Relationships

On Living Alone

Cup of Jo editor Caroline shares an apartment with her books, her dog and no other people. Here are five (weird) things she’s learned while living alone…


I live alone. I am not a bumbling woman tripping over my shopping bags while waiting for a man (or anyone else) to save me. I am not covered in cat hair. I do not purchase frozen, single-portion meals. I am not a sad cliché.

In recent decades, the “single woman living alone” has a) become more common and b) morphed into something of a punchline. Think: Carrie Bradshaw, Liz Lemon, Peggy Olson. Centuries from now, if the “single female homo sapien” were on display in the Museum of Natural History, what might she look like?

If you live alone…you’re not alone! One-person households are far more common than they used to be. According to recent U.S. Census data, approximately 32 million Americans live by themselves, 55% of them women.

The truth is, I actually love my current dwelling situation. I can decorate however I want, be messy or neat, quiet or noisy based on my mood. I have one-woman dance parties, eat cold leftovers and watch endless 80s rom-coms without judgment. Solo living has forced me to grow in a myriad of ways, intentional or otherwise…

Being a party of one
It’s nice to share things—the remote, the guacamole, the details of your day. You want someone to laugh when you make a pun or to confirm whether an Instagram caption is funny. But somewhere along the way, whether you notice it or not, you become your own best friend. Living alone, you learn to laugh at yourself, and for that to count just as much. (I have a special song I sing on Wednesdays, to mark the middle of the week. I made it up, and no one else knows how it goes, and I very much prefer it that way.)

Learning to be courageous…
Without the presence of another human, my illogical fears grow wings. Sometimes, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and see the Grim Reaper (my robe) hovering near my bed. Or shriek when a terrifying demon (my dog) jumps on me in the wee small hours of the morning. I have been known to—very occasionally—leap into bed from a few feet away, to avoid the underbed alligators. Thankfully, the things that once seemed frightening fade away with time. I leap far less than I used to.

…and more empowered
When you live alone, you reap all the benefits. You also shoulder all the burdens. There is no one to share the expenses or the housework or to fix a broken toilet. Nonetheless, it’s empowering to know I can do all of the things on my own.

Developing rituals
Living alone makes me more in tune with myself, which is (mostly) a good thing. Solo habitation has inspired me to create beloved rituals that are just for me. I’ll go for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ll cook something (ah-hem, quinoa) that guests might not appreciate. There’s more time for books, for contemplating, for stretching out on the floor with the dog. Nowadays, it feels easier and more natural to create these moments for myself.

Embracing imperfection
Sometimes, I feel like that proverbial tree in the forest. If I fall, will anyone hear me? What’s more, will anyone care? For real, though—I am short, and there are many things I simply cannot reach (high kitchen shelf, smoke detector, impractically placed lightbulb). Every time I climb up on my trusty ladder, I think to myself, “If I fall, how long will it take until they find me?” I’d like to say there’s a lesson for this one, but maybe there’s not. There are less-than-ideal things about every living situation, and that’s okay.

Will I want to live alone forever? I don’t know. But I’m grateful for this time of flexibility and reflection. As Einstein once said, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth but delicious in the years of maturity.” I’ll savor the deliciousness. At least, for now.

***

What’s your living situation right now? Roommates? Cats? Dogs? Children? Do you live alone? Do you like it? We’d love to hear…

P.S. Married couples who live in separate houses (and swear it’s the best thing for their marriage), and would you travel alone?

  1. This is a great post. It really reminded me of Sasha Cagen’s essay and then book about being a “quirkyalone” – google it and you’ll find her website. I really think it will resonate with you. It’s a wonderful expression of why being single is not a sad thing, and that “quirkyalones” can also be very happy “quirkytogether”!

    I also treasured my days of living alone, and now live happily with my husband. Sometimes I relish having “single Fridays” when he goes out and I stay home alone on the couch with wine and takeout :)

  2. Well I live alone and im fine with it. I never cared to stop and think of these things people worry about. It’s what it is. I have people over. My friend says at times and I’m glad when they leave lol acturaly I am a mom of two cats and no I have no car hair issues lol

  3. Moving into a studio by myself in a couple months. Not to mention, moving to a city where I know absolutely no one. I am absolutely a little nervous but this made me feel better :) Thx Caroline! xxoo

  4. I lived alone in a lower-income, very local district of Cairo, Egypt where there weren’t any other expats for a few months, and the first few nights in my house could hardly sleep at all. Once I got used to it (read: after I had satisfied my naggy little brain that there was absolutely no way anyone could break in), the solitude was kind of nice. I eventually did end up getting a male roommate, which did wonders for my peace of mind, but I still look back on those few months with this weird sense of pride.
    Seeing as I got married immediately upon returning to the US, it was really the only point in my life that I had a place all to myself. I still escape to that crappy little house when I need a mental break!

  5. Loved the piece! I had never lived alone (ever) until my husband of 28 years left (my children were grown). Yes, it was lonely at times, but I came to love it! Being able to do what I wanted when I wanted was very liberating!

    I did it for a little over 2 years until I moved in with the man who became my second husband. He is semi-retired and I work full time – so the times I am alone in the house are very few and far between – I miss that. I also miss the freedom of not having to check in with anyone.

    Enjoy the positives of living alone…there are many!

  6. What a great post! Also, your apartment is adorable from what we can see of it. Question: That paint color is fabulous! Do you happen to have the name of the color?

  7. n. says...

    I couldn’t afford to live on my own until I was in my early 30s, after living with roommates and significant others my entire 14 years in NYC. Once I moved to San Francisco I made the plunge (and it was not a cheap one) and furnished my jr one bedroom (aka slightly larger studio) slowly and on my own. A year and a half later it’s my favorite place on earth because it’s all mine and true representation of ME. I don’t think anyone could walk into this space and not get a very strong and accurate sense of who I am and that’s something very comforting to me. Also no one yells at me for not doing my dishes (although sometimes my boyfriend will be like… still haven’t done those huh? And then he’ll do them for me. WIN WIN).

