Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 2, Tuesday January 8 , 2008


the post-nuptial nest
young and restlessly married

There used to be a time when parents would marry off their children at a very early age. However, over the years, the definition of 'early age' has changed- what was considered young, at the age of 10 to 13, now begins at the age of 19. And these youngsters of today are now restless to marry themselves off! More and more people are starting off married life early. It makes sense to get through the biggest hurdle in life and then try for the easier tasks like achieving fame, fortune or ruling a country. But marriage is also one of the biggest acts of responsibility.

Find shelter
First things first. A couple needs a place to live in. Choosing a house on a budget requires taking in many factors. First and foremost is the location. Look for a place that is close to work. Commuting to and from work can take up a lot of quality time you can otherwise use to quarrel and make up.

You can also look for a place that is closer to the in-laws; you can always drop in for some lunch, dinner or even breakfast. Incidentally, you may want to stay far away form them in which case, look for another country.

Looking for a house can be an occasion in itself. Simply hire a rickshaw on an hourly basis. It costs roughly Tk 40-60 per hour.

When you do find a house, clarify all the bills you will have to pay. In many places water and gas bills are a part of the bill. Gas bills are of course a standard amount. Apartments usually have a 'service charge' of Tk 1000-2000 for guards, maintenance, elevator, generator and hot water system even.

While you may find a place, having youthful facial features can prove to be a hindrance sometimes. Many home-owners refuse to let young people move in.

Guard dogs and alligators
When both people in a couple work, a secure house is urgent. Stay away from places that also house offices or schools. A lot of people go in and out all the time with the off chance of items going in and out of your place.

Married couples come loaded with gold whether they got it as a gift or ran off with it from home. Leaving that at home can be a risky matter so look into bank lockers as they are safer than dumping it under the bed at home. Costs can be as low as Tk 1000-3000 per year.

Setting up your cave
This is going to hurt the wallet. In fact, the wallet might even go into shock. Most couples get furniture as wedding gifts unless they ran away from home in which case they only get arrest warrants. You would still need extra furniture. Wood is the best option but it is becoming more expensive as we are getting rid of forests where wood grows.

Particle board items on the other hand are relatively cheap but they are not very durable. Yet another option is MDF wood. It is just like wood and can be completely disassembled for ease of transportation. The best part is that these furniture look better finished than wood and are almost as durable. Durability comes into play if you plan to move a lot or end up having kids who like to jump a lot. The latter is hard to predict.

Other items of necessity include curtains if your house has windows. Many houses are built attached to each other where windows are a thing of sweet fantasy. Curtains help to brighten up a room for considerably little cash.

Electronics can wreak havoc on your finances if you go for things like a high-powered multi channel home theatre system. Arguments exist that big speakers are a necessity but it is not the first one. What couples need most is a refrigerator with a big freezer section. A separate freezer is even better. These help in storing cooked food packed in boxes that can be thawed out for a quick meal.

A fridge of a good brand name backed by an extensive warranty pays off more than the little extra that you will be paying out. These days most manufacturers offer 5 years warranties but always make it a point to check the fine print. Expect to shell out about Tk 30,000 for a decent 10-12 cft unit. Look for a fridge that is tall instead of wide. It's easier to get up narrow stairways.

A second important device is the microwave oven. It thaws, it defrosts and it thaws some more. That's what most people use it for but it can also help in cooking and baking. The best part is that these consume little electricity compared to the usual electric ovens because they cook faster.

The third most important device would be a washing machine but the next paragraph makes it quite redundant. It's great if you do all your housework yourself. Dump all the clothes in on the weekend and you are set. If a washing machine is on the list, make sure it comes with a dryer as well. Most small apartments leave little space on the sides for sunlight to come in so drying clothes can be a problem.

Help wanted
It's a luxurious decadent life we live with someone to attend to our beck and call. Hired help is easy to get. Good help is not so easy though. But it is necessary to have someone to help with the cooking, cleaning and some more cleaning. A couple living on their own can manage it all by themselves as long as they settle on who does what. But that requires legal documents and lawyers.

Maids basically charge Tk 100-150 per chore, which vary depending on areas.

Stocking up on stocks
The first supply of groceries that you buy yourself will be a big bill. It's a long list but it's an important list. Things you never thought of before the marriage make their surprise appearances now. Toilet cleaners, metal scrubs and 10 different types of wooden spoons that do the same thing but which the wife seems to want anyhow. There are things you will need that you never thought of when living with parents. So it is the best to seek their help.

Keep tabs on your expenditure for the first three months. It will give a good idea of where you need to cut corners because the initial months will present you with a surprising bank deficit if you are not careful. Newly married couples especially eat out a lot. A better way to cut down on this expense is to eat at in-laws until they kick you out.

Discovering the wheel
Owning a set of wheels is no longer considered a luxury but more of a necessity. While public transport is available it's not always willing to go where you need to go. A personal transport solves that problem.

Unless you rob a bank or have gotten it as a gift, buying something new could be a big burden. Question is what do you get? Options include a two or four wheeler. A bike makes commuting for work very easy. You can zip through traffic and avoid the intimate contacts with complete strangers on the buses. While maintenance is inexpensive, it can be very risky especially when riding as a couple.

A car on the other hand provides safety unless your budget only allows you a set of wheels held together by rust. In that case use public transport and go home early.

Marrying, taking on the responsibility to populate the earth and living on your own can add up to a big source of worry. But plan it right and it can be one of the most insightful, interesting experiences.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


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