Ever since I was a young teenager, I wanted to move out of my parents’ home. I fantasized about what it would be like to have my own place; decorating my room the way I wanted, the privacy, my own food that my brother’s couldn’t get to, the much needed quiet that is noticeably absent when you’re the youngest of 4. When I was in high school I started putting my plan into action, taking summer classes and online courses so that I could graduate early – and I did, if only by a semester. But I didn’t move out at 18 like many do. In fact, the college I eventually chose was only in the next city over from mine, about a forty minute drive on a good day – 2+ hours on most (thanks a lot 401 traffic). But because of my choice to get into the arts – music specifically, my moving out plans had to be put on hold. See, it became apparent very quickly that I wouldn’t be able to afford to live on my own, or with a friend, while completing an intense year long program, 6 days a week, in a city away from where I grew up. And part of me still regrets that I didn’t get the “true” college experience like many of my peers who were able to move out while they attended, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got. It wasn’t until I turned 22 that I started thinking about moving out again, and in April of 2013 I did just that.
I don’t know really what I expected moving out to feel like, and I wasn’t able to ask my siblings for advice since, 3 years later, I am still the only one who has. But in the 2 years and 2 months that I’ve been out of my parents’ house, I’ve learned a lot about myself, so here’s a list of 5 things I learned when I moved out!
1) Keeping track of your finances is key.
When I lived at home, I regularly was running on empty – sometimes even sitting in the red when my impulses got the better of me. Now, rent comes first – then groceries, cable + internet, and my cell phone. I actually manage to have enough self-control not to spend a single dollar of my paycheck until my rent goes through. When you feel the gravity of what eviction means, suddenly new clothes or a night out at the bar doesn’t seem quite so wise.
2) You notice messes a whole lot more
Living at home with both my parents, an older sister and two older brothers meant I rarely had to lift a finger around the house, ‘cause if I didn’t do it, someone else would. When I moved out, at the time with a friend of mine, I started to notice every little thing that was out of place – if plates or food were left out, if a towel hadn’t been washed in a while. It was enough to drive me bonkers at first, until I realized – hey, kid, this is your job now. I very quickly started to feel absolutely terrible about all the times I had left messes for someone else at home, because nowadays I am over the moon when my fiancé surprises me with a clean bathroom!
3) Quiet is nice, but quiet gets lonely.
Our front door at home may as well have been a revolving door. Everyone was coming and going at all hours of the day and night, dinners would be planned but would start late as we waited for people to come home (who sometimes never did), the vacuum seemed to be going constantly (again, the messes!), and someone always seemed to be in the kitchen, which meant if you wanted to make yourself a sandwich you better be prepared to make two. The noise in itself was exhausting at times, and really made me appreciate my solidarity. But when I moved out and my roommate and I worked opposing schedules, I really missed the hustle and bustle that comes with being raised in a big family. Heck, even if I was home alone, at least our family dog was kicking around – but when I moved it was often times just me, alone, in my dimly lit basement apartment watching Netflix. Now, visiting my parents’ home is a welcomed change to my otherwise quiet existence.
4) My parents’ rules that I hated became my own rules that I can’t live without.
I resented having to tell my parents where I was going all the time, or what time I expected to be home. The whole “checking-in” aspect of living with your folks always felt unnecessary and a little annoying, but when it’s “their house, their rules” you don’t have much say in the matter. Now it’s my house and my rules – and I find myself adopting a lot of the same habits my parents had with me. When I expect to be leaving work late, I send my fiancé a quick text to let him know so that he doesn’t have to wonder or worry, but now because it’s my choice to do so, it feels natural rather than bothersome.
5) Independence feels good.
If there was one thing I got right as a teenager, it’s that I always felt I would excel with a little more independence. When I first moved out, into that dingy little basement apartment I mentioned earlier, I didn’t even have a full time job. It was a bit of a reckless decision but I felt like I would be able to get by until I got a full-time position – and I did. It was tough, but when faced with challenge I really started to step up and get my priorities in order. When I lived at home I didn’t have bills or any real responsibility, and as a result I spent most of my time hanging out with my friends doing not much of anything productive. When I moved, I finally started paying more attention to me and my own needs – I started going back to the gym regularly, I got the promotion I was striving for, started making my own doctors and dentist appointments on my own schedule – and I gotta say it feels great to do so. Over 2 years later and I’m now engaged, living in a much nicer, large, high rise apartment, with an adorable puppy and a promising outlook for my future.
All in all, I’m glad I moved out when I did. It’s been challenging, but motivating, and in the early days a little lonely, but I feel like I’m in such a positive place in my life now so I wouldn’t change a thing about this experience. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had stayed at home longer, entertaining the scenarios that would have played out over the last couple of years, but every single time I stop the daydream, I’m always so glad I left when I did