I had been putting off writing another entry for more than a month now. I wasn’t really busy. I was occupied. With my favorite activity in the world. Planning. This time for something major and life-changing.
Just about the right enough number of doors opened and closed for us that led to what probably is the boldest decision we ever yet made for our family. We decided to let go of the ultimate comforts of our present home–free dwelling in my parent’s beautiful and well-ventilated house, a huge refrigerator and a full kitchen, free use of the family car, quiet suburban living minutes away from Manila.
After nearly four years, we are going to be on our own, away from stressful Manila, and closer to the foothills of beautiful Mt. Makiling. Because early next year, we are going to be residents of Los Banos. I could not be any more excited.
UPLB is our alma mater, both Turo and I. We fell in love with UPLB and fell in love in UPLB. We knew then that it was the only place we would want to raise our future family. It still is. Everybody else keep asking us, “why Laguna?”, “why not closer to Manila?”. But anybody who came from UPLB need not ask why.
Moving out of Manila was our longterm plan. But it wasn’t supposed to be happening this soon. A series of (un)fortunate events fast-tracked this decision. First on the list is Ondoy and the trauma it brought upon our household that keeps coming back almost everytime it rains.
Next is The Garden Kitchen and the incredible opportunities that came along with putting it up. If we want to sustain The Garden Kitchen, we need to set up our farm, pronto. And we simply cannot do it here.
Third is the unbearable traffic that we need to endure day after day going to work. Spending countless hours caught in traffic is not a very wise use of our time. It used to be so before, but now it’s not very cost-effective to be living in the suburbs and working in the city.
Fourth is our preference for a better environment to raise our growing children. While we have a good community here, friendly neighbors, and relatives close by, we still prefer to live in an area that’s less urbanized, closer to nature and with a slower pace of living. We want to live in a place where we can get to our destination without paying for a special trip fare in a tricycle. We want to live in a place where we can purchase our basic needs from outside of a shopping mall. We want a home where our kids’ play area is not limited to the size of our garage.
Going on our own is a huge decision not only because it is major as it is, but also because it entailed a host of other decisions that also need to be made. Like the purchase of a vehicle. The choice of housing. Changes in the workplace. I’ve had sleepless nights drawing up scenario after scenario just to simulate how realistic and practical our choices will be. I have made an unbelievable number of trips and emails and phone calls and google searches to justify every possible option we can think of. And we’re not even halfway planning for the big move.
For other families like us who are considering going on their own or residing in a different location, here are some major considerations:
Financial capacity. Living outside the city could mean savings for your family because the cost of living will be much cheaper. But for a family like us who will be going on our own for the first time, it means paying for expenses that we never paid for before, like rent, utilities, car maintenance. This calls for a major adjustment in our household budget and we should make sure that we could afford to pay for these new expenses before deciding to move.
Support system. When choosing a new place of residence, it is important to consider the presence of a support system for your family. Do you have relatives nearby who can assist you in case of emergency? Do you have a group of friends that you can hang out with from time to time? Will the kids have other children their age that they can play and interact with? It is not only difficult but also not advisable to move in to a completely alien territory. We’re lucky because Turo has relatives in LB and the kids will have their cousins to play with. Some of our friends and their families are also in LB and those who aren’t do come visit every so often.
Proximity to the workplace. When you decide to move to a new location, you have to ensure that there will be work opportunities available for you or, if you will retain your present occupation, that your workplace will still be accessible from your new home. Do consider commuting time and transportation costs and compare these with the present costs you incur. Turo’s office has a branch in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and he is considering transferring to that branch. I, on the other hand, have a number of options, I can either quit work altogether, just accept freelance assignments that will require minimal travel, or just focus on The Garden Kitchen.
Educational institutions. Since our children will be of school-age by the time we move early next year, the presence of quality and affordable schools is another major consideration. Since UPLB is an academic community, we would not run short of good schools, at least by our standards. There are also progressive institutions being run by UP graduates and professors, some of whom I know personally and can attest to the quality of education they provide. But the most pleasant surprise is the existence of a homeschooling community, offering support for homeschooling parents and socialization activities for homeschooled students. Education-wise, Los Banos is one of the best residential options there is outside of Manila.
Security. Does your chosen place of residence offer safe and secure dwelling options for your family? Whether you will choose to live in an exclusive subdivision, a close-knit community or a transient community, you need to be mindful of local law enforcement, crime rates, migration trends and the economic well-being of your future neighbors. You also need to create your own sense of security once you have moved. Get to know your neighbors, make your presence known to your neighborhood, know your local officials, and do your duties as a responsible citizen and member of the community.
We do have a long way to go before we move out next year. Lots of planning and purchases and saving up in store for us for the coming months. But every day we feel even more ready to be on our own. We can already smell the scent of our new home and very soon we will be breathing it. I am excited as I’ve never been and very hopeful that we will be making the right decisions for our family. Do expect an invitation to a housewarming party in Los Banos very soon!