Mum, I’m moving out!

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

pic by neslihans

Most Sri Lankans, and I think all the ones I know so far, live with their parents till they get married or something. If you’re not asian, you’re prolly lol’ing right now and all, wtf u fagz!111

But it’s true, in asian culture (mostly south asian and south east asian), as a rule of family-is-everything, people usually live with the families they’re born into until they move on to having their own families (aka marriage).

Good or bad?

Bad because, urgh, parents are annoying after a certain age. I can’t imagine how 25 year old men still live under their parents’ roofs, with mummy going ‘because I say so!’ Once you’re in your 20s, you hit adulthood at some point, and if you feel independent and if you’re without that conservative uber-respecteful mindset towards parents (you know, bring them tea in the morning, massage their feet, never disobey, be a girlscout etc.) then this cultural norm becomes a pain in the ass.

But also good, cuz I’ve seen the downfall of moving-out becoming a norm in western culture – allowing it to become a norm, leads to lots of people living all by themselves, and some consequent decadence of society’s general family unit. And I dunno bout you, but that’s scary. I have a friend in Colombo who has to live alone in this apartment because her family lives in Kandy, though her aunt is in the apartment next door… and let’s just say, there are days I walk in on her staring at the ceiling and talking to ‘the squirrels.’

Living alone can be freeing. You don’t have anybody telling you what to do, you live by your own rules, you’re the king of the castle. But in a sense living separate from family can just make you a very lonely little person. And personally I’d freak out imagining my place ever getting burgled when I’m the only one in it.   

SO. What about ROOMIES? How cool would it be to move in with a friend? And why is it so unheard of in Sri Lanka? Both would have jobs, split the cost, work out some ground rules. It’s like living with a single family member except they’re not dragging you around to boring family things or telling you to brush your teeth or making a list of orders from Hitler’s regiment.

Yet it’s ever so rare as far as I know for a young 20 something to live that way in SL, unless they’re maybe hobos or they’re growing up in a hippy cult or a seldom-found family of liberals. Why? Sure, the culture ensures that nobody dies alone and unheard of with their dozen cats, and strengthens the whole family-together-ness thingy, but really, is there any harm done with friends living together after 20? I guess it could lead to kids moving in with a messy crowd and parents can do nothing about it, but everything’s got its pros and cons.

Would normalizing the option of moving out after 20 really be a shot in the foot of family oriented Sri Lankan culture or maybe a step in social evolution we haven’t considered yet?

  1. Amrish says:

    Hats off to this one! Well Fuckin’ said!

  2. 20 something roomies are there in SL. Just go around some factory or a university or something and see all these young people sharing the cost of a flat together. I know plenty of people from UoM that did that even when they were from Colombo.

    IMHO, the thing is there is no real need for people like us to go against the Asian society social grain and move out of the family home. WANT to, yes. NEED to, no. The examples I gave above have good ‘excuses’ whether work or education. The idea of moving out wont even occur to most of SL youth because those are not the concepts they learned.

    Its people who are from traditional families and have been ‘educated’ in the western concepts of individual freedom that are stuck in the middle with nowhere to go. The way we do things are so different from our parents yet our family loyalties compel us to stay “caged” at home.

    • makuluwo says:

      Not talking about people who need to move out like those uni students, but living outside the family home out of choice. Whether traditional family or not, it’s an anomaly in Sri Lanka to do it out of mere want. 😐
      I haven’t seen it happening in even the most non traditional families since it’s just.. unheard of.

  3. PseudoRandom says:

    As someone who has lived with parents, with friends/other students and now by myself, I’ll say it’s nowhere nearly as clean cut as you make it sound :-). I’ll try and go through the pros and cons of each (so yes, another loooong ass comment 😀 ):

    With the parents
    Cons: Lack of freedom, lack of privacy, lack of control
    Pros: Free laundry service, free housekeeping, delicious cooked food magically appears, no need to worry about utility bills. If you fall ill, your parents will look after you.
    As for the ‘parents being annoying’ bit, I think after 25ish, they become less annoying. Or maybe we just turn into younger versions of them. Probably the latter.

    With friends
    Pros: Fun fun fun! Party all the time. Midnight snacks, lazy weekends, no house rules. That sorta thing.
    Cons: No single person will take responsibility, so if something needs to get done, it probably won’t. Therefore, the washing machine will stay broken for about a year, and the bulb for the garden light will never be replaced. Also, good friends don’t necessarily make good housemates. I know of ‘good friends’ who, upon moving into the house, have refused to clean the bathroom. Yes, you have to clean the toilet used by all your friends. I had to clean the bathroom after my housemate was sick all over the floor (he had food poisoning) ‘cos he was too weak and the others were grossed out by all the puke. Also, if one of your housemates gets into money problems, you won’t have enough money to pay the rent or utility bills.

    Pros: Complete control, complete freedom, complete privacy. You only have to clean your own mess.
    Cons: Complete responsibility. If there’s a leak in the plumbing or the phone stops working, you have to sort everything out yourself. If you need a hug, there’s no one there. If you fall sick, there’s no one there. Also, cooking for one person is very expensive (and not always tasty).

    Anyway, that’s my experience. Each of the options can work very well, but they can also be disastrous. I agree that the freedom to choose would be nice, but what you’ve got isn’t so bad.

  4. PR’s comment was nicely put, I thought. But yeah, Shif, I’ve contemplated doing the same, moving in with friends, but PRs arguments were some of the things I was mulling over.

  5. Sach says:

    I’ll tell you about what I know of. I live alone, and that totally kicks ass! You know how to make that happen? Have friends close by – NOT roommates – and family accessible. In my case, it’s only over the phone (or rather, over the internet, really) but that’s OK. I love the time I have to myself – so much so that when I returned home last time, I had to hide in my room to get a few moments to myself. LOL.

  6. Dee says:

    also i think in SL, there’s little disposable income for ppl in their 20’s. Say you get 25K monthly as an executive, you’d have to spend about 5k for rent, then the food and other stuff. So I think that’s also a factor for most young people. and spending that would mean zilch savings…

  7. Me-shak says:

    Living alone has it’s pros and cons. So does living with your family.

    Many people who have lived alone have told me that they learn to take responsibility. I guess it depends on each person. How they will face the challenges that come their way. It’s all ways a choice you make according to what you want. Trying it out won’t be bad at all 🙂


  8. Seesaw says:

    I agree with PR, parents do get less annoying as you grow older, and it all depends on the dynamic. But if you’re a girl and you live alone in SL (with no valid reason), is definitely going against the grain. Though ideally it shouldn’t. Think it’s our culture of not abandoning family, wanting to look after each other and feeling guilty if we don’t. Not a bad one, but hard to grasp if you think differently I guess.

  9. Chavie says:

    Don’t ever contemplate living with your friends… you’ll seriously stop liking them! 😉 lol

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