Moving out of your parent’s house comes with all kinds of new adventures and opportunities. Some are super exciting while others are pretty scary. Luckily, you don’t have to face them alone when you have roommates by your side. Your first roommates are like your lifelines for figuring out the real world. They’re there to push you out of your comfort zone and to talk you off the edge when you take things too far; they celebrate your biggest achievements and they’re the ones who come home with a tub of ice cream when all you need is good cry and a Netflix binge.

Even the not-so-great roommates have a few valuable lessons to offer. But, there are some things you can only realize by living alone. You really grow when you get your own place. You toughen up in certain ways and soften in others. You learn not everything is about you, but also discover deeper levels of who you are. Maybe you’re about to make the solo move at 25 or at 21, or maybe you’re only starting to consider the possibility of it. Wherever you are, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Here are five things no one tells you about living alone.

Decorating is really fun…and expensive

The first few conversations with a new roommate go a little something like this:

“I’ll get the microwave if you get the rug”

“Who’s bringing a futon/buying the couch?”

“Do we really need a TV, or should we get more things for the kitchen?”

When you live alone, though, you have to ask yourself all of these questions and more. You may have the perfect apartment decor dreamed up in your head, but your wallet may not be able to supply everything right away. Or, you may not know the first thing about decorating and decide to figure it out as you go along.

Either way, the best thing you can do is stay patient and remember this place is your home no matter what it looks like. Sure, there are certain things that make it cozier and more personal, but the moment you have your keys in-hand is when your new chapter starts. Embrace that and let all the design details fall into place in due time.

Every day is cleaning day

It’s one thing to get everything set up the way you want it, and another to turn the place into a complete mess. You’d think living alone would mean less cleaning up after the dishes that roommates never wash or the clothes they leave in the dryer. Actually, it’s the total opposite. There’s always something to clean up.

This is because there’s no one left in the apartment to clean but you. Even if you were the one who was always unloading the dishwasher with your roommates or who it usually fell on to take out the trash, now, everything is your responsibility.

You’re cooking and doing the dishes, you’re leaving clothes everywhere and doing all the laundry, and you’re constantly finding something that needs wiping down or tidying up. That’s just how it goes, and over time, you’ll find it’s easier to clean up after yourself than that two week pile of laundry makes it seem.

Not to mention, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for all the times roommates would clean up after you!

Meal planning is a must

Just as there’s no one else to share the cleaning with when you live alone, no one’s going to cook for you, either. Uber Eats and take-out do come in handy when you need an easy night, but if you’re ordering out every day of the week, you’re throwing money in the trash.

Moreso, it’s a waste of money to go grocery shopping every Monday and throw out bad food by the following week. You have to find the balance between quick, on-the-go meals and making time to cook, which can mean cooking something simple every day or meal prepping for the whole week.

This doesn’t mean you have to make complicated full-course meals all the time, although it wouldn’t hurt to eat something other than Easy Mac and frozen pizzas. Your body will thank you. Plus after a bit of trial and error at the grocery store, your grocery budget should be pretty consistent each week.

what no one tells you about living alone

Socializing requires more effort

You know those days when you’d come home to find your roommate ready to go grab dinner with friends or having people over? You open the door thinking you’ll head straight to bed, then end up staying up talking, laughing, and making awesome memories.

Such situations are rare when you live alone. It actually becomes easier to stay in and have a quiet night than it is to socialize. You have to go out of your way to keep in touch with old friends and even to make new ones, because in a way you’ve stepped back from your social circles.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For some, it’s great to have a place of their own to retreat to after work or recharge at after a long night out. Other people need a bit of a push to let their social side out, though. Be mindful of how often you’re cancelling plans or not even making any, and how much of an effort you make to set lunch dates and girls nights.

It’s so much better than you think

Living alone for the first time is kind of like being a freshman all over again–you’re wide-eyed and fired up for what’s ahead, but not entirely sure what to expect. As time goes on, though, you realize it’s everything you thought it would be and more.

When you live alone, you’re able to push your limits a little further every day because you become increasingly more honest with yourself. It’s harder to hide your bad habits and much easier to identify what makes you feel the most alive. You dive deeper into self-care and grow a more profound sense of who you are.

Then, one day you look around and realize you’re exactly where you need to be. Despite the learning curve of living alone and the newfound challenges you face, there’s nothing like waking up in your own bed every day, making all the rules, and turning a random one-bedroom or studio apartment into your cozy little home.  

Oh, and walking around in your underwear all the time is pretty cool, too.

what it's really like to live alone. tips for making the best of apartment living by yourself

To the ladies who live alone, what else have you learned from this lifestyle choice?

To those who have yet to make the jump – do it! You won’t regret it.