• IndiaLily

Everything I've learnt from living independently


To give you some background, I moved out when I went to uni in Leceister. I lived in halls for first year, then a student house for the remaining two years. For more on that go here. Then I moved home for a year to do my journalism studies, and travelled a bit too. Finally, I moved out properly in September 2020, so I've been out for nearly a year as I write this. For more on that move, go here.


Now you're all caught up, let's get into it. I've learnt a lot over the years of living independently, so I thought I'd share some of these learning curves, and any tips I can pass on. This could be helpful if you're getting ready to go to uni, or if you're moving away for the first time. As I disclaimer - I'm no expert, this is just things I've learnt along the way from personal experiences.


Food


Only now can I say I've really got this right. Cooking for one can be difficult, expensive, and wasteful if you don't do it right. Also, when you're in a houseshare you have limited space in the fridge/freezer, so you need to use your space and supplies wisely.


Meal plan - I do a meal plan every weekend for the week ahead. This covers lunches and dinners to make sure I don't end up buying lunch out which gets expensive. Planning sounds boring, but if you know what you're having, you save time working out what to cook, you only buy what you need, and you don't waste anything. I tend to have 'cheat days' on Friday and Saturday nights, like a takeaway/meals out, but if you limit this then you don't harm your bank balance, and you end up looking forward to it because it's a treat.


Shopping trips - Only do this once a week. Avoid little and often because that's when you buy things you don't need and end up spending way more. Having one 'big shop' a week which lasts you seven days means you have to stick with what you've bought, and you also keep track of what you're spending on food per month which

makes it easier to budget. Where you shop is important too. Don't be a snob. Shopping in Waitrose in your early 20s isn't normal. Mix it up and get what you can from Lidl/Aldi, then if you're like me and need some certain brands, get the rest from one of the other stores like Tesco/ASDA etc.


Freezing - Whenever I have a couple of hours free, I do some bulk cooking. A big chilli, bolognese, curry, it all helps future you when you need a quick meal. Having these plans ready to go saves a lot of time, and stops you ordering a takeway when you need something fast. A little hack I've done to save on tupper ware is to freeze something in tupper ware lined with clingfilm, then the following day remove the tupper ware and you've just got your food frozen in clingfilm. It saves on tupper ware and freezer space. Linked to your meal planning, keep a list of what you've got in your freezer too so you know what you've got to usw, and therefore what you need to buy. Finally, freeze things in portions rather than the whole pack. For example, if you've bough five chicken breasts, freeze them seperately (wrapped in clingfilm) so you can defrost one portion at a time, rather than defrosting all of it in one go and then having to eat them all within a few days.


Routine


This isn't for everyone, but I've found evenings drag if you don't fill them. So have something to do. I finish around 5.30pm, then have the gym/dance after work four out of five days. On my rest day I do my food shop and meal prep. This is all means that by the time I've finished the day, it's around 8.30pm and I just want to relax. If I was fininishing work and just sitting then eating, I'd end up feeling sluggish and just a bit meh. When you're living indepentently, keeping busy means you avoid any times of boredom which could progress to homesickness and loneliness.


Keeping a routine also means you fit everything in. Aim to do your laundry and cleaning once a week in order to keep on top of things. Doing it little and often means you never end up feeling overwhelmed and the jobs remain manageable.


Obviously if you're a student, some of this is relevant. But the same can be said for doing things other than studying and partying. If you keep busy and get involved with sports/clubs/societies, you'll get much more out of the whole experience and really enjoy the downtime when you do have it. Read more about that here.


Money


The 50/30/20 rule is something I heard the other day which I work towards. Out of your income, 50% should go towards essential bills, 30% should go towards 'fun things', and 20% should be saved.


Chances are when you start out, you're not going to making loads, and that's fine. The way you manage what you have is so important though. Meal planning properly, limiting your access to ASOS, and making cheaper social plans are all ways you can save money. Do not live beyond your means.


I've got a Help To Buy ISA and a normal savings account that I have pay into every month after payday. I've found if you save straight after payday, then you know what you've got for the rest of the month. Don't leave it as 'I'll save what I don't spend' becuase you'll save nothing.


I'm obviously still learning from this too, but that's just what I've found out so far.


I'll also link a piece here I wrote about what I wish they'd taught me at school, as I go into money more there.


Final bits


Stay in touch - Make sure you stay in touch with friends and family from home. You may have moved away, but don't forget about them. I make sure I have a good long call with my family once a week, and constantly stay in touch with friends. Everyone is so busy, but you need to make time to catch up with the people you care about.


Compromise - If you're in a houseshare, chances are there will be things you disagree on or do differently. Pick your battles though, and remember that it is a houseshare. If people are being a pain with mess or any other habits then say something if it's really bad, but don't get into the habit of having a go at people because it's just not worth it. Don't be a pushover, but don't be a nag either. It's a fine line.


Enjoy it - You're growing up! Embrace it and enjoy it.