One the most compelling proofs of adulting is getting your own place. Staying with one's folks way past the age of emancipation (18 years) is deeply rooted in the Filipino society. However, this practice may not be helping families in the long run. Parents, despite of their advancing age, are obliged to keep on financially supporting their adult kids. The children may never learn how to be truly independent with their families on their speed-dial. Independent living is for your own good. Moving out of your parents' home doesn't mean that you've graduated from their lives. You'll always be family, only that you'll be paying your bills and doing your own laundry.

Condo living is recommended for young urban professionals. It allows you to better maximize your time and live in a safe and comfortable environment. Comfort can be a rarity in overpopulated cities with the congestion, pollution and decay everywhere. For your first home, consider condo renting in Metro Manila. Live near transport networks in a community with 24/7 security. Come home to a resort-style neighborhood where you can maintain a fit and well-rounded lifestyle.

Here's a 10-step guide — from hunting for the right condo community to settling down.

1: Choose a home based on your priorities

Most condo communities in the Philippines are situated in key cities. You have a long list of options. The task of choosing can be quite overwhelming because each option offers something others may not have. A community may have several swimming pools while another is just a couple of blocks away from the MRT station. To help you limit your choices, let these questions guide you:

  1. What are the main features I need in a community?
  2. Can I afford it?
  3. Do I see myself living in this neighborhood for years?

If your priority is to reduce your travel time, you can opt for condo renting in Mandaluyong which is at the heart of Metro Manila. If you want a home in a more secluded area yet still accessible to the business and commercial hubs, you may go for a community in Taguig.

2: To rent or to buy?

Buying a condo home, or any home for that matter, is a dream for many. Not everyone is financially able to purchase a house in their 20s, but it's not an impossibility. The government and the private sector, including real estate developers and banks, are democratizing home ownership by easing up credit access. So before dismissing the idea of buying a condo now, you may want to seek advice on available credit facilities of which you can avail.

Once you've had a professional assess your credit viability, and if you learn that you may need a little more time to improve your balance sheet, you can visit the nearest DMCI leasing office to guide on condo leasing.

3: Bare, semi-furnished or fully-furnished?

Do you need a bare, semi-furnished or a fully-furnished unit? A bare unit is similar to a clear canvass. Save for the typical furnishings such as doors, kitchen cabinets and toilet, the unit is virtually empty. A semi-furnished home additional furnishings such as a bed, dressers and sofa set. In some instances, it can also come with essential appliances. In a fully-furnished home, everything is provided for. You only need to bring your clothes and other personal items.

Knowing what you need before your site visits can save you time and money.

4: Do a guided home hunting

You should know when to stop looking for a home, otherwise you could waste time and spend unnecessary expenses. Limit your choices to three. It will help if you tell the leasing officer your needs, budget and other preferences. These info will narrow down your options.

5: Know any rules or preferences of the homeowner

The leasing officer is your point person on any queries or concerns. You may or may not be referred to the homeowner. Nevertheless, it's advisable to orient yourself about the rules and regulations imposed by the unit owner and the condo admin. The homeowner may not allow pets or smoking inside the unit. These types of info are stipulated in the lease contact, or annexed thereto, but you can ask about them beforehand to guide you in choosing the unit to rent.

6: Read the fine print of the lease contract

Once you've made your choice, it's time to sit down and mince the provisions of the lease contract. You read that right – you need to read the contract in its entirety. Remember that by signing the agreement, you are consenting to all its stipulations. Take note of provisions governing the following:

  1. The term of the lease
  2. The rental rate, advanced rent and security deposit
  3. The grounds for breach
  4. Renewal and pre-termination

Don't hesitate to ask for clarifications on matters of concern. Sign the contract only when you've fully understood the undertakings in which you're binding yourself.

7: The turnover process for condo buyers

If you're buying a condo unit, it's important to know the condo turnover process or the procedures wherein the real estate developer physically delivers the unit to you. The turnover may take place upon payment of a certain percentage of the purchase price. This info will be given to you once you accept the offer to buy a unit. If you're buying during the pre-selling period, the developer will inform you of the expected date of turnover of units.

You will be notified from DMCI's Turnover Group, either via phone or email, confirming the dressing up of the unit, the tentative turnover date and the applicable turnover fees. The fees should be settled upon delivery of the unit to your possession. Your confirmation will commence the job of dressing up or preparation of the unit for turnover.

8: Inspect the unit before signing the Acceptance Document

On the day of turnover, it can help to have someone, such as a family or friend, to help you inspect the unit. Check whether the unit is furnished according to contract you signed with the developer and whether you need some items rectified. You can sign the Acceptance Document if you find the unit acceptable to you. Your additional requests shall be noted in the punch list form to be endorsed to the Construction Group. The final turnover shall be scheduled after the rectification works.

9: Settle all applicable fees and sign the Certificate of Acceptance

The day you've waited for so long has finally come! On the day of the final turnover, you will need to do a final inspection of the unit and if you're satisfied with it, you are to sign the Certificate of Acceptance. You are also required to complete application documents to utility companies and settle the Turnover fees which cover:

  1. Power bill deposit
  2. Water bill deposit
  3. One-time joining fee for Condominium Corporation
  4. Monthly association dues: Prorated for the current month and two (2) months advance
  5. Other special assessments

If, for any reason, you're unavailable to accept your condo unit, an Authorized Representative may accept it in your behalf. Make sure your representative presents a Special Power of Attorney (SPA), two (2) valid IDs and a photocopy of your ID. Failure to accept the unit within thirty (30) days from the Turnover notice shall deemed an acceptance in your part. Accordingly, association dues shall start to commence.

10: Know the rules and regulations in your condo community

Whether you're a tenant or a homeowner, you're expected to abide by the rules and regulations in the condo community. You will receive briefing and orientation regarding condominium policies by the Property Management Office (PMO). For homeowners, the Homeowner’s Manual and the complete set of keys for your unit shall be handed to you on the final turnover date.

Living on your own for the first time can be daunting. This may be why many people stay in their family homes even in their adult years. But remember that getting out of your comfort zone is a step to real adulting. Moving out is the first step, the next involves keeping your finances on track, then preparing yourself for a comfortable retirement. You'll realize how liberating it feels to be reliably independent.