December 30, 2018 – Christine Enriquez
8:00 am - Wake up, scroll through Insta while still in bed.
8:20 am - Choose between coffee or tea. Brew my morning cup while I stretch.
8:45 am - Morning run around my sunny, Southern California neighborhood.
I’ve always wanted to live in California, and a few months ago, I finally made it happen. I live with my boyfriend, Ethan, in San Diego. I’m a personal trainer, and he works in tech. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in a desirable neighborhood that’s walking distance from restaurants, shops, and galleries.
Weekdays consist of scenic morning commutes to work and daily lunches by the beach. On weekends, we soak up the sun in La Jolla Cove, taste test the local food at the farmer’s market, hike up one of San Diego’s scenic trails, or drive up to Los Angeles (LA) for a museum visit. I honestly couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to live. Sure, we have the occasional run-in with crazy people on the street, but hey, it’s California.
A childhood in Manila, a pit stop in Baguio, and in and out of Chicago. Now California is the newest home this 25-year-old has made for herself.—PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE ENRIQUEZ
I’ve lived in a few different places throughout my life. I spent most of my childhood in Manila, did a stint in Baguio, and finally moved to Chicago in 6th grade. I came back to the Philippines for high school, then back to the States for college. I was used to moving around every few years—I enjoyed the change actually.
After spending my college and first few post-grad years in Chicago, I wanted a change of scenery. I felt like it was time for me to truly live on my own and be an adult. Sure, I had lived “on my own” before—if three years of luxury dorming in college counts as living on your own. Those years were like a trial run for adulthood—I was able to live in my own space, make my own decisions, yet still have my parents visit and deliver groceries to me on weekends.
This time was going to be different though. I wanted to live in a new city where I could visit new places, begin my adult life, and most of all, learn about myself. In my search for a new home, I considered New York, LA, and even London. Ethan and I had talked about moving to California ever since we started dating in college, and after many months of research, moving there made the most sense for both of us.
The most challenging part of moving out was probably convincing my mother to let me move across the country with my boyfriend. My parents are pretty open-minded, but my mom, especially, still had Filipino values. She was adamant about allowing me to leave home, but after months of conversations, she finally warmed up to the idea. Her conclusion was that she knew she couldn’t stop me from doing what I wanted, and that all she could do as a mother is support my decisions, and allow me to learn my own lessons.
With my moving plans finalized, a one-way plane ticket booked, and my stuff packed into boxes, I visited my favorite hometown places, dined at my favorite restaurants for the last time, said goodbye to my family and friends, and boarded a plane to the next chapter of my life.
The hunt begins
We finally made it to California. We had a week to find a place to live in before Ethan started his new job. Three days into the apartment search, none of the places we saw were really cutting it. The one apartment that we loved was taken off the market just a few hours earlier.
Then I randomly got a call from the property manager of a place I had checked out online. The place was slightly out of our budget and not even in the neighborhood we wanted. We were desperate, so we decided to see the place anyway. The manager wasn’t available to show us the property that day, but he said we could check it out on our own.
We pulled up into the driveway—more like construction site—and told one of the contractors that we had spoken to the manager. We went upstairs and walked into Unit A—the space was bright and airy. It had a spacious living room, dining area, kitchen, and balcony. We fell in love with the apartment.
We filled out the leasing application right away! Two days later, our application was approved, and we were able to move into our new place. We slept on the floor of our empty apartment for the first few days until our furniture arrived. We probably visited Ikea four times during our first week at the new place.
The morning after we moved in, we were abruptly woken up when a construction worker walked into our apartment, and into our bedroom while we were asleep. The building was new, and construction was still ongoing in the other units. He had to do an inspection, and wasn’t informed that we, the tenants, have already moved into the unit.
The first few weeks at the new place were pretty hectic. We had broken faucets, gas leaks, and internet issues to deal with. I had to learn how to pay the water bills, gas and electric bills, and get renter’s insurance—stuff that my parents usually took care of when I still lived at home. Now, three months into living in our own place, Ethan and I have found a nice rhythm. We’re pros at paying our bills on time, we have favorite restaurants we regularly visit, and I have a go-to coffee shop I walk to every morning.
When reality hits
I was pretty open-minded going into this entire process of moving out of my parents’ home—hauling my life across the country, and moving into my own space. I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, and that not everything was going to work out as I planned.
Even when you ready yourself for the worst, you can’t help but start this chapter with a hopeful mindset. My optimistic expectations were rarely met, but the reality is, things will end up okay. But if I could go back in time, here is a list of things I wish I could tell my new-to-moving-out self:
Expectation #1: You’ll live in the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood.
Reality: Your first apartment won’t be perfect—unless you have an unlimited budget. In my case, our place is a little farther from work than we wanted it to be.
Expectation #2: Living on your own in a big city is going to be like Friends or How I Met Your Mother.
Reality: Making new adult friends in a new city is actually pretty challenging. Most of the friends you’ll make will be from work. But there are sports leagues, art classes, book clubs or any other hobby-related group activities that will allow you to meet your newest clique.
Expectation #3: You’ll be able to live it up, eat out at restaurants every night, and do fun activities every weekend.
Reality: Living on your own is expensive AF. Plan out your budget and stick to it! Pay your monthly bills first. At least 20 percent of your paycheck should go to your savings, then whatever you have left over can be spent for entertainment and activities.
For anyone thinking about moving out and living on their own, I say go for it! Moving away from home won’t be easy (but then again, nothing really ever is). It will take months (or even years) of research, planning, and saving to actually be able to successfully call yourself independent. Convincing your family to let you move out, especially in the Philippines, will likely be challenging as well.
In the end though, let me assure you it’s worth it. I knew it was for me. You’ll learn how to do everything for yourself. Not only that, you’ll get to know your own strengths and weaknesses and grow tremendously as a person.
CHRISTINE ENRIQUEZ IS A 25-YEAR-OLD PERSONAL TRAINER LIVING IN SAN DIEGO. IN HER SPARE TIME, SHE WRITES, PAINTS, AND KEEPS TABS ON ART AND ARCHITECTURE. YOU CAN E-MAIL HER FOR COLLABORATIONS AND FOLLOW HER ADVENTURES ON INSTAGRAM.
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