I’m a big believer in the importance of living alone. However, I won’t go into why right now, I’ll save it for a later post. I recently posted about How to Survive Moving Abroad. Sometimes when you move abroad, you find yourself living alone. This is what happened to me when I moved to Sulmona – not only was I in another country where I didn’t speak the language, I was also now living alone for the first time in my life. So, now you’re in another country with nobody you know. What do you do? Here are my tips for how to survive living alone. Hopefully, like me, you will embrace it and enjoy all the wonderful benefits it holds.
- Get a Phone
Living alone, you need to take the necessary precautions and, should anything happen, you need to be able to contact others. Having a phone also makes it easier to meet up with people. It seems like a no-brainer in this day and age but I know of some people who have moved abroad and tried to survive without a phone because it’s cheaper. Needless to say, these people didn’t enjoy their time as much as they could have. Not having a phone can add to the feeling of loneliness. Trust me, paying €10 a month for peace of mind is a pretty great deal.
- Get Connected
It’s great that you can get free Wi-Fi in pretty much every bar or cafe nowadays, but you shouldn’t rely on it. Just as with moving abroad, the first few months of living alone are the hardest. You need to be able to distract yourself when you start to feel low. It will also mean that you can call friends and family for long chats using Skype. I actually survived my first year of living alone without the Internet but this was only because I had the keys to the school, which was just around the corner, so I could go there whenever I wanted. I used to Skype my friends and family late into the evening but I would have preferred to do it from the comfort of my own home. I also had a hard drive full of films and friends who downloaded them for me so I wouldn’t get bored. The only reason I didn’t get the Internet was because I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay or not. As soon as I moved into my new flat, I got the Internet installed. It really does make life much easier.
- Get a Pet
Coming home to an empty flat at the end of a long day can be difficult. The blow is softened a little if you have a little face waiting for you. It also gives you something to cuddle when times get really hard and you need to cry. I know my two monsters definitely make me feel better, even if they also drive me mad. If you decide you are in a position to get an animal, getting a dog also gives you a reason to go out everyday. It may even help you meet other like-minded people. Obviously, this is only for the people who have the time/money/energy to look after an animal properly. If you don’t, this tip isn’t for you. Perhaps you should consider tip number 4.
- Get a Plant
If an animal is not for you, get a plant. My flat is filled with plants, even though I seem to kill them on a pretty regular basis. I love plants. Do some research about what kind of plants would do well and where in your home. Also, make sure you buy decent soil and plant food, if necessary. Nothing cheers up a room like a plant and there are many more health benefits linked to having plants in your home.
- Get your Jamie Oliver on
I’m not saying you have to turn into a Michelin-starred gourmet chef but, if you don’t know how to make basic healthy meals, you need to learn. Looking after yourself is imperative to your mental well-being. If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. This is going to be stressful enough in the beginning, don’t add to your problems. Learn to cook five or so basic dishes and then add to your repertoire. You don’t need to learn anything fancy either. There are hundreds of great websites that give you free recipes, so try them out.
- Take Up a New Pastime
Think about something you’ve always wanted to learn to do and start doing it. There will be moments when you just want to curl up on the couch, take advantage of your Internet connection and binge-watch episodes of your favourite TV series. This is okay but you shouldn’t make a habit of it as it’s not great for your well-being. Taking up a new hobby is a great distraction in the hard times and is also beneficial. This new hobby could be anything – learn a language, learn to knit, learn to paint. Anything. If you have time, you could see if there are any lessons in your local area. This will keep you motivated and you’ll get to meet new people.
There are many ways to deal with this new and frightening experience. These are just a few I use. You can also use my tips for living abroad and apply them to any situation. Have you got any others? Most importantly, embrace your new found independence.