  8. Blessed be those who revel in their own company! Your commentary is insightful and lifting. Many women feel less than complete without someone else to justify their existence. Whether we realize it or not, we are all single, discreet humans who work out their existence with others. If you are not “okay” with yourself, you will never be able to become part of something larger. Thank you for your blog!

  9. I loved living alone! All through college and before getting married I mostly lived alone- roommates are nice, but nothing beats a quiet house and doing what you want ;) Caroline is my girl crush haha

    http://www.lemonbutterlove.com/

  10. Love the books in the kitchen!

    I don’t get the whole emphasis though, I sometimes feel as if living with other people (family or flatmates) is seen as the normal thing, in many countries though, statistically that is not true (anymore?).

  11. I recently moved out of a house with roommates because I could not stand another moment living with them and their bad habits. Now I live alone and although paying for everything myself sucks, it has definitely given me more peace of mind and time to enjoy living the way I want! :)

  12. I live with my roommate, Charlotte. A two and a half year old who likes to hide bananas behind chairs and claims the couch as her own (she’ll literally push me off it.) I’m always surprised though that when Charlotte is off at Grandma’s how alone I feel when she’s not there, I even have trouble falling asleep.

  13. Oh, I actually think there’s too much taboo around this subject. Although I live with my husband, I am quite happy in my own company and have lived on my own before and was happy. I guess it just depends on the individual. I couldn’t live without my cat though!

  14. This is a great conversation to be having! I think everyone could probably benefit from the lessons learned while living along for a time, no matter how long it is. Based on the evidence in this post as well as elsewhere, it’s a self-sufficiency that can really boost your self-confidence and ability to really function as your own person.

  15. Wonderful post! I now live with my boyfriend and dog, but relish a little alone time when K is traveling for work or out with the guys. I sing along to YouTube karaoke videos at the top of my lungs and eat giant bowls of purple grapes.

  16. I recently got married, and shortly after my husband moved away to start a 2 year graduate program. Many thought we were crazy to do the long distance relationship AFTER getting married, but I have a great job and ultimately we would like to settle down where I/we are living, so it seemed silly for me to move. While I thought I would be lonely, I actually have found myself growing in many ways Caroline mentioned above. My apartment stays as clean or messy as I want, the remote is mine, and I can prepare and eat healthy meals without the typical carb-loaded temptations my husband enjoys. I also appreciate the feeling of empowerment of fixing small issues myself and feeling comfortable going to bed by myself feeling safe and secure. (To be honest, I do like with our 75 lb. dog so that helps a little :)). I actually have really grown to enjoy my time alone during the week, and I’ve also found it really makes me appreciate the time I have with my husband on the weekends. I feel fortunate to have had this experience and would encourage others to do the same if they have the opportunity.

  17. Wow, is that Caroline’s apartment? It looks so amazing and adult! I live alone currently, I’m a graduate student finishing up my masters degree. I think one of the things I love the most is being the only one responsible for things like taking out the trash and cleaning – I can’t get frustrated if a roommate forgets to share the responsibility! Also one of the BEST things is…. Peeing with the door open. The first time I did it when I moved in it felt funny and weird but liberating. Now, it’s one of my favorite things, haha.

  18. Thank you for sharing this intimate look into your everyday. Both you and Joanna really give so much to women by sharing so openly. I loved my time alone, it was so necessary and helpful and insightful, and I am loving my time with my family — husband and pre-school twins — and I feel like both are enriched by having had the other times in my life. BALANCE, right, it all comes down to balance, and having a happy life requires enjoying and revealing in what we have as well as dreaming and making room for what we want next. Thank you again.

  19. I just want to say, I’ve been a long time reader and I really enjoy the addition of Caroline to this site.

  20. I always had roommates, but I did get to live alone for about a year and loved it. I currently live with my fiancee (we bought a house together two years ago) but the good news is that he travels for work and is gone maybe one sometimes two (!) nights a week for work, so I get the house to myself! And it is the best ever! I eat cheese and crackers or popcorn for dinner, don’t turn any lights on, and watch The Good Wife in bed on my iPad. Glorious!

  21. Love this post! I lived alone for a year after a break up, and at first I found it terrifying, but then I realized what a wonderful way it is to get to know yourself. It was so freeing to realize I was doing things because it was what I, and I alone, wanted to do.
    Also, I think your point about it being empowering is a really good one. For the first time ever I had to learn how to fix things/install things, and I’m so glad I did! I’m more independent than ever before. Thanks for sharing, Caroline!

  22. I love Caroline’s posts! I live alone too, and can totally relate!

    theshinyprettyhappy.com

  23. A Wednesday song! Just yesterday I was thinking we should have more seasonal songs – for seasons other than Christmas – but I didn’t think of having songs for different DAYS. I love it.

  24. I lived alone for 4 years (age 27-31), until i got engaged/married. I loved that time by myself! It’s a wonderful gift to know that you can make it on your own. Life has no guarantees. As much as I adore my life in a house with my son and husband, I miss some of those moments of solitary living. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  25. I live alone, after living with my boyfriend for almost 4 years (we decided working and living together was killing the relationship). It can be a teeny bit lonely but I love it! It’s making me rely on myself so much more. Want to go to that dance class? You have to go by yourself and make friends. I also find I call people on the phone more if I want a chat, which reminds me of being a kid before texting was invented.

  26. I lived alone, with roommates and currently with my boyfriend (in tiny tiny apartment). I enjoyed all three… but now when my boyfriend (who is an airline pilot for a few months) is away, it’s like back in my single days ! All doors open, me in my panties dancing on cheesy music and binge watching “the mindy project”… And I have time to really think and make plans and call my girlfriends to talk openly. That’s why I’m enjoying this lifestyle of having a “part-time” boyfriend. For now !
    (sorry for my bad english for france…)

  27. What a great post, Caroline! You’re cool!

    I recognize a lot of what you write. I’ve always lived on my own until I was 34! And even though I’m now happy to share the guacamole, I sometimes miss those days walking around in pyjamas the whole saturday, leaving the dishes in the kitchen for a day (or more), and watching friends or gilmore girls episodes for the 20th time. There were days that I sometimes wanted to yell: ‘no, I’m not a sad single cat lady, I actually love my life alone most of the time!’

