The great adventure of living alone for the first time

The great adventure of living alone for the first time

An exciting and frightening chapter of adulthood begins when you step out of your family’s home to live alone for the first time – be it at home or abroad. Syaza Diyana sits down with several young people to find out how it all worked for them in the beginning

Having your very own place to call home is a treat that comes with enormous responsibilities. However, living alone for the first time isn’t as terrifying as it might seem as these people all discovered.

Young adult abroad

Going abroad alone and early in life fills your personal story book with a wealth of tales, and adds depth to your bank of experiences. Nonetheless, it’s also a test of adapting to an unfamiliar environment all on your own.

Kelvin, a psychology major who lived in Yokohama, Japan during his internship reveals that while being away from home meant he had the freedom to do the things he wanted, whenever and wherever, he also had to accept that he was responsible for his own actions.

Kelvin recalls his time in Japan and how he learnt to rely on trains whenever he wanted to travel to the neighbouring state, or his own two feet to wander around the streets of Yokohama. Additionally, even though he had limited fluency in Japanese, he had the opportunity to learn the language while utilising the syllabus at the school he was teaching in.

Living alone also meant that he would have to be in charge of buying his own groceries and basic necessities. With this, Kelvin explained that he had no problems obtaining them as Japanese convenience stores truly are convenient.

Local family marts, 7/11 and discount chain stores were his haven. These stores allowed him to learn how to manage his finances with great caution while preparing for rainy days, as parental financial assistance was no longer an easy option.

“Every task, no matter how trivial, had to be done by myself without any reliance on my parents. Regular household chores had to be dealt with. Finding the appropriate time to do these chores while managing working responsibilities greatly enhanced my time management skills”.

Top priorities

Splurging on fancy décor can be exceptionally tempting when creating your own space, and this is where the question of ‘want and need’ comes into play. No matter how you’ve pictured your future home to be, it won’t actually come together within a month or two as it takes time to piece everything together within a budget.

The cold hard truth is that budgeting and being able to cover your daily expenses is a much bigger priority than that irresistible coffee table which is up for sale. This is not to say that you won’t be able to get your hands on it as saving almost always does the trick.

On deciding she needed a place of her own after coming back to Malaysia from abroad, Nesa, Urban Health’s editor, explained what it was like to have her first home, filled with books, plants and several couple of feline friends – with help from her parents in terms of funding and ideas.

“It was a huge, massive, scary leap. Suddenly there was a mortgage and it became the most important expense in the world. For many years, there was money to pay the mortgage and the bills, and just about enough to eat, buy some books and put petrol in my car. Yes, I had a home and dreams about what I wanted it to look like but that all came in stages. Pieces were bought one at a time, and my mother was my right-hand here. In many ways, I think a home is always a work in progress.

“I think you need to decide what is really important and budget that way. There is never going to be an endless supply of money so priorities help. I couldn’t have them all at once but I could work towards achieving them”.

Knowledge knows no boundaries

Although their living arrangements were different from one another, both Kelvin and Nesa share similar experiences in which they had to be wise when making decisions whilst living alone. In addition to that, they had to face and own up to their mistakes – when mistakes were made. Nevertheless, it refined their sense of responsibility.

For Nesa, she learnt a good deal about herself in her solitary space, and even how to cook well on a budget. Kelvin on the other hand, got to taste a higher quality of life while learning to live independently with little help from his parents.


The skills one obtains throughout their journey of living alone is infinite. All it takes is to put one foot in front of the other, step out of your comfort/safety zone and appreciate what living alone really has to offer.

Once you’ve found your own place, be prepared for the endless trips to the hardware store, supermarket, department stores etc. This is because you will most likely forget that you needed something while browsing through the aisles and deciding to buy a mini cheese grater for RM2.

Here’s a list of a few essential MUST HAVES when living alone that tend to be missed out from the list.

  • Tool box
  • First aid-kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Spare light bulbs
  • A small multi-purpose fire extinguisher
  • Trash can + Recycling bin
  • Plunger
  • Flash light

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