Living on your own in your 20s can be outrageously fun—and character-building. Maybe you roomed with a bunch of guys in college, with all the hijinks, grievances and transgressions of basic hygiene that entailed. Perhaps you hope to someday find that special someone with whom to craft a domestic nest.
A bachelor pad in between those extremes offers you a little room to grow—a chance to practice and perfect the myriad little skills we consider markers of “adulthood.”
Back in your dorm days, absolute chaos in your living space—the detritus of last weekend’s party subtly merging with that newly added tonight—probably wasn’t unusual. But, if it got too bad, say Mike couldn’t get to his room across your labyrinth of piles and stacks, you’d hear about it.
When you live alone, those checks and balances disappear. There’s nobody admonishing you to wash the dishes, do the laundry or clean the toilet. Worse, neglecting basic cleanliness around the pad can be self-perpetuating. You’d be surprised how easy it is to adapt to pigsty conditions; you may even convince yourself that your domain is reasonably presentable. Until you invite someone inside (a date, perhaps) and suddenly see the heaps of clothes, overflowing garbage and impenetrable kitchen sink with fresh (and horrified) eyes.
The solution? Create a cleaning routine. Once a week, say, conduct a basic, comprehensive cleansing of the household; every once in awhile, do a higher-grade deep-clean version to really tackle those floor stains and that moldering toilet bowl.
Keep those floors well-swept and make it a habit of cleaning the stovetop burners each time you cook. With that sort of routine, a monthly tackling of the bathroom or clothes pileup at the edge of the closet is that much more manageable.
It’ll never be what you most want to do, but adopting a regular household-cleaning regimen can make upkeep automatic. If that doesn’t work for you, try gamifying it. Habitrpg.com is just one of many websites that helps you to track tasks, habits and chores. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you’ve “earned” a reward. Note: the game doesn’t give you free things; it tells you what you’ve earned by your own standards.
The classic bachelor-pad refrigerator has a six-pack of beer, a jug of expired milk and a three-quarters-empty pizza box. The sparse pantry offers children’s cereal that’s more artificial dye and sugar than anything else. The microwave gets heavy rotation; the stove sits ignored.
Not everybody is cut out to be a five-star chef—and that’s fine. You’ve got the perfect stage for learning simple cooking skills: there’s nobody laughing at the burnt rice (except for you). Get a cookbook or compile online primers, then get to work. It’s inexpensive and easy to fill a weekly menu with healthy, nourishing food. Furthermore, your emerging prowess in the kitchen can come in handy when you’re romancing or entertaining.
Try, for example, the ease of making you own pizza: dough isn’t at all difficult to whip together (it’s just flour, water, salt and yeast), and virtually anything—peppers, tomatoes, sautéed onions—tastes good atop the pie, along with tomato sauce or olive oil. You can also experiment with pasta, which at heart is about the easiest dish to pull together: a bit of sautéed garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil is a surprisingly delectable accompaniment.
Allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com are just two of the many sites that offer loads of simple, straightforward recipes with which to increase your repertoire. Be a little adventurous and dive in!
Safety and Security
And don’t forget: make sure your property is as protected as it can be from burglary. To gauge how at-risk your home is, check out SecurityCompanies.com; there’s a zip-code look-up for determining your address’s risk for break-ins. It’s worth checking out your vulnerability—and taking steps accordingly. Take a home inventory so you know what you have and the replacement value. It’ll come in handy if you ever need to file a claim with your renter’s insurance, which you already have. Right?
Jim Forsythe is an outdoorsman at heart, but he spends his weekdays writing web content for environmental and technology sites.