Realities of living alone

“Once I graduate from college, I’ll get a job and move out of the house.”

Does this line sound familiar? Maybe you’ve said this when you’d had disagreements with your parents or you’d just had one of those classic annoying sibling rivalries. Maybe you’ve had an epiphany and understood what “A house isn’t always home” meant.

Yes, it’s nice to dream and even yearn for independence. But just because the thought of finally having a place you can call your own sounds alluring doesn’t mean you’ll jump on the next opportunity.

Take it from me. In my early ‘20s, I have what most people my age want: run a house on my own. I thought to myself, “Finally, some freedom and independence!” Right then and there, I envisioned how I’d rearrange our furniture. As a fan of neat spaces, I knew what trinkets of my mom I’d hide and what plates and coffee cups I’d buy.

But as the days went by, one workday after another passed, all I’ve done was move the sofa, coffee table, and TV in the living room. I’m still on my way to buying nice plates and mugs as I have to settle these first:

SOMETHING ALWAYS NEEDS FIXING

Just like any other home, there’s always something that needs to be fixed. 

There are little things that will always take up at least 30 minutes to an hour of my day and a good chunk of my budget. No matter how much I wipe and sweep, Metro Manila has its way of collecting dust on surfaces and floors.

Just when I thought I could save a little for new plates and mugs, I’ll need to buy a replacement light bulb or sealant for leaking pipes. When typhoon Ulysses came, parts of our home were damaged, and it had to be repaired as soon as possible.

HERE GOES ANOTHER BILL

Settle household dues and real property tax to avoid disconnection or penalties.

Gone are the days when I receive love letters sealed with a kiss. My grand welcome to the adult’s club was less than an inch stack of envelopes lying beside our internet router. They were plain white envelopes but were commanding for attention as if saying, “Rip me! Rip me open!”

And when I finally settle these, our subdivision president sends a text to remind the neighborhood of our association and maintenance dues. 

MEET REAL PROPERTY TAX

Movies often show lead characters receiving disconnection notices. In the real world, where I belong, I am reminded of my responsibility to pay real property tax, too. Under Republic Act no. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, as a property owner, I have to pay tax for the structure of our home and the land where it stands.

When I held the long bond paper from the city treasurer’s office, life hit me hard. 

It’s when I realized how hard my parents must have worked to afford the responsibilities of building, owning, and running a home. This is on top of sending my siblings and me to great schools while supporting the things we love.

I always share with my parents my little “adulting” victories. They smile every time I share life learnings, such as finding my own suki in the public market, choosing LED bulbs and quality home appliances as it would help me save in the long run, and cutting unnecessary subscriptions to save money for future emergencies.

They proudly nod as we discuss adjusting my spending habits, budgeting, and paying the real property tax ahead of time to avoid incurring penalties. No matter what it is, they intently listen as if they don’t already know.

Each homeowner’s story is different. It was a rollercoaster for me — excited at first, daunted and tired along the way, but stronger and happier toward the end. Suppose there’s one thing young people should ask themselves before starting a chapter of their lives on homeownership, it’s this: “Am I mentally, emotionally, and financially ready to do this?”

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