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Expectation vs. Reality: What It’s Really Like Living On Your Own

It’s one of the fundamental rites of passage: The day you first move out. It happens at a different age for all of us, and sometimes we end up moving back in. (I happen to be writing this from my mother’s spare bedroom right now.) I don’t know about you, but any time I live with my parents, it really inspires me to not want to live with my parents anymore. Which is good, of course – the baby bird is supposed to leave the nest once it can take care of itself.

Except sometimes we can’t really take care of ourselves yet.

Even the most well-adjusted kids go through their awkward phase. The only problem is that it’s not as often a phase as it is a constant uphill battle. Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but part of the human struggle is learning that we’re never really winning – we’re just not losing for another day.

Moving away from home is no different, either. If you’re thinking of moving out of your parents’ place soon, it’s important you don’t get your hopes up.

Expectation: You no longer have a bedtime.

When you move out of your parents’ place, there’s no one to judge or scold you for getting up for a midnight snack. You don’t have anyone who’s going to tell you when you should go to bed, and when you have to get up.

Reality: You’re responsible for your own bedtime.

It turns out that your parents were doing you a pretty big favor if they woke you up in the morning and reminded you when you should be sleeping. Managing your sleep schedule on your own is hard, especially when you have WiFi. Your parents aren’t going to be there to gently remind you about that appointment you’ve got tomorrow – so it’s up to you to do it.

Expectation: You can eat whatever you want.

If your parents bought store brands when you were growing up, or you were stuck eating a lot of chicken and ramen – you might get excited when you move out on your own and can buy your own food. No more “whatever’s on sale”!

Reality: Food is really freakin’ expensive.

It turns out that food is actually really expensive, especially when you still have yet to find your place in life. You shouldn’t be surprised to discover that “whatever you want” costs as much as your rent! If your parents got the bagged cereal and store-brand sodas when you were a kid, you were actually pretty lucky – the knock-offs aren’t cheap, either!

Expectation: You don’t have to do chores anymore.

I think just about everyone hates washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cleaning the bathroom. You might look forward to the day when your parents aren’t telling you to take out the trash every day.

Reality: Your parents probably did more chores than you.

When you move out, you very quickly realize that the mountain of chores you had to do was nowhere near as much stuff as there actually was to do. Now that you’re in your own place, you’ve got to take care of it all yourself. Or, if you live with roommates, things can get even more complicated – unless you’re all in perfect agreement about how the chores should be distributed!

Expectation: You can get the good package with your television service!

I grew up primarily with broadcast channels. My mother did upgrade the cable package a couple times, but it was usually just for a few months. (Usually just about long enough for me to get hooked on a new show.) I always said I was going to splurge when I had my own place.

Reality: You probably don’t need TV service.

Living on my own, I only ever had broadcast channels. Living on your own, you very quickly learn that internet service is usually cheaper than TV service – with the prevalence of streaming services these days, most of which costing far less than what a comparable cable package would cost… Living on my own, I never even watched regular TV unless I was visiting someone. You’ll be surprised how many things no longer seem important once they’re coming out of your own pocket!

Expectation: You can do whatever you want in your new place – it’s all yours.

The sound of a place where you can live without rules sounds perfect for anyone who’s always been independent. After all, we can manage ourselves just fine as long as everyone else stays out of our business.

Reality: It probably won’t be all yours.

Most people can’t afford to buy a home right away when they move out of their parents’ place, because most of us are too impatient about the whole ordeal. When you’re renting, you’re limited by what your landlord allows for the property – many places don’t allow pets, parties, or smoking, and some might even have more restrictive terms. It’s usually completely legal and there’s nothing you can do about it, unless you want to get evicted.

Even worse, most people are in such a rush to move out that they end up needing roommates – which is often a much worse situation than living with your parents. Many a friendship has broken up over cohabitation gone wrong, and particularly if you have different sleep cycles, you’re going to have problems. (I used to live in an apartment full of partiers – while I was getting up for work at 4 AM and working two jobs. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.)


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