    Caroline: enjoy your life as strong, independent and fun loving single!

  28. I sometimes wish I’d lived alone before meeting my husband and marrying young.

  29. I’m super interested to know how you (Caroline) handle the finances of living alone! Especially in a place like NYC. I lived alone for 6 months up until just recently in LA, and found rent to be so darn expensive. Your apartment looks adorable!

  30. I lived alone for years and I loved it – peace whenever I wanted it; freedom to watch whatever crap I felt like on TV and to eat nothing but garlic bread for dinner if that’s what I fancied; the strength that comes with figuring out DIY and crises on my own.

    I live with my partner now and I love this, too, in different ways and for different reasons, but having (both) lived alone means I know I’m with him because I want to be in his company, not because I’m scared of being by myself.

  31. I’m a graduate student who started out sharing a house with two other girls and I had to move. I love the peace and quiet from living by myself now. It’s perfect in that it allows me to have my own schedule.

  32. I lived alone for almost 6 years in my mid to late twenties. I think it was such an essential & formative time for me to build a friendship with myself. To this day, I love my solo time more than most. On a totally separate note, I used to live in a house with that same giant sink & I loved it! Enjoy this time for yourself, Carolyn!

  33. I lived alone for years (sometimes I had a roommate) but for the most part I lived alone and I loved it! I got married in my mid 30’s and then had three kids within three years. It was a huge shock to the system. I love my three crazies, but there are moments that I get nostalgic for my alone times.

  34. Love this! I live with my hubs and my dog but that bit about creating rituals resonated, because its so hard to do with two other bodies in the apartment. I love them so but I miss the freedom!

  35. I lived with my parents until I was 35 years old, last September, so imagine how happy and free I feel! I don’t even have a dog (they’re not allowed :( ). The first days I would take the phone to the bathroom in case I slipped in the bath xD And Joanna, thanks for the link to the Heimlich maneuver on self!! (I hope I’ll never need it, though)

  36. Caroline, thank you so much for writing about this. I too live alone. I enjoy my space and being completely independent. But, I get anxiety at night. Normal sounds and shadows are always monsters and bad guys in my head. And sometimes I wish I didn’t live alone just to feel a little safer at night.

    I was so glad to read this post today and realize I’m not the only one.

  37. would love to see the rest of her apartment. looks adorable!

  38. Currently in a 600 sq. ft. apartment with my boyfriend and 6 month old pup but I’m making the move to New York in the next few months! I’ve thought a lot about living alone just so I can take my time adjusting to the city at my own pace, pressure-free. This was a great perspective, Caroline!

  39. DThis is my first time EVER living alone in my adult life. It’s been an adjustment but exciting! I have to agree with decorating however you want is a nice plus ;) I would also add to the list of things you learn is how to artfully carry large/heavy objects up the stairs. Have definitely had moments when carrying furniture upstairs by myself where I had to stop and laugh at how much of a maniac I must have looked while doing so! Cheers to living alone and finding enjoyment in the little things!

  40. You may not read down this far but if you do– what is the blue paint color of the backsplash in your kitchen??? Love it! Thanks!

  41. The only time I lived alone was when I spent six months on a work assignment in Berlin. Everything above is so true! It forced me to grow as a person in ways I’m so proud of today. I wish I could have afforded to do it when I was in New York too ;)

    Now I’m married with a dog and damn do I relish being home alone… although I sing made up songs regardless! “who wants to go on a little bitty walk?!” is a real classic to be enjoyed for generations to come… surely…?

  42. I read your post today from a different perspective, but with so many of the same thoughts. I live alone (if you don’t count my 3 pups). My children are grown, and 3 1/2 years ago my husband passed away.

    It’s definitely been an adjustment, and yes, I still can’t reach some of the foolish light bulbs and I’m not sure why they even make those very top shelves, but getting to know myself, getting to know how strong I really am has been a good thing.

    I do wish sometimes someone would laugh when I think I am quite witty, but it’s also nice not having to talk, or share the remote if I don’t want to.

    I was fun to read from your point of view, Caroline. Enjoy this time in your life.

  43. This was a really great post. Enjoy your time living solo! Living with a husband and three kiddos now (who I love, of course), I do miss my solo living days from time to time. Like when I can’t walk through the house without stepping on a lego :)

  44. I have 3 roommates and love it. I think I wouldn’t have minded living solo if I’d had a pet around, but the financial savings of having roommates was awesome, and I am not the type to seek out friends, so having them plopped right in front of me (or just across the hall) is perfect for me.

    By the way, even with 3 roommates, I still jump on the bed from 3 feet away to avoid the alligators ;-)

  45. 32yo woman, living with boyfriend of a little over 2 years with our 8 month old cat. Sure there are things that bother me about living with a man but I love them both very much. I’ve lived on my own twice and enjoyed it immensely. Do what you want and have nothing to prove. I do enjoy making a home with someone and having a warm body/furry face at night though. Perks of both I guess.

  46. I LOVED living alone, once I got used to it. In fact, I had a very difficult time adjusting to living with my husband once we started living together.
    I think that had mostly to do with the fact that I got zero time to myself, as I can eat all the guac any time I want and I don’t mind sharing decorating decisions. Plus he’s really good at banishing alligators and demons.

    Dual houses connected by a bridge DO sound incredible though!

  47. Jo says...

    Oh, I have loved Caroline since the day 1 she came on board!

    These are very keen observations. It is so great that you truly enjoy your single life and living alone (although a dog is a REAL nice companion almost equivalent to a partner!) now. That is truly admirable. I’m so happy for you.

