A few weeks ago, I did something I never thought I'd ever do: pay top dollar to move into an apartment to live on my own.
I've been sharing flats and houses with strangers (mostly) since 2012. My move to share apartments/houses was a deliberate move to downsize; I wanted to live more frugally to pay down my housing loan. I did live on my own for a few years before that and enjoyed it, but it was expensive to live alone. With the financial benefits I was enjoying housesharing, I didn't think I'd ever go back to living solo.
Then, in March, I started a new job. It took me an hour to commute to work - 20 minutes of walking and 30 minutes in the train. Although I didn't mind the commute (I loved the early morning walks and the time in the train allowed me to zone out and meditate - kinda), I began to fantasise what I could do with that 100 minutes I spent commuting a day. I could wake up later. Read a book. Write my novel. Do yoga. The thought of living closer to work became more and more appealing to me.
So I began looking for apartments. Not seriously, mind you, because I'm notoriously hard to please when it comes to real estate. But then I found this one gorgeous apartment, and when I realised that it was walking distance to work and connected to public transport, I fell head over heels in love with it. I signed up on the spot.
The monthly rent makes me sweat. Still does. It's more rent than I've ever paid in my life. But I think it's one of the best decisions I've made. Here's why it was worth top dollar to move closer to work:
1. Less stress
Although sharing an apartment was financially good for me, It wasn't always smooth sailing to live with another person. Having that freedom to decorate your space the way you want and not being annoyed about what your flatmate said/did/did not do was a huge burden off my shoulders. (I've never had much luck with housemates - most were extremely difficult to live with.) Another plus: I don't have to worry about making it to the train station in time anymore.
2. The opportunity to exercise
I spend 15 minutes walking to work. Some of you may think it's crazy to do so in hot and humid Malaysia, but in the morning, it's not terrible, especially if your route is shaded. Also, the morning walk is such a stress reliever. It's almost meditative. In the evening, I'm really, really glad that I no longer have to squeeze myself into a train for half an hour to make it back home. Now, it's just a gentle walk home. Not only do I get to exercise, it's more relaxing too! Eversince I began this lifestyle, I easily make 10,000 steps a day. Back in my car-heavy days, I could barely make it to 4,000.
3. More time
I asked myself: What could I do with an extra 100 minutes a day? Well, it turns out: Quite a bit! Sometimes, I'll read a book at the balcony and watch the sun rise. Other times, I would visit Lynda.com and learn something. On some days, it'll be yoga stretches or a spot of journalling. Starting the day on a slow, meditative note is really much better than frantically trying to shower, dress and run off to make it in time for the train!
4. Forces me to be frugal
Although I saved a lot living with others, I spent a lot too. I suspect it's due to stress - the stress of the commute (I used to have to battle jams for 2 hours daily to get to work) and the stress of having no private space. As a result, I indulged in a wee too much retail therapy for my liking, and I ate out. A lot. Now, I have to be more careful with my money, and eating out less often would only do my health good.
5. Enables me to live the minimalist lifestyle I desire
I often lived in houses where I had no say in the furniture or stuff used. The homes I've lived in were often packed with far too many things for my taste, and I so hate that because the mess and clutter stresses me out. And if you happen to live with a person who is, well, less-than-tidy ... hoo boy! I love my new digs, not just because of the killer view, but because of the minimalist decor. I didn't have to buy a single piece of furniture (yay, savings!) and I don't have to deal with "inherited stuff" either. Now I just have enough. Happiness!
How about you? Would you move closer to work?