Unwed and Under Your Own Roof: Living Alone in Pakistan
Updated: Nov 17
Moving out of your parent’s home in Pakistan before marriage is today still very far from being the norm. And
There are very few circumstances that would justify you moving out.
Enlisting in the armed forces.
Going to study or work in another country.
For most families, these reasons are not reason enough for a woman to move out, with marriage being the absolute must to warrant leaving the home. For men too, leaving their parent’s home after marriage is not always a guarantee, with joint families (multiple generations living under one roof) being a strong tradition in Pakistan.
But slowly and surely some single Pakistanis are pushing out and getting out of their homes, some on their own and some due to circumstances. And the hidden costs of doing so are only discovered when you take the plunge.
For one thing, there is the actual financial cost of moving out. Whatever you think it is, it is always more. The rule of thumb is to have saved up 3 to 6 months of living expenses before you move, but these expenses need to be calculated for the costs you are now taking on. This means, calculating the costs of your rent, your commute to work or school, your groceries, the utilities like electricity, water and gas, not to mention the internet, and the service fees to connect everything.
Other moving costs to include are whether you will need to pay movers, pay for a flight or transport to your new home, the maintenance of the place you are moving to and the items you will need for your home.
When moving into a new home it is paramount to note down each and everything your landlord is obligated to fix (trust me they will try to sneak some things past you) so that financially the burden does not fall on you.
But it’s not just financial, there is also the mental costs of leaving home, particularly for women. In Pakistan, safety is an utmost concern for many people, with precarious law and order and not the most reliable security one could have, for women the risks are ten fold.
There is also an existing culture that views unmarried women with pity but worse suspicion. Single women, and to be fair single men, have a very hard time finding housing even in Pakistan’s major bustling cities like Lahore and Karachi, because the taboo of not living at home with your family breeds mistrust amongst agents, landlords and even neighbors. It is not uncommon to find listings that state “no single men” or “families only” to discourage non-wed applications from even applying to apartments.
Living alone means not only the cost of living somewhere safe, which can stretch your budget, but also added burdens of being vigilant about your safety, your comings and goings and making sure people are not taking monitoring you (in the case of nosey neighbors) or taking advantage of you (in the case of people hired for services at your home).
But it’s not all costly, there are immense advantages of being out of your parent’s home even when you are not married.
You gain independence and autonomy over your life. You are able to contribute not only to your family if they need you, but to yourself by building skills and financial understanding. You learn invaluable life skills and how to better navigate the world around you. And it’s true what they say, the heart does grow fonder, and sometimes space can be amazing for family dynamics and relationships.
Moving out is a huge step and it does not have to be a salacious or taboo one, but an incredible path that one takes with the due diligence involved.