It’s over. You and your partner worked hard to build and strengthen your relationship, but it’s clear that you need to part ways and move on.
If you’re both living together, finding individual homes may be high on the post-breakup to-do list. But if you reside in Toronto or the GTA, finding something that is clean, large enough to actually live in, and affordable, can be as challenging as trying to win a lottery.
According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average Q2 2019 one-bedroom condominium apartment rent for the GTA as a whole was $2,192, up 6.7 per cent compared to Q2 2018. Over the same period, the average two-bedroom condominium apartment rent increased by 4.3 per cent to $2,873. But these numbers don’t surprise you one bit if you live here.
The fierce real estate market is forcing a lot of people to make some tough decisions, and for couples who split up, it may mean that they decide to live apart, under the same roof.
Can you do this?
Yes. In fact, preliminary research shows that more couples are deciding to remain in the same place after they split up. This can be (and often is) for financial reasons, but some couples who have children together may decide to remain in the same place in order to give their kids time to adjust and process their parents’ separation or divorce.
If you are married and want to get divorced, you must show that your marriage has broken down. There are three possible ways to prove this, and one of them requires you and your ex to be living “separate and apart” for at least one year. This arrangement must begin on some ascertainable date. This legal separation date is important in your subsequent divorce because (among other things) it is a baseline point in the broader calculation that is made in order to divide up your assets.
That being said, it is still possible to live separate and apart in the same home, but you both need to act and live as if you are no longer a couple. This can be tricky, especially if one of you does not want a divorce.
Should you do this?
It depends. Some couples will be okay with this arrangement, but it’s certainly not for everyone. It may be beneficial to decide on a moveout date with your ex so that neither of you are living in this post-breakup purgatory for too long. And, creating some rules and boundaries will help maintain the peace until you can find a place to call your own.
Rules for living with your ex
1. Be civil, but professional
You don’t have to spend evenings on the couch with your ex anymore (and frankly, you probably shouldn’t). But you should still be a considerate housemate. Respect each other’s space, don’t barge into the bathroom if it’s occupied, leave room in the fridge for you ex’s groceries, don’t rummage through their stuff, ask in advance if you know you’ll need the car on the weekend.
2. Decide who sleeps where
This can be an awkward one, but you and your ex must decide if you will continue to share a bed, or if one of you will take the couch.
If you do decide to continue sharing the bed, resist the temptation to “rekindle the flame” as this can make breakups much more difficult, and if you and your partner are married, it can create more uncertainty as to when you started living separate and apart.
3. Create schedules
It might be a good idea to make a few schedules in order to minimize the interactions you have with your ex. For example, plan for the times you intend to cook in the kitchen, write down who cleans what, and if you have kids together, decide who is responsible for taking them to school and extracurricular actives, who is responsible for serving meals, etc.
4. Don’t bring dates home
It sounds a bit obvious, but don’t bring a new romantic partner home. Doing this can be painful and awkward for everyone. If you are comfortable dating at this point, you can let your ex know, but don’t be malicious about it.
5. Have somewhere else to go when you don’t want to go home
There may be days when you simply need a break from seeing your ex. If possible, ask a friend or family member if you can sleep at their place for a night.
If that’s not possible, head to a fitness class after work, see a movie, get lost in a book store, go for a long walk. Give yourself a break when you need it to maintain your mental health and well-being.