A few weeks ago I made a decision that has proven so far to be one of the most self-affirming, personally fulfilling, and, in a good way, challenging decisions that I’ve ever made. It has grown my self-confidence, forced me to gain courage, taught me how to be resourceful and frugal, and, just… made me feel really manly.
I didn’t go on a hunting trip. I didn’t go to a Tony Robbins seminar. I didn’t quit my job and become an entrepreneur – nothing that exciting. It is incredibly ordinary. I moved into my own place.
No, I didn’t buy property. I decided to find a room to rent on flatmates.com.au and rent the CRAP out of it.
That’s all I did. Move out of my parents’ place and land on my own two feet.
So here I am, one month into paying bills, sticking to a budget, cutting costs, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, day in, day out. And it feels freaking GREAT!
To many, this may not seem like much. I rent a two bedroom apartment with some flatmates. My crib is quite a humble abode. The bills are high, we share a bathroom, and only one toilet.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Well, a second toilet wouldn’t hurt).
Is Rent Money Really Dead Money?
It’s no secret that housing prices are absurd in Sydney, and I get the decision that many other twenty-somethings are making, to stay with Mum and Dad for longer in order to save. Hats off to you if you are that resourceful.
But there is a cost that comes with that. The cost is that your chance to really take hold of your own independence is delayed. Your opportunity to prove to yourself that you are strong, capable, and resourceful enough to support yourself is put off, sometimes for far too long.
And for me, the cost was too great. I couldn’t stay in my family’s home because being there was making me too depressed. I felt trapped in an environment that was holding me back in life rather than helping to accelerate me forward. It was actually making me sicker, rather than wealthier.
So long story short, after months of planning, saving and pushing through fear, I signed a flatmates agreement and moved into my own place.
And what it means for me can’t be measured in a price. Every penny that I pay towards rent right now is money well spent, because it is an investment in my self-confidence, personal growth, and character.
My life is my life now. I eat, drink, sleep, work, cook, clean, iron, recycle, grocery shop, budget and pay bills all by myself. This is my life, and no-one else’s. It is not much, but it’s mine, and I love it. This kind of freedom, this power to forge my own path, is priceless.
I know it’s not always possible for everyone to do this. Having wrestled for the last few years with a chronic illness, I’m fully aware of how life gets in the way.
But if you are like me and know deep down that you NEED this, then don’t let any family members tell you you’re throwing money down the drain. Quite the opposite – you are investing in yourself, your future, and, potentially, your own family’s future.
Consider it seriously. If you’re a uni student, consider part time study. One of my biggest regrets was not doing that. Consider deferring, consider a gap year, or consider just getting a part-time job and balancing the two as best as you can.
Now that uni is over, I’m getting more satisfaction out of working a simple job and paying my own bills than the piece of paper ever really did. I loved my degree, but life can be a university too.
If, like me, you are unhappy at home (maybe even depressed like I was), consider deferring the Australian dream, and just move out to rent for a while. Find your own feet, your own rhythm, and take some time to explore the direction of your life. Maybe a weekend away by yourself would do the trick – enough for you to realise that getting your own space is more important right now. More important than urgently fighting your way into today’s absurd housing market as quickly as you possibly can. Maybe, like me, it will help you to have better mental health, more self-confidence, and greater resourcefulness. Compared to owning your own place a few years earlier, this is absolutely priceless. Of course, everyone is different, but think about it. I wish I did earlier.
This has been one of the most personally fulfilling and affirming things I’ve ever done. I hope that every twenty-something millennial can soon experience this joy.
Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle, to encourage and inspire those who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.