Moving out of parents' home? 10 things to remember
In response to a query by one of our readers, we list out the challenges that living alone can face and how you can deal with them. Illustrations Uttam Ghosh
We recently received this email from a young man wanting to move out of his parents' home. In response, we list out the ten things young men wanting to live alone must remember.
The query: I'm a male of 24 years old. A civil servant earning a paltry sum of Rs 18,000 only. I want to live alone. Just planning to move away from my family to a separate apartment. I want to know the challenges I may encounter and also how to solve them.
First off, heartiest congratulations for even considering taking this bold step. Few men I know of have done it and I know it isn't easy.
Let's face it, most Indian men are momma's boys and we love to live with our parents as long as it is humanly possible.
Moving out shouldn't be an unpleasant process. You are about to start a new life. In some ways, so is your family. Why start out something new on a sour note? As I see it, here are some things you need to keep in mind/put into practice before executing your decision.
Advice from the author does not reflect the opinions of rediff.com and should not be considered in the capacity of professional counselling.
1. Ask yourself if you're ready
In a dreary city life, it isn't difficult to get tired of your surroundings and your routine. You wake up, get ready, go to work, return, go to bed, wake up and start all over again.
The humdrum routine, the crowded transport, long traffic jams can get a little extra taxing when you have to return and share your space with your family. Sometimes all you really need is a bit of me-time and a temporary break from the people around you. Think of it, can you really live without the people you've grown up with for 24 years?
Take a vacation if you can. If not, try moving in with a friend for a few weeks and see if you like that arrangement and the freedom. Perhaps you will, perhaps you won't.
Stepping away from the situation you are in, usually helps you look at it somewhat dispassionately. Take this time to assess it, negotiate with it and if you must, use the time to prepare yourself to get away from it.
Also know that you aren't being selfish. At some point in one's life one has to start looking out for oneself. Surely I am not suggesting kicking your parents on their backsides but sometimes, just sometimes stepping away from the situation helps.
The challenge, as I see here will be to toughen up and take a decision that might threaten the peaceful existence of you and your family. Breaking out itself can be a tough task. Stand up to the situation and be firm.
2. Don't cut off ties with your parents
It's crucial you prepare your parents for this move. I may not be the best person to advise you on this since I pretty much packed my bags one evening and left but I can assure you, talking to them over a period of time and explaining to them the need for you to move out and look out for yourself will make them see your side.
My experience has been that one of the two parents is usually saner than the other. Get that parent in your corner.
The idea is to ensure that even after you move out, you don't cut off all ties with your parents. Understand that they're old and they probably will need your help. Don't let them be at a loss when they need to turn to someone in need. Be there; more importantly make them know that you are always there for them even if you aren't living under the same roof.
The challenge here will be to strike the right balance. There could be a phase when both or one of your parents won't talk to you. But my experience is eventually (and usually) parents do come around.
Even if they are angry, make extra efforts on your part to reach out to them. At first they may shun you but be persuasive. You don't want to lose them.
3. Save up enough money
You are about to start a new life; you will need money. Before announcing your decision or even making sounds about it, ensure you have a decent sum of liquid cash in your bank account.
It is difficult to put a figure to how much you would need but if you are living and working in a large city like Mumbai, Rs 1.25 lakh is a decent sum to start out with. That should help you pay for the deposit of the flat you'd need to rent out and buy basic necessities including home electronics such as a refrigerator and a cooking gas connection.
Indian kids don't really think of moving out very seriously so we don't plan for this move. The tough part here could be putting the cash together. Expect initial hiccups and shortfalls but ensure you have friends you can turn to who can help you.
4. Sharing or living alone
Decide whether you wish to stay alone or share the rent with a colleague or a friend. If it's the latter, you'd be able to stay closer to the city centre and travelling to and from work may not be as big a deal as it would be if you were living on the fringes of the city suburbs.
On the flipside, sharing your space with another person may not always be a pleasant experience. You are bound to face difficulties adjusting with him/her and unless you are willing to work towards finding that point where both s/he and you are comfortable in each other's company I would suggest you go solo.
Whatever you do ensure that the flat you rent is at least semi if not fully- furnished. That way you don't have to spend money on furnishing the flat and then later spend even more money to transport it to the next house, a year later.
Here's the bummer though -- single men aren't welcome in most housing societies. House owners are also apprehensive of renting out their apartments to single young men. We are often seen as a nuisance and so you can expect to face a lot of frustrations while you are looking for an apartment. Be ready to stick it out and have patience... truckloads of it.
