Nearly one-in-five Australians are living or have lived with an ex-partner in a bid to save money, but the transition from lover to roommate is rocky at best.
This is something Kate* knows well.
She lived with her ex-partner for a month and a half after they split in 2017. While she saved money by not having to find her own place, she said that even that short amount of time was “long enough to become unhealthy”.
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“The crossover period made it really difficult,” she told Yahoo Finance.
“We had to be in each other’s space… neither of us could let go. We were behaving as a couple even though we weren’t.”
Eventually, the tenuously amicable relationship deteriorated further and Kate, whose name wasn’t on the lease, was forced to move out.
Renting in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Leichhardt, she and her ex-partner were paying $420 a week in total.
“For Sydney it was quite cheap, but because I was an actor, I was not earning a lot.”
Logistically and financially, moving out was just too big an ask for the first few weeks of the breakup.
Queensland woman, Jennifer Moles, lived with her ex-partner for three years following their 2013 breakup. As a marine mechanic, he was frequently working overseas.
And as Moles was living with an illness and unable to work, keeping the cheaper rent was a simple decision at the time.
They were paying $265 a week for a two-bedroom apartment with ocean views.
“It was too good to pass up,” she told Yahoo Finance.
However, while they remained on good terms throughout their time together, Moles said that in hindsight, she wouldn’t do it again.
“It’s probably not the wisest thing to do, emotionally,” she said.
“I probably could have moved on sooner if we’d had a clean break.”
Aussies take desperate measures to save
Some 20 per cent of Australians have or currently are living with a former lover to save some extra cash, with 4 per cent currently sharing a house with their ex, new Finder research has revealed.
“Most of us would cringe at the thought of living with an ex, regardless of how amicable the breakup was. But for some couples, this type of arrangement needs to stay in place until they can afford to leave,” Finder home loans expert Sarah Megginson said.
“The costs of moving house can be huge and if a breakup happens suddenly, you may not have enough savings to move out on your own right away.”
Hiring a removalist in Sydney costs between $125 and $45 an hour in Sydney, according to hipages data. A five-hour move could come to $1,225.
And renters generally need to stump up at least four weeks’ rent in bond. This isn’t helped by the fact that Australian rent is also increasing at record rates, growing 3.2 per cent over the March quarter – .
“In a perfect world, once a relationship breaks down you’d be able to move out swiftly – but this can’t always happen,” Megginson said.
“If you’re both on the lease, there may be a crossover period between when the love and the lease expires, so you may need to try and be civil and continue sharing living spaces until then.
“Otherwise, perhaps moving in with friends or family members temporarily could be an option, or into a sharehouse until you can get back on your feet.”
Kate had the same advice, urging others in her position to explore their options before deciding to stay with a partner.
“If you have a support network, use them. Even if it is jumping from couch to couch and putting your stuff into a storage space while you look for another place,” Kate said.
“As tough as it is when a relationship is coming to an end, and it’s really hard to be logical, setting boundaries is really important.”
Megginson said it’s a good idea to always have an emergency pool of savings for if the worst does happen in your relationship.
She suggested setting aside 10-20 per cent of your pay and moving it into a savings account that only you can access.
“To maximise your interest, consider a bonus interest savings account – although rates are low at the moment, it is still better than no interest and it keeps your money accessible when you need it,” she added.
And if you can’t move out, set firm boundaries.
That can include a moving timeline and an associated budget. Staying with friends and family a few nights a week can also ease the transition.
*Not Kate’s real name.
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