Is 18 too young to leave home?

Miguel, an 18 year-old Filipino-Canadian, is debating which university to attend. 

He has two offers: one at Western University in London, Ontario, and one at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto.

“Western is my dream school, and it has my dream program,” he said. “I’ve been researching it for months. I even got a scholarship.”

His choice seems clear except for one thing: his parents will not let him move away from home. 

He may turn down the scholarship and instead commute for almost four hours every day from Whitby to Ryerson to attend a program he says is not geared towards his needs and goals.

“My parents told me that I can’t live on my own,” he said. “It’s not because it’s cheaper to live at home. They just think I’m too young.”

“The best decision I ever made”

Renjie Butalid in Vienna, Austria.

Renjie Butalid in Vienna, Austria.

Social entrepreneur Renjie Butalid was raised in Abu Dhabi, but came to Canada alone to study at the University of Waterloo as an international student at 17 years old.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” he said. Living on his own encouraged him to network with people who introduced him to tech start-ups and app creation.

Today, Butalid is completing his Masters in International Relations in Budapest.  

He also serves on the board of directors for Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, and is Head of Global Expansion for Next Day Better, a nine-city program that showcases leaders of colour in various fields, such as Dado Banatao, the “Filipino Bill Gates” of the Silicon Valley, and model and transgender activist Geena Rocero. 

“Part of what I’m doing now is an extension of my experience at Waterloo. You seek out leadership opportunities that you wouldn’t have known you could do if you hadn’t left.”

David Deen in Tokyo, Japan.

David Deen in Tokyo, Japan.

At 18 years old, David Deen was encouraged by his mother to leave Toronto to get out and see the world.

He left for Australia and began a path of international work, study and travel that includes Japan, the Philippines, and Ecuador. 

In September, he will return to Canada to pursue his Masters in Journalism at Carleton University.

“Going to the other side of the globe challenged me to learn about new environments, but more importantly I got to know myself. 

I began to trust my own voice, and that voice has guided me to find meaningful work and develop wonderful friendships,” said Deen. 

“I was able to find my purpose in life and that realization makes every day exciting.”

But what about the parents’ perspective?

Chloe Lopez at the Tower Bridge in London, England.

Chloe Lopez at the Tower Bridge in London, England.

After immigrating to Canada, Ariel Lopez’s daughters initially planned to stay in Toronto. However, he and his wife encouraged the girls to take advantage of many international opportunities.

His eldest daughter Chloe studied in France for one summer. “She quickly learned how to live in her own apartment, do her groceries and laundry, and other stuff that she used to take for granted since we did them for her.” 

"Boundless" Diane Lopez in Kakadu National Park, Australia.

"Boundless" Diane Lopez in Kakadu National Park, Australia.

His second daughter Diane studied in Australia, which helped her to overcome her shyness. “She did things that we never thought she would have the courage to do, like go skydiving, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and climbing the Sydney Bridge.

We wanted them to learn to be more independent and to move beyond their comfort zones,” Lopez said.

Helpful resources 

To help students prepare to move out, handbooks such as Mckay and Zarzour’s Good to Go: A Practical Guide to Adulthood will cover budgeting, good hygiene, healthy relationships, apartment hunting, rental insurance, and even how to avoid gaining the “Freshman 15” pounds by making good food choices.

For students who want to try living on their own, the handbook advises, “Get a taste for living on your own by paying rent to your family and buying and cooking your own food. 

Children need to pursue their dreams. Otherwise the dream dies, and a little bit of the student along with it.

Might as well do your own laundry, while you’re at it. This is called taking care of yourself, and if you do it for awhile you’ll have a pretty good idea of what life will be like on your own.”

HIgh school guidance counsellors are also available to help students consider all aspects of choosing between university and college acceptance offers, including living on their own for the first time. 

“Children need to pursue their dreams,” one guidance counsellor said. “Otherwise the dream dies, and a little bit of the student along with it.” 


This article was originally published in The Philippine Reporter on April 21, 2015.