Here’s what I wish I knew before moving out
As a Millennial who didn’t choose to bunk with her Filipino parents until marriage or—God forbid—children, there are some things I wish I had known before high-tailing it out of my childhood home.
Like most broke Millennials, move-out money was the greatest of my woes. I had a barely-there emergency fund—just enough to put down a deposit and (hopefully) an Internet connection. At the time, I had a “just do it” mindset, regardless of my finances. After all, you could always make money back.
While this mostly held true, I’d chosen the seemingly worst time to move out: just shy of the pandemic. I wasn’t the only person in my friend group who’d chosen financial independence under extraordinary circumstances, and you can bet your dollar (or peso) we crawled out the other end of the tunnel with dozens of should’ves, would’ves and could’ves.
If you’re eyeing that ever-so-delicious taste of freedom in the form of your first apartment, here’s what you should know (before you wish you’d known it before).
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Is it all about the money?
Unlike studios and one-bedrooms, money lives a lot in our heads rent-free. According to freelance writer and aspiring counselor Ramona, finance management is something she wishes she developed pre-move.
“We could really better prepare young people to be independent by teaching them the basics of finances, like budgeting—surprisingly, not a lot of people really practice that. Learning how to do something as simple as logging my earnings and expenses regularly and recognizing patterns in my cash flow has helped me tremendously, and that's just the tip of the iceberg; there's so much more to be learned in managing your finances as you navigate adulthood.”
If I’d wished for my high school math career to have led me anywhere, it would’ve been financial literacy. Especially as a freelancer, calculating incoming and outgoing expenses (with room for savings) is tougher than you’d anticipate.
If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, lifestyle is another factor to consider. With a costly overhead, your daily cappuccino and GrabFood booking may no longer be as frequent.
Writer Jer, who has yet to move out, shares: “I love my lifestyle now where I can shop occasionally, eat out at restaurants and put away a portion for savings each month. I know I’d have to compromise if I moved out. So I’m waiting for an opportunity to increase my income before [committing to] the move.”
Aspiring art therapist and bullet journal enthusiast Belle says, “[Moving] out comfortably and debt-free is a costly privilege. I’m grateful to have had enough savings to afford my initial expenses (deposit and advance rent payment) and support from my family (free kitchen stuff). Still, I wasn’t prepared for how expensive living away from my family could be.”
As someone who inherited a lot of family furniture, I recommend saving up to treat your parents to a good meal—an in-kind donation can go a long way, especially if you’re renting an unfurnished unit.
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Get nitpicky with your needs
While finances are typically the core of move-out readiness, some underrated aspects of shortlisting a unit deserve more attention. Layout is one thing. I recently moved into a spacious studio—four blank walls and a bonus utility room. How hard could it be to fill my space? Not as simple as I anticipated.
If you can, request a blueprint of your unit from your landlord, blocking out your furniture on photo editing software like Photoshop. You’ll be surprised how much thoughtful blocking can influence how you move your furniture.
Another thing to consider is who occupied your space beforehand. Events manager Dani tells us, “When I [occupied my unit] in 2019, it was neat. But [during the] pandemic, [my landlord] had to lease it to [occupants] who barely cleaned. It's good to know [who’s taking your place so you can identify] where problems might [occur].”
Be near the people you love
Most of us move out because we crave independence from our families. But once you’ve overcome the initial groveling and their attempts to get you to stay, the silence is often deafening—at least for a while.
Business development representative Francies wishes he considered his “proximity to a support system.” Regarding where to move out, he says, “I'm the type of person who prefers in-person company whenever I need to open up about problems. Money can be made on one's own; mental health problems aren't so easy to handle alone.”
I never thought I’d consider myself lucky to live a stone’s throw from my family—and I’m not talking about free pantry raids and a place to do your laundry, though they are occasional perks—but a sense of familiarity amidst trying times goes a long way.
The bottom line
Though it isn’t uncommon to find three generations of Filipinos living under the same roof, most of the younger demographic is opting for independent living away from family. Most of us do it for independence—but that independence often comes with a price. A literal one.
Moving out is a critical life stage for any young adult. With the right amount of preparation—financial and emotional—overcoming the “young broke professional” stereotype can be endlessly fulfilling.
Words Zoë Isabela Alcazaren
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver