What to Do When Getting Your Own Place, According to a 20-Something City Dweller

Practical tips from someone who's been there.

Condo Buyers
ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

Why would you shell out a huge chunk of your paycheck on a rented space when you can have a property that’s a hundred percent yours? Owning your own home has a lot of advantages and it’s an investment that can pay off in the long run should you decide to rent it out or resell it at a higher price. Below, Mike, who got his own condo at 23, shares his experience of buying a property and living in his own home.

A New Owner's Tips for Condo Buyers

I decided to get a condo unit at 23 for practical reasons. I was commuting daily—to and from work—and I wanted to turn my monthly rent into an investment while having a place that’s closer to the office. I don’t intend to live in a condo for good, but as a young professional, I believe that it’s wise to invest in one, if you can, rather than continue renting or buying a house that’s 40 kilometers away. Having my own place has its ups and downs. Here are some of my key takeaways:

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Think Ahead

I know a few people who bought a property outside Manila and they ended up not living in it or reselling it. It’s not practical to go against the traffic every day. If you can find a decent house and lot within the Metro that works for you, then great. Keep in mind that your options might be limited and that condo units are your best options. Always consider your daily routine and what you plan to do five years from now so you can make a decision and finalize the property you intend to invest in.

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Pick Your Property Wisely

It didn’t take much convincing for me to go with a development that’s located in Mandaluyong. It’s reasonably priced (I got it at a pre-selling stage), the floor area is just right, it was turned over as a fully furnished unit, and it's located at the center of the Metro—just along EDSA—which makes it an ideal place should I decide to rent it out in the future. The location I chose didn’t require a lifestyle adjustment. Weigh the pros and cons objectively and don’t let the excitement of having your own place cloud your judgment. You may also choose a property with a high resale potential.

Realliving.com.ph suggests that aside from the location and considering how near the property is from your place of work, always check the size of the units, the amenities, and how you’ll be able to live comfortably in the place. It’s not enough that you look at model units. Ask questions, do your research, and compare different properties before deciding.

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Look Beyond the View

If you are lucky enough, you can select a specific unit number that follows your birthday or lucky number provided that it’s not yet taken. I wasn’t that lucky, but I was able to get a unit on a floor that’s high enough for me not to hear buses honking or EDSA’s familiar sounds. People say that the foundation next to the elevator is stronger and safer so I chose a unit that’s adjacent to it. While there are some who love to have a balcony, I chose not to have one because I have a feeling it will get flooded or it will entail regular cleaning during rainy days.

Prepare a Budget

Without a doubt, money is one of the most important considerations one has to make when buying a property. Others depend on their savings or review different home loans just to be able to fund their dream home and pay fees. My monthly mortgage almost equates to triple my old rent, but 30 percent of my amortization is paid by the company I work for as part of my benefits. Assess your finances and learn to prioritize. Paying mortgage may keep you from traveling often or buying expensive gadgets— just think of it as a long-term goal you’re working on.

Let the Perks of Having Your Own Space Motivate You

Think about having a space that you can design and personalize any way you want. Have you always wanted to host sleepovers and get-togethers? You can do all these in your own home. You can sleep soundly at night, chill, and the best part is you don’t have to line up to use the bathroom.

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Remember: Owning a Condo Means Dealing With Challenges on Your Own (a.k.a. Adulting 101)

Having your own place involves solving maintenance issues, keeping the space clean, and tracking expenses. I chose an all-white color palette so keeping my unit clean is a must. You also need to stay on top of issues inside the unit: Is it time for a grease tap cleaning? How about air-conditioning cleaning?

Take Part in the Building’s General Assemblies

It’s not enough that you read flyers, drop by the lobby, or depend on social media for updates. Being present in assemblies allows you to stay updated on the activities of the homeowners association, the security measures being undertaken, and the improvements within the property that the administration is working on. You may also take this as an opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns.

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