5. Be the ideal tenant
If you are renting out an apartment, ensure you turn up on time for your meeting with the owner. Make sure you are well turned out and you carry yourself properly. These are small things but they go a long way.
Be professional about the whole thing and treat it as a business meeting. It's the best way I know of to handle a rejection.
Be flexible and give in to some of your house owner's demands if you must but decide on points you wouldn't negotiate on. There is no need to bend over backwards. You do it once and your landlord will expect you to do it every single time. Be cordial but not grovelling. Remember that your landlord needs the money as much as you need the house.
Assure him/her that you will take care of the house and live up to that promise. One of the greatest apprehensions landlords have while renting their homes to single men is that they maintain the apartment poorly. Be the exception. Ensure the apartment is clean and tidy. It really doesn't take very long to do it but leaves a lasting impression on your landlord who at some point may choose to spring a surprise visit.
Conversely, if there are any defects in the house ensure they are listed down in the agreement so you don't get blamed for any losses.
Spell out the terms of your arrangement right at the outset. Basically, cover your backside so little comes back to bite you later.
Remember there isn't anyone to clean up after you so keep your mess manageable. You may have to go without a domestic help for the first few weeks, perhaps longer. Be ready to do your dishes, wash your clothes, sweep the floor and dust the furniture. Your mum isn't going to be around to do that.
6. Learn to cook
Most young men living on rent around me have hired a cook. Given that you don't earn a lot and a good part of your salary will go towards the rent, learning a few kitchen skills will go a long way.
Take a few lessons from your mother if you must. Or join a cooking class. Or just buy a good cook book. I've found Sanjeev Kapoor's books to be most helpful, followed by Tarla Dalal's. Both these authors bring cooking down to the basics and make it accessible to the least kitchen-equipped men.
7. Organise your finances
Given that you're earning Rs 18,000 and you'll probably spend half of it on rent and a few more thousand on travelling and groceries, it will be a bit of a task to save up. Yet save up you must. Start a small recurring deposit in a bank. The joy of seeing a large sum at the end of 11 months is unparalleled.
After the next appraisal avoid blowing up the extra cash, invest it somewhere instead. Buy gold, invest it in PPF or mutual funds or simply put it in the bank. Just don't spend it unwisely. It is bound to come handy sooner rather than later.
The challenge here will be to remember to pay your bills, write cheques and drop them. Often these tasks are delegated to our retired parents who are happy to do it for us. Switch to ECS if you can or simply buckle up and do it yourself.
8. Reach out to your neighbours
Your neighbours will be your new family. In times of need, they are the ones you will have to turn to. So ensure you befriend them.
When you move in, pay them a visit; introduce yourself and don't try to make it look like the only thing you're interested in is getting into their daughter's pants.
Also ensure that you don't get so friendly with them that they keep poking their nose in your affairs. Maintain that distance. Always.
9. Hiring domestic helps
This may come as news to you but domestic helps aren't always comfortable working for single men. And it's been this way even before Shiney Ahuja's antics hit the news.
Getting a domestic help will be a challenge. Be patient and use the good offices of your neighbours you have befriended!
Here's another thing you may have to do -- leave the keys at the neighbour's or with the domestic help itself who will do the chores while you are away at work. Either way, do a background-check of the domestic help and register her at the local police station. This is normal practice. You aren't expected to trust her just as you cannot expect her to trust you. Make sure you don't give any wrong signals that are misunderstood by your domestic help. You may end up losing more than just the services of your bai!
10. Get a life
The thing about staying alone is at some point loneliness will get to you. Learn to keep yourself preoccupied. This does not mean spending endless hours at work, watching movies on office computers or whiling away time in your air-conditioned work space and taking a drop home late in the night as many young men I know of do. It beats the whole idea of moving out and finding your space.
The prospect of returning to an empty home can be depressing but that shouldn't mean you stick around at your workplace for unhealthy number of hours.
Step out of work as soon as you can. Go for a movie, make new friends, take up a hobby, or join a gym. There are so many ways you can entertain yourself and not all of them are expensive. Go for run every day; join a subsidised yoga class (if you look hard enough, you will find one); explore a part of the city you've never been to on foot. The options are unlimited. All you need is the will to explore them.
The author moved out of his parents' home when he was 22. He's survived just fine miraculously as have his neighbours and friends.