    I lived alone for a good number of years (7 years) before starting a family and I LOVED it. I always had a ton of girlfriends coming over for sleepovers and my apartment was like a sorority house… Those were the days! Haha.

    Thank you for this awesome post!

  48. I love the color you painted your kitchen!

  49. Thank you Caroline. After 5 years of living with my boyfriend, I am starting a new chapter: living solo. The timing of this post couldn’t have been better!

  50. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE living alone. I don’t want to live alone forever, but I’m a little concerned I’m forgetting how to share and compromise :)

  51. kristaaaay, good for you!!!! hope you’re settling into your new place.

    these comments make me wish i had lived alone at some point. i never have either! just parents -> college -> nyc roommates -> husband.

  52. And let’s be honest, you don’t have to share the wine with anyone, either! :)
    ~ Samantha

  53. While living alone I often practiced what I considered ‘safe’ things so that I couldn’t be the random victim of some crime and at my funeral my family would shake their heads and say “We always TOLD her to check and make sure the doors were locked!”

  54. I have always been intrigued by the idea of moving into a single apartment in some big city… I loved reading about what you can learn about yourself from doing that. Hopefully someday I can try it out for myself!

  55. I lived alone for four years (my boyfriend lived at the time in other city) and I agree with Caroline: all good and bad moments are for you but you learn to cherish them all. Now, married, three children and a US aupair. Such a change…

  56. I don’t live alone, but I do spend time by myself. Caroline, I love the idea of creating moments for yourself (whether inside or outside the house), and I definitely think it’s something everyone should try. Company is great, but enjoying time alone is great too!

  57. I lived alone most of my twenties. I was living alone and didn’t make the 1.5 hour move until we became husband and wife. It was awesomely old fashioned and modern! All that self sufficiency is holding me up emotionally now that I also stopped working to be home with our children. It’s weirdly hard to appreciate just being with the kids.

  58. I never knew there were stereotypes to living alone – I just assumed everyone this day in age did it at some point! (In fact, I’d kind of feel like they were codependent stage 5 clingers if they didn’t? Of course, in cities like NYC where rent is cray, I guess it’s more understandable.)

    I loved living along. In fact, that’s always been the scariest thing about commitment: “What if he moves in….and never leaves….and I never get to live alone again.”

    Luckily he doesn’t take up much space and knows I NEED alone time. ;)

  59. Living alone is the BEST! I miss the year I spent living solo, cleaning up my own messes, grand kitchen projects, walking around naked (has anyone mentioned the glory of just that?)…
    I have two lovely housemates now, but I still house-sit/cat-sit/cog-sit for couple-friends whenever I get the chance. Oh, the sweet solitude :)
    Thanks for sharing, Caroline!

  60. This post makes me so excited to get my own apartment and of course, own puppy! I’m currently living in a single dorm room at college (blah) but these things are so relevant to the lessons I’ve learned. Through living alone I’ve understood myself better, and I am able to love myself more and more everyday!

    http://riahwrites.com/

  61. I really enjoyed living alone! It was fantastic. I’m currently cohabiting and there are lots of good things about this too but definitely looking forward to having somewhere to call my own again someday.

  62. For a while I worked with a group made up almost exclusively of single women living alone. The discussion of ‘how long could I be dead in my apartment before someone noticed’ came up a few times. We decided that the worst time to die alone in our apartments would be on a Friday evening (or the evening before a long weekend) because we could conceivably be on left there until partway through Monday (when our boss assured us she’d start to investigate if we didn’t show up for work). Not that long, in the grand scheme of things, but for a while we would send hilarious weekend text messages just to make sure we were all still alive. I recommend this practise.

  63. I have sharks under my bed! ;-) I love this post!

  64. I just moved out into my own apartment LAST WEEK for the first time and when I saw this post up today I about died! I had been googling and googling, looking for some sort of positive encouragement about living alone and couldn’t find anything. Thank you so much for posting this and making me feel like I just did something really cool :)

  65. I currently live with two roommates (one of which i share a bedroom with) and at this point in time i just can’t see myself living alone. living with best friends is fun and i think im too chatty to live alone at this point in my life. But I just turned 21 so i’m sure i’ll feel differently when i’m older (plus you make it sound a lot less lonely than i always thought it would be). also thank you for linking that act of god book it sounds amazing!

  66. I have never lived alone and right now I live with my husband, two teenage children, two dogs and my mother-in-law. We live in a 90-year-old house with one bathroom in an LA canyon. I am not complaining but I am so jealous of people who live alone.

  67. How I envy you Caroline. For my entire adult life I have lived either with my parents until I was 25 (it’s pretty normal in Latin America) and then on shared flats in student residences. The shared flat was nice when I got along really well with my flatmates to the point where they are one of my best friends. But now I live with people who don’t make an effort to reach out, and by now I’m over it. The thing is my financial situation doesn’t allow me to live alone, but I dream of doing it at some point.

  68. Amazing post! And at the perfect time, too! I m just about to move out of my beloved shared appartment to live alone. Honestly, I am scared as hell since I have lived alone for a year, powered through it and was so happy to have people around again. However, working as a doctor and having night shifts makes living with other people, especially flatmates very tricky. I just had to end a relationship with a guy I loved deeply and it seems like a very tricky moment to move into an appartment in my own. I am so scared that the feeling of loneliness will multiply and swallow me alive. Still, I believe in doing what scares you so you grow and conquer your fears. So I will do it and hopefully, it will be the right decision…I love all your posts, Caroline! They always help me.

  69. I love my spouse. I love my spouse. I love my spouse (I really do! But sometimes I also *really* miss living alone)

  70. amy and katie, the podcast sounds amazing! thank you.

  71. I lived alone for 2 years and my boyfriend recently moved into my small brooklyn one bedroom apartment.

    Those 2+ year alone taught me so much and was a huge time of growth for me. i really feel so very proud that i pay my own bills and provide for myself. It was beyond empowering. It became a source of strength and gave me courage to speak up more.

