independent, love myself and be okay with being alone. Honestly, I think it made me a better partner for my husband. I tell everyone, you should try to live by yourself at least once in your life.

    • Lyndsay Rush

      love this, Megan!!

  • JDV

    I recently got married and moved in with my husband, but before that I lived alone for 4 years (age 23 to 27), and I LOVED IT. I’d had up to 3 roommates at a time for the 5 years prior. It was a bit of a sacrifice because I live in an expensive city, but it was worth every penny and I never regretted it one bit! It’s something I’d recommend for every person to do, if they’re able, before “settling down.”

  • Cristina

    This is absolutely 100% the same experience I am having. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said, in fact I relate so much that it made me tear up in a beautiful bittersweet way. I absolutely loved this post and love that you’re getting to have this experience just like I am. My mom likes to think I’m an extrovert too, and for some reason cannot understand or accept that I LOVE recharging alone with that cocktail, book, or TV show 🙂

    • Lyndsay Rush

      Awww thanks for this comment, Cristina!! Outgoing introverts for the win 😉

  • Alexandra Gill

    This article spoke to my true self on nearly every level. I, too, am a social and outspoken person, but I find solace in being able to come home to a quiet home, where I can go about my business without interruption. I am constant busy and bombarded with emails, texts, phone calls, and meetings during the day. It is so nice to have an escape to come home to at the end of it all. Thank you for this eloquent article on why single living is truly a great option!

  • Rachel

    I LOVE living alone! I think I was always meant to. My freshman year in college (before I transferred schools) I switched dorms to live with an upperclassmen who was hardly ever in our room, and even after I transferred to my college of choice and joined a sorority, I eschewed sorority house living to live with girls I didn’t know very well in the name of having more privacy and alone time at home. I opted to live “at home” at my mom’s until I was almost 26- it was just so much easier to live with my mom (who admittedly was never a busybody parent) who didn’t impose rules and let me have space then deal with roommates. My first apartment solo was a studio, it was worth the wait! My best friend got a set of keys and was welcome whenever he wanted which was just enough company to make me not feel lonely. Even now, in a new city, I continue to live alone. I do envy those girls who have amazing roommate situations, and wonder what it would be like, but at this point I don’t see it happening. It’s nice to have control over how I decorate, what kind of wine I buy, etc. Just my two cents. And for those ladies who have never lived alone and now find themselves having to- give it a try! My first month or so in my NYC studio was hard, but once I started decorating and planning some get-togethers, I really hit my stride. It’s the best!

  • I can totally relate to this! I lived alone right after college for about a year, and I had such a sense of accomplishment every time I walked through the door. Great article!

    http://www.megansmart.com/blog

  • Raven

    I can totally relate to this article! loved it.

  • Love this! I’m living by myself for the first time this year. I was a little nervous at first, but I’ve loved it!! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Love this article!! I absolutely adore living alone. I Have lived in dorms, with friends, with roommates who were strangers, with a boyfriend – pretty much every situation you can imagine. And my very favorite: having my own space to unwind and recharge. It is a luxury, and not nearly as scary as many people think.

  • oh_yeaaa

    this.is.brilliant.

  • Camellia Perreault

    I resonate with your need to recharge alone. I feel so overwhelmed by people sometimes!

  • Rachelfall

    I can totally relate! After living with roommates and sorority sisters through college, it was so freeing to have my own place. My rules, my mess. I think living alone made me more social and willing to leave the apartment. It was easy when my bff was just down the hall. It’s much more satisfying and meaningful when you have friendships that don’t involve being roomies. I think every woman should live in their own place for at least a year. I’m going on year three…and it’s blissful!

  • Sarah Swigart

    This couldn’t be more spot on! I am super social and a type A extrovert who couldn’t be happier having a place all to myself! I truly believe everyone should experience it at some point in their life. You really do learn a lot about yourself! Great article.

  • Man, I loved living alone for all of these reasons! It only lasted a few months, but it was a brilliant time! I used to have a hallmate who would finish my orange juice at night, so I’d wake up in the morning, go for some OJ and find an EMPTY CARTON in the fridge. Who does that!?

