I am an Asian woman, I live alone, and most importantly, I am unmarried. Even I was shocked the first night I stayed in my apartment after moving out of my parent’s house, savouring the miracle that had happened to me.
Yes, it is almost unheard of for an unmarried Asian woman to live alone by herself. All my life, my parents have told me that I could only move out if I was married. Otherwise, it was my duty as a daughter to stay home and “look after” my parents.
I did not like that. In fact, for a while I seriously considered paying someone to pretend to marry me, all so that I could move out of the home in my mid-to-late 20s. Luckily, I could move out – after much anxiety – without having to be that drastic.
Why Moving Out Was Right For Me
I have no intention of imposing my mindset on others. However, I truly believe that children should not be living with their parents past a certain age, especially if they are financially capable of doing so.
I believe just as birds leave their nests to fly and discover the world on their own, human children also need to be away from their parents to become truly independent and self-reliant. There are too many adults out there who are still relying on mummy and daddy to think for them.
As a highly private person, I also found living with my parents to be obstructive to my privacy. Left the lights on in the middle of the night? I’ll be prepared for grilling about why I don’t sleep proper hours (“I was working. Are you paying me to sleep?”). In the mood for fried chicken that you ordered? They will be nag about how fried chicken is unhealthy, and how there is food at home.
That is well and all for a teenager. However, I was already an adult woman, and was one for well over a decade. I may always be their baby daughter and granddaughter to my elders, but I wanted to be respected as an adult.
So, I said I wanted to move out… and then people imposed their mindset on me.
Moving Out as an Unmarried Asian Woman
I have always been envious of my Caucasian friends. If they wanted to move out? Their parents just said sure. Moving out as an Asian, and an unmarried woman at that?
Let’s just say there were tears and guilt trips from multiple people. There were also constant statements about how I was wasting money, especially since I had been remote working for years now. I could just work from home – which was the exact problem.
Ever had a meeting while your family members barge into your workspace in a fit of righteous air, simply because they were doing you a favour of sweeping the floors? What about when they were wiping down the furniture or someone called the house landline for you, EVEN when you told them not to disturb you?
I recommend it. It’s a totally great career move, and great for your work concentration level too.
When I finally made enough to afford rent and still live adequately, I decided it was time to go. I would move out, or pay someone to marry me so that I could move out.
I did not have to resort to the latter. It did, however, take many rounds of discussions before my Asian parents would grudgingly accept that I was moving out.
Breaking Asian Traditions
It is typical in Asian families to expect 3 or 4 generations living under one roof. In fact, it is considered an ideal, the ultimate sign of filial piety, that all generations live together.
It sounds like a private introvert’s nightmare, to be honest.
Imagine having to wait for the bathroom multiple times because your grandmother with constipation issues is in there. Or perhaps, your food suddenly disappears because your sibling thought it would not be a big deal if she ate the cake you were saving up for later. Dating? Forget dating, unless you want your every move reported to the rest of the family.
Living together with every generation in the same space might have worked once upon a time when land was sparse, and your marriage was arranged for you when you were in your teens. Everyone could afford to live in the same village or in the same compound, and only meet each other for mealtimes. They still had their own space.
When everyone is cramped into the same small space under the same roof, however, it creates room for friction and violates personal boundaries.
The idea that people need to be physically together in the same house to be a close family is outdated. After all, it is not the amount of time you spend together, but the quality of the time you spend together that is important.
I can say that my relationship with the family members I used to live with has become better, despite their attempted guilt trips now and then. I’m more at peace knowing that I can live and work quietly at home. Additionally, I have more patience in dealing with my family now that I have clearly defined time between work, self, and family.
If you were ever thinking of moving out, I recommend it. The peace and mind you will get far triumphs any noise.