Monday, April 1, 2013

Single Girl's Survival Guide: How to Live Alone in NYC

(Fresh garden roses in my tiny East Village studio)

There comes a time in a city girl’s life when she makes the move to live on her own. It may not be all about a roomy West Village one bedroom filled with designer shoes a la Carrie Bradshaw, but living alone in New York City is exciting nonetheless. For those of us that can only afford a small studio – usually in a walkup – these tips, tricks and bits of advice will help a single girl to get settled into her new home.

Invest in renter’s insurance. Father does know best, so listen to dear old dad and sign up for renter’s insurance upon move in. The landlord of your building has insurance, but it probably only coverers the main property, not your belongings or liability for accidents. Protection against theft, fire and severe weather, like last year’s Hurricane Sandy, will be covered through this type of plan. For mere dollars per month, you can recover the value of stolen or damaged property. And if someone is injured during an accident in your apartment, renter's insurance will help protect you in the case of a liability lawsuit.

Lock your windows. Since controlling your heat is rarely an option in your rented studio, cracking open a window on even the snowiest days is often a necessity to keep you from sweating yourself silly. Go ahead and keep them wide open when you’re home during the day, but once you’re getting ready for bed or heading out for an errand, remember to shut and lock every window. Even if you’re on the 5th floor and your windows don’t face a main street, neighbors can see into your apartment, allowing a thief to climb up your fire escape and climb into your unlocked window to steal valuables. (This may sound farfetched, but it happened in my building the month before I moved in. So be on guard!)

Eat in bed. Sure, the idea of pigging out on Pad Thai under the sheets grosses out some of my friends, but if you’re like me, curling up with your favorite takeout, while watching trashy reality TV that your boyfriend wouldn’t be caught dead watching, is some seriously indulgent me-time.

Budget utility bills. There’s really no way to avoid a high electric bill during the summer months, unless you suffer without an air conditioner (which I do not advise!). But the cable bill is another story. Do you really need HBO and Showtime? Sure, when Girls is mid-season or Dexter returns this spring, you’ll be in desperate need of your pricey premium channels, but when your favorite shows have wrapped, go ahead and cancel the extra stations. You can always add them back to your bill when your favorite programs return.

Get naked. You’re living alone, so why not wander around comfortably naked? With the blinds closed, of course. Cook naked, dust naked, scrub the tub naked, watch TV naked – the options are endless! Why be modest, when you’re in your very own home?

Befriend your landlord and super. These guys are your lifelines to a comfortable living environment. Be polite and cheery when you pass them and always thank them for fixing your leaking toilet or stubborn window. Gift them during the holidays with a card and generous tip for their yearlong hard work. With these men on your side, your problems will be addressed and fixed on a priority list.

Opt for a landline. Gone are the days spending hours on your parents’ home phone gossiping with your middle school BFF, while your big brother tried to log into dial up to get online, but a landline is important for an emergency line of communication when you’re on your own. Give the number to your parents, siblings and best friends, so that they can reach you if your cell dies or you lose it in a cab. You’ll be glad you can dial out if you’re iPhone or work Blackberry goes MIA.

Keep a cleaning schedule. You can’t blame your nonexistent roommates for the dirty dishes in the sink or the moldy bathroom tiles. The cleaning is all on your shoulders now, girl. But, don’t fret. This is a good thing! While there’s no one to assign cleaning duties to, keep a schedule for yourself – such as a deep bathroom clean every Sunday night – to maintain a tidy living space. Studio apartments are small, so any clutter will make it look dirty fast. Try to avoid tossing clothes on your couch and leaving shoes in the kitchen to keep your home as organized as possible. And heck, it’s your place; so if being a bit unorganized doesn’t bother you, leave it as is, until you’re preparing for a guest to arrive.

Be prepared like a Girl Scout. You won’t be headed on any wilderness hikes anytime soon, but being prepared for emergencies when you’re alone and in need is important in the big city. Make sure you have a toolbox with basics like a screw driver, hammer and nails, a first aide kit covering bandages, antihistamines, Neosporin and ibuprofen and store at least one flashlight and a set of candles in a closet for when the power goes out during a storm.

Treat yourself to fresh flowers. Just because you can't afford expensive bedding and have settled with a fabric zip-up closet over a pricey armoire, it doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to little luxuries in your home. Buy fresh flowers once a week or even once a month to make your small apartment feel more lively, clean and fresh! From your corner bodega to Whole Foods, there are beautiful buds available for affordable prices of $10 or less per bunch.

Be a socialite. Or at least a social butterfly. Make shopping plans with your girlfriends and book date night dinners with your guy. Attend networking events in your industry and always take advantage of office happy hours. While alone time in your apartment is wonderful, don’t let yourself turn into a hermit just because it’s easy. Make the effort to get out and see the city that you love with the people you care about!

What are your tips, tricks and advice for living alone in New York City? xo

For more NYC apartment living:


  1. Loved this! Especially the treating yourself to flowers and eating in bed bits. 2 of my favorite things to do! especially the eating in bed bit when my boyfriend's not around ;)

  2. AMEN to renters insurance! My nieces were able to reside in a hotel for over three weeks after being evacuated from their lower manhattan apt. after Sandy. Otherwise they would have been homeless. Cannot stress strongly enough how important this protection is.

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