By Natasha Villaroman on May 5, 2015
When I had my first job, I lived in Quezon City. Traveling to work every day from home was a nightmare. Twenty kilometers away and inching through traffic, I knew it would be more sensible to move somewhere closer. My family also had a financial situation at that time so I decided to become financially independent to lessen their burden as well. Even though my mom was really strict and overprotective, I managed to persuade her to allow me to move out on my own. At that time, I was 22.
A lot of young Filipino adults struggle with getting complete freedom and independence especially when they have overly caring parents. I’ve always wanted to live an independent life, free to make my own decisions and go do spontaneous things without having parents to ask permission from. The decision to move out wasn’t an easy one but it is undeniably the best thing I have ever done. I was raised in a well-off family so I never really had to worry about expenses before, but I decided to leave all that behind, and live as frugal as possible in exchange for freedom and independence.
I would recommend it for everyone because you learn a lot by living on your own. You learn to be accountable and self-sufficient in all aspects, which are probably two of the most important characteristics any successful adult needs to have. If you’re also thinking of making a move, here are my tips to make it easier for you:
Figure out your budget
It’s absolutely critical for you to do a financial health check. It’s better for you to be a hundred percent financially independent so that you won’t always have a fallback option in mind and come running back home. First off, how much money are you potentially earning a month? Next, break down your daily expenses. Here’s a sample of how I calculated my average monthly expenses assuming I’ll be renting out a small yet comfortable studio in Makati district:
Rent (23sqm-33sqm) P16,000 – P20,000
Utilities (water, electricity, cable) P2,000 – P3,500
Maintenance (repairs, cleaning) P 500 – P1,000
Laundry P650 – P1,000
Groceries (food, toiletries) P3,500 – P5,000
Eating Out (work lunch, after work) P4,500 – P6,000
Miscellaneous P2,500 – P3,500
Phone bill P1,500 – P2,500
Transportation P4,500 – P6,000
Since I knew my expenses would exceed my monthly salary, I had to find a roommate so I could split my rent into half. Although this may have made my way of living more economical, there are still some moments where in you can’t help but splurge from time to time. It’s important for you to make certain sacrifices and pinpoint which areas you spend a lot on. For example, I used to spend so much on food so I had to learn how to cook and bring baon to work on most days.
If you really want an independent life, this is the reality you have to face – you have to live frugally and find creative ways to save money.
Additionally, there are apps that can help you manage all of that and make sure you are always on budget. I’ve tried and tested loads of apps, but my favorite would be MoneyWiz, which is available on iOS.
Look for credible listings online or go to a trusted broker
Finding your own condo is so tricky and somehow stressful. With all the But I have to admit, it’s also quite exciting especially when you are moving into a new home! There are a lot of online sources where you can find recent listings that match your budget and location preference. My suggestions would be: OLX, Lamudi, and Zipmatch. They usually have high-quality listings plus brokers respond really fast. Be careful with some brokers though, they may rip you off or bring you to shady places. Trust your gut when dealing with brokers, and don’t make a decision without consulting other people. Find a broker who genuinely cares about your needs, who listens to your preferences, and is honest enough to say the truth.
Before you do your search, make sure you list down your top 3 priorities (ex. Location, budget, amenities) so you don’t waste time visiting condos that don’t fit your criteria.
Pack only what you need
Trust me, you don’t want so much crap in your condo. Just like the saying pack light when traveling, you must also be selective on the things you keep at your new home. Do you really need 20 pairs of pants and 10 pairs of shoes? Maybe not. Remember, when you’re moving out the first time, you can’t take all the luxury you had with you. You have to live simply this time, since you’re more responsible in taking care of your own things with no yaya to keep the house tidy everyday.
Figure out the essentials you need at your new place – your work/casual clothes, gym attire, toiletries, kitchen utensils, cleaning materials, comforters, etc. Figure out what’s really important to you and leave out the things that will just take so much space.
Familiarize yourself with the area
This is the most exciting part! Once you’ve settled down your new place the next thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the area. Learn where the nearby ATMs are, the laundry place, and maybe new restaurants you can check out. It’s a big plus if you were able to get a good location where you can just easily walk to malls and supermarkets. Discover the local scene and interesting places you can hang out at your area. I found out my condo was walking distance to Legazpi Market and Washington Park so it was great to spend some time there on weekends.
Also, don’t forget to find out where the emergency places are such as the nearest police station and hospitals. Walking is good around Makati especially if you stay in Legazpi Village, Salcedo, or Makati Ave.
Learn how to cook
This is a MUST when you decide to move out! Even though you think you can just buy food every day, it doesn’t make sense to do this especially when you are on a tight budget. You don’t have to be a chef to survive. I used to live off with eggs on toast, oatmeal, and tuna sandwiches when I first moved out. I didn’t know how to cook so I hit Google and started searching for some easy homemade recipes. I experimented on some and eventually learned how to cook myself.
I suggest start by learning the basics – frying an egg, chopping and marinating raw meat, and preparing salads. Because of the tight budget, I limit my grocery spend each month and make sure I make a meal plan ahead of time so I don’t waste so much money on food that spoils easily.
Be your own chef, learn how to batch cook, and save tons of money!
Schedule weekly cleanup times
Sometimes we get so caught up with work and social life that we forget to clean the house. If you’re living alone (or in my case with a roommate), sometimes you can put off cleaning in another time. Trust me – the more you procrastinate, the more work you’ll do. It works if you have scheduled cleaning times or reminders to keep the house clean and tidy. For example, I schedule Sundays for a general clean up and restock of groceries. Every other day the trash must be put out, and every other month I invite a maid to help do a thorough cleaning. Oh, and don’t forget to impose the rule – clean as you go! That goes with dishes too… (Yup, living alone is hard work).
Enroll in online banking for your bills
When you become financially independent, you must also learn how to manage your money. Thankfully, online banking has made things easier for me when monitoring and paying my bills (credit card, phone bill, electricity, etc). Bills can be so overwhelming sometimes, and this is something you will be facing all the time. It’s more stressful if you miss paying those bills on time (trust me, I made a lot of mistakes). So if you are moving out independently, make sure you prepare yourself and open two accounts if you can (Savings and Current).
Putting aside some savings is also something important you should consider. I enrolled in BPI’s Save Up plan where they deduct a certain amount from my Savings account automatically every month.
I know it may seem hard to save enough since you’ll be shouldering a lot of expenses once you decide to live independently. However, think of it as an investment as this experience will further strengthen you as a person. You will learn to value money and appreciate the simpler things in life.
I could definitely say that moving out made me more responsible and confident in facing life’s bigger challenges. I hope you, too, decide to step out of your comfort zone and move in to the real world! It may scare you at first but it’s a ride that's worth taking. You always have your parents’ house to catch you if you fail, anyway ;)