by Chiara Atik for HowAboutWe
Last week, the New York Timespublished an article on how couples in New York often live together to save money on rent. (And how this, in the case of breakups, leads to complications.)
But some attached (and broke) New Yorkers have gone to even more extreme lengths in order to cohabitate and save money: living with another couple. Because why divide the rent by two when you can divide by four?
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Though the idea of being in a relationship and sharing quarters with another romantic duo might seem stifling to some, rising rents are forcing more and more couples to cohabitate with each other - and for the most part, the situation seems to work out just fine.
In fact, living with another couple can be a useful first step in the path toward full cohabitation. Julie and Mike, 25 and 26, have been dating since college, but when they decided to move in together last month, they signed a lease in Brooklyn with another couple. "Mainly for financial reasons," Julie says, "but also because just the two of us right away getting out own place was a little scary and serious."
Signing a lease with another couple affords all the benefits of living with a significant other - sharing a home, saving on expenses, taking the next step in the relationship - while still maintaining the same sense of fun and shared responsibility that comes with having multiple roommates. You live with your significant other - but have two other roommates, too. In terms of a relationship, the pressure might not be off -but at least it's at a low simmer.
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"Most of the time it's lovely to come back home to my friends and we listen to records, play cards, drink beer, and compost which is great. And we're joining a CSA."
Brooke, 27, had been dating her boyfriend for a few years when they also decided to look for a place in Bushwick with his best friends, another couple.
"My dude had already roomed with them at their old apartment, and we decided to try and find a two-bedroom in our neighborhood and split the rent by four because we figured we would find some huge space," she explains. "We were already friends and we all are pretty chill people, so we figured our roommate styles were compatible."
Find a huge space they did, and for the next few years, the two couples lived together, threw parties, cooked big dinners, and generally cohabitated in perfect harmony. The four roommates enjoyed being social with one another - but respected each other's privacy.
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"Usually if we got the sense the other couple was, like, having some time, we would go to a bar in the area or like go to another part of the apartment…We never really talked about it with them, it was sort of unspoken natural order."
Though of course, when two loved-up couples are sharing one space, the PDA is inevitably bound to be a little much at times, the unspoken "natural order" a little too muted.
"I remember one night the other couple made themselves a romantic dinner and had this date night in the kitchen while we were like, six feet away watching TV," says Erica, 30, who lived with her boyfriend and another couple for a brief period of time in San Francisco. "They were literally eating steak and splitting a bottle of wine. There might have even been a candle on the table?"
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It might sound nightmarish, but who better equipped to deal with the gross PDA of a couple than another couple?
"They do this thing where they kiss silently for long drawn out periods and neither of their heads move. That's kind of gross and weird to me," confesses Mike. But! "I'm sure my girlfriend and I do weird stuff they think is gross too. But I don't care. And they can do their gross thing, it's fine."
Of course, as with any living situation, minor roommate issues - squabbles over dishes and household duties - persist. But these annoyances are minor in comparison to some of the other benefits a couple might accrue from living with and observing another relationship.
"The other couple worked together more often (as they are business owners) and had been together longer, so watching how they worked was - is this cheesy? - almost inspiring in a way. Because they had such a genuinely great relationship, they sort of taught my guy and I how to move through the beginning of living together," Brooke explains.
And does sharing a space with another couple delay or inhibit the progression of a relationship? Not quite, according to Brooke's experience.
"Both couples got engaged during our tenure of living there, which is a good sign."