Living alone + making the most of it

In February of 2014 I moved out of a home I had purchased and shared with my then boyfriend when I was eighteen. Up until I got that first apartment in Lakewood I had never lived alone. Its been just under three years now but it didn’t take me long to realize that living alone isn’t really my favorite. Don’t get my wrong, I’m obviously much happier now and in no way, shape or form do I regret moving… but that doesn’t mean that every moment in my apartment is a no pants dance party with my dog where I drink copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and sing at the top of my lungs or pretend I’m a really awesome rapper. (Most moments are though…) Sometimes this place feels foreign, and cut off from the world. It’s easy to miss the feeling of having someone nearby, in another room doing their own thing.

I’ve had this post in my drafts for over a year now, and it almost seems funny to post this considering my situation is about to change. Ahem. More on this soon, obviously. But judging from the response to my “just me, in my element” post from October there are a lot of you out there who might be in the same boat I was in a few years ago. Starting over by yourself, and living alone is a strange adjustment when it’s something you’ve never done before. I thought it might be helpful to share some things that help make living alone not so bad, some of the things that make my apartment feel cozy and like home. It’s also nice for me to write these things down because when I’m in a tizzy I tend to forget about the simple things, which are often the most helpful.

Tips for living alone + making the most of it!

Lights on! I’m huge on natural light. Like a flower, I open up in the sunshine. Evenings and nights are when I struggle the most with living alone, especially in the winter when it gets dark so early. I’ve found that when I have lamps on I’m less prone to get in a funk. I almost never use my ceiling lights, lamps are where it’s at. There’s just something really cozy about the light they put off, it feels like home to me.

Also, game changer – Christmas lights strung from the ceiling all year round! I’m pretty sure those will be a staple in every living room from here on out. Seriously, give it a try!

Clean up! Cleaning my apartment helps whenever I’m feeling down for two reasons.

  1. It gets my mind off the fact I’m bummed out. I’m a busy body, I really am happiest when I have something to do.
  2.  A clean home is a happy home. I never really feel at ease when there is a mess. It’s not always so easy to get started but
    it’s always worth it. Get those dishes out of the sink, if you’re lucky
    enough to have a washer and dryer get caught up on laundry, change your
    sheets. Maybe you’ll never enjoy doing these tasks but they’re
    definitely rewarding. Seriously, is there anything nicer than curling up in a fresh bed!?

Adopt a pet. Finding an apartment that allows pets is honestly stupid hard but never for a second would I consider not having my critters with me. Klaus, Professor, and Squid are LIFESAVERS. I honestly have no idea how anyone doesn’t have pets. They’re so much company, and they always seem to know when you need a little extra love.

Take a hike! Or ya know, just get out of the dang house! When I moved into my first apartment I felt isolated. I found it very easy to just hang out in my apartment… practically all the time. Staying home is nice but you gotta get outside and smell the fresh air, or you’ll go nuts. Explore your neighborhood, walk in the alleys you’ve never ventured through, go to the beach, go to the coffee shop, browse Target, just get out! I’ve found that the time I least want to leave is probably when I need to go the most.

In the past six months coffee shops have been my salvation. Being around people yet being left alone is perfect my jam! I don’t know why I haven’t been hanging out at coffee shops all my life.

Bring the outside in. Open your windows whenever possible. Its such a weird thing to mention but there are few things that make me feel as at peace as a clean house with a breeze blowing in. I think I got this from my mom who immediately after getting home always opens the windows. She calls the way a house smells when it’s all closed up “house-itosis”. You know, like halitosis but for your house.

And plants! I don’t think I need to remind y’all how much I love plants and just how happy they make me. I even have a hashtag over on instagram for my collection – #kaylahheartsplants. But did you know that houseplants are good for your health? Google it, then head to the store because now you have a solid excuse buy a few. You’re welcome.


Light some candles! I basically always have candles burning, one in each room of my apartment! There are two main reasons I became a crazy candle lady… 

  1.  They make your apartment smell good, duh! You can’t have house-itosis. I had a repair man here a few weeks
    ago who asked what I was baking because it smelled so delicious.
    It was just a candle!
  2. They add more light, not a ton but that cozy amount. There is something really relaxing about candles burning, especially in the evening.

TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods are all excellent places to look for inexpensive candles that smell nice. You basically can’t beat their price/quality ratio! If you prefer to shop online, I’ve got three favorites to share with you – P. F. Candle Co., Candelles, and Weird Beard Candle Co.

potatoes, and chicken cooked in this killer ginger lemon sriracha spice blend I picked up at Home Goods. It ain’t pretty but dang, it was good!

Make dinner! I lived alone for around a year and half where I basically had no idea how to cook anything outside of mac and cheese, and pepperoni rolls. Cooking wasn’t something I was interested in at all. I was perfectly happy with my crappy diet…or so I thought. I randomly caught the urge to cook and it makes living alone one million times more enjoyable. I’m not saying you need to be the next… uh, famous chef (crap! I don’t know any…except Guy Fieri and I hope you are the next Guy Fieri because I love him.) but knowing how to cook a few quick tasty meals is essential. A few of my go to meals are stuffed peppers, chili, and oven roasted broccoli. They’re not fancy but their aroma fills my apartment and that’s comforting for me.

Shortly after moving I got an email from a reader basically just sending encouragement. She said something about how she had went through a similar experience and that the short time she lived alone before marrying was some of the best in her life. It got me thinking about how many people never really get the opportunity to live alone. Family, then roommates, then significant others. While it’s not my favorite, it really does force you to learn about yourself, and learn to do things for yourself which is awesome. I guess I just wasn’t aware how strange and sometimes difficult it can be to be stuck alone with yourself. It definitely took me by surprise since I’m not even a people person, I cherish my alone time.

This is one of those posts that feels so personal that it makes me a little nervous to hit publish. I’ve identified these as things that have helped ground me. Yours may not be the same. Shoot, some of these may even stress you out but hopefully it’ll get you thinking about what helps ground you.

Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Making Dinner is a great idea! I love the way it makes my house smell. I lived alone for about a year and I always had white lights around, its super calming. I would like to add one to this, decorate your home for the holidays! Even if no one sees them but you! It helps to cheer you up when the holidays stress you out and it gives a sense of time passing that sometimes gets taken away from us when your home alone to much.

    • YES! I got rid of all my decorations when I moved out on my own and when the holidays came around I totally regretted it. I've slowly been building my collection of decor back up and it feels so good!

  • GREAT POST!! I have never really lived alone. I had a single for 1 or 2 years in college but I always had my door open. I liked the sounds and movement of other people. I don't know how I'd do by myself even though I am introverted. But I totally agree with all your tips. Windows open, lights on, CANDLES AND CRITTERS!
    And ahhhh WHAT is "about the change"???? *BUG EYES EMOJI*!!!! Spill!!!!

    • Same! I don't want talked to or bothered, I just like to know someone else is around.

      Oh you know, just might have gotten a sweet lil apartment with my man! I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED!!!!

  • I have lived with roommates, a couple of my significant others, my parents (as an adult), and by myself. For me, living alone is the absolute best. No one to tell you how to decorate, star-fishing in bed, not wearing pants.. I kind of want to just live in the condo next to my future husband.

    • I almost spit out my cereal when I read "star-fishing". Do you really sleep like that?! I sleep curled up.

      Living alone is definitely pretty great but with the right person decorating is a fun compromise, spooning>sleeping alone, and no pants ever regardless of who it is. 😛

  • Lovely post, Kaylah. And I totally agree – how do people live without pets? My cats are my absolute favorites. The amount of joy and calm they give me just with their presence is worth the less glamorous and restrictive parts of having a pet family.

    I also love x-mas lights in the living room. Have you ever tried taking a strand of colored lights, taking out the light bulbs, sorting them, and then replacing them in a color block pattern? I love it!

    • Exactly! I was going to try any type something really nice about my pets right now about how much they mean to me but then my eyes welled up and it's just too early to cry over something like that! LOL.

