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Why I Decided To Live On My Own And How It Changed My Life

by Irene Chooi. |


Every little birdy has to fly out of its nest at some point and most of the time they don’t have a choice! I started living apart from my parents at 18 when I got into a university an hour away from my hometown. (Isn’t that how most of our Maggi-for-all-meals stories start?)

I had a roommate in my first place so it didn’t count as living alone, and I always had housemates throughout my university and early working years. 5 years after I started working, I decided to rent my own apartment!


There were many reasons for it, but I was mainly fed up with my food and spoons disappearing and having irresponsible housemates scratch up my cookware, as well as sharing the bathroom with smokers. Finding out one of my housemates was a peeping tom was the last straw.


Renting my own place was a big move and while my family was supportive, my colleagues and friends were sceptical because of how much it would cost. Yes, it was much more expensive than renting a room, but I felt like I needed the change. I needed my own space! And I figured a bit of extra financial responsibility would be good for me, so off I went.

I lucked out and managed to rent a medium-sized 3-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment in a quiet part of town near a park AND a hiking trail. It was affordable because it was on the 5th floor of an old walk-up apartment but that didn’t bother me. Despite the extra financial burden and having to sacrifice several things to afford the apartment, I have no regrets because living alone changed my life.


Personal Space

Having my own bathroom was pure bliss! Even when I lived at home, I shared a bathroom with my brother and then with roommates and housemates. I rarely got to shower exactly when I wanted to and now I could! I was also able to listen to my music on my speaker, have guided meditation without using earphones and dance like no one was watching because no one was!


The freedom of having so much personal space lifted a burden from my shoulders that I didn’t even know I had. Suddenly, I had a safe space to be me. I can be messy or vacuum 3 times a day, I can have skull-shaped candle holders in every corner of the apartment and not be worried about judgment because this is MY space.


Living alone allowed me to leave the burden of carrying other people’s expectations at the door. Every night when I returned home, I breathed easier knowing I was in a safe space and that helped calm my anxiety and just made me a better person.


Budgeting

I was never bad with money, but when you go from having housemates to living alone, the cost could shock you! The amount of money I had to pay each month doubled, thanks to rent, internet and utilities. It took me a while to get used to all the extra expenses.


What I did to get on top of things was double down on my monthly budgeting. I watched how much I spent on food and started to cook more, and I also used the air conditioning less because I didn’t have housemates to split the bill with anymore. Even after my financial situation stabilized, I carried on with my budgeting principles. The initial financial jolt is the reason why I have such healthy finances now and I’m thankful for it.


Cooking Skills

My mother made sure I could cook a semi-decent meal before turning me out into the world, but when I was living with other people, I just didn’t cook as much as I wanted to. Some of the houses I used to stay in did not allow cooking (which is pretty common), and those that allowed cooking had shared kitchens which could be absolute nightmares.


I have lost so many utensils to irresponsible housemates and I almost cried when an expensive pan was scratched up just days after my mother gifted it to me! The shared kitchens were also usually dirty and the sink was always filled with unwashed dishes. There have been several times I’ve walked into the kitchen fully intending to cook, only to walk back out again and head to the mamak.


After I started living on my own, I began to redevelop my love of cooking. I would have an audiobook or music playing in the background while I made my stews and stir-fries. I spent many happy Sundays learning new recipes or just making myself treats like chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate muffins. (Yes, I love chocolate).


Cooking also helped me cut down on eating out, which saved my wallet and improved my health. I would make my breakfast and dinner on weekdays so I only had to spend on lunch. I take great joy in being able to cook for my loved ones and if I had not decided to live on my own, I might never have discovered this side of me.


Although I am an absolute advocate of living alone, deciding on whether you want to take the plunge is not a call you can make lightly. There are so many factors you have to consider. You could find the extra financial burden too much to bear, or you might not like being alone for so much time in a day. If you still can’t decide, just think about how nice it would be to dance from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen wearing anything you like, with NO ONE watching.

You can find out more about the author on Instagram.

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