WARNING: Parts of this post might trigger anxiety or distress.
I have wanted to live alone for as long as I can remember. My first potential option to live in a more independent setting was when I was 18 in 2005 and my parents put their house up for sale for my family and me to possibly move to a bigger house that had at least two kitchens and living rooms so I could have my own communal spaces in addition to my bedroom. For some reason plans to move to the bigger house fell through and my parents took their existing house off the market. (First trigger warning starts here) The rest of the year was difficult for me in terms of struggling at college since returning after the summer as a result of mental health issues and having several family issues (First trigger warning ends here). Eventually my parents decided that it would be best for me to move out and live somewhere that better suited my needs. While I disagreed with them at first I soon looked at prospective places for me to move to.
At the beginning of 2006 I looked at a care home for adults with autism and Asperger syndrome in Weston-Super-Mare and even stayed overnight a few times. While I quite liked the house as well as Weston-Super-Mare where I previously visited on a handful of occasions, I soon heard of the possibility of moving to North London. I preferred the option of moving to North London because I’d be living closer to my grandad and there is much more to do in London compared to Weston-Super-Mare. In April of that year I looked at the care home also for adults on the autistic spectrum and I liked it more than the house in Weston-Super-Mare. I moved to the house in North London in July that year and I lived there for the next five years. During my time there I got along with most support staff (I even got attached to a few) and housemates (Second trigger warning starts here) but there were a few of them I felt that I didn’t get on with at all such as another female housemate who I found noisy, intrusive and disruptive. She would shout at the staff and steal other residents’ food. She even handled my medication that worried me (Second trigger warning ends here) but this situation soon got sorted. Eventually she moved out much to my relief. Four years after I moved to this house a more tolerant lady than the aforementioned one moved in with me, which I was delighted with at first since I was the only female resident to live in my dedicated unit of the house for quite some time. While I have had my ups and downs with this lady I am still good friends with her to this day.
In September 2011 I moved to the supported living unit next door to the care home and for the most part I liked it better than the care home. Although I had to put up with another problematic housemate when I first moved in he moved out shortly afterwards and on the whole I felt that I got on with the support staff at my supported living unit better than I did with the staff at my previous care home but I’ve had a few hiccups with some of the staff at my supported living unit such as getting the impression that one of them accused me of something that I would never do thus leading me to not speak to her for at least a month. In February 2014 the lady who moved into my previous care home in March 2010 moved into my supported living unit but she wasn’t particularly happy there so in October 2016 she moved to the studio flat next door before moving in to another flat with her boyfriend, who lived in the residential unit of my supported living establishment, the following month (Update: As of September 2018 my friend and her boyfriend are no longer together). Besides getting along with the staff at my supported living unit better than those at my previous care home, other positives of living in the supported unit were having more independence and attending university where I studied BA and MA courses in animation and I excelled in them both.
In October 2016 I met up with the manager of my previous two homes (he now manages my block of flats as well as that of my friend’s) and my social worker at the block of flats my friend moved into to discuss my options of living more independently. I was potentially going to move there until I was told that all the one-bedroom flats were taken. Luckily I had the option to move to another block of flats that was just down the road from the one I originally looked at. In February 2017 I looked around the new block of flats and I liked it so I moved in the following month.
Before I moved I looked at three possible flats. Here is what I thought of each one:
On the first floor so easy to access.
Bedroom and kitchen and lounge area are a decent size.
Opposite the staff office so prone to noise.
Shower is awkward to get into.
Bathroom is slightly bigger with an easier shower to get into.
Kitchen and lounge area is somewhat larger.
Away from the staff office so it therefore should be quieter.
On the second floor so carrying shopping and my suitcase up to the flat would be harder.
The bedroom is very small.
All the rooms are an ample enough size – great for all my belongings.
This flat is also away from the staff office.
Also on the second floor.
I agreed to move into the third flat my block manager chose for me due to its generous space. Although I like my flat for its modern interiors and plentiful space I have had a few teething problems within my first week of moving in such as support staff opening my door because I couldn’t hear when they knocked and a disturbance from a tenant on the floor above me in the middle of the night. I discussed these issues with the block manager and he put my mind at ease.
Before and after photos of my final flat
My first six months of living in my flat have been a rollercoaster part of my life. (Third trigger warning starts here) While there were negativities such as one tenant begging me for money; another tenant kicking down the staff office door, which led to the police being called; dealing with a lewd maintenance man; maintenance issues such as a clogged toilet (I managed to unclog it myself), a blocked sink (support staff plunged the sink for me), a broken toilet lid and a leakage coming from my bathroom spotlight; my next door neighbour playing his trumpet in the middle of the night; and staff offering to do things for me at the last minute and asking me to do things for them at short notice or with other tenants that have made me feel anxious, self conscious and uncomfortable (Third trigger warning ends here), positivities have included having my own space and more independence; familiarity with two other tenants (including my next door neighbour) because they lived in the residential unit of my previous home; and not having to change my medical services such as my GP and dentist. I have been cooking home made meals more often in comparison to my previous home as well as managing my bills, particularly those for my mobile phone, home broadband and electricity. My parents were very supportive with regards to helping me settle into my own flat by providing me with store cupboard essentials (a box of food items such as stock cubes and cooking sauces) and a utility pack (a box containing things such as bleach, furniture polish and Brillo pads) as well as buying me some new IKEA furniture. My block manager has even supported me with my proposal of obtaining a new bed to replace the two beds the block provided me with that broke due to them not being strong enough to support my weight and I have invited my friend from my previous two homes and from the block of flats down the road over to my flat. While I am independent with regards to doing my own cooking and cleaning I needed support with things such as obtaining my medication at the start (I now collect my medication from the GP independently but still notify the staff if I need some more) and having my bed and storage furniture assembled.
In conclusion while I have had my ups and downs of living in my own flat so far my experience has mostly been positive with regards to having my own space and further developing my independence. I would like to remain living in my flat for as long as I can.
Watch my flat tour videos below:
Progressive Empty Flat Tour
Final Flat Tour: Bedroom, Hallway and Bathroom (Timecode to turn captions on to replace missing subtitles: 10:20 – 10:28)
Final Flat Tour: Lounge and Kitchen