A single woman in my early 30s, it's been ten months since I have been living on my own in the city. When I first planned to move out, I faced a number of difficulties, mainly because people are still so unused to women choosing to move out and live by themselves. But I finally found a place for myself, and let me tell you this – it was one of the most empowering, exciting, and liberating experiences of my life.
Regardless of when it happens and why, there will probably come a time in your life when you decide to leave the nest and make it on your own. In the 21st century, there are more and more independent, young women who are making this shift without a life-partner to share it with. Here are a few tips to help you on your brave journey.
Finding your castle
The very first thing to do is to properly think it over before taking the final step. Maybe it’s your decision, or someone else’s, or maybe it’s just time. But ask yourself – are you ready to live independently? Are you moving out for the right reasons? You have to make sure it's a mature decision – if you take a rash step and rush out, you might find yourself moving back before you know it.
But what next? You can start your search online. There are a few websites such as lamudi.com, anytolet.com etc, as well as Facebook groups such as To-Let, which has a vast network to tap into. Alternatively, you can do it the traditional way – select the area you want to live in, keeping in mind your budget and also distance to work, and go hunting for the houses with to-let signs. It’s always better to search within the first ten days of a month. Make sure you ask other home-renters who also live in the area for a cost assessment.
In the very first phase, get ready to face direct rejections from landlords. “We would like to rent to a family, not a bachelor” - is something you will hear often, especially if you're a woman. I've even been told “Meyera beshi jhogra kore,” and that too by another woman! You'll feel very tempted to tell them exactly what you think of them, but you also need a house, so try your best to be patient and polite.
There will always be people too offensive to put up with, but in many cases your confidence, honest responses and easy manner will also put the landlords at ease, and these are the ones to hang onto. Make sure they know you are a working woman and do mention that your organisation can also give them guarantee of your employment. S/he needs to know that you will be able to pay the bills on due time. If even that doesn't work and you really love a place, introduce them to a parent or guardian figure in your life. It may feel like a really strange thing to do as an adult, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and in a city as unsafe as Dhaka, sometimes people just need to know you have a guarantor.
When you finally select a house, make sure that it is secure. That is the first thing you need to ensure if you live alone, or even with other people. Moving out for the first time can be very unsettling, but do not forget to ask for help if you are in any kind of trouble. It might not always be possible to have your loved ones nearby, so make sure you are familiar with the community, and know at least one neighbour. Also figure out where the closest police station is, or any other government organisation that can help you in a crisis.
If you are planning to share your house with a flatmate, it is very important to get to know each other first and do a bit of a background check as well (employment documents, personal reference etc). Different people have different standards when it comes to sharing a house, so it is absolutely necessary to talk about the house rules and regulations to make sure you're on the same page before moving in together.