      No…? But that definitely sounds interesting. Do you have photos? I'd love to see!

  • Thanks for the great tips! I love living alone but these tips only enhance the experience. And I'm with you on the pets! I wouldn't live anywhere where I couldn't take my two kitties with me!

  • So much yes! I too went from living with my parents to living with my high school boyfriend. When we split ways I briefly stayed with my sister. Once I finally got back on my feet and got a place of my own it was so weird. But I think the thing I loved most was being able to eat whatever I wanted, when ever I wanted. (Even if it was Alfredo noodles four days in a row) I hadn't thought about it till now but I didn't buy my first houseplants till I was living solo 😉

  • This is such a great post, thank you so much for sharing this with us! 😀 I'm really happy that I'm finally living alone again, but it can get a bit stale at times. Cooking is indeed such a great thing to do, it feels amazing to whip up something tasty. And plants. Gosh, can't live without them. And candles (I'm almost out, yikes!). I will have to purchase some as soon as I pop out to get Christmas lights for my ceiling, because that is the best idea I've seen in ages.

    Happy Thursday! (Or is it still Wednesday?) Time zones, not my forte.

  • Always love the photos of your apartment. It looks so warm and enjoyable.
    I kind of expected that like me you'd thrive by living on your own. I really miss it, still, when already living with my boyfriend for over 16 years. I long to be all by myself for an entire day, not just half an hour here or there.
    Living alone or not: you need a pet, you always need a pet!

    Anyways: congrats on the to-be-announced changing of the situation 🙂

  • Thank you for this post, Kaylah. All the things you write about are very relatable. I love the little tips you give, it often really is about the small things. <3

  • Hi, semi-new reader here, I loved this. I just recently (in August) moved into my "first" apartment because I transferred to a new university. I've always been shy and kinda/sorta anti-social. But I know exactly what you mean about being alone around a lot of people. It's way better than being alone. I've found that I constantly feel down because I live alone. I don't have any roommates, pets, plants, or candles. I love the idea of Christmas lights on the ceiling! Christmas lights year-round are a must! By the way, I really like these personal posts. The reader doesn't have to enjoy them but if it's something you're proud of and don't feel ashamed about sharing, you should do it. It helps us get to know you better. You're such a cool person. Totally loving your hair too. 🙂

  • in my 20s I lived alone for a number of years, it was so lonely but helped me find 'me' again! and if it wasn't for the 3 kittens I adopted there were mornings I would never have got up. pets are a lifesaver!
    those kittens grew to be 18 years old and I said goodbye to the last one last week, I'm devasted, no one knows or understands what those moggies did for me x

    • Cats are also the reason I never get out of bed. Hehe! They're just so warm and cuddly. If it were up to them I think we'd all stay in bed all day.

      But I totally get what you mean! Got through some of my worst days just reminding myself that I have three sweet little critters to care for.

      I'm so sorry for your loss. <3333

  • I totally get where your coming from. I've lived with someone my whole life, and my mom tells me I'd be better off living alone (money though). When I first moved to Russia I was supposed to live alone, but the other American had issues so he ended up moving in with me. It was great, especially going through culture shock, but then his girlfriend kept spending more and more time here. He just moved out to move in with his gf and it's bittersweet. But I'm very introverted so it's nice to not have anyone around, although it was really empty in the beginning.

  • Thank you for this post! I'm planning on moving next year into a studio/onebed by myself and I gotta say, one of the biggest things I've been worried about is how to live just by myself after having roommates for all these years. Definitely gonna be following your tips!!

  • 45 years old and LOVE living alone. i'm mostly an extrovert so i go out a lot, and i work in an office mon – fri, but nothing feels as good as just relaxing in my house with no other humans around.
    really glad you found things to make living alone comfortable for you.

  • I've never lived alone- but I can feel you about some of the isolation that you can feel. I worked odd hours compared to my husband and some days I would be home alone in a small apartment for pretty much the whole day. You can feel cramped and trapped easily! I remember when I went to school I would constantly find myself reading or studying at tea and coffee shops. I think it helps a lot.