So what if the boss wants us to move to a new locale as part of the job? Even if it doesn’t lead to career progression isn’t the challenge worth taking a shot? The answer these days is a loud YES. Being a single woman in a new city is no longer an alien concept; it is an omnipresent phenomenon. After all, a move to a new city guarantees to take you to places never-imagined and meeting people never-met! By Anusha Surendran
Purnima Vishwanath looks every inch the chic executive. As she steps into the plush interiors of her new office, she looks over to nod and smile at her colleagues and strides over to her new cubicle to kick start her day. It has just been a week in her new marketing job in a new city and shifting locations comes as a part of the package. “I don’t regret taking this decision as I know that I made the right career choice. After all I am doing what I love,” she smiles. While she was excited about her switch and the upscale job profile, Purnima says she was tad concerned about finding a place to stay. “But all my worries evaporated when I decided to room with a couple of my colleagues in a nearby paying guest accommodation,” she states.
More and more ladies are taking to the career route with ease and moving out of the comfort zone is taken in the stride with heads held high, even if it means relocating from one state to another. New homes, diverse cuisines, more expenses and of course new faces are the least of the deterrents for the alpha females of today when it comes to chasing their dreams. With this ‘corporate migration’ on the rise, options for accommodations too have become numerous. The popular option these days seems to be renting out an apartment. Other preferred choices are hostels, paying guest accommodations, staying at a relative’s place, in that order.
With time at a premium, Purnima couldn’t afford the luxury of searching high and low for a house. “I have heard horror stories of my friends attempting to set up their apartment. And I don’t like the idea of being dependent on relatives for boarding,” she contends. So when she started chatting with a couple of her colleagues, she hit the jackpot almost instantly. “Though the lack of privacy is sometimes unnerving, it gives me lot of free time to relax.” Paying guest accommodations are dime a dozen these days but finding a safe one is important, she stresses.
But not all women take to PG accommodations like a duck to water. Take Sangeetha Gopal for instance. “When I got a promotion transfer, I did not have to think twice. Everything else was just practical details that needed to be sorted out,” she says. For Sangeetha however, whose office is located on the outskirts, the concept of finding an apartment held more ground. “I work night shifts and so was pretty choosy about my accommodation.”
Is the place safe during nights? Is the public transport trustworthy? Are the neighbours helpful? These are some of the many questions ladies ask themselves before zeroing in on a place to stay. In the case of individual houses, while it is generally feasible to live in residential areas, people movement in the locality will always ensure safety if you are returning home late at night.
“I picked the apartment near my office after much thought. Since the distance is short I have to walk it out after work, which scared me initially,” Sangeetha admits. But after finding roommates from her own office, she feels much safer. After all, for her finding a house within her budget bracket proved to be a Himalayan task. Apart from being asked about marital status and eating preferences, there have been instances where house owners even ask women to reveal their horoscope and caste details! So after a few lies and fending off much-too-friendly real estate brokers, the experience creates a new wave of confidence among them. “Sharing the apartment seems like the optimal option. Rent and other sundry expenses are shared and there is a comfort level if you can find the right kind of companions,” Sangeetha says.
Reputable hostels offer safe sanctuary at an easy cost and with all creature comforts too. However, curfews might be a problem. Not many women seem to take the staying-at-relative’s place route due to lack of private space. “Nosy relatives are the last thing we need when we come home exhausted after late meetings at office,” says Purnima.
Finding accommodation is the first step in the whole relocation process but how do these women manage the sudden set of new expenses that come along with the move? Living alone can lead to numerous superfluous expenses and accommodation steals the chunk of the pie. Travel expenses, food and entertainment follow close behind. Akila Narayanan who lives in a hostel contends that saving is pertinent when it comes to living alone. “Staying near office has its perks. You can save a lot on travel. And of course set aside an amount in that piggy bank for a rainy day,” she contends.
Workplaces these days encourage women to partake in group accounts and other savings mechanisms to enable their finances to bear fruit in the future. “A better job usually means more money. So when I got my promotion I started investing in bonds and shares,” says Akila. A few software professionals have even taken to investing in small ventures as a different way to make more money in the future and to also get that good feeling about spending their hard-earned dough. “Many of my colleagues have invested in upcoming ventures. It is their way of making a difference and also in an effective investment medium,” points out Sangeetha.
Handling your own finances so as to make do for rent, amenities and entertainment is crucial. “I always maintain a log of all day-to-day expenses. That way I know how much I am spending and on what,” says Sangeetha. With rent figuring in your expenses account every month, you can save more by reducing travel costs. Taking public transport and avoiding autos is the key, she adds. “I am used to long walks and my favourite hobby turned out to be a penny saver for me.”
Having a vehicle might prove to be easy on the leg but can be heavy on the pocket. With petrol and diesel costs hitting the roof, car pooling and bike pooling might be economic options. If your place of work is far from home, then it is better to opt for public transport but attempt to evade the peak hour rush. For instance, if the local train network is strong in your city, opt for it. A monthly pass can not only save you time by helping you escape queuing up at the ticket counter, it can also help you save cost. Just try getting to the station before time to be able to grab a seat in the soon-to-be-busy compartment and you are good to go.
Food expenses can be curtailed by cutting down on eating out. “Since my PG accommodation offers inclusive meals as well, I am also able to save a lot,” reiterates Purnima. Stocking up on eggs, bread, milk, instant noodles and packaged meals also goes a long way in reducing the food bill. When you feel like ordering food home, pool together with the gang and enjoy that slice of pepperoni pizza without guilt trips about hampering the monthly budget.
Isn’t it popularly said, all work and no play makes Jack a boring boy! So why should it be any different for women? “I make it a point to allot a small sum for weekend fun. After all, we need to unwind,” Sangeetha says with a twinkle in her eyes. Eating out with friends, clubbing and night-outs are common entertainment avenues that women don’t hesitate to spend on. Especially after a gruelling work week, the relaxing comes as part of the deal. Akila points out, “For me music concerts fall in the no-compromise zone. It is the perfect relaxant and I don’t think twice about spending money for listening to good music.”
Having a healthy social life will reflect positively on the work atmosphere too, experts concur. HR professionals reiterate that concepts of office parties and informal sessions have been formed keeping in mind the fact that employees need to unwind and relax in order to work in a positive set-up. Ladies’ nights in clubs, weekend retreats in spas and movies are some of the favourites. “It is a known fact that a few spas can burn a hole in your pocket. But I see to it that I balance the money by not taking an auto for another week or by not indulging in those sinful cupcakes for a month,” grins Akila.
And finally it all boils down to this: are we safe in the new place? For such a loaded question, there are some precautions that one has to take, stresses Purnima. “Being aware of one’s surroundings is the key,” she says. New cities might inspire either paranoia or overconfidence. Either way, it is always best to ensure that your fears, if any, are unfounded. Looking for well-known hostels, staying with friends and living in places with good security system are some of the things that one can ensure before taking the leap.
Once you do take the leap, the rest is simple. Any nitty-gritty has a way of solving by itself and ironing out details is just a matter of time. And when you get the kudos for a job well done, you will know that your decision to spread your wings and soar into a new horizon was more than worth it!