Adulting: Moving Out + One Year of Living On My Own

I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer.

I moved into my first apartment a little over a year ago now. Yep, that’s right. I lived at home with my family until the age of 28. A bit unconventional, I know.

I didn’t necessarily mean for it to happen that way. After commuting to college, I was comfortable living at home, and continued to do so as I started my career. Then, a couple of years down the line, staying at home became more of a practical decision because I knew I was working toward quitting my full-time job.

No shame here — I’m proud of my choices and my path. 

Living at home, freelancing and working my booty off allowed me to save $40,000, giving me lots of peace of mind and room to play and grow as I took the leap to start Jessica Lawlor & Company. (Plus, I really love my family, and enjoyed those extra years with my parents, siblings and of course, my pup Buddy.)

However, I knew I eventually wanted to move out and live on my own. As soon as I felt confident in my business’s stability and my income, I knew it was time to start looking for my first place.

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Here's what it was like to move out and live alone for the first time at the age of 28. (No shame!)

My apartment story

For context, I grew up in Cheltenham, a small suburb outside Philadelphia. I enjoyed my neighborhood growing up — I loved the peace and quiet of living in the suburbs, but also appreciated the close proximity to the city. I felt I had the best of both worlds.

When it came time to look for my own place, I knew I wanted a similar feel. 

I considered three different towns: Ambler, Jenkintown and Chestnut Hill. All three met my requirements of being both quiet and set away from Center City, but also full of personality, restaurants and things to do.

I mainly used Zillow for my search and started seriously looking in the spring of 2016. I visited two different apartment complexes last April, both in Chestnut Hill. I liked what I saw, but didn’t have any sort of timeline, so I held off on making a decision.

Then in late June, I got another Zillow alert from the same apartment complex I had visited in April — but this time they had a two-bedroom apartment available. I decided to check it out.

I instantly fell in love. The apartment was perfect — newly renovated, hardwood floors, in-unit washer/dryer, two bedrooms (space for an office!) and right down the street from all the action on Germantown Ave. in beautiful Chestnut Hill.

I was sold. The process moved fairly quickly and within a week, I had signed a lease for an August 1 move-in. 

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Here's what it was like to move out and live alone for the first time at the age of 28. (No shame!)

Just call me Goldilocks — moving, and being crippled by indecision

I was completely unprepared for how much of a struggle moving and getting settled in my own space would be.

First, I’m absolutely terrible at making decisions (this moving process, among other life situations led my friends to give me the nickname “Goldilocks”). From choosing a mattress to picking a couch to selecting a color scheme, I found myself absolutely *crippled* by indecision, almost every step of the way.

Thank god for my wonderful little sister Jamie and my mom who basically furnished and decorated my entire apartment and indulged my desire to visit every single Ashley Furniture Homestore in the Philadelphia region. 

In terms of where I shopped? Besides Ashley for my couch and bedroom furniture, my entertainment center, living room rug and bedding are from Wayfair. My office desk is from Ikea. My office rug is from Target. My coffee table, end table and kitchen table are all from Overstock. I also made multiple, multiple trips to Home Goods, Target and Kohls for all the little things.

Keep in mind: I essentially started from scratch since I lived at home through college and beyond, so I bought almost everything brand new. It was *a lot* of decision making and a lot of money spent in a very short amount of time.

V. stressful, to say the least.

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Here's what it was like to move out and live alone for the first time at the age of 28. (No shame!)

Settling in

Something else I wasn’t prepared for when it came to moving?

My fraught emotional state of being at the massive changes taking place in my life all at one time.

For the first few months, I actually resented my apartment. It didn’t feel like home. It felt like an eerily quiet weird space that wasn’t truly mine. After years of living with four other people and pets, the sudden silence hit me the hardest.

It didn’t help that I work from home so instead of feeling excited to get home at the end of a long day to relax in my space, I felt anxious at the idea of being alone in the apartment for hours.

Two particularly sad moments stick out in my mind: 1. Bursting into tears when I finally took a look around my perfectly empty childhood bedroom and 2. Crying on my home from a yoga class because I didn’t want to go back to my apartment — I found myself wanting to drive two exits further down the highway to go back to my real home. 

The transition wasn’t easy, and for anyone else who finds themselves ashamed about these types of emotions or struggles, you’re definitely not alone.

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Here's what it was like to move out and live alone for the first time at the age of 28. (No shame!)

A new normal

Of course, living alone hasn’t been all bad!

Once the dust settled, I started appreciating the things I once feared.

I embraced the silence as I made my morning coffee. I enjoyed filling up my DVR with all of my shows. I happily sat in my little office, working away, feeling grateful for the business and life I’ve built. I started to learn how to cook, and got comfortable in my kitchen. I planned parties and filled my home with friends. I even didn’t mind doing laundry each week!

It got better. And I got more comfortable.

After several months, this place started to feel a bit like home — a new normal. 

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Here's what it was like to move out and live alone for the first time at the age of 28. (No shame!)

Weird things I’ve learned about myself after one year of living solo

You learn a lot about yourself when you go through a massive life change like moving out on your own. Here are some of the quirkier things I’ve noticed.

1. I really like doing chores

Call me crazy, but I love doing chores. I call myself a domestic goddess on Mondays — I wake up, sort the laundry, run the dishwasher and go grocery shopping. I’ve newly-dubbed Mondays “Crockpot Mondays” and have been exploring the various recipes on my Pinterest board. 

I don’t know what it is about chores, but I feel super productive as I get my apartment and life in order at the beginning of each week.

However, one part of apartment living I really don’t love? Cleaning.

A few months in, I hired a cleaning team to come to the apartment once a month. It’s not as expensive as you may think. I think of it this way: My hourly rate for client work is higher than what the cleaning company charges me, so if they can clean, and I can continue working, it benefits me in the long run. Plus, the two of them accomplish in one hour what would take me half a day to do.

2. I’m the kind of person who makes the bed every day

Back when I lived at home I *never* made my bed. Don’t know why. Never even thought about it. Just popped out of bed and went on with my day. 

Now? As soon as my feet hit the floor, the bed needs to be made. Maybe it’s something about feeling prideful each time I walk by my bedroom and see my cozy bed and pillows arranged neatly awaiting my return later that night.

3. Hosting gatherings makes my apartment feel like a home

I threw my first party a month into apartment living — a housewarming. The planning process was stressful, but when the night came and I looked around and saw all the people I love the most in one room — my heart felt full. 

Since then, I’ve thrown two Harry Potter parties (for the famous festival in Chestnut Hill!), a holiday gathering and a game night. 

I like to entertain, and I like creating a space where people can connect and have fun together. Plus, filling my space with the people I love the most makes it feel a little bit more like home.

4. I like my apartment more when I’m not there all day

As I mentioned, I work from home so if I’m busy, there are days I don’t even step foot outside my apartment.

I quickly realized this was not a good way to go about living to maintain sanity.

So now I make it a point to get out of the apartment *at least* once a day whether it’s to run errands, go to the gym or head to a meeting. I even work from my gym’s cafe from time to time which has helped a lot.

5. I freaking love cooking

Perhaps the weirdest thing of all that I’ve learned? I’m obsessed with cooking. I never cooked at my family’s house. I’d bake from time to time, but cooking? Nope.

I entered the world of cooking slowly with my hand-me-down crockpot. I dabbled with making turkey chili and then expanded into chicken tacos and more. (There may or may not have been a failed slow cooker pot roast — oops.)

Then, I got even fancier and I decided to sign up for BlueApron last winter, and became hooked. For a cooking newbie like me, BlueApron truly makes trying new recipes accessible and actually fun. I’m on a schedule where I get two boxes per month (and Tim gets BlueApron wine once a month!) so we’re always fully stocked with goodies. (Want to give BlueApron a try? You can grab $30 off your first order here.)

Now that I know how to cook, I’m also experimenting with my own recipes — scary!

I’m such a weirdo; my favorite part of cooking? Chopping and prepping all the ingredients. 

A roommate!

This won’t come as a surprise to many of you because it happened a few months back, but I have a roommate!

My boyfriend Tim moved in over the summer, so now I’m experiencing all types of changes (I guess it’s true that the only constant in life is change?) as we get used to sharing a space, budgeting and all that fun adult stuff.

I won’t lie; I love living with Tim. Living alone was fun too, but it’s amazing at the end of a long day to cook a meal together and cuddle up on the couch to catch up on our shows. Especially as someone who works alone all day, I especially appreciate the company of someone I love being here too.

Your story is your story

Whether you moved out on your own when you were 18 and heading off to college, or if you still live at home in your late twenties like I did, know that there’s no shame in your story.

When I told a former mentor I was starting my own business, instead of congratulating me, he shamed me asking how living at home would impact my “Get Gutsy” brand. He warned me to be prepared to answer questions about why I live at home and how people might think it wasn’t “gutsy” of me to make the decision I made.

Two years later, I can confidently say I’m thrilled with the decisions I’ve made.

