I lived in two cities during my stay in Manila – Quezon City and Makati City. While waiting for the construction of my future home in Cebu to be completed, I look back to the time when I lived alone in Makati.
I was barely 20 years old and fresh out of college when I moved to Makati City for work. It was an exciting time for me as it would be my first time to live by myself, away from parents and their curfew (haha). Let me share ten things that I learned:
1. The cost of your rent will make or break your budget.
I had the great fortune of living in a condo, with all its amenities and great location, at a mere fraction of what it should cost. The building wasn’t that recent and I had roommates. I also wasn’t that picky. However, my parents advised me to never compromise on the location and safety of my choice of abode.
Back then I was aware that rent should not be more than 25% of your net take-home pay. Paying rent of no more than Php 3,000.00 helped me a lot in living comfortably in Makati at an entry-level salary.
As a fixed monthly and recurring cost, rent is one of the most precarious items in any budget and could make or break you. For the uninitiated, I suggest you stay within the 25% threshold. Otherwise, your income will be wasted on paying rent when you could be using such money for more productive things like an emergency fund or investments.
2. The right roommates are important not only to split costs but to keep each other company.
It can get lonely at the top-of a 15 floor building, that is. Hehe. I was lucky to find roommates who were kind, friendly and understanding. Granted, they were older than me and made playful jokes about my lack of awareness of doing home stuff (like laundry, cooking, and well essentially everything else). They were kind enough to teach me and I’m forever grateful to have met them. This brings me to my next point.
3. I learned how to cook.
I was a sheltered kid and had a fear of accidentally setting the house on fire so I avoided the gas stove and never learned to cook. Also, I couldn’t work the gas stove lol. After living by myself, I learned that take-out places and restaurants won’t always be open. Alternatively, if these restaurants close, then I would starve. And so I learned how to cook. My roommates taught me how to work the stove.
4. I learned how to handwash my delicate clothing and iron my clothes.
Being the newbie that I was, I failed to look around for other options and settled on using the laundromat closest to my condo. I paid Php 35.00 per kilo, which was a fortune considering that in Quezon City, laundry only costs Php 18.00 per kilo. It was a huge rip off.
After several damage caused to my clothes (by the laundromat) my roommates eventually taught me how to wash my own delicate clothes (made of lace and the like). I had my cotton and clothes of sturdier fabric still sent to the laundromat. I recall my first time doing handwash and it took me 3 hours to wash 10 pieces of clothing.
5. I improved my budgeting skills and put it to real-life practice.
Naturally, after being ripped off by the laundromat, I became more cautious with my budget. I started to budget on auto pilot sometimes. It just came organically. I learned how to prepare a budget and anticipate the future costs of things, unlike before when I under/over estimated some items on the budget.
6. I learned to shop mindfully and to buy mostly just necessities.
I was spending my own money. Money that I earned from working at a finance job that required me to be at the office by 7am. Not an easy feat for me because I’m not a morning person at all.
I always had too much pride to ask my parents for money (in case my salary ran out) so I learned to live within my means. I spent on food, shelter and clothing. I didn’t and consciously chose not to get a credit card. After that, living within my means came easy.
I enjoyed wandering through Baclaran and discovering affordable clothes there that were also being sold at malls for a much inflated price. Every now and then I splurged and went out to eat but my spending was always limited to money that I actually had. You just can’t do that with plastic.
7. I became comfortable and more confident in doing things on my own.
My roommates and I had different schedules so we didn’t always do everything together. Being in confined space also made me crave for some alone time. I went to church, bought groceries, went to the laundromat and bought food – all by myself. I was no longer afraid to walk the streets of Makati by myself.
8. I gained more self-confidence.
Learning all the foregoing things and being actually self-reliant helped me gain more confidence. I felt comfortable eating at restaurants by myself (which was inevitable with overtime at work and differences in friends’ schedules). I felt that if, God forbid, something terrible were to happen, I would be okay because I could already take care of myself. You generally cannot say the same for others who remain living in their comfort zone – at home with their parents.
9. I gained a more pragmatic view of the world.
I survived getting sick and nursing myself back to health (although having a boyfriend in Makati at that time also helped). I went through the harrowing experience of a terribly huge fire igniting at the gates of my condo and all tenants had to be evacuated. I found myself getting lost using the MRT and then finding my way again. Once, I was so weak and feverish but I managed to walk myself to Makati Med (it was rush hour so no cabs) and had some lab tests done on me. All these experiences made me stronger and gave me a whole new pragmatic view of the world.
10. Last, but certainly not the least, I learned the value of family.
My parents may have lived far from me at that time, but they always called me and came to visit almost every month (at least for the first year of my stay). They were with me virtually every step of the way to give me guidance. Financially, they provided my 2 months advance and one month deposit for the condo. After that, I was on my own. With every major event I always looked to my parents for advice. I even teleconferenced with my mom on how to cook chicken adobo or any other dish.
I will always look back fondly on my time of living alone in Manila. It was a journey of self-discovery. I enjoyed my freedom to come and go as I pleased. I went out with friends and went out of town. Sometimes, my friends’ apartments became venues of parties or other get-together. Living on your own is a great experience that you shouldn’t miss.
What did you learn while living alone?
20 something lawyer