  • Keokah

    I talk to myself all the time. Its not you. Ha!

  • Hell yes to numbers 1 through 10 (actually, I have a dog, so I talk to her a lot more than I talk to myself). I’m 28 and I’ve been living on my own for a few years. I feel like living alone is a rite of passage and it bums me out that lots of people have never experienced it (like my mom). It sounds silly to say that it’s a lot of work to take care of one person in one apartment/house, but it’s true! There’s an economy of scale in living with others. Hopefully I’ll meet a guy who I want to share my life with someday—and when/if that happens, I believe I’ll be better able to appreciate the benefits of a two-person household since I’ve done it all on my own. For now, I love living by myself and feel like I know myself better for it. I mean, I get to do whatever I want (e.g. drink straight out of the almond milk jug), whenever I want (e.g. hang curtains at 1 am because really, is there ever a good time to hang curtains?). It’s pretty great.

  • Erica Shand

    I’ve been living on my own for a year now (1 year anniversary was last week, woo hoo!), and I absolutely love it – this article is SPOT ON!

  • Paige Podbelsek

    I am so so happy I found this article when I did! At 26 I am moving out of my boyfriend’s house to Chicago and living on my own for the first time. I’m feeling a mixture of feelings, excited definitely being one of them, but very nervous too. This was so nice to read! Thank you 🙂

  • Absolutely loved this article! I had a conversation with my roommate the other day about when it’ll be the right time for each of us to get a place of our own. As I’m creeping up on my 24th birthday, I’m starting to think it’s about that time! It’s one thing to feel independent because you don’t live with your parents, but it’s a whole other ball game to be independent in the sense that you’re truly comfortable all by your lonesome! 🙂

  • I’ve been living by myself for the first time in my life since October, and I can relate to every. single. one. of these lessons — it truly is invigorating and not at all lonely to have your own space to be yourself and just do you.

  • Annie

    I LOLed at the “no this isn’t a tampon commercial” line…Now everyone in my office thinks I’m weird! Thanks a lot, Lynsdsay 🙂

  • I am glad you have also discovered the wonderful feeling of living alone! When I was living with roommates, I found myself constantly going out and staying out late because I didn’t want to be home around them. Once I moved into my own place, I realized that I am actually an introvert and love spending time by myself. Another great advantage: No one waking you up with noise around the apt when you want to sleep in on the weekends!

  • musical capricorn

    I’m 22 and I haven’t lived on my own yet but I’m looking forward to it. Years I used to be a person that was afraid to be by myself every once in a while. Now that I’m older I don’t mind being alone once in a while; It helps me breathe easy, collect my thoughts just be ‘me’ without worrying that I’m going to offend somebody. Therefore, I’m looking forward to the day when I finally can afford to my own apartment.

  • donna w.

    This post is so well written and hits the nail on the head. From 2001 – 2008, I lived with roommates and it definitely had its ups and downs.This year marks the sixth year I’ve been living on my own and I’ve never made a better decision. If I’ve had a bad day at work, it’s nice to know that when I get home I won’t have to deal with anyone else. The solitude is nice sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Loved this article! It’s so funny how just about everyone cites not wearing pants as one of the best freedoms of living alone. Fellow readers, if you’re considering living on your own, check out our post on things to consider before taking the leap: http://www.thesinglediaries.com/living/single-girl-reveals-why-i-love-living-alone/

    Catherine | The Single Diaries

  • Brittany

    yes! I was just considering getting a roommate…glad its settled now! No roommate=doing what I want! Plus, who wants to ask for permission in your own place!

  • Reshmi

    Hi Lyndsay,

    I loved your article!! 🙂 And I agree with you a 100%. I am 24 and I have been living on my own for two years now and enjoy it so much! Am farthest from being lonely.

    I have discovered that I am an introvert and way more independent than I thought! The quiet house sometimes bothers me, so I leave my laptop on with “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” and go about doing my chores.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • laura

    When living alone, nobody judges you.You do whatever you like whenever you like.

  • Modernegirl

    I lived alone for 5 years in a studio in LA and it was so refreshing! I loved the freedom and being lonely wasn’t an issue. Being alone felt like a luxury and eating pizza in bed was the icing on the cake!

  • Shannon

    Amen sister. This is spot on!

  • Alex

    I’ve only lived alone for 5 days now, and I literally could not be happier. Having the worst possible luck with previous crazy roommates going to living by myself in a beautiful brand new one bedroom apartment is the best decision I have ever made. This article is absolutely perfect.

  • amandaconda

    I pretty much live alone (I live with my brother and he is never in the apartment). I always feared living by myself, assuming I would be overcome with bouts of loneliness but surprisingly, I really enjoy it. It’s nice coming home to an empty apartment. I think the key to being happy on your own is enjoying spending time with yourself, which I have learned to do over the past couple of years. It also helps to have an adorable and devoted furry companion. I am a bit nervous about moving in with my lovely boyfriend in a month, especially the sharing the bed all the time part.

  • Rekos

    Nice post and really good tips

  • Mini J

    Hehe this article made me laugh out loud! Especially the bit about the arsehole who leaves the dishes in the sink again. I haven’t lived completely alone before. I have lived in a self contained student room and a 2 bed apartment.. whenever my flatmate left I kinda loved it! Not to mention the freedom to release gas and burp.. naturally lol and not having a care… I genuinely miss those days. I have a bf who stays at mine almost every single day now and I love his company.. at times like this when he leaves for an hour or two it takes me back and to my free single selfish days and boy is it fun!!

    #introvertsrule !

    http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/originailzUK

  • Rebecca

    This was good to read however…
    If there’s an article on living alone as an introvert, I’d be interested!

  • rebecca stokes

    Well I am 42 and I never lived alone till 40 as I had a kid at 16 moved in with boyfriend had another child at 23 and went to school ,worked balanced all and then got divorced Then when the one son finished college and is now Engineer and the other one left for college I sold my house and moved into a smaller one and never knew how peaceful and just awesome living alone was .I am having the time of my life alone .I would not change a thing .love it love

  • Gladys Mmaphuti Semenya

    This post is exactly what i needed to read. I’ve been thinking about finding my own place and yes like you i’ve always had people i shared with. This just confirms that it time and i will actually love 🙂

  • June

    I love your writing style! I came across this one because in just a short 2 months, I’ll be living alone for the first time (in a foreign country lol whatdidigetmyselfinto) and this whole read was so refreshing and got me excited for my decision to live alone! Literally LOL’ed at “And no, this isn’t a commercial for tampons.” 🙂 Great work! I sincerely hope you keep writing!

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  • joe sanford

    Did I miss the part about the joy of finding things where you left them. People can not enter your space without changing it.

  • Adeline Hanna

    I’m 57 and became happily by myself recently. I relate to everything you say. I will forever be alone. Men are stupid. People in general are a bother.

  • marge

    I’m 26 and living alone for the first time. I wandered into this section of the interwebs because I always thought if I ever lived alone, it would kill me inside. I’m discovering now that it’s actually the complete opposite! I love having people around, but being on my own is incredibly refreshing! Still like hanging out with my friends, but I’m no longer the first one to agree to go out every single weekend. On the contrary, I’m now comfortable with skipping out on outings just so I can chill with a cup of tea in front of the tv for a solo sitcom marathon.

  • Grace

    Let me thank you for this wonderful truthful article. I’m alone and retired now and I truly treasure my freedom. I’m reading their books right now. Each one is in a different room in the house. I pick up the stories when I spend time in those rooms. No one is around to “move” things.
    I’ll never understand my friends who don’t get it.

