I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share some of the unexpected challenges they faced when living on their own for the first time.
Here's what they had to say:
Warning: This article contains detailed descriptions of mental illness.
1. "That the cost of living is built for a double income. I'm grateful to live alone, but I'm constantly worried about money. I wish living alone was more affordable, and we singles weren't punished for not having partners. It's harder for us to save for homes, retirement, everything."
2. "Paying the rent. I have a decent job (not great, but decent), but as a single person living alone, rent eats up more than it should. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that you're going to be living with a significant other who's splitting the rent, in which case, my rent would be affordable. Paying the rent alone is the toughest part about living alone; I really enjoy the solitude otherwise."
3. During the pandemic, I worried about getting really sick (like, stuck in bed, can’t move sick) and not knowing how I would take care of myself. Sure, my friend would have gone to the store and gotten me supplies and such and dropped them off for me, but if I can’t get out of bed or make it downstairs, what would I do? My family lives out of state, and when travel was restricted, they wouldn’t have been able to come. It stressed me out because I didn’t want my friends to have to risk their health and their families' health just because I’m on my own."
4. "Besides the high cost of living alone, the worst thing is fending for yourself while sick. There's no one else to pick up canned soup and medicine (although now it's possible to have things delivered), no one to take a giant bag of used tissues out to the trash, no one to help keep the house from getting too messy, no one to walk the dog, no one to keep an eye on whether your fever gets too high, etc. You feel too crappy to do anything, and you still have to do everything."
5. "My husband died almost five years ago, and I've been living alone since. I have some major health problems. I broke my hip again at the beginning of the year, and because I live in a secure building, nobody can get in without a key or someone letting them in. I wasn't able to move, so I had to call the emergency after-hours maintenance number, get them to contact security, and wait for security to arrive before I could call the ambos. I'm terrified that I'll have a fall, or something will go wrong with my health, and I won't be able to get help. I now have a personal alarm and a key safe at the front door of the building, so I can get help if necessary. I've had to have help with showering, because I can't safely get in or out of my shower while I'm using crutches. I've also needed help to put my shopping away, because I can't bend much, and when it's delivered, they just dump it at my door."
"My biggest fear is that I'll die, and nobody will know until the neighbours complain about the smell."
7. "Bills and slipping in the shower. I just moved into a two-story flat, and now I have to add falling down the stairs to the list."
8. "Taking mental and emotional ownership of the entire apartment. I grew up in an abusive home where I spent most of my time in my bedroom either in trouble or trying to avoid it. Roommate situations turned ugly, and I did the same thing again. When I got my apartment by myself four years ago, it took months, maybe a year, for me to feel comfortable hanging out in my own living room, eating in my own kitchen, really inhabiting the entire space at any hour of the day or night. I kept reminding myself: I'm allowed to. It still feels weird to get up and watch a movie at 3 a.m. when I can't sleep, but I'm allowed to."
9. "I’m divorced, and my ex is a horrible person, so not in the picture. The weight of all decisions is a big one. I’m exhausted all the time because everything is left up to me."
10. "When I lived alone, the worst part for me was cooking. I lacked so much motivation to eat in, because I knew I would end up with a ton of leftovers that I'd likely never eat. Couple that with having to clean dishes, which would be no one else's responsibility but your own."
"Otherwise, I absolutely loved living on my own!"
11. "It’s harder to cook for small amounts as most things sell for multiple servings. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper but not always practical for one person."
12. "The thing I worry about the most is how much I love living alone and am afraid of losing this freedom. After 10 toxic years with the wrong person for me, I’m not sure I want to cohabitate ever again (provided I can afford it). I’m not in a place to date anytime soon, but when I do, I wonder if this will be a hurdle in a relationship."
13. "A fear of someone breaking into my apartment. I always scope out the entire apartment when I get home, to make sure no one's gotten in, and I have a door bar and a door alarm for nighttime. Paranoid? Sure. But I live in an apartment where maintenance and even potentially former tenants could have copies of my key, and I want the peace of mind that no one's getting in. You see enough stories on the news about that to freak you out, as a single woman. When I lived with my parents, I never worried about any noise I'd hear in the middle of the night, because my dad was in the room next door and I knew he'd keep me safe. Now, I have to be the one to keep myself safe."
14. "I constantly heard noises in the night and would wake up at every little sound thinking it was an intruder for about the first six months. It was nerve-wracking."
15. "I also worry about becoming a Dateline episode, single woman in a rural town, always on my own. 😬 Thank goodness for security systems. I worry it would be days before anyone would think to check on me."
16. "When I first began living alone, I developed an irrational fear of taking an allergic reaction to certain foods. Sounds ridiculous, but I would avoid high-risk foods in case of sudden anaphylaxis and having to deal with it alone. I would create scenarios in my head which would involve banging on the neighbors' door for help whilst struggling to breathe. Thankfully, I've chilled out a bit now."
17. "Isolation is a little hard. I’m near LA, my dad and brother are near San Francisco, and my mom is in Mississippi. I’m really close to my family, so it’s been kinda hard not seeing them every week. I just graduated makeup school, so I had interaction there, but as a new freelancer fresh out of school trying to find work, sometimes I’m alone in my apartment for weeks. I’m trying really hard to fill my schedule with jobs because it can be torture being all by myself for days."
18. "I suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and OCD, and these were exacerbated when I moved into my own flat. I felt isolated and alone and couldn’t shake the intrusive thoughts that I was missing out or a loner. I tried so hard to enjoy my independence, but I ended up going back to my parents a lot. There were a lot of dark times sitting on my sofa alone with my head full of negative thoughts."
"I had to find simple things like Candy Crush or Sudoku just to get through each minute. I was single at the time which didn’t help as most of my friends were settling down. Luckily, my girlfriend came about a year later, and things felt a lot better. It felt great to have somewhere to meet up that wasn’t under the eyes of parents. Until then, though, it was such a struggle. Exercise, silly games, and going to a choir regularly were a huge help to get me through. Also, a new job which I enjoyed a lot more helped me feel more positive. I still have the flat, can’t sell it thanks to a tanked market, but someone else is renting it out and hopefully enjoying it now."
Are there other challenges of living alone you didn't expect? Sound off in the comments!
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.