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Independent Living Tips

Previously I wrote about some unusual health benefits from living alone and it made me think that I’ve been living alone for the past 7 years after being married to a women who had 8 kids! So I’ve got some insights in independent living after having lived in that extremely busy household. And prior to getting married, I’ve got quite a lot of experience living on my own, having moved countries 4 times in my adult life.

Building Your Sanctuary:

Your home is your haven, your fortress of solitude, and your springboard for exploration. When it comes in independent living, it’s important that that haven makes life both easy and safe for you. Here’s how to transform it into a space that reflects your unique personality and nurtures your well-being:

Declutter and personalize:

I cannot tell you how liberating this step is! Most of my life I have been a minimalist without consciously meaning to be one. I just didn’t want a lot of stuff and moved around enough that I never had a lot of useless junk. But after my divorce and moving into my new house, I seem to have become a hoarder ๐Ÿ™‚ As a result, my house and my garden was always a mess and it felt impossible to ever get it under control. I ended up moving stuff from one spot in the house to another so that I could clean the first spot… until I needed to clean the second spot.
Embrace the liberating art of purging.
Best thing I did for myself was hiring a skip bin. The waste collection company parked it in my driveway or 4 days and I was quite brutal, the rule was “If I hadn’t used it in the past 6 months, out it goes”. Some of the stuff that I thought had some value like computer monitors and juice extractors, I placed on the sidewalk an posted a message on our neighborhood Facebook page that people could come take it if the wanted it, but the rest went straight to the bin. Not only is my house easier to keep clean now, it is also easier to move around in, find a place to sit or find a place to put the groceries.
You can take a different approach. Donate, sell, or discard anything that doesn’t spark joy or serve a purpose. This physical clearing paves the way for emotional clarity and invites you to surround yourself with objects you truly love.

Craft your haven:

Let your inner artist shine! Paint the walls a color that energizes you, arrange furniture for optimal flow, and infuse the space with your favorite scents and textures. Let your home be an extension of your inner self.
Painting the walls and adding scents is not something I personally would spend any time or money on, but I thought I’d list if here as a lot of people are more influenced by what their environment looks like than I might be. For me it was different things though. I have a few personal paintings, items where I knew the artists and they painted something specifically for me or in one case, for my mom and she gave it to me. Those paintings were taken out of their frames for transport from South Africa to New Zealand and for me the act of crafting your haven is having those paintings framed again and hanging them. They’re personal and make the place feel like home for me.

Personal paining by ex-girlfriend's daughter

Embrace functionality:

Your home should be a haven of ease.
Make sure your home caters to your everyday needs. Invest in ergonomic furniture, well-placed lighting, and efficient storage solutions. Functionality doesn’t have to compromise aesthetics โ€“ find stylish pieces that serve a purpose.

Technology as your ally:

Smart home technology can be your new best friend.
Invest in devices that automate tasks like lighting, temperature control, and even music playlists. Let technology free up your time and effort for the things that truly matter.

Of course I’m biased, I’m the owner of CheckIn Gizmo and I think it’s a great tool for solo living. CheckIn Gizmo is a safety monitoring app for independent living. Have a read on that page and see whether you think it can benefit you.

Conquering Solitude:

While solitude can be enriching, it can also feel isolating at times, especially in terms of independent living. Here are ways to combat loneliness and build a vibrant social life

  • Connect with your community:
    Step out of your door and say hello!
    My neighbors on the one side have a problematic dog, Alpha, but Alpha loves playing with my dog, Jessie, so Alpha regularly comes over to play keeping them both entertained. It doesn’t take much effort from me, but it builds relationship with my neighbors. And my neighbor on the other side loves to socialize over a few drinks, again building relationship. Both direct neighbors and other people in the neighborhood know of my independent living situation and they go out of their way to make sure I’m okay. Christmas has just passed and I’m fortunate to have close friends who I spend Christmas day with every year, but I had one lady up the street who brought me a meal on Christmas Eve and another who offered home baked muffins on Boxing Day.
    Spend time with neighbors, join local clubs or workshops, volunteer, or take up a new activity in a group setting. Remember, your community is a treasure trove of potential friendships and connections.
  • Embrace virtual connections:
    Don’t let distance deter you.
    This is also super important. My mom, brother and sisters live in South Africa while I’m in New Zealand, but we chat on Whatsapp every day, multiple conversations every day. And me and my 86 year old mom video chat on Zoom once a week as well. Very important to keep those connections going and with technology today it really is pretty easy.
  • Nurture your inner circle: Prioritize relationships with close friends and family.
  • Embrace solo adventures: Don’t wait for company to explore!

Mastering the Art of Self-Care:

Independent living means you’re solely responsible for your well-being. Here are tips to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy physical and mental state

  • Listen to your body:
    Prioritize sleep, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly. These basic pillars of self-care fuel your energy levels, boost your mood, and keep you physically fit.
  • Nourish your mind:
    Read books, listen to podcasts, engage in stimulating conversations, and pursue hobbies that challenge your intellect. Keep your mind active and engaged to prevent boredom and stagnation.
  • Embrace mindful practices: Meditation, yoga, or journaling can be powerful tools for managing stress, cultivating inner peace, and gaining self-awareness.
  • Celebrate your wins: Take time to acknowledge your achievements, big or small.

Financial Savvy for Solo Dwellers:

Managing finances alone requires careful planning and discipline. Here are some smart money moves for independent living:

  • Create a budget: Track your income and expenses to understand your financial patterns.
  • Build an emergency fund: Aim to save at least 3-6 months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.
  • Seek financial advice: Consult a financial advisor to develop a personalized plan for saving, investing, and managing debt.
  • Reduce expenses and find creative ways to save: Explore cost-saving strategies like meal prepping, utilizing local discounts, and DIY projects.

Safety First:

  • Secure your home: Invest in strong locks, security alarms, and consider smart home options for remote monitoring.
  • Create a safety plan: Have a fire escape plan and emergency contact list readily available. Familiarize yourself with your fire extinguishers and know how to use them.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings: Stay alert while walking alone, especially at night. Inform someone of your whereabouts when going out and avoid sharing personal travel plans on social media.
  • Invest in safety devices: Consider carrying a personal alarm or pepper spray for added security. Keep a well-charged phone with an emergency app readily accessible.
  • Build connections with neighbors: Get to know your neighbors and exchange contact information. Having familiar faces who can check in or offer assistance in case of an emergency provides peace of mind.

Embracing Personal Growth:

  • Step outside your comfort zone: Try new things, explore different hobbies, and challenge yourself to learn new skills. Solo adventures can unlock hidden talents and expand your horizons.
  • Embrace introspection: Practice journaling, reflection exercises, or even therapy to gain deeper self-awareness. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and motivations empowers you to make conscious choices and build a fulfilling life.
  • Prioritize personal development: Read books on topics that interest you, take online courses, or attend workshops to enhance your knowledge and skills. Continuous learning keeps you mentally engaged and opens doors to new possibilities.
  • Define your success: Don’t let societal expectations dictate your path. Define what success means to you and pursue your goals with passion and determination. Living alone allows you to create your own definition of happiness and fulfillment.
  • Cultivate meaningful relationships: While independence is key, nurturing connections with loved ones provides valuable support and a sense of belonging. Invest in friendships, romantic partnerships, or family relationships that enrich your life.
  • Give back to your community: Volunteering your time and skills can be a rewarding way to connect with others, make a difference, and find purpose.

Bonus Section:

  • Creating a daily routine: Having a structured routine can provide stability and a sense of accomplishment, especially for those newly adjusting to solo living. This can include scheduling time for work, leisure, self-care, and social interaction.

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