On Living Alone.

On Living Alone
here’s a link to my drink table.

Something that always comes up in Instagram Q&A’s and in the Facebook group is living alone! If I like it, if I feel safe, if I get scared, and so on and so forth.

On Living Alone

To be totally honest with you, I absolutely love it. Love. Nothing is better. If you can afford to live alone, I say do it. It might be a little scary at first, and there’s definitely a transition from living with roommates… but it is the best. I know at some point  I will live with a partner. But for now, it’s just the greatest. I like how quiet is, I like controlling the remote. I like that if there are dishes in the sink or clutter on the counter there is no one to blame but myself, I like that no one is taking my clothes or using my beauty products without asking (I’m a good sharer but like to be asked!). And I really, really value quiet time so I like that a lot too.

I think a big factor in whether a person will enjoy living alone comes down has to do with introversion/extroversion.

I am an introvert. A social introvert, but an introvert. Being introverted doesn’t mean you are shy or hate going out but it does mean you recharge by being alone and having some quiet. So having a quiet home really helps me to recharge after a busy or stressful week. I will often play music or listen to a podcast, but a lot of my day is spent by myself sitting and working in quiet and I like that a lot (also along those lines, this book is amazing if you want to understand more about this). I am also a neat freak but non-confrontational… So when I lived with roommates I would be internally freaking out about the mess but not wanting to say anything!

I had roommates all through my twenties and didn’t know about introverts and extroverts. I knew the words but thought introvert meant shy and extrovert meant outgoing so just assumed I was an extrovert. One of my old roommates is/was such an extrovert. We both had demanding office jobs and would be so tired at the end of the day. We’d get home and I’d want to sit down in quiet and read or watch a show and she would want to talk about our days. I didn’t understand why I found it so overwhelming until I learned more about introverts and extroverts. We had so much in common as friends but just recharged differently: I needed quiet, whereas she needed to talk and be around people! Neither thing is good or bad, they just are what they are.

When I first lived alone, I was a little scared at first.

I think it was maybe 2008? My roommate had just moved out of my apartment (it was a tiny one bedroom in Chelsea on 8th Avenue, we’d been dividing the living room with bookshelves to make a makeshift second bedroom… needless to say it was really cramped. My early New York living situations were pretty interesting). I was really, really nervous. Every night when I got home I would check behind the shower curtain and in the closets for “intruders.” I remember calling a friend and saying, “Just stay on the phone with me while I search the apartment.”

This stopped after a month and after that I never looked back. I will say that it was definitely hard during the first few months of the pandemic when we were fully locked down (I did not see another person in the flesh for the first three or four months?) but to be honest, I kinda think living with a roommate might have been worse? I am genuinely not sure.

Of course, living with friends is fun. The movie nights and group dinners and all of that. Those were highlights of my twenties but I was also a lot more outgoing in my twenties. The best situation, the dream, was probably my last apartment (in Brooklyn) where I lived in a building that had four units and my friends and I controlled three out of four. We saw each other a lot and planning hangouts was so easy but I lived on the ground floor and had my own entrance which meant I could literally go days without seeing or talking to anyone if I was feeling extra anti-social. Separate spaces, but still close!

Do you live alone? Do you like it?

photo by Clay Austin.

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Comments

  1. Patty says 8.10.21

    I could never live with someone again, partner aside. Although even with a partner, I’d want a space with multiple rooms and/or a solid boundary that I’m going to go in the bedroom and watch Netflix on my own some nights.

    Although, I’m scarred for life because my last roommate (still a very good friend) SLEEP WALKED AND ATE. At some point in the night, she would rise from her bed and walk around the apartment, opening doors, coming into my room, mumbling things to me, and sometimes eating ENTIRE PIZZAS in her sleep. Once I woke up with her asleep on my floor and the front door was wide open. My cat was just sitting on the landing like, “I know I’m not supposed to leave, but I’m curious.”

    I had to get a mini-fridge for my room to keep food and a lock for my door.

    So, yeah, I’M VERY MUCH HAPPY LIVING ALONE.

