One day, Sheryn Alvarez decided to pack up her city life and move to the beach with her daughter. Here’s her story…
As I write this, I am sitting by the shore watching the sun set on the sea’s horizon as my daughter is playing on the sand with a dog. It might seem picturesque but it is also just part of the life we have now, living in a small provincial town by the sea.
Ever since we moved to the beach, the two questions I get asked a lot are WHY and HOW. So here’s a quick rundown of the whys and hows of our move to the beach.
Why we moved to the beach
It was less an intention to move to the beach specifically as it was an intention to just get out of Metro Manila. We lived in a small studio condo in an “ideal” location in Quezon City — near “good” schools, hospitals, malls, our church and even my dad’s place.
This and other “conveniences” were the reason why, despite the tiny space, we lived here for a little over 4 years. But the quarantine rendered all those “ideals” irrelevant.
I remember the first few months of quarantine when we were still counting down the days thinking it would be resolved sooner rather than later.
Keilah couldn’t go out so whenever I needed to go to the grocery, I had to leave her alone in our condo because I’m a single mom and we don’t have helpers or live with family.
From our window on the 26th floor, I saw the city change. The skyline cleared up as the streets emptied out. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long. After one month, people gave up on the “quarantine life” and started to fill the streets again.
Even trips to the supermarket felt like a blockbuster line at the cinema. I knew it was only a matter of time before I probably will either catch the virus or unknowingly bring it home to my daughter. At this point, our building still had zero cases but I knew things were getting serious when they closed down the pool area completely— which was on the only outdoor deck in the whole building.
Keilah cried the day they closed the pool, she said, “Mom, I don’t want to live here anymore!” That was when I knew, we had to move.
We couldn’t live life stuck in the small space of our condo (21.92 sqm) — it just wasn’t sustainable or healthy — especially for a child growing up.
How we moved
After making the decision to move, I knew I had to act fast before things got worse and they closed down all borders leading out of Metro Manila completely. I asked friends who were already living in provinces outside Metro Manila if there were available spaces to rent until finally one turned up that was just the right space for us.
We found it in June and I used my savings to renovate the little bungalow by the sea. A friend who lived in the area managed the renovations for me.
I packed our things slowly in batches till I managed to fit 4 years of our life in 10 balikbayan boxes and by August 2020 we left.
I got tested for COVID-19 the day before we left and brought the negative test result along with notarized copies of our COL (Contract of Lease) and COR (Certificate of Residency) in the province where we were moving to
My friend who lived in the province where we were moving picked us up and we used their travel pass to get across the border.
Was it an easy move?
Yes and No. YES because since we previously lived in a fully furnished condo, we didn’t have big bulky items to think of transporting or selling before our move and because I was just packing for two people (1 adult and 1 child). Also, we’ve always lived below our means. Big expenses were mostly insurance and travel experiences. We weren’t really into accumulating things — except maybe books, which were the heaviest things we had to bring.
I also work from home and have been since 2013 so on that front, nothing has really changed for me during this pandemic.
NO, because not a lot of people may be able to do what we did; rather what I did as the sole deciding adult in our family of two. Uprooting yourself from a life you’ve always known may be easier considered than actually done. For bigger families, families with special needs or people with jobs that require them to be physically present, a move to the province may be more challenging or maybe even unlikely. Also, finding a livable place is not easy. Since we moved, provincial LGUs have become more strict about who they let across borders and why.
What about school?
I had to look for a new way for Keilah to continue her education that would fit our new life. A friend recommended Living Learning Homeschool which is a DepEd accredited provider of a Charlotte Mason education. In a nutshell, the Charlotte Mason way of learning is purely offline and doesn’t need special training or tools to teach children.
My favorite part about a Charlotte Mason education is that it allows for a gentle curriculum — that is so timely given the drastic change of life we are now experiencing and yet it is also so rich and robust that nothing is sacrificed in the quality of learning — in fact, it is even enhanced.
Will you ever move back to the city?
Time will tell. A few years ago, I actually invested on a prime condo property in the same area where we used to live in Quezon City.
So we do have a home to go back to in the city, IF we ever find ourselves back there. For now, being away from the density of the city and close to nature is what’s best for our little family. I love seeing my daughter run around open spaces, swim fearlessly in the sea and enjoy surfing waves.
Find me on Instagram at @marketingmomph and follow along our new life at the beach!