Cover illustration: Fahim Anzoom Rumman (botagainsthumanity)
The culture and societal structure of a south east Asian country is vastly different from almost anywhere else in the world. Bangladesh’s society, as much as it has been westernized in the past few decades, still wants to control its children up until the ripe old age of thirty or so. This creates a kind of dissonance with people who, like me, have primarily consumed Western pop-culture and have a sense of individualism not comparable to older generations.
I like to pride myself as one of the more self-dependent guys around. By 2016, I had gotten tired of being under the thumb of my parents and my older brother, who at this point was the primary economic force of the family. By this point I was also suffering from a bout of depression, and one of the reasons for it was I didn’t really share a familial bond with my family any more. I would frequently find myself locked in the tiny hole in the wall that was supposed to be my room, and not talking to anyone in the family.
This would take a toll on my mental health as 2016 is the year I still think of as the worst of my life. By the end of the year, I was fed up with the lack of freedom I had. I’m not badmouthing my family because I know they did what they thought was right and did nothing worse than your average Bangladeshi parent. With that being said, however, I realized that I needed a similar level of independence that American or Canadian children enjoy after they turn 18. This is why, at the age of 24 in 2017, I decided to move out. I wanted a life of my own, one where I might have to work like a Russian serf during the reign of Ivan the terrible, but at least I’d be free.
And boy was moving out hard. I moved out with no more than one luggage and my PC, and I was still exhausted. The most difficult parts were making sure none of the luggage goes missing. However, that was only day one of the rest of my life. Many hardships would follow. Below I will be listing them in a fashion that makes it easy for the average reader to skim through.
- The toughest thing about living on your own is cleaning. Unless you’re really into cleaning stuff, it will be the biggest pain in your new life. After all, I’d wager not many like to come back home, after a whole day of toiling at the university and the office, to get to fixing up the house. It certainly was the case for me, as my friends started to call my sweet pad a junkyard. Admittedly, it had more junk than most garbage trucks.
- Another massive issue you’ll face after moving out is chores like cooking or laundry. At the end of the day, if you’re a Bangladeshi kid of twenty something years that comes from a relatively well-off family, you will probably know nothing about doing chores. However, if you move out of your parents’ home, you will need to learn these life skills as quickly as possible. The bills can also stack up so you have to be careful to not overspend- or else you may not have a roof to sleep under the following month.
- There is also a bit of a societal problem. Neighbors will gossip about you, the caretaker of the building you live in will spread rumors and many may give you a cold stare. This is usually because these people didn’t get to do what you did when they were your age. Not to mention that many people simply have nothing else to do. Not many in this country can accept the fact that being independent enough to move out is a good thing and not a reason to be suspicious. Best way to deal with this is to ignore it altogether.
- The most obvious challenges are the bills that you will have to pay at the end of each month. If you’re thinking about moving out because you’ve been inspired by my article, then bless you for letting me influence your decisions. However, it will take a surprising amount of money to make it on your own. You’ll be looking to take an apartment in places where rent is cheap. My first apartment was in Rayerbazar, and it cost 8500 TK to live there, bills not included. If you’re anything like me, the electric bills will consist of a PC, a fridge and a couple of fans and lights, which brings the electric bills to around 500 TK only. A good broadband connection might set you back and depending on the area of Dhaka you have chosen, internet bills may reach up to a cool couple of grand. Along with food and other miscellaneous costs, you’ll roughly need a monthly income of at least 20,000 to be able to live fairly comfortably. If you can’t be bothered to do your own chores, then that minimum goes up by a couple of grand. An overall monthly wage above 25,000 TK will let you live quite comfortably.
- Don’t fret if you don’t have that kind of money. There is always the option of sharing an apartment with your buddies. This brings down your costs severely. Personally, it is not for me. As I’ve already stated before, I’m quite independent minded and I would like to retain the privacy I have.
Although there are many challenges to moving out, the feeling of freedom that you have once you do it makes everything worth it. Well, it does for me at least. You may prefer a more comfortable life and being able to order maids around, but that’s not the life for me. I’ve always been an odd one out, and I have rarely seen anyone who has my kind of sense of individualism, but if you happen to like being free regardless of how much hard work you have to put in, moving out and getting your own apartment might be the thing for you.