Survival Guide for Independent Living

By Cian O Broin Sep 16, 2018

At some point, we all have to leave the comfort of our homes, the safety of our nests. It’s not easy, moving on from Mammy’s infamous roast or catching up on Match of the Day at Dad’s side. There’s something special about the sanctity of the Irish household, a notable feeling of warmth and comfort. For most of us here in UL, college is the first-step, the bridge between assistance and subsistence. Childhood and becoming an ‘adult’. A daunting leap into the unknown, full of twists and turns, trials and tribulations. It doesn’t have to be so intimidating, after all we’re all in the same boat.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way to becoming that endearing, pragmatic and independent person you’ve always imagined yourself being.


An old proverbial saying rings true, ‘hunger is the sweetest sauce’. Although wise, it’s not to be taken in the literal sense. Proper nutrition and a well-stocked shopping basket are essential to surviving college life. Look for the cheap stuff. Aldi and Lidl are your best friends when it comes to your weekly stockpile of goods.

As for cooking, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are an infinite number of recipes online. Try websites like wikiHow or video tutorials on YouTube. Pasta and rice with some steamed veggies and a juicy chicken breast will be far more rewarding than the alluring Dr. Oetker pizza. Many butchers offer student deals on a selection of meats. Buy in bulk and freeze over, saving yourself the biweekly trek to the supermarket. Food preparation can be an arduous and oftentimes tedious process but it’s essential in becoming the ultimate self-sustaining student.


Nobody likes stepping into a room that looks like a war has been waged on it. Clutter on the floor creates clutter in your mind. Tidying your living space is a meditative process that provides clarity and peace of mind. Research shows that the most productive people are those who’s first task of the day is making their bed. Start as you mean to finish. Ensure you have anti-bacterial sprays, fairy liquid, bin roll, sponges and all other relevant cleaning utensils at your disposal. If you’re in shared accommodation, pool in for them at the start of the semester. Although cringy, tackle those dishes with a positive attitude. It’s half the battle. Others will see you taking initiative and be inspired to play their part. A clean, healthy living space is paramount in the guide to living independently.


For the first time in your life you are given total financial freedom. Whether your resources come from home, a weekend job or our favourite aunt SUSI, managing your finances successfully can be a tricky ideal. Not to fear, it’s something that comes with practice and careful planning. Draw up a budget at the beginning of the week, totalling your expenses and noting your spare change to last you till Friday. Try and refrain from late night excursions to SPAR and going over your weekly allotment of change. This is something that takes discipline and will save you from borrowing money from your parents or friends. Nobody likes to be in debt, believe me. Better budgeting means more nights out in town and who doesn’t love going on the lash!

Keeping in contact

Making the switch to independent living can be lonely at times. Make sure you keep in regular contact with your family or friends. Everyone is susceptible to homesickness but not to worry, it will pass. Picking up the phone and facetiming is one of the finest perks of our generation. It will cure any feelings of loneliness.

Although you are on the way to becoming an ‘elite’ independent student, maintaining a solid network is extremely important. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Join a society or talk to a neighbour. Everybody feels the same.

Managing your time and personal space

The old Eastern philosophy of ying and yang is as true as ever in modern society. Make a checklist the night before, detailing your tasks and leisure time for the following day. Start off with the more difficult ventures and then ease into some relaxing down time to collect your thoughts. Try reading or meditation or settling down to watch a movie if the latter isn’t your thing. Making use of your allotted spare time is crucial in living the independent lifestyle.

Now that you’ve made you way through this short survival guide on how to live independently, it’s time to put these ideas into motion. Living independently doesn’t seem so daunting after all. Go forth, the call to action awaits you!



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