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      This cracked me up. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • EE says 8.10.21

      FYI, this isn’t just a funny story, it actually could be features of an eating disorder called night eating syndrome (may not be, but eating large quantities of food in the evening is one of the symptoms). Folks that struggle with NES and other forms of nocturnal eating may struggle with shame about this, so thought id mention to normalize it and ensure it’s not taken lightly by others! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222864/

  2. Cait says 8.10.21

    I love living alone! In my last apartment with roommate, it was a tiny place where my roommate’s boyfriend was over ALL THE TIME and they took over the apartment and it didn’t feel like the sacred space I needed to rest, recover, and recharge etc. Living alone has been so good for my mental health to have a homebase that’s just mine where I can unwind until I’m ready for the world/the public again lol.

    • Katie says 8.10.21

      Haha that free third roommate- I’ve been there. It was irritating since she wasn’t paying 1/3 of water or electric bill or rent but was with us DAILY [they are married now. It was still too small- 2 bd 1 bath for 3 entire people].

      #1 reason for living solo: complete control of thermostat.

      I had horrible roommate experiences outside of my first in college who was sweet. This is strongly influenced by the fact I’m an only child and always lived alone growing up. Adored living alone. I live with my husband now and it’s nice. He needs more solo time to re-charge so we do our own things often. He works from home and right now my schedule isn’t busy like it will be in 2 weeks. We eat dinner together maybe 2 times a week. I like having someone to share the load of life- empty the dishwasher etc. When I can ask if he’ll cook something when I’m out training and by the time I’m home I arrive to a delicious meal- just wow. We have separate bathrooms . I still get excited when he is out of town though for my own alone time. Thankfully we have shared ideas of what is considered tolerable and comfortable thermostat wise.

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      Oh my gosh yes! I forgot about roommates + boyfriends!!!!

  3. Carol says 8.10.21

    I lived alone from college graduation until Feb of this year when I moved in with my partner (19 years!). I loved it, but love this stage more (right person, right time). Being dependent on myself was invaluable and helped make me the person I am today.

  4. Emma says 8.10.21

    I’m going on 9 years of living alone and I loveeeee it. I was one of the first people I knew to live alone (right out of college age 22) and I remember friends and people I met were shocked! Along the same lines as you, Grace, everyone just assumed because I’m socially extroverted that I loved being around people all the time. I think the best part of living alone is choosing when I get to see my friends (and boyfriend) rather than being around them all the time. It was very, very hard during March – June 2020 but I still value my alone time a year later and feel like I can really handle anything living alone now.

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      YES – the ability to choose is everything!!!!! (And feeling the same post-lockdown!)

  5. Another introv waaaay down south says 8.10.21

    Can I marry you? =)

  6. Jess says 8.10.21

    Yes, I so get this, I LOVED living alone! I’m an introvert with social anxiety, and just needed it so much. I really struggled living with people in college, even though they were and still are my very best friends. The sorority house does sound ideal! It’s so funny because I have a twin sister who is an extrovert and can’t stand being alone, she needs a roommate and has always had one, we are the exact opposite. I was very nervous to move in with my boyfriend (now fiancé) but he definitely understands that I’m not the type of person to come home from work and be social. Recently I told him that just hanging out with him was as recharging as being alone. Highest compliment from an introvert!!!

  7. Ellen says 8.10.21

    yes yes yes to all of this!!! living alone is one of the best things i’ve ever done for my mental health. i love it!

  8. Theodora says 8.10.21

    I’ve been living alone for 13 years now and could absolutely never live with a roommate (unless it’s my old lady Manhattan beach golden girls compound that I’m planning), but could hopefully live with a partner though I think I would need a big place. At the very beginning of the pandemic, I was wishing to not be alone but made a close friend in my building so it was best of both worlds like you had in BK!

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      hahahaha yes the golden girls compound sounds like the DREAM!

    • Becky says 8.10.21

      I’m cracking up because I’ve lived alone since 2008 and can only imagine myself living with a bf/husband, cannot imagine a roommate at this point, I’ve been alone too long. BUT I joke with my friends about doing the Golden Girl thing later on in life.

