Solo living: Good apartment checklist

Twenty Something

FINDING a good apartment or a boarding house to move in after you decided to move out of your parents’ house is not that easy. You will encounter terrible landlords/landladies or housemates. Sometimes you find a room that is almost perfect for your taste but you can’t afford it. Other times you may be able to afford it but it’s too far from work. Sometimes you just don’t get the best of all the qualities.

Since graduating from college up to now, I have lived in eight different boarding houses and apartments. I have pretty much experienced almost everything there is in rented house hunting and solo living. For those of you who are just starting out, here are just some of the few but basic points you should keep in mind when looking for a place of your own.

1. Location

As much as possible, your rented room or apartment should be just a ride, a bike, or a few meters away from your work. This makes traveling to and from work more convenient for you. It avoids additional hassle and travel time. Anyway, one reason that young adults move out of their parents’ house is that it’s too far from their workplace and they would want to move closer.

When it comes to location, you should also ask yourself questions like “is this a flood-prone area?” “Where do I exit in case a fire happens in the neighborhood?” “Is the alley wide enough for the fire truck to pass through?” Safety first.

I’ve also learned the hard way to not live in a house that’s located just along the main road. Cars and motorcycles even, especially during the wee hours of the night, can be really unbearable.

2. The pay

First question, can you afford it? It’s not ideal to jump into decisions only because the boarding house is decent and passed your standards. You have to make sure you can pay it every month with no fail.

If you want to have your own air conditioner in your room here in Davao City, rarely would you see a P3,500 or a P4,000 for that. If you’re also looking at a P2,000 worth of a room, do not expect too much from it. In other words, be realistic about your budget and your expectations. To be on the safer side, I suggest you go for concrete houses over wooden houses. But of course, you would need to set aside a certain amount for that.

In my experience, I also find it more convenient to have the electricity and water monthly bill already included in my monthly rent. Make sure you ask your landlord about this as well. Sometimes they also charge for extra appliances. Negotiate with them and make sure you’re not on the losing end.

Landlords will also ask for a security deposit (one month advance, one month deposit) so they are assured that you don’t just vanish one day. There’s no problem with that. If they don’t release an official receipt, at least make them sign every month in your notebook. So you have a copy and proof that you paid.

3. Privacy

Rooms with roommates are more affordable, but you should also check if you’re going to be comfortable with this set-up. If not, make sure you find something within your budget but gives you privacy.

Do you have your own comfort room and kitchen or sink in your room? If none, how many other individuals in the house are you sharing the sink or bathroom with?

Do they allow visitors? Can your parents or any family member come to stay with you for a night or two? Make sure you make this clear with your landlord or housemates.

4. Space

In the houses that I’ve stayed in, I’ve realized how important it is to have a space big enough for the domestic stuff I would be doing.

Does it have a kitchen where I can cook? It’s important so you don’t spend too much money on eating out. Speaking of which, does it also have a refrigerator common to all the housemates? You think you won’t need it but at certain moments while living in that house, you wish you can buy meat and cook adobo tonight or barbecue with friends.

Does it have a laundry area where I can hang my clothes to dry? Does it have a small space outside where my plants can enjoy the sun? Is my room spacious enough to unfold my yoga mat for my morning exercises?

There are still quite a few on the list, but when you’re looking for a new house or room to move in, these are important and basic points to keep in mind. It’s always challenging in the first few months but eventually, you’ll find joy and satisfaction in knowing you can be independent.


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