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Whether you’re sick of sharing a room with your siblings or having your roommates use your things without your permission, or are just simply moving to a new city after being offered a job, you might be considering having a space of your own.
But while living alone can be exciting, it’s still a significant transition in your life that could bring a lot of challenges. What would you eat if you only knew how to fry eggs? Who’s going to get rid of the dead cockroach in the bathroom? How will you switch the light bulbs if they’re not working?
Despite how nerve-wracking this change could be, going solo can be a rewarding experience. But how do you go about starting your journey to independence?
First things first: Are you financially prepared for it?
“Living alone is a financial privilege, and not everyone can afford it,” Reign, a 28-year-old freelance artist, told Rappler.
She’s been renting a studio unit in Quezon City for more than a year now. But before that, she was renting a bedspace in Makati City with five other people. At the time, Reign was working as an accountant.
“The only reason why I’m able to afford living alone now was because I switched careers and I am working with different clients and projects,” she shared. “But if I stayed with my previous job and took into consideration my salary then and my expenses now, I wouldn’t be able to transfer to a space of my own.”
Jazzy, a 31-year-old project manager, echoed the sentiment, saying that having two income streams helped her get her desired place.
“I’m not saying that only rich people could afford to live on their own. But if you want to find a place that meets your standards, then be prepared to spend money for it,” she said.
For starters, the period leading up to the actual moving in and the first months of you living alone might be the most expensive part in this transition.
Most places require paying for one month’s rent and a two-month deposit, so best to save up for that beforehand. That’s why it’s also best to set a ceiling price on the monthly rent that you’re willing to pay for.
“No matter how much I liked how the unit looks or how close it is to my office, I didn’t visit the unit when I found out that it was over my budget,” Jazzy said.
As for Reign, she also took into consideration whether the unit should be bare, semi-furnished, or fully-furnished so that she could prepare funds for the appliances and household things that she’d be needing.
Aside from the first set of expenses, though, Jazzy and Reign both agreed that they should also be capable of sustaining their spendings for the succeeding months. During their first months of living alone, both came up with a monthly budget wherein they took note of all their recurring expenses, such as utility bills, maintenance fees, and groceries.
Additionally, they advised that it’s also best to have an emergency fund, as this is your safety net when there are unexpected costs that occur.
For Reign, having an emergency fund helped her when her pet cat got sick, so the veterinary bills didn’t affect her expenses at home.
“Before, I could always borrow money from my roommates whenever there was an emergency, but that’s not possible when you’re living alone. So best to anticipate all possible situations and be financially prepared for it,” she said.
Research properly before making a decision
Aside from the financial constraints, finding the right place that caters to your needs could also be a huge challenge. What Reign and Jazzy advise is to list down your criteria clearly.
“I really wanted to adopt a cat so one of my top priorities when I looked for a place was for it to be pet-friendly,” Reign shared. Her other non-negotiables also include 24/7 security, meaning that the building has security guards and CCTV cameras, and that visitors have to leave their ID in their lobby.
“It’s for my peace of mind. I’m living alone so if I have to pay extra for my security, then so be it.”
For Jazzy, safety was also really important for her. She wanted her place to be near her office and also near access points such as malls and hospitals, but she also wanted it to be secure.
“I researched if there were reports of crimes, robberies, or break-ins in the community and asked around [about] how close the neighborhood was,” she said.
Jazzy added that when she was looking at the units, she didn’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions to landlords and agents. Which repairs will they shoulder? Does the unit have its own water meter or electricity billing? Do they only accept post-dated checks or are bank transfers allowed? What are their rules in decorating the place? Where are the fire exits and what are their safety measures?
“I was really very particular. I wanted to have all my bases covered so that I wouldn’t have a hard time making a decision,” she said, adding that she even has an Excel file for all things related to her moving out. It was there where she compared the pros and cons for all the places that she viewed and listed down the one-time big purchases she should save up for.
It was during this research period that Reign said she realized why she’d prefer renting a condo unit instead of purchasing her own house or a rent-to-own place. She shared that this was one of the most frequently asked questions when other people learn that she’s living alone.
“First, I can’t afford it. There’s property taxes, mortgages, and maintenance fees that you have to pay for when you buy your own place. And right now, I don’t have funds for that,” she said. “Second, I’m not ready to make the huge permanent decision of finding a place I’ll stay in for the rest of my life. Renting gives me an option to relocate once my lease is up.”
This is why, Jazzy reminded, each individual should listen to what they think works the best for them.
“It highly depends on our set of circumstances. There’s really no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to living alone,” she said.
Be ready to be self-reliant and accountable
Living alone means being solely responsible for your own well-being and the maintenance of your home. From opening canned goods without a can opener to taking the trash out and paying bills on time, you won’t learn how capable you can be unless you start living on your own.
For Reign, going solo helped her grow as a person. She learned how to cook, set up cabinets with her own tool kits, kept a notepad of emergency numbers, made spare keys, and learned to stock up on essentials just in case she got sick.
Admittedly, her first months living alone saw her staying up all night to binge-watch videos and order takeout, but she said that she was able to curb the unhealthy habits quickly.
She said that it was liberating to realize she could do things on her own now, without having to consider whether it’d affect a roommate or not.
“But that means that you’ll also be really on your own – no one will monitor your mess or help with the chores.”
As for Jazzy, living alone helped her be more mindful of her own feelings. There were times where she didn’t know how to do things or where she made bad decisions, but instead of berating herself, she learned not to dwell too much on these. Having more time with herself pushed her to acknowledge her emotions properly, and she has since learned to journal and do yoga.
Most importantly, she said, going solo led her to expect more for herself.
“It’s because I know that if I don’t stay consistent with my habits, then that would also affect the quality of how I live my life,” Jazzy shared.
Choose who to share your space with
But both Jazzy and Reign emphasized that living alone doesn’t mean isolating yourself.
Reign shared that one of her ways to ensure safety is make sure that she’s discreet on social media. Only a handful of trusted relatives and friends know that she’s living alone, and she makes sure that they always know her whereabouts.
Since she no longer has roommates and family members who can monitor whether she has safely arrived at home, letting them know whether she’s going somewhere is very important. She added that they even have apps where they can monitor each other’s location.
“Some might think it’s invasive, but that’s for me and my family and friends’ peace of mind,” she said.
Despite no longer living together, Reign shared that it’s still important for her to stay connected with the people she cares about. Even though she loves spending time alone, she still makes an effort to see other people.
Aside from those already familiar to you, Jazzy said to also use the opportunity to connect with new people and try new activities. – Rappler.com