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I Wish I Knew These Things Before Moving Out

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

by Cheryl Choo.

Are you reading this because you’ve finally decided to take that big leap of faith towards becoming a full-fledge adult? Or maybe you’re reminiscing how well you’ve done, like me, who left the nest many years ago and has only just started to get the hang of #adulting. Folks, there’s a universal philosophy that's been with us since the Big Bang: learn from those who have made mistakes so you won’t repeat theirs.

As someone who was unceremoniously thrown into the deep end of independent living at 17, here are a couple things what I wish someone told me before moving out:

1. Chores.. especially laundry!

Let’s admit it. At some point in our lives we’ve all thought that clothes could just be washed with the same method and same detergent or to just dump it all in the washing machine. But in reality, we’d need to separate the whites from the dark-coloured clothing and to handwash clothing made from delicate fabric.

You can consecutively clear your laundry load each week for a month, you shouldn’t leave the comfortable and lazy confines of your magically, sparkling clean room. All teasing aside, your attitude towards chores – be it cleaning, dusting, or washing – after moving out follows a life-cycle that starts out with eagerness, peaks with tediousness, and flattens into routine-work. The aim is to slowly transform chores into habits. A tip is to have certain days to do certain types of chores so that it wouldn’t be so overwhelming and tiring.

2. Budgeting

Whether you get an allowance from a financial sponsor or earning your own money, living on your own emboldens your aspirations of an ideal lifestyle. Just because no one can stop you from having a bowl of keto chia pudding with greek yogurt and almond milk for breakfast, under the covers of your Akemi-covered duvet, doesn’t mean you should bust a hole in your wallet for the gram.

Budgeting is simply distinguishing from your wants and your needs. Keep a record of all your spendings for that month and try to save at least 10% of your income. Once you can cut out the unnecessary indulgences that do not spark joy for your wallet, then perhaps you can have avocado toast for brunch next weekend.

If you’d like to know more on how to budget as a clueless millennial, you could read this article here.

3. Maintenance

You realize the faucet has been leaking for a couple of weeks, so you decide to pay a few hundred ringgits to a plumber to fix the problem. NO! What you should do is take a wrench to it and replace the seat washer. How did I know this? Google. By just following a few simple instructions on the Wikihow or take a creative spin to a malfunctioning appliance can save you lots of headache, time, and money. Often times, it’s a simple matter of frequent cleaning and checking of your appliances before they deteriorate to a state that requires professional help.

4. Healthcare

Living alone or with someone who isn’t an immediate relative means that you no longer have easy access to your primary healthcare provider a.k.a your parents.

A tip is to religiously take your daily supplements and always keep an updated medical kit that treats common illnesses, allergies, and the occasional bruises, burns and cuts. More importantly, you should learn how to take care of your health before it boils down to taking a sick leave. This means drinking enough fluids, having a balanced diet, and hitting the gym once in a while.

5. Paying Bills

While you’re eating, bathing and sleeping in your brand new place, money is always flowing behind the scenes. The most daunting and complicated aspect of having your own space is getting the money to the right people on time. Water bills, electrical bills, gas bills, credit card bills, phone bills, and rental fees are paid to different providers through different means. Some can be paid in the post office while others require direct transfers. Before tackling all this for the first time when you’re on your own, it’s best to shadow your parents or elders when they’re paying bills.

6. Cooking

So we’ve covered healthcare and budgeting. These two topics copulated and we have: cooking. Cooking your own food saves you way more money than eating out everyday. And remember that thirsty and dry aftertaste when you’ve just finished a bowl of Fishball Soup? That’s MSG. In the few months leading up to your big move, learn some recipes from your mother or Gordon Ramsay (who teaches you to how to cook a stellar steak – salivating results guaranteed). Just by eating home-cooked food for several meals could allow you to feel much healthier, richer, and a whole lot more attractive.

7. Time Management

Chores, bills, and grocery shopping, it all comes down to this: time management.

Living on your own means you have to be responsible for how you want to live your life, and the best way to achieve a balanced and stress-free lifestyle is to stick to a routine. Instead of binge-watching standup comedy skits on Netflix, skip an episode or two for a couple hours to settle the basics of adulting. Trust me, once all that is said and done, you’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy your own space.

Don’t stress if you haven’t gotten it all figured out yet because trust me, not everyone has even at 30! After all, the art of living alone in a new place is all about self-discovery and the best time to learn how to adult. But of course, just don’t forget to pay your rent and utility bills on time!

You may also find Cheryl on Instagram.

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