    Caroline’s experience absolutely resonates with me. i felt the same way many times.

    I true believe that the period i spent living alone has made me a better person. While i’m far from perfect, i feel I’ve set myself up to be truly happy and have a great life.

    Looking forward to my next chapter of building a home with my boyfriend :)

  72. I’m in my 20s and living alone for the first time. After going through a break-up with my long term boyfriend I was really nervous about living alone, but now love it! Everything you wrote is so true. Learning to laugh at yourself, having confidence in your abilities, making your own choices. Thanks for making me feel less alone!

  73. Alone does not = lonely. There is a great deal to be said for Solitude

  74. I second the recommendation to listen to the Death. Sex & Money podcast episode on living alone. All episodes of this podcast are great – but this one was especially interesting, and echoed many of the same things.

  75. If I had a daughter I would tell her to LIVE ALONE AS LONG AS YOU CAN. I mean, I wouldn’t yell, but I would preach. I had always been someone who needed to be surrounded by people. Boyfriends, roommates, you name it, I flocked to it. But somewhere after college while working my first “real” job, I had an opportunity to buy a condo. Alone. The horror. I was dating someone seriously but it wasn’t the right time to take the relationship to another level. So I pulled the trigger and flew solo for several years. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Sure, it sucked when my car was stolen from the parking lot and I only had myself to ask, “wait, I put that there, right?” but for the most part? Bliss. The whole bed to myself, long baths, decorating on a whim and drinking too much wine sans judgement was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, now that I’m married (see serious boyfriend above) and have a little boy, the companionship and energy of a full house is great. But boy do I miss those baths. Let’s be real, just being ALONE in the bathroom at this point is a treat. Sigh. Cue “Memories, like the corners of my mind…”

  76. Living alone was the best thing I have ever done for myself! I encourage every young woman to do the same. It is so empowering to know that I can take care of a household completely on my own. Now that I am married, I love living with my husband, but I still love my time at home without him for those 80s movies and one-woman dance parties.

  77. I lived alone for one glorious month in my 20s before my roommates moved in. Then my boyfriend moved in. Then we had a kid.
    I realized a little while ago that I may never really live alone and I was bummed. I LOVED it.

  78. Caroline, what a great post! I have always wanted to live alone so it was really fun to read this! I imagine I would really love it but I could see myself holing up and never leaving. I would have to force myself to get up and get out of the house. I’m glad you are getting this experience, inevitably, no matter how good the next phase is, you will miss this.

  79. I completely love living alone. Long baths. Complete control of music. Going to move in with my other half soon (and am looking forward to it, I swear…) but I will miss my own space! Relishing it even more at the moment… Virginia W was right – a room of one’s own and £200 a year (or a bit more nowadays) is a powerful thing

  80. I’ve lived by myself for most of the last 10 years (I’m 28). I LOVE it!! I’ve discovered that most people’s hangups about a woman living alone have to do with their own insecurities and issues (this is true for most things, esp when it involves how a woman chooses to live her life, though). I often forget that it’s even a “thing” until I meet new people and they inevitably try to connect me with roommates. It is funny though, most people think because you’re single (or just not married) and live by yourself, that you have an endless amount of free time. Um, no! Part of the reason I choose to live by myself is that I have a FULL life. I love coming home to an empty (besides my dog) apartment at the end of the day and being able to just turn off. I’ve never felt lonely or scared, in fact I’m so proud of the fact that I’m able to live by myself and don’t need to rely on another person for rent. I look at my friends who went straight from their parents’ to a dorm to their husband’s home and I just can’t help but feel that I’ve had an entirely different (maybe better?) experience in my 20s than they have. I think everyone should live alone for a bit, you learn so so much about yourself and life!

  81. I lived with other people my whole life. When I re-became single at 32 I hated living alone but, now on the verge of getting re-married I miss many things about being alone. I could not sit on my kitchen counter now without a volley of protest from my neat freak man. Now that I’ve experienced both I don’t know if one or the other is better. But that’s our little secret ;)

    Thanks for sharing Caroline!

  82. I live alone too, and love it! Eating pickles straight out of the jar and folding laundry topless have become my guilty pleasures…plus I can listen to my “sad” indie music all day and night without judgement. Thanks for another brilliantly honest post, Caroline! xo

  83. Can we get an apartment tour?!? Caroline’s place looks amazing!!!

  84. Caroline, good for you! The way life unfolded I never had the opportunity to have my own apartment before meeting my husband. These days we’re temporarily living with my inlaws and it has been incredibly challenging mentally. My husband and I and our 2 kids all long for the day when we will have our own house again bc we dearly miss those private, little family rituals and the breathing space we once had.

  85. What a great find Caroline is! I love the honesty.

  86. I’ve lived alone before and it’s not really for me, but I do agree that you become more attuned to your own needs and wants.

    Mostly though, I am in awe of those books.

  87. I lived along for the last four years and have LOVED it–I bought a house by myself and so much fun decorating it exactly as I envisioned–sure sometimes dinner is a single frozen meal; and I do have a couple cats–so cat hair is inevitable. But I found the situation empowering and was always proud I could do that for myself. My boyfriend just moved in, and while I’m very excited for the new chapter–I’m so glad I have lived by myself. If I ever find myself in that situation again, I know it will be fine. My mother never lived by herself and always said it was something I MUST do. Every woman should have money and a room of her own…

  88. I wasn’t nearly as cool when I lived by myself…

  89. Thank you, everyone, for these wonderful comments! Caitlin—I’m actually working on a house tour, and we’ll be sharing it soon!

  90. I lived alone several years ago before I met my husband. I’m glad I did. I felt like I proved I could be a grown-up and look after myself. I have to say I enjoyed aspects of it, but I am a fraidy cat and being alone at night still scares me. There is nothing wrong with living alone, and I am not sure anyone thinks that people who live alone are weird. I’d live alone any day of the week vs. having a roommate (an actual roommate, I don’t mean my husband haha).