      • Theodora says 8.11.21

        @Becky: I was on a real deep downward spiral once about being single and dying alone…and my best friend was like um no, we’re going to have a compound and it turned things right around for me. OK EXCELLENT 🙂

  9. Maegan says 8.10.21

    This is such a specific question but looking at new apartments now and am very hesitant to live on the ground floor alone! How did you feel?? Better since you were in a building with friends (possibly the best situation I’ve ever heard of)?

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      I felt totally fine, safe neighborhood with businesses around and friends on top 🙂

    • Wendy says 8.11.21

      I’ve lived alone in multiple ground floors apts and felt totally safe. All were in apt complexes though if that makes a difference.

  10. Stacy says 8.10.21

    I’m going on 4 years living along, and almost never got the opportunity (I lived with my ex for years after college/we were engaged) and I’m so glad to have this time! I love my home, decorating, etc. and am very much an introvert so it works really well for me. I remember coming home from work one day while living with my ex, and was just depleted – I said hi, then walked into the bedroom and shut the door without turning on the light, just laid down in the dark/quiet. He came in so concerned about me, and I was like “I just need to not see or hear anyone for 15 minutes!” That’s when I started to realize I’m an introvert.

    Living alone certainly doesn’t help my anti-social tendencies, but having just moved to a new city, its something I’m working on. I look forward to sharing a home with a partner again someday, but for now I am loving having my home all to myself. Its my safe space.

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      I feel this so hard! I was the same way. When I lived with my (very extroverted!) ex, I didn’t understand about introverts and extroverts and how we recharge so differently. I’d do the same as you – come home from a hectic day in the office and just want silence. Same goes for previous roommates. I wish I’d had this knowledge with both that relationship and those friendships as it would have saved us all a lot of pain (I always felt weird/like something was wrong with me or that I was being anti-social or a brat!!!).

      But yes, it really is the best.

  11. mary says 8.10.21

    Living along is a skill every young woman needs to have because many of us may find ourselves living alone later in life and it’s nice to have that confidence that we will know what do to when and if the time comes. Regardless of whether you have a family or partner or roommate for part or most of your adult life, things change, sometimes unexpectedly. I’ve watched many a middle-age person struggle with newly lone living simply because they went straight from a roommate situation into a relationship that ended through death or divorce and they literally didn’t know how to pay the bills or operate a washing machine or just be in solitude. I also think living alone makes you a better future roommate, just knowing every detail of running a household. While I do not live alone now, I am grateful for the years I did. I also miss not having 100% say in the decorating choices.

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      That is a great thing to think about, thank you for sharingz!

    • M. says 8.12.21

      This is silly. I live w my partner but we share in everything: bills, laundry, fixing things etc. Why would I do something that makes me unhappy now just in case I wind up in an unfortunate situation later? Great if it’s your preference, but it’s not for everyone, and there will always be options to cohabitate with others.

  12. Melinda says 8.10.21

    I lived alone for two glorious years and cannot wait until life is in a place where I can do it again!

    After roommates who stole from me, thought it was appropriate to leave full pots/pans in the fridge and even one whose lack of care for her cats led to me almost losing my left eye, I could never live with a roommate again. I opted to live with my parents instead of dealing with another roommate. While it may not be for everyone, I am better at compromising with my family than I am with an outsider.

    Thank you for sharing your move and design experience as I bookmark items, sources and ideas for a future space that will be 100% my own (once the real estate market calms a bit).

  13. Caitlin says 8.10.21

    That might be a fun idea for a blog post: talking about all of your NY apartments, especially the early ones with unique layouts! Haha

    • grace at the stripe says 8.10.21

      I’ve talked about them before but don’t remember when. Sadly (not sadly) I don’t have photos!

  14. Lindsey says 8.10.21

    I’ve lived alone for 11 yrs after living with friends and partners for 10 years. I absolutely love living alone. My only concern is if in future I do want to live with a partner – after living alone for so long it might be a rough transition to live with another human again! (Oh, that is how you put your forks in the dishwasher? Interesting…..) . Jokes aside I’m sure for the right person the small compromises will be worth it, but for now I’m very happy living solo.

