A few weeks ago I was browsing through some morning articles when I came across a NYT post called Married, With Roommates. Now that Mike and I are (publicly) moving, we’re getting a lot of questions regarding our living situation. Are you ready to give the roomie up yet? Why are you still living like a college kid? Don’t you think it’s time to grow up?
Something that a lot of non-New Yorkers don’t fully understand is the idea of an engaged couple living with a roommate. My fiance and I have lived together, but with roommates, for pretty much our entire relationship. So just for kicks, here is the story of how a California Girl, a Brooklyn Boy, and a Pittsburgh Dude came to live together.
My fiance and I live with our roommate and mutual best friend, J. Mike has lived with him since 2009, and the three of us have shared an apartment since 2011. Early this year we collectively came to the decision that none of us wanted to stay in our current apartment. While spacious, it definitely has its fair share of problems and we were not willing to continue putting up with them. But when the discussion turned to finding a new place, there was some hesitation.
Mike and I wanted to give J space. He is in a different part of his life than us, and we recognize that. The last thing I want is to feel like we’re holding our best friend back from pursing his dreams and living the life he wants to live. But living in New York is hard, finding a new apartment alone is hard, and the truth is that most of our friends are already set in their living arrangements. Trolling Craigslist for furniture is one thing, but trolling for roommates is a whole different ball game. We would never dream of putting that on our best friend if he didn’t want it.
Not to mention, finding a one bedroom at a reasonable price in NYC is close to impossible. With our incomes plus our bills we know what we can afford, and essentially Mike and I would have had to downgrade to a studio apartment to be alone. I recently mentioned our abnormally large apartment, and to go from a two bedroom two bath with a balcony to a studio apartment would really just kill me. And if there’s no issue living with J, then what’s the point of downgrading to live alone? So we can tell our family and friends we have our own place? No thanks.
So after barely any debate, it was confirmed: the three of us collectively knew that we wanted to remain a trio.
Here’s why it works:
- We are honest about money. We are fully aware of everyone’s financial situations, and we make sure to remain honest and open about it. The transparency helps us plan out apartment finances.
- We have a designated apartment “director” – someone who is in charge of tracking the bills and paying them. It’s easier to designate this responsibility to someone who is good with money rather than each of us trying to make separate payments.
- The three of us have very different schedules. J works evenings, but Mike and I work 9-5’s. We genuinely don’t see each other very often. To be completely honest, we usually have to schedule a night of roommate friendship!
- J gives us space. In my less attractive moments, Mike and I will have a fight that makes its way to the living room in front of J. We’ve had roommates who get in the middle of our outbursts, try to mediate, and take sides. But J truly never does. He gives us the space we need on moments like these, and truly I’m grateful for it.
- We truly are good friends. We met in college, so we share a lot of wonderful memories together. J was even home the night Mike proposed. He was one of the first people to congratulate us. We were there when J got into a prestigious acting school, and when he made his Off Broadway debut. I mean sure, maybe we’re trying to secure roles in his future E! True Hollywood Story but also we really are besties.
- We know we are roommates too. We don’t expect every second of free time to be spent together. When someone comes home we don’t jump on each other for play time. The three of us work full time, and we each have incredibly grueling jobs. We know when to let each other breathe.
From my perspective, having a roommate is ideal. It helps us be able to afford a larger living space, it means there’s always someone around to help out if I can’t reach something on the top shelf, there’s someone to feed the cat if we go away for the evening, and there’s someone to hang out with when Mike works late. He cooks a mean dinner, we listen to the same music, we enjoy mostly the same TV shows, and he’s lived with us for years. Why fix what isn’t broken?
From J’s perspective, I imagine he enjoys being able to have his own bedroom and bathroom without having to pay a premium price. Plus, since Mike and I are in a committed relationship he knows he doesn’t have to deal with the potential ugly reality of the end of a relationship. Living with a couple who is on the fritz of a break up can be really draining.
To non-New Yorkers, or to people with unlimited finances, our living situation might seem childish and confusing. But for us it is second nature. When Mike and I are able to afford a place on our own, we absolutely will do it. But we are under no delusions thinking that time is now. We’re a few years away from that day, but until then we will enjoy the benefits of being a happy posse of three.