This next post is a guest feature from Leah, a 22-year-old graduate working as a Veterinary Nurse. Leah has shared some of her tips for living alone, as she has spent a lot of time, including lockdown, by herself.
If you’re looking for some advice on how to finance living alone or how to take care of yourself when you’re your own company, take a read of Leah’s tips below.
I’ve recently graduated and I’m now a qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse. After finishing my degree, I moved around 200 miles from my family home in Cambridgeshire to Cheshire on my own.
Lockdown for me was difficult and an abrupt end to my degree was disappointing. Fortunately, I was starting my graduate role at the end of July and I could move away and have a new start. I have now been working in a graduate role for 5 months and I am incredibly grateful to be in full time employment, doing something I have worked hard towards.
However, the process of moving out to live by myself wasn’t all that easy. I had to find somewhere to live, organise my own finances and be completely independent, but the freedom has definitely been worth it.
I am outdoorsy and love the countryside so I knew I didn’t want to be a city dweller. After figuring out where I would be happiest, I decided to look for a livestock farm which had rooms to rent. I found a rural family farm in Cheshire overlooking a sailing club – the escapism is great. There are sheep, cattle, horses, pigs and chickens so I am in my element.
If anyone else is moving out to live by themselves or is feeling a bit lonely, here’s some of the things I’ve learnt since living alone:
Managing your finances
Each month I work out what I’m able to realistically save by writing down all my outgoings, which I alter as things change and I review the list every so often to see if I can cut costs anywhere and keep outgoings to a minimum.
Ask yourself, do you really need that new phone with hefty monthly payments? Obviously, outgoings can change each month such as money spent on petrol or food shopping, so writing down a list of spending each week helps me to keep track.
Also, I have set up a standing order on pay-day which transfers around 1/3 of my earnings into a cash ISA which is an affordable amount for me (savings = income – (outgoings + personal disposable income)). Stocks and Shares ISAs are also an option for longer term, riskier investments. ‘Moneybox’ is good for this and easy to edit and keep track off.
My savings are there for future goals and emergencies such as problems with my car or phone. I know that saving for a house or having children aren’t things I aim to do any time soon, but I am saving for travelling and further qualifications whilst I am young and to enjoy my twenties.
Keeping busy with a side hustle
I personally believe that the best investment is one made in yourself. Starting a hobby or side hustle may require investing in yourself. For myself, I have interests in animal medicines and cattle breeding; therefore, I have invested time and money into doing additional qualifications relating to these.
A side hustle is a good way to keep yourself occupied while living alone too, as there’s always something to do if you have a blog or small business. Pursuing interests can also boost your CV by having something you like doing outside of work. I have been interested in poultry breeding for a couple of years and sell hatching eggs now and again from my flock of pekin bantams.
Another thing I have found incredibly useful is using a life planner or diary. I use the Law of Attraction 12-Month Planner, where I can organise all aspects of my life (finances, appointments, continued professional development, self-care, meal plans and daily to do lists).
It is useful because everything is in one place. It’s also a great way to keep on top of socialising, exercise and when to take time out. Self-care is important for mental wellbeing and could simply include cooking a nice meal, having a bubble bath, reading or having a cup of tea. I find that scheduling these in makes me feel accountable and therefore more likely to make time for them.
In the veterinary industry, making good use of holiday entitlement is a good way to remain motivated and focussed whilst doing the many higher risk activities my job entails (monitoring anaesthetics and medicating animals). A well-earned day off now and again works wonders for mental health and to avoid burnout.
Maintaining a social life through work
Due to the nature of my job, I’m surrounded by like-minded people, majority of whom are women of a similar age and who I get on very well with. This has been a saviour in the 2020 pandemic as it has been a huge distraction to have these social interactions every day and to make things feel semi-normal again.
If you are not able to have this due to unemployment, I’d recommend joining a club or online group of like-minded individuals who you can chat to. I have found that it is important to not isolate yourself just because you’re living alone. I feel as though I have never been more sociable since living alone, purely because I have been purposefully seeking social interactions.
Importantly, you have to take the plunge and network because you never know what opportunities may be around the corner. For work-based opportunities, this can be done easily and professionally on LinkedIn by setting up email alerts or follow recruitment agencies, and you don’t even have to leave your house. If you haven’t already, it might be worth reaching out to your university careers department, as they may be able to help you as a graduate looking for employment.
Reading makes me feel calm when I’m feeling anxious or lonely. If you’re looking for some good books to get into, I recommend:
- A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
- First, we make the beast beautiful – Sarah Wilson
- What a time to be alone – Chidera Eggerue
- How to be alone: If you want to, and even if you don’t – Moore Lane
If there are any other graduates who are in a similar situation or would benefit from any help or advice from me, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Thank you to Leah for sharing her tips for living alone as a graduate! Click here for more self-care advice for students and graduate.