  • Blair

    You had me at ‘(usually) replaced the food’. I have been zipping around the web tonight wondering why I I find it so easy and enjoyable living alone and have landed here on everygirl. I hope that being a guy doesn’t disqualify me from this insightful and hilarious commentary on the freedom of living. My last stop before clicking here was an article on narcissism. I didn’t score well so that was a good thing. I find what I call, ‘The Quiet’, to be one of the most rewarding and beneficial aspects of living alone, in itself, as well as being the underlying state that allows for true independent thinking, an environment of artist openness as well as unencumbered learning. ….Blair

  • Jenn Winters

    I think that this is interesting that most of the commenters are new to living alone and joyed by the possibility or new possibilities after being crammed with room mates for years helping finance themselves and busting for freeeedom… I thought the same thing leaving my parents house for my first apartment alone 15 years ago. I since lived with a girlfriend for 8 years and I’m alone for the first time again post first year worst of my life. Interesting this is all woman posting as well. Women have many more social resources and guys being thrown at them online 24 7. First if you have any kind of creeping addiction occasional smoking or binge drinking you have no one to hold you normal. You can batter yourself daily bad drive home, bad day, office to stressful, hour drive from parents house back home alone too stressful all accuses to stop at the gas station for a pack and to smoke one and toss the rest. You are your only regulator and being alone it can all hang out. If your not able to date you will be miserable. For example if your a guy online dating and went on 3 dates spent 120 dollars on all 3 dates over the last 6 months only for the girls to do a disappearing retune after you will have some pretty dark nights. Your stressful rushed but well paid corporate job will leave you with the most darkest and depressing drive home alone to nothing every night. So be prepared to make a Monday through Friday weekly cooking schedule. Maybe taco Tuesday Wednesday spaghetti night remember college spaghetti night. Or jazz night or whatever… Your finances will not be flexable anymore. Unless your a millennial and your parents still pay your 400 dollar gas bill and 300 dollar school loan. I mean after all when you had room mates you just had to have that bmw or SUV car too. Maybe that is why I have had the same car for 15 years. But every millennial living with mommy and daddy or roommates seems to drive a big shot car. You have to ask yourself what are other people not paying that you do not see. You would be surprised. You will have to get a notepad and write down everyday of the month a bill is due and pull it out every 5 days to look when the next auto debit comes out. Then deduct your pay check 3000 a month or whatever from the total monthly bills 900 rent 300 school loan 500 healthcare costs 300 gas 500 credit cards whatever and see the few hundred you have left over for groceries, gas, clothes (non existent budget), entertainment, car payments, etc.. etc.. Fortunately my first half alone of 2016 I had a high paying job and could buy expensive house items remodel and go on vacation with family. Now I work with less cash flow and things are less flexable, but that could change really fast too.

  • Miha

    Found out that I was messier. 😀 I guess I always knew it but living alone definitely shoved it into my face, which I actually didn’t care, because who held the judgement B)

  • Ahaha, the pants part! That was EXACTLY the reason why I moved into a flat of my own when I lived in Slovakia: when it’s 40degrees Celsius I’m jumping around in my undies and do not want to bump into anyone when I do 😀
    Also pretty much all of the points here are valid reasons why me and my boyfriend haven’t moved in together yet: we both need our own space every now and then.

    Teresa | outlandishblog.com

  • I’ve always lived with significant others/roommates except for one brief year in college when I had my own apartment – it was glorious. Granted, I can do most of the things I would normally do on my own in the apartment I share with my partner, but there’s something freeing about knowing that there’s no one else in the apartment to raise an eyebrow at your midnight, sans-pants kitchen dance-off.

    On The Cusp | https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

  • I started living alone about a year ago and while I do get lonely at times, I absolutely LOVE my alone time. I love being able to not wear pants, watch whatever I want on TV, and sprawl out across the bed. As long as you get out of the house and have people to do things with occasionally, living alone is kind of nice… most of the time.

  • This post was really useful!!
    Miki x

    https://littletasteofbeauty.blogspot.com/

  • Maria

    Have you gotten to the stage yet where you are so very out of groceries that your only inventory is a mushy carrot, but food shopping is boring so you try to not think about the hunger until you realise that you’re going to chew your own arm off if you don’t get fed RIGHT NOW? Then violently over order home delivery and pretend that you have people at home when the delivery guy comes by, to not seem like a total pig?

    “Peter, the food is here!”, you shout over your shoulder.
    The food delivery guy smirks. You both know there’s nobody else at home.