  91. Um, where do you live? That kitchen looks AWESOME! Can we see more??

  92. I love this! I have never lived alone and it’s something that makes me quite sad. I remember when I was a kid that was the thing I was looking forward to most about being an adult (I was going to have lots of cats and only eat only mayo sandwiches). Now I’m an adult, but I’m married with young children and I realize that I may never live alone (plus the thought of bread with just mayo is now kind of disgusting and I’ve become a dog person). I’m glad that you get to experience this Caroline — enjoy!

  93. This was undeniable lovely. “I have a song I sing to myself on Wednesdays.” I’m dying!

    I’ve never lived truly alone, and have been living with my boyfriend now for almost four years. But he is currently out of town and I am enjoying it way too much. Cake and wine for dinner? Seinfeld re-runs playing even if I’m in the other room unabashedly plucking rogue hairs from my face and body? Making lasagna that literally takes up every surface in the entire apartment, from living room to bedroom? It makes me feel alive!

  94. Living alone rules! I don’t understand why people think it is weird. You are independent, you learn to enjoy and look forward to your time alone, and you have a space that is totally yours.

  95. M. says...

    I shared houses, appartments and lived alone within the past five years and i have to say that i absolutely LOVED living alone – maybe a bit too much : sometimes i wouldn’t leave my place for days in a row and wouldn’t mind.at.all.

    I now share a tiny appartment with a friend in Paris but before that i lived alone for two years and it was glorious! I dreaded living with someone again after that but so far, so good, and i’m surprised that i actually find it really nice! I think one of the reason why it works is that we have completely different schedules and sometimes we don’t see eachothers for days, so it allows both of us to have enough ‘me time’, and then it’s super nice to meet again and catch up around breakfast or dinner :)

    Although i have to say, when she left for a trip a couple weeks ago i reenacted all my old girl-on-her-own quirks : from being afraid of my own reflection in the mirror to cooking pantless and eating dinner in bed ;)

  96. I live with my siblings, I dream of the day I get my own place, I’m made for living alone. At the moment that will impossible but I’m waiting for the day where I can do what I want, when I want

  97. I love that you have a Wednesday song. And I, too, have one woman dance parties. Having those little things that you and only you know about are very important and grounding. And having an entire place to yourself is very liberating. I still have those little fears sometimes too… like, what was that noise??? But actually I worry more about whether or not I could ever assimilate back to sharing a living space with someone.

  98. i live with my partner but i am in fact usually covered in cat hair and do purchase frozen single-portion meals…

  99. I lived alone for about a year, and really loved it. I moved back to my hometown and my parents and I renovated a little house that I rent from them. It was so fun being able to make the decisions about paint colors and carpets and kitchen cabinets exactly the way I wanted it all to be! I have since had several roommates, and particularly since tensions are a little high with my current roommate I am longing for my solo-living days again.

    Thanks for reminding me why I loved it so much! It might just be the boost I need to have “that conversation” with my roommate :)

  100. I lived alone for 4.5 years and will continue to live alone for a few more months (I am getting married this summer). At first, it was weird to live alone – especially eating meals alone and cooking for one. BUT I totally got used to that and would say the benefits far outweigh the burdens. I loved it! I feel much more independent than I did before I had that experience. I can also totally relate to your illogical fears – I lived on the third floor but was convinced someone might use a ladder to crawl into my room at night (too much Law and Order).

  101. I’m married, so I don’t live alone, but I always did in college and post-college. I L-O-V-E living alone. I love being able to retreat, do things my own way, etc. Honestly, I still miss it. I kinda wish I could have my own apartment, in addition to living with my husband. That’s a thing, right?

  102. I loved living alone. It was always so weird to me when my friends didn’t take the opportunity to have that experience.

    I worked in a cheese shop at the time and my favorite thing was take cheese home once a week, open a bottle of wine and watch terrible tv. It felt so indulgent!

    When I lived alone, I refused to have a bed frame and kept my bed on the floor- one less place for someone ( or alligators) to hide!

    I love living with my husband, but I do look forward to the odd weekend that he goes away :)

  103. I live alone with my dog, too. I find myself INCREDIBLY bonded with my dog; she’s there for me 100%. It’s really nice to come home to someone who is so enthusiastic to see me. I’ve lived alone-alone too, and having a dog is definitely a huge step up. I will say, it’s really nice when my mom visits—I LOVE having someone I love in the house with me, too. It is really empowering to own your space, though—I have fixed a toilet, replaced a doorknob, hung shelves, painted my basement, etc. all by myself. Any time Mr. Right would like to make an appearance, though, I’m ready to share my space! :)

  104. I currently live with my husband, but I lived alone for three years before moving in with him, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I LOVED living alone– yes, it was hard sometimes, but I found the politics of living with a roommate to be much harder!

    There is so much good stuff you are forced to learn living alone– an entire household budget, how to get stuff fixed, throwing a party on your own, making sure you keep normal society hours– I think everyone should have to live alone for a while!

  105. I lived alone for all of my 20’s and almost always loved it (aside from those late night who would notice if I died fears). I only stopped because I met someone I love more than I loved living alone. Even still our schedules are different enough that I get to spend long stretches of time in our apartment alone.

  106. Great post! I always enjoy Caroline’s contributions.

    Aside from a year and half spent living with an ex boyfriend, I have lived alone since sophomore year of college! I love it and can’t imagine it any other way. I do sometimes wonder if I’m missed out on the – living with 3 girls – thing, but I think I’m good.

    But! I still have sleepovers with other close solo living girls. We get to cook dinner, make drinks, and get ready for the night, and then have “comedy hour” the next morning, aka recapping the antics of the previous night. Always enjoy it and always enjoy getting back into my own nighttime routine.

