Love + Money
Living at Home, Part Two
Can my relationship survive?
Reality set in when I blew out the pink candles on my chocolate birthday cake. Sitting in a trendy Manhattan eatery, I looked around my table of friends and realized that although my pedicured feet were shining in polka-dot pumps and my little black ruffled number resembled something a Hollywood starlet would wear, I was no closer to making the move they had already made – the move to independence.
While they were able to hail cabs to take them back to their apartments, I had the luxury of speed-dialing my mom to tell her what time I would be home. It did agitate me that after being on my own for four years of college, where I could have traveled anywhere without my parents ever knowing, I was now back at home, phoning in to announce my tardiness.
The reason for my status as a twenty-something living at home – financial constraints, what else?
At this time in my life, I don’t have the money to pay over a thousand a month in rent, plus hundreds on utilities and even more on food and dry cleaning.
Neither does my better-paid, financially savvy boyfriend, who refuses to move out of his house until he can afford to buy.
I understand his logic of not wanting to rent – it didn’t work so well for my friend who paid over $50,000 last year in rent and doesn’t have a dollar in savings or anything to show for it – but still, he can at least afford to move out and he is deliberately choosing not to, which has definitely put a strain on our relationship.
Yes, Suze Orman would be proud. He’s waiting until a time when he can not only buy, but a time when he can live honestly, by actually making his mortgage and car payments, unlike others who have contributed to the country’s economic crisis by driving Lexuses in their Chanel sunglasses, while sinking in thousands of dollars of debt.
His actions, or lack thereof, are commendable; however, he’s slowly but surely killing me. We have been together for three years and I don’t know how much longer we will last by both living at home. Our time alone is infrequent and we’re never really “alone,” because someone is always lurking around. Whether we want to cuddle, act goofy or scream at each other, someone will see or hear us.
I can’t even yell at him when it’s clear that we’re both annoyed with each other, because he doesn’t want our parents to hear us fighting. Again, this is commendable, but unrealistic. I need to be a relationship where I have the freedom to yell.
My friend who lives with her boyfriend says that being able to say anything aloud is one of the perks of living alone, something she will miss when she moves back home due to an empty savings account.
Another friend recently told me about her cousin and his wife moving back in with his parents, for he is afraid of losing his job.
“It will be a different relationship for them. They will have to act in certain ways in front of his parents and put on a ‘couple front,’ like, ‘we have no problems, everything’s perfect’,” she says.
So, I’m not the only one out there who has difficulty sharing space with her boyfriend and the two sets of parents, making small talk when all you want to do is complain about your day and plastering on a smile when you just want to be you.
Only time will tell how much longer my boyfriend and I will make it, while both living at home. The plus is that we are obviously saving money – me, not enough to move out, him – more than enough. The very evident con is that we have no privacy.
Some might consider our monthly entertainment bill (movie tickets, drinks at bars, meals out) to be a bit high, but the truth of the matter is that we spend this money to remain sane. Maybe when we move out, we will enjoy cooking meals together at home, but for now, eating and socializing outside of our houses is our only alone time. So for now, reservations please.