No matter your personal circumstance, you have to make the right decision for you. 

I know I did. 

And now for the next adventure in my journey? Saving up to buy a house!

Tell me about when you moved out and lived on your own for the first time! Did you experience any of the same emotions as me? I’d love to hear your stories! Leave them in the comments below.

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  • Kelly Harris Haffner

    Congratulations! And you’re not a weirdo – my favorite part of cooking is chopping and prepping the ingredients too! It’s kind of meditative and relaxing after a day mostly spent in front of a computer (or driving and in client meetings). Add some relaxing music and a glass of wine? Even better. πŸ˜‰

    • Haha! So glad I am not alone. You’re so right that it’s almost meditative. I usually throw on a podcast and I’m good to go! Love it.

  • My first months after moving out from parents were hard. I rent an apartment with my 3 dear girlfriends. During school time we could spend hours together at school and after school every day. And when we moved in together in another city, to study on universities, it turned out that we have completely different vision of our everyday student life. It was hard. I moved out and it was also hard. What was good was that I’ve learnt to rely only on myself – it gave me strength.
    Home duties are especially satisfying when you see the before and after. I’m cleaning for this effect πŸ˜€

    • I hear ya, girl! Good for you for making the decisions that felt right, even though it may have been challenging.

      Thanks for chiming in! xo

  • Linnea Paulina

    Huge congratulations on your one year in your apartment milestone and your new roomie! How wonderful. I’ve always admired your journey and transparency. What an incredible opportunity you had to be able to live with your family for the time you did. It says a lot about your relationship with your family and your own financial smarts. Funny, after priding myself on being independent and living on my own since age 17, I moved back in with my parents at age 30 (with my husband and daughter who was one at the time!). We stayed with them for a year after our first house sold to save up for a new home in a better school district. I am so thankful we had the opportunity to live together and to have a house near them now… especially since we now have three daughters, being close to family makes my world go round. Happy weekend!

    • Thank you so much!!!

      I love that you’ve been following my journey and story.

      Good for you for moving back in and making that smart choice! How special that time must have been (although of course it was likely also a sacrifice!)

      Congrats on buying a home! Hopefully that’s the next step in my journey.

  • Krista Pylkki

    Congrats! Since Tim moved in with you, did you leave your office where it was in the second bedroom or did you move that space to another area in your apartment?

    • Thank you!

      Oh goodness no! The office is still mine πŸ™‚ That was a non-negotiable.

      To be honest, Tim didn’t have much in the way of furniture or stuff, so I only really needed to make space for his clothes, shoes, etc.

      My office does have a little corner of some of his random belongings that don’t have designated spot (tiny apartment!) but in general, the office space is mine since he works a normal 9-5 and is out of the house most of the day.

  • I actually just got a second roommate because I dislike being alone that much. All the people, man. So excited to hear that parties are part of your story now. Excited that you moved in with Tim. And just in general happy about your happiness. xo

    • No way! I didn’t know you had roomies. Yeah, not a huge fan of being alone.

      And thank youuuuuuu, you’re so sweet! xox

  • Proud of you for all the decisions you’ve made, Jess. I’m almost envious for you and Tim for having such a place that looks as nice as it is. I think anyone would.

    • Thank you so much, Simon! πŸ™‚ I do love my little place!

  • Aww, congrats on the new roomie situation! That’s so exciting and fun. πŸ™‚

    I have a very similar story to you where I lived at home until I was 27, and then moved out to live with one of my best friends. It was SUCH a tough transition for me. Now I live alone and I loooooove it. I honestly worry about how I’ll ever be able to live with someone else because living alone suits my personality so well.

    • Thank youuuuu! I was hoping you’d read this, since I know it’s a topic we’ve talked about together before πŸ™‚

      I’m sooo glad to hear you love living alone now! That makes me so happy!

  • Alaina-Lee Monster

    I defiantly experienced the same emotions when I moved into my own place. It took a while, but I actually enjoyed it too after I settled in a bit. Now I’m a mom of 4, and I’d honestly give my left leg to sit in that quiet apartment again. Hahaha!

    • So glad to hear I’m not alone! Ha, I totally hear you…I should relish these moments, I suppose!

  • Laina Turner

    I applaud you at living with your parents and savings money BEING SMART is GUTSY!

  • Congrats on taking the plunge and moving out!
    I’m in my late twenties and still live at home though I have been away and on my own before (i just came back haha) Hoping to follow you and move out on my own for good in 2018!


    • Good for you! I love when people make the decisions that truly are best for them in that moment.