  15. Jess says 8.10.21

    I have lived alone for the better part of the last 24 years. I had a roommate for a couple years in my late 20s and it was a disaster. Then I crashed with my parents after graduation/while studying for the bar for about 5 months. Other than that I’ve been alone and I love it. All the online tests say I’m an extrovert but I need so much alone time to recharge I just don’t think that’s true. Someday I think I’d like to live with a partner, but there will have to be lots of ground rules!

  16. M. says 8.10.21

    This is so interesting! Living alone is my nightmare because I am an introvert. If I lived alone, I would never have the impetus to go out and spend time with people. I am always fine being alone in any given moment but long term I think it makes me sad and a even depressed. I’ve lived with two of my best girlfriends, both introverts, and it was amazing.

    Most importantly, I love to “treat myself to a murder,” I watch way too much SVU, listen to MFM repeats all day, etc. It’s BAD. I cannot be left alone, and would beg my roommates to have their partners sleep at our place rather than them leaving.

    Transitioning to living with my now husband was super weird. He is a huge extrovert with a lab job (didn’t talk to anyone all day) and I am an introvert with a job that involves near constant human interaction. It could not have been less ideal that way. The first few weeks were rough; he always felt neglected and I always felt like he was up my butt. We even saw a couples therapist who literally said it was “weird” and “way more than average” for me to want a full hour of alone time after work every day, and that “15 minutes is all most people need.” In a job with CONSTANT interaction. We stopped seeing her. I’m not sure how we hit an equilibrium; part of it was definitely finding activities that suited both of our needs, like “silent reading on the couch right next to each other time.”

    After three years cohabitating, I can’t stand when he’s gone for a night. Part of me feels like a horrible feminist and a clingy woman; part of me feels slightly smug that we’re still so in love after 7 years together haha. Mostly, I am very afraid of being murdered.

    • Maeve says 8.11.21

      I so appreciated this comment as someone who is also an introvert, also has a job that has CONSTANT human interaction from start to stop, and also has so valued my time living alone. I am terrified that I will really struggle to adjust to living with a partner but hoping that if it’s the right person, I’ll feel the one you describe in your last paragraph… that gives me so much hope!

      • M. says 8.12.21

        I’m soooo happy it helped!

        One thing I wished was that someone had warned me how hard it would be at first. The first two weeks were awesome (so novel! So new!) then the next few months sucked. I finally mentioned it to an introverted girlfriend and found out basically all our friends went through this but no one wanted to be the first to say it because we were afraid what it said about us.

        I knew he was the one because after a while spending time w him felt like being alone. The only other person who’s ever felt that was is my sister. I can actually recharge w them.

        Even before that point, it’s totally possible to work through! Expectation settling and clear communication go a loooong way.

  17. Wendy says 8.11.21

    I’ve lived alone for 13 years and love it. My space and routine are my own. During the pandemic, my then bf and I would spend a few weeks with each other but both our spaces were small. I loved coming home from work to him but I couldn’t live full time with a partner unless it was a much bigger space.

    I’m down for a retirement golden girls compound though.

  18. Natalie says 8.11.21

    I just started living alone earlier this summer and I love it! It makes me appreciate the social time I spend with friends so much more–it’s intentional instead of the semi-forced roommate chit-chat. I also love knowing that any mess I have to deal with is mine, haha.

  19. Rebecca says 8.11.21

    I’ve lived alone (on and off) for about 8 years. The biggest luxury for me is in not having to think about anyone else. I can figure out what I want to eat, watch, spend my money on and do (whenever!), without factoring in another person’s needs or plans. It is decadent!

    Honestly, I think this is how my partner and I are able to do indefinite long distance, because we both love our own space and enjoy sharing it with each other… part time 😀 Pandemic aside, I honestly feel like it’s the best of both worlds.

  20. Anne says 8.11.21

    I love living alone! I lived alone from ages 24-31 for many of the same reasons you outlined. It was a huge adjustment when I moved in with my then-boyfriend (now husband). Truthfully, I still struggle with it at times. I’ve learned I have to guard my solo time – sometimes that means reading alone in the other room or just telling him “hey, I need to decompress” so he isn’t offended when I refuse to talk for awhile, lol. When he goes to a movie with a friend, I secretly enjoy eating/watching TV/relaxing at home by myself!

  21. Denise says 8.13.21

    I agree with the thermostat 100%!