Dear Woroni: How do I deal with moving out of college, and living in my own home?
A few months ago I moved out of college into a house in North Canberra with friends. As much as I liked to think that I was prepared, after living out of home for two years, I definitely was not. Managing uni, work, and a social life while also having to cook and clean for yourself, on a budget of $100 a week, is not as easy as people make it seem. But it’s not the end of you.
Here are a few things I have learnt since moving out that have been imperative to my existence.
I know we’re all low-key foodies, but seriously, lower your food expectations!
It was only after buying $900 worth of perishables on my first individual shop at Harris Farm Markets that the sad truth dawned on me: I cannot afford to be eating the foods I grew up with. I was ignorant to the real-life expenses of a diet consisting of avocado, feta and sourdough bread. With a food budget of less than $50 a week, I find myself eating mi goreng daily and a whole lot of pasta with olive oil and salt. I am still adamant, however, about buying the best butter on the shelves of Woolies: Lurpac. It is true that I might still need to take my own advice, as I do currently have -$180 in my account. We are uni students – we need to act like them, and eat like them for that matter.
Make a routine, or risk watching TV in your pyjamas all day.
Without any real obligation to get out of bed in the morning, and no one watching your back on a daily basis, when living out of home you can find yourself lying around a whole lot more than you should. Find a reason to get up in the morning – whether that is for a walk, to go get a coffee down the road or to head off to uni. Just make it happen. Otherwise, you will find yourself still lying in bed at 3pm watching Netflix.
Believe in cleaning karma – what comes around goes around.
Admittedly – and my housemates can testify to this – I still haven’t really found my groove yet when it comes to cleaning the house properly. Living with three other friends means that every time you make food, you absolutely must clean up straight after, because no one wants to walk into a dirty kitchen – it’s just not fair. Do everything in your power to not only clean up after your own mess but to do things for the household as a whole. This could include vacuuming once a week, spray-and-wiping the bathroom or putting a load on for your mate. No one wants to be labelled a grub, and no one likes living with one.
Give your housemates space.
It can be hard to detach yourself from spending time with the friends you live with, but people need their own space, and you need to respect that. A good chat never goes astray – neither does a good household binge watch of Keeping Up with the Kardashians – but maybe not when your mate has an Admin Law take-home due the next day. Invest time into your housemates when you can, but not so much that you become overbearing and stop people from getting their work done.
Mi goreng is not sustainable 24/7 — try to cook one proper meal a week.
Experimenting with food can really serve to spice up a dull week in the ‘Berra. Play a little bit in the kitchen and you will be surprised how much you have picked up from mum and dad over the years. Even better, learn to cook so you can impress your family when you go home. You might even fool them into thinking that you cook every night.
In our sharehouse, everyone assumes a role. Everyone has an identifier that they have become known by. We’re a family – we have the mum who keeps us all in check, the chilled dad who lets you get away with anything, the teenager that’s never around, and me (a little bit of all of them). Whatever your role, this is your home now, so make sure that you aren’t labelled as the hopeless grub.
All in all, living out of home is great fun and I can’t even imagine a world where my real parents were around all the time. Don’t underestimate its value. Having no money, and occasionally feeling hopeless as you figure out how to organise your life – it’s what uni is all about.