Best Friends and Roommates for 18 Years

They have no children, no linear career histories, no readily disposable savings. The four men, all heterosexual, approaching 40 and never married, have lived together for 18 years, give or take a revolving guest roommate, cohabitating in spaces like an East Village walk-up, a Chelsea loft and, now, a converted office space in Queens.

Their latest home, which they have nicknamed Fortress Astoria, takes up the second and third floors of a slate gray concrete block building with floor-to-ceiling windows on 31st Street. The setup is ideal for four bachelors. Bedrooms do not share common walls, and there are communal spaces both upstairs (huge television, sofa) and down (kitchen). There is a lovely garden out back tended by Mr. Theerakulstit.

I adore this story about four 39-year-old men who met at NYU, became best friends, and have lived together for nearly two decades. Some of you may read this story and think that this is a classic “failure to launch” situation—men who refuse or are unable to settle down, move in with their girlfriends, or pick a solid career path. This is a valid opinion!

I believe that we each take different paths in life, and the correct path to take is the one that makes you happy and healthy, and makes you true to who you are. We do not all want marriage. We do not all want children, or 9-to-5 jobs, or to live the lives that other people expect us to live. Here are four men who have found a way to live together for 18 years, remain best friends, and form their own little family. I wish them happiness and a life without regrets.

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36 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

You know what? That sounds pretty great. I wish I could live with one other person that long, much less 3!

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Megano! No kidding. How many marriages last as long as these guys have been together? And in light of that, why is marriage the default Official Right Option for Everyone?

rambutan (#796)

@Megano! @WaityKatie I feel like we’ve discussed this on the Hairpin before, but it sounds a lot like a Boston Marriage. I’ve been pushing this article for years: http://www.msmagazine.com/june01/marriage.html

wearitcounts (#772)

“I believe that we each take different paths in life, and the correct path to take is the one that makes you happy and healthy, and makes you true to who you are. We do not all want marriage. We do not all want children, or 9-to-5 jobs, or to live the lives that other people expect us to live.” THIS. yesyesyesyesYESYES SO MUCH THIS.

cherrispryte (#19)

@wearitcounts SERIOUSLY. Mike Dang is truly the best.

wearitcounts (#772)

@cherrispryte BEST.

Never trust a man (nor group of men) that has a nickname for his place of residence.

And just reading “roommates for 18 years” makes me shudder.

City_Dater (#565)

@Reginal T. Squirge

I know one of these guys through a mutual friend — he is intelligent, talented, and charming.
If living with three other guys in a giant apartment with a silly (ironically bestowed) nickname has had anything to do with making him the man he is today, there are a whole lot of dull assholes who should probably try it.

Hold while I think of something cool and witty but totally not-gay to name my boss pad.

I’ll be a real man someday!

Dancercise (#94)

When does Zooey move in?

Slutface (#53)

I’m 32 and when my lease is up next year I’m considering looking for a roommate. I can barely afford the rent on my studio and getting a roommate would be a big help to me financially. I’m hesitant though because I’m afraid people will judge me for being a 32 year old woman with a roommate. My only other option would be to try to talk my boyfriend into moving in together, but I don’t want to make that decision just to save money because I don’t think we’re ready for it. I know 32 isn’t 39, but it’s articles like this that make me think I’d be a loser to have a roommate in my 30′s.

Nick (#1,548)

@Slutface At 32 you are only too old for one thing: to still care about people who judge you for having a roommate or not. I say go for it.

wearitcounts (#772)

@Slutface roommates are great! they enable you to live better and save more money. and i totally agree with nick. who cares what other people think?

Slutface (#53)

@Nick Yeah, I normally don’t, but this one thing really has me stressed for some reason. Thanks :)

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

@Slutface I have to agree completely with @wearitcounts & @Nick. You should not be afraid to live with people. They make things a lot less lonely and save you bundles of money. I live with three other people and am very quickly approaching my 30s. I have no problem admitting it and if someone wants to judge me for it, fuck ‘em. I’ll have paid off most of my debt while they’re scrounging pennies so they can live alone and be “socially acceptable.” Bah! I say, find yourself a roomie!

LizF (#1,399)

@Slutface All of my roommates are in their mid 30s and have just made different choices than marriage or babies that make them happy and they like to live this way. Really there should be stigma only for being old before your time and boring.

@Slutface I’m curious where you live right now that this is an issue? I’m in my late 20s, and most of my friends are older than me. I have lived my whole adult life in New York and DC, and I literally do not know a single person who does not have roommates. (Except for those who live with significant others. I know multiple people who live with significant others *and* roommates!)

EM (#1,012)

This is super cute. And nice to see the comments on the article are mostly supportive. Given that everyone is pretty accepting of the decline of early marriage & child-rearing, and more variation in family structures, this seems like a pretty natural piece of the contemporary social landscape. Living alone is great if you like living alone; otherwise what’s the point of paying more money and shouldering all the household responsibilities just to be able to say you are living like a grown-up?

deepomega (#22)

Less weirded out by the roommate situation than by “no savings.” You don’t need consistent work to save money, especially when you’ve got 4 roommates.

@deepomega The no savings is what stood out to me as well. If I was saving money by living with roommates I’d want to actually be, y’know, saving money.

(Although $900/month still sounds like a lot to me, I’m assuming this is because I do not live in New York)

deepomega (#22)

@redheaded&crazy Let me put it this way. I know someone who made ~20,000/year and lived alone in an 850/month studio and still put away 5,000 in savings every year. So that’s not an excuse.

@deepomega Well it sounds like they used the “economic freedom” of living with roommates to pursue pet projects. Which is fine, I suppose. I’m just more of a mind with your friend re: prioritizing saving. That is damn good budgeting though!

cherrispryte (#19)

@deepomega Is that someone available for life advice?

deepomega (#22)

@cherrispryte Probably! There’s, like, 50/50 odds that she’ll show up on this thread.

synchronia (#185)

@cherrispryte Hi! Um basically I guess my advice is to become terrified enough of debt/emergencies/asking-parents-for-anything to keep yourself from spending money? I dunno. (Also it was really more like $300/month I was saving out of a $1600/month take-home.)

Basically at that point (early grad school) I was keeping my entertainment/eating out budget to $20/week, groceries $30-$40/week, and maybe another $20/week to save up for buying clothes/things, which I know is kind of crazy. Probably the hardest parts were not having a lot of money for Being-A-Girl stuff and having to organize most of my social life around lunches on campus where I could BYO. Oh but to be fair deepomega was buying me a lot of drinks!

Anyway I really don’t think everyone needs to prioritize saving like that, but I loved the peace of mind I got from having my nest egg.

As a romantically disinclined person who left to her own devices can easily become a lonely shutin, that sounds ideal to me. I don’t understand why it should be taboo for people in their thirties to cohabitate. As the economy plummets around us and social norms clearly show their obsolescence, my married friends are rooming with other couples or single friends. Why should we live alone or in little prepackaged units when all we really want is a community? Geez. Found family 4 lyfe.

genkiliz (#683)

I love this article! And I don’t think it’s weird at all that they should live together. @slutface – My roommate and I have lived together for almost 8 years now and it’s great. Definitely not a loser thing at all. It’s great to have a good friend to share your space and time with, when you are at home, and the consistency of a living with the same person is priceless. It helps we are both super busy and rarely home so we don’t overlap too much but still. Randoms you meet on Craigslist may be crazy, and boys may come and go, but if you have a solid roommate/good friend to live with, having a roomie is a great, great thing. You’re never lonely if you have a night in, and crazy shenanigans can happen at 2am on the couch watching bad infomercials. Who knows when we will get married/move in with our boys, and when that day comes I’m sure it will be all kinds of bittersweet, but choosing my long-term roomie was definitely one of the top 5 awesomely wonderful decisions of my life.

wearitcounts (#772)

@genkiliz i totally agree. i lucked out and have found two awesome long-term roommates on craigslist (lived with one for three lovely years, and am heading into year two with my current roommate), but the sentiment is the same–we’re there for those late-night talks and shenanigans, but we are also two busy adults with separate social lives, so living together enables us to have a much bigger and more fun space to share and sometimes have to ourselves! i really enjoy it and feel no pressure to rush to live alone.

kiloriley (#1,816)

Isn’t this basically the beginning of everyone’s favorite 1987 film, