We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.
On the morning of June 10, 2022, I woke up to a giant half-dead cockroach next to my bed, mere inches where my head lay throughout the night.
And half-dead cockroaches are just one of the things I have had to deal with since moving out of my parents’ place.
But do not let that deter you from moving out.
It’s curious how moving out has become a trend in recent years. Some attribute it to the rise of western influences, while others blame Circuit Breaker for firing up our long-suppressed desire to break out of the norm (or from under our parents’ watchful eyes).
Like the rest of the young working adults in Singapore seeking iNdEpEnDenCe, I moved out of my parents’ home in July 2021, and have been living in a rented shophouse with two housemates ever since.
We all have our own room, but spaces like the living areas, toilet, and kitchen, are shared.
Before I signed the contract, I was aware that things like my expenses and certain lifestyle habits would have to change.
What I had forgotten to mentally prepare myself for from this journey of independence-seeking was the need to deal with cockroaches myself, as evidenced above.
But never mind that (for now). Here are other things you can/should expect if you plan to move out on your own.
1. Expect a reaction from your parents
This is probably one of the hardest parts about moving out (although it still isn’t as hard as getting your parents to sign your report book when you were 10), but it’s something you need to do nonetheless.
Be prepared to answer questions like:
“Why waste so much money?”
“Why don’t you pay me rent instead?”
“You would rather live with strangers than your own family??”
Most of the time, parents just want a peace of mind and be assured that their kids will be safe and self-sustaining in a new place.
So be patient with them and address their concerns; one thing that put my parents at ease was my promise to go back for weekly meals, and to call them more often.
Another way is to include them in the room-hunting process, which should hopefully make them feel like their opinions are respected.
2. Expect a semi-tedious process
I was lucky to have this house fall into my lap; my friend was already living here and when one of her housemates moved out, she asked if I would be interested in moving in.
The process – from viewing the room to measuring the space, acquiring new furniture, and eventually moving in – only took me about a month.
But you may not be as lucky as I was. Based on what I hear from friends looking to rent, it can be quite hard to find a suitable place now that the demand for rental units is high.
Rental units may also not be as high up on the priority list for a property agent, so you may have to wait longer than average for a reply (if at all). This is not to say that all property agents are like that, of course.
3. Expect your expenses to increase exponentially
Paying rent is painful, but it’s something you have to accept. For some, renting might be necessary (bad familial relationships, lack of space in their family home), but for others, it could simply be a lifestyle choice.
If you belong to the latter, you might experience feelings of doubt in the first few months, because let’s be honest, rent is an unnecessary expense in this situation.
This is especially so if you plan to get married and do all sorts of married things like buying an HDB and throwing a wedding banquet.
However, if you’ve considered all those things and still want to move out, then welcome to the – I don’t have a better name for this – Monthly Scrimp And Save Club.
The general rule of thumb is that the rent should be 30 per cent of your income. Once that’s settled, you can sort out the rest of your finances according to your needs.
And when I say needs, I mean like, real needs.
Do you really need a S$300 monthly gym membership or can you quit it and just exercise at the park?
If you used to shun homebrand items at the supermarket, you might need to start embracing them because surprise surprise, you are going to be cooking a lot more.
You would also come to the realisation that cooking for one is not that straightforward, and you’ll most likely end up cooking in batches and eating the same thing for a few days.
If it’s any consolation, there are tons of YouTube videos on easy meal preps you can check out, and you might even turn into a domestic god/goddess as a result.
4. Expect different living habits
If you plan to live with others, it’s hard to tell what kind of housemate they would be until you actually live with them. Even if they are your friends.
Are they clean? Would your bathroom schedules match? Do they like to have loud sex?
Chances are, you won’t find someone with the same living habits as you. There’s bound to be a degree of tolerance on both sides. So it’s all down to how much you can tolerate, and what sort of things you can (or cannot) tolerate.
Can you tolerate dirty dishes in the sink overnight? Or perhaps you are the sort who leaves dirty dishes in the sink overnight and would prefer a housemate who wouldn’t mind it.
All these things become apparent in the first few weeks of living with new people.
On days my housemates drive me crazy, I channel my inner zen and recall what the philosopher Alain de Botton once said, “I know that you’re not easy to live with, and the reason is you’re all homosapiens.”
Botton was essentially saying that nobody is easy to live with, and that compromising and negotiating are vital when it comes to co-living.
Although he meant all this in the context of romantic bonds, I think his ideas could certainly be applied to housemate relations.
In my year-long experience of renting, I’ve had my fair share of household-related squabbles with my housemates. But fortunately, there’s a general understanding that there’s a need to keep the peace in this shared space, so we don’t let anything escalate into a full blown conflict.
And anyway, if you end up with housemates you absolutely can’t stand, at least you can consider adding “High tolerance for bullshit” to your LinkedIn page.
5. Expect to deal with nasty things on your own
Being independent is all fun and invigorating until you realise you also have to deal with nasty things alone.
I’m not talking about the chores.
I’m not even talking about having to deal with horrible housemates.
I’m talking about one of the most irksome things on earth that can also survive an apocalypse – cockroaches.
Yes, I just made you look at this image again.
If you’re a scaredy cat like me, you probably also rely on others to destroy pests for you. Like you know, your fearless father/mother/sibling.
In this brave new world as an independent renter, the only person you can rely on is yourself.
I mean yes, you could plead for help from your housemates, but it’s not a sustainable solution, is it?
Especially not at 3am.
So the only way is to man up and face the pesky intruder yourself.
Which was what I did on the morning of June 10.
Upon realising that it wasn’t a nightmare and was indeed something I had to face, my mind started racing.
“OKAY SOLUTIONS. Omg look at the feelers and the crunchy little- Okay stop. Focus. What do I need? Baygon. That’s right. SHIT did I somehow swipe it in my sleep? Why is it already half-dead? FOCUS. Go get the Baygon.”
I immediately cleared the space, grabbed my trusty can of pesticide, and sprayed at the wriggling insect like I had never sprayed before.
When I was sure that it was dead, I swept the carcass into a dustpan, and applauded myself for coming face to face with my katsaridaphobia.
To this day, I still live in fear that its family members are hiding in my room and waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack me.
But hey, this is just a small price to pay for wanting to move out.
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