When you move out, you truly believe you are more than prepared for a life of cooking like Nigella Lawson, cleaning like your mother, and being an all-round fantastic grown-up person.

In the last few months I have been reminded of the simple but crucial lessons following your great leap from the cosy familial nest into a twenty-something’s apartment. We all know that familiar feeling of staring at the oven and not knowing which button does what, and such a contraption can cause such a dilemma that we then decide a microwave pizza is our best (and only) option. Delicious.

As we move from cramped student rooms to student houses, then to apartments, we also have to deal with another great challenge –  the washing machine. Why can’t they just make one washing machine? Why do they even let you wash things on a high temperature if you’re not supposed to? Oy.  There are so many simple things to learn once you live on your own, here are some things you have probably (or will) experience upon moving out:

  1. There is hair everywhere.

You’ll never know how much hair you have until you have to keep cleaning it up. That hair on the floor is yours. So are the hairs by the sink, and the hair in the drains. We are all basically great molting woolly mammoths.

  1. Developing skills of a contemporary Cinderella.

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Cleaning is something most of us want to avoid, but it needs to be done. Sometimes quick fixes don’t do the trick, and you need to spend half a day cleaning your bathroom and polishing the coffee table. If you can mop a floor successfully without just pushing dust around in a circle, then you deserve tremendous applause. Maybe even a slow clap.

  1. You have enough underwear for 3 weeks, but not enough socks for 3 days.

This goes with my whole washing machine incompetence. When you can’t figure out how to wash your clothes, you suddenly realize how much clothing you actually own. You know it’s gotten serious when you find Hello Kitty pants from 2 years ago.

  1. Terms and conditions apply.

When you move in somewhere, there’s usually that legally binding thing we call a contract. It’s painfully obvious, but it is so important to read it completely. All the things your agent doesn’t tell you directly are on that piece of paper – always read the contract and inventory just to avoid any problems further on down the line. Our apartment was advertised with the water bill included, but the contract said we had to pay it. Always double check.

  1. Food is expensive and coupons are a gift from the Gods.

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So dieting is no longer an option. Most of us didn’t realise how expensive fruit and veg is until we moved out, especially as it doesn’t stay fresh for all that long – I learned this when I found black bananas in my kitchen. Highly nutritional meals of bread, cereal and Oreos become habit. Happy Carb Day!

6. Ironing jeans is just a strange idea.

So don’t do it unless you have to. The same goes for ironing in general, it is just too much of a saga. If you hang all of your clothes out straight and leave them to dry, they’ll probably be good enough to wear. Reserve ironing for work clothes. If you do have creases and are too lazy to iron them out, hang them in the bathroom while you shower, the steam will do the rest.

  1. Going home is like going to a 5-star hotel, where everyone annoys you after 24 hours.

Returning home after moving out is a luxurious experience, where the staff (Mum and Dad) will provide room service and a car rental with no extra charge.

One of my favourite moments from the movie Home Alone is when Kevin screams, “When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone.” We are all so seduced by the idea of moving out that we don’t even consider what we’re leaving behind. One thing we can all agree with is that we probably aren’t creative enough to trap a couple of clumsy criminals while living alone. So keep your home clean, always have a hearty supply of milk, and lock the door behind you, you filthy animal.

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Photo credit: Izzard