Why I'm Trading Off My Savings For Rent As A Singaporean

Singapore Jul 14, 2021

The ultimate adulting of them all – moving out of your family home. It’s been almost a year since my big, but not so far, move and I still believe it’s worth every dollar.

“Rent is a waste of money. You’re better off saving that money and buying a house,” said my mother and probably many other Singaporean mums and dads if you’ve ever expressed your interest in wanting to rent a space of your own.

2013 Fizah would have absolutely felt the same. But since I returned to Singapore in 2016 after spending 2 years abroad, I realised just how difficult it was to go back to sharing a room in my mother’s 4-room HDB or 3-bedroom flat with my sister. I also have a brother and the three of us shared the same common bathroom. Needless to say, it was a crowd. It only took a mere few days of being back in my family home for me to start fantasising about moving out and that’s when I knew – the taste of independence had changed me forever.

So I moved – albeit only 4 years later, but I had the talk with my family, and with whatever savings I had, I signed a lease and moved out. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much ingrained with the mentality that I’m somehow “wasting” my savings for rent, but at the same time, I’m thriving. Yes, I’m not saving as much money. Yes, I have to be frugal to afford rent, but I have also never been so comfortable in my own company. And these, plus the points below, are frankly the main reasons why I’m trading off my “what could have been savings” on rent every single month.

Physical Space

When you share a room with a sibling your whole life, there’s never enough wardrobe space, bedside table space, shelf space, or even floor space. Plus you learn to compromise based on your different lifestyles.

Moving out of my family home gave me ample physical space that somehow directly affects my mood on an everyday basis– in a good way! I indulged in the little things, like keeping the lights on till late at night, turning off the AC when it gets too cold, or even something as silly as keeping the bedroom door closed or open whenever I feel like it.

I could also have friends over, anytime!

Personal Growth

It’s a different type of growth when you know nobody is picking up after you. Laundry will pile, chores become your weekend routine, and you’re also cooking wayyy more often. Even though they might seem insignificant, these basic life skills mould you to become a more responsible, accountable and more independent person.

Maintaining a household humbles you and it certainly made me respect my mother so much more for always keeping the house in order. I also became more mindful of other people’s spaces, knowing that they’ve put in a lot of care in keeping their spaces kempt. Being alone in my own space made me more self-aware, and I love it.

Better Relationship With Family

I know this because when I lived abroad, I became closer to my family. We talked more often, shared our feelings, and had deeper conversations. It’s really true what they say – distance does make the heart grow fonder. I call it, loving from a distance.

I'm sure so many other people can attest to this. In many families, personalities clash (mine included) and sometimes the best way to keep the relationship is to have some space. Since moving out, I have a way healthier relationship with all my respective family members. Plus, time together becomes quality time where we're actually engaged with one another as opposed to just lazing on the couch with our eyes glued to our phones.

Enforcing Boundaries

In a way, choosing to move out and spend all this money on rent is ultimately a form of self-care for me. It sounds like a stretch, but it's true. I could be saving all that money and I'm privileged enough to have a safety-net in the form of moving back in to my family home, but I chose to rent because I'm prioritising myself and I'm putting my needs first. And once I did that, it became a non-negotiable for me in order to continue growing the way I want to.

Mental Health

And finally, the underpin that cuts across all of the reasons why I had to move out – my mental health. I knew deep in my gut that I had to take the leap when I found myself becoming more out of touch with who I was. Through the years, I became more of a recluse. To be clear, it’s nobody’s fault. I love my family dearly. It was just the circumstances that I had grown out of – and if you feel the same, just know that it’s okay.

Having more personal space, being able to grow at my own pace, and being steadfast in boundaries, are simply the systems I’ve put in place to help keep my mental health in check.

Are you ok? Photo taken from The Nue Co. marketing campaign.

Instagram: @thenue_co
Photo by Finn / Unsplash

If you've been thinking about taking this leap of faith, I say do it. Start with a 3 months lease at Hmlet, or maybe stay at Hmlet Cantonment for a month. I won't guarantee that it'll be easy. For me, it took financial prep, tough conversations, and yet when it finally came down to moving day, I knew it was exactly where I was meant to be.

Since moving, I got a promotion, got into the best shape of my life, and learned to put myself first. Some will say these are all things you can still do while living in your family home, and that's totally true for some! But for me, it was as if my inertia had completely been lifted and I felt, and still feel, unstoppable.

At the end of day, I'm truly reaping benefits that money can't buy. And even if that means I'm not saving as much money, I still choose this lifestyle and continue to sign a lease over and over again.


Fizah Hatman

Marketing Manager at Hmlet. Keeping up with pop culture, the news and TikTok.