  107. @M.M. — I took a first aid course and, when learning how to deal with choking, the leader told us about a time she chocked when home alone. She said that (being a first aider) she knew that she needed to force it out of her windpipe, but you cant really do the manoeuvre on yourself with your hands, so instead she used her banister to push into her sternum and force it out! I’m sure, if you don’t have a banister, the same sort of punch-under-the-ribs could be achieved on a counter/table!

  108. I’ve lived alone for years (current age: 32 so maybe not THAT long). in any case, while i could not would not go back to roommates, I have to say I have mixed feelings overall about living alone. i find it quite alienating!

  109. Love this!!! I live with my boyfriend and mischievous cat! My boyfriend and I were long distance for years, so we still travel independently and I cherish the alone time.

    When he went to Vegas for March Madness, I basked in the glory of eating constantly (but no real meals) and skipping all the basketball games for Gilmore Girls on netflix, even though I’m a former college basketball player myself :)

  110. I have a roommate now (I’m saving for a house and need to watch every penny) but I used to live alone and really miss it. I have a dog too and never felt lonely. I always felt really empowered.
    The three things I miss about living alone:
    1. I loved that I could have a perfect fridge – everything arranged just so and stocked perfectly. I wouldn’t have to wonder if my roommate drank the last glass of wine, it would just be there waiting for me when I got home.
    2. I have noticed that I used to be more relaxed when I was alone. Because there was always ‘me’ time when I was home. With roommates, I often think about their feelings more than my needs and don’t want to be rude or snub them by going straight to my room. I feel like I have to spend time with them everyday which gets a little suffocating at times.
    3. This surprised me, but I was more social when I lived alone. When I was alone, I would make an effort to meet friends for dinner or drinks, but with roommates, I feel like I am seeing friends just being at home, and make less of an effort to go out.

  111. I lived alone for a time in my early 20s, and while there were definite downsides, I enjoyed it. When my husband goes out of town, I secretly enjoy that freedom too! Although I’m always happy to have him back…especially since I’m never *really* alone now with two kids :P

  112. When I lived alone (and loved it) I would check out all 5 spots a predator could be hiding as soon as I came home at night. Only if arriving home at night. I called it “5 Spots Game” and held my cell phone tightly in my hand as I checked!!!

  113. I have lived alone most of my adult life, even when i was in long term relationships because i loved living alone! And then I felt the need to share my daily life with someone and now we share our shared life with a child.

    And while it does bring many many joys in my life to share it with those 2 delicious people that are my partner and our son, boy would i like to live A LO NE again for a year or 5.

    And i’m saying “live” alone, not “be” alone because i do have some alone time, thank goodness. Living alone, just like travelling alone is really different, isn’t it?

    Maybe it will happen at some point, we’re thinking of moving apart (and still be a couple and a family), i’d do it in a blink if there were no major financial obstacles but.. there are.

    It’s great that you enjoy living alone Caroline, and that you write about it here. It scares so many people! But people, living alone isn’t being alone! Far from it.

  114. I love this post! I just ended a 4-year long relationship and am moving to a new apartment this month to live on my own for the first time in years (well, it’s just going to be me and my 80lb lab). So exciting and nerve wracking!! I’m so excited to be in charge of decorating!

  115. i love this! After years of college and post-college room mates, I had the luxury of living alone for 4 years in the happiest studio apartment. I just got engaged and we now share a 1br. While i love spending more time with my fiance, i really miss some of the odd quirks & perks of living alone.

  116. I live with my husband and doggie. I can’t fathom life without either of them being my partners in crime but the longer we’re married the more I see that in many ways – I still do the same things I did when I was alone – wear crazy outfits, do weird floor workouts during commercials, eat weird food combos, wear mud masks while taking a bath, listening to jazz and drinking wine. Kind of best of both worlds – do all my weird little ‘single girl behavior things’ but then have companions to cuddle up to on the couch :)

  117. I live with roommates, but it is seriously my dream to live alone. Also I love seeing all the peeks of Caroline’s apartment on here and on Instagram. You should do an apartment tour of her space if she’s up for it!

  118. I live with my husband, 2 toddlers, dog and handful of chickens in an almost 100 yr old farm house. There are certainly days when I crave the quiet of living alone (and calling the landlord when something breaks). I try to remind myself of all the wonderfully-noisy things and people.

    I still tiptoe around on the odd occasion that I’m home alone at night. I expect there to be monsters, ghosts or burglars. All completely irrational.

  119. This is my very first comment on Cup of Jo, but I’ve been a long time lurker… :). Caroline, as a single girl in my mid-20s living alone, this piece really resonated with me. You just brightened my day, and made me realize that I can turn my “abnormal” living situation into something joyful. (Girl power!)

  120. I would love to live alone! (Even though I do love my roommates). Affording it on my own is another thing…

  121. Living alone in NYC is a luxury. I think it’s great you are embracing this time of your life. And with a dog, you’r e never TRULY alone! Love the voice you bring to this space. xo

  122. Ha! I still jump on the bed from a few feet away because I’m scared of monsters and that’s with my husband already in the bed and rolling his eyes at me :)

    Lived alone for much of my 20s and I LOVED it. More power to ya!

  123. I live alone (with my dogs and cat) 2/3 of the time and my husband joins me the other 1/3. He is in the military and is gone for a month and home a week–then gone for a month and home three weeks, etc.

    I understand the joy of knowing I can (and do) pay all our bills, handle the landlord and insurance agent, replace the lightbulbs, clean up cat pee and dog barf, and so on. I like being able to watch Friends on the big living room TV and eat Starburst jelly beans for dinner.

    But when my husband is home, I like being able to do things together. I like that he will mow or fix the dishwasher or do whatever else I don’t want to.

    It’s not the ideal situation–I married my hubs because I WANT to do life with him–but there is something liberating about knowing I can take care of my household myself.

    Like your alligators, I have crazy killers waiting outside my back door when I let the dogs out at 3am. Slowly but surely, they have stopped showing up :-)

  124. @ccerebrations, that’s so interesting!

    also my friends (one guy, one girl) met as blind roommates…and now are married!

  125. i lived alone (well, with my beloved dog) in my awesome brooklyn apartment for 12 years… then i got married and cohabited for the first time. i thought it would be tricky to learn to live with another person… but it was fine because it was with a person i love. i developed all sorts of weird habits… like stripping down naked upon entering my place in the sweltering summer and embracing the air conditioning. eating popcorn for dinner. binge watching gilmore girls ALL WEEKEND. it was a very wonderful time in my life! enjoy it!

  126. After reading this and a recent piece on NPR about couples not having children and that stigma I think I live under a rock and IT IS A FANTASTIC boulder.

    I have lived alone much of my adult life before I got married. It was awesome, I enjoyed it and didn’t feel any stigma or like it was anything unusual. Where do you live if you aren’t married and are over the roommate thing?

    I also have, nor want any children. I also feel NO STIGMA about this, am completely unapologetic about it. I think we need to start accepting people’s choices, whatever they are, as the norm and stop making stupid comments like “aren’t you lonely” or “you are missing out on babies”.

    I also need heed my own advise on this as I am VERY judgmental about my neighbor who has 11 children. I will work on that, it is hard.

  127. This reminds me of the time I was living along. You captured the essence of being a single dweller. I do miss those times, but living with my husband, surprisingly I still get to do most of the things you described. I think living alone or with someone all have their perks =)

  128. I lived alone for two years, and actually really miss it now. Oh well, just a few more years of grad school and I should be able to afford to live on my own again!

    and as a fellow shortie, I love my little ladder, it’s the best!

  129. Just me & my dog in my place too! He and I have Saturday morning dance parties!

  130. I moved into a studio by myself a few years back. It was so refreshing to have a (very) little space of my own! That was just a couple of months before I started dating my now-husband though, so my solo time was short-lived. And now I have a 10 month-old, so alone time is currently a fond fond memory!

  131. Okay, so does anyone else have the fear about choking while living alone (ala Miranda)? Like I have no landline, so there’s no way to call 911 and they just show up — I just imagine pushing buttons on my phone while the operator goes “Hello? Hello? Please state your emergency.” Does anyone else have this fear? Better yet, does anyone have a plan if this were to happen?

  132. Love this line: “Living alone, you learn to laugh at yourself, and for that to count just as much.”

    I live with my husband, toddler & cat, but have fond memories of my one-woman apt years in NYC.

  133. I’m a female and I have one roommate who is a guy. I didn’t really think twice about it when moving in but you’d be amazed about how many people comment to both of us about being roommates with the opposite sex. It’s like, hello it’s 2015.
    Honestly, I don’t find anything weird about it or really anything different than when I lived with just females. He does own like twice as many shoes as me though. =P We occasionally hang out or go out together and that’s always fun. But mainly we do our own thing and sometimes don’t even run into each other for days. So I often feel like I’m living alone while still keeping the benefits of splitting the cable bill and cleaning chores.
    I personally like having a roommate because I’m afraid that I would just hole myself up in a pile of Seamless take out bags and filth if I lived alone. Having a roommate keeps me accountable. Plus, he gives me the eye if I say I’m staying in another Friday night in a row. >.<

    candidcerebrations.wordpress.com

  134. Its such a treat anytime Caroline posts an essay!

  135. I live alone in a studio in Koreatown, near Downtown L.A., and it’s the best! My work required me to be around people every day, and at the end of the day, living alone gives an introvert like me the chance to recharge for the next day.

    I moved in right after graduation and before I started my job, and I mostly did all of the settling in by myself. My friends helped me move furniture, but I decorated and set things up by myself. I got to decide where my books go, how to arrange my (tiny) kitchen, which clothes to put in which closet, etc. When something is broken, it is up to me to tell my building manager. It was a little overwhelming at first, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    It has been almost a year since I’ve moved into my apartment, and it feels like home to me. I’m slowly but surely hanging art on the wall and figuring out how to arrange the space more carefully. If Caroline has any advice, please share!

    Living alone is an empowering lesson in independence and self-sufficiency. I highly recommend every woman to live alone at one point in their lives before they cohabitate with a partner.

  136. You’re wrong, though. It’s not nice to share the guacamole, and those are obviously lobsters under the bed, not alligators.
    In all else, this is right on the mark! I miss solo living for some of these reasons, and secretly look forward to when my husband occasionally travels and I can eat all the guac myself :)

  137. I live alone and love it, too! There’s something about leaving your own dishes in the sink and seeing them lurking later, that’s much less infuriating than finding someone else’s dirty dishes waiting to be cleaned..

  138. Love this post. I lived alone for five years throughout most of college in a big city. Completely agree with the irrational fears issue. I’ve actually never posted on a blog I follow before, but just wanted to say hollar at cha girl. Also, shout out to wine and guac Monday’s (my personal specialty while living alone).

  139. I love this! I don’t live alone anymore, but did for much of my 20’s, and when my partner is out of town, I still luxuriate in having the place to myself. Moving away from frustrating roommates and into a peaceful studio when I was 23 was so wonderful. I still can feel the sense of peace and contentment I often felt in my little place, decorated and organized just-so (or dishes piled high). I feel like living alone made me the best version of myself. I had to be more intentional about socializing, getting out of the house, having people over, reading good books, cooking delicious food even if it was just me, to balance out the solitude. There is a great book called Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant full of recipes and essays about solitude and eating for one that I just love. You should check it out!

  140. I live alone and I enjoy having things exactly the way I like them. I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend’s place, but my apartment feels brighter, homier, and more like me.

    I’m nervous about giving up that freedom and blending households, possessions, and styles!

    Love it, Caroline. We have a lot of similar girl-on-her-own quirks =) (Including seeing something hovering over the foot of the bed!)

  141. Thank you Caroline, that was lovely.

  142. I love the leaping from alligators under the bed! I don’t live alone but enjoyed reading your perspective Caroline.

  143. I live alone too, and love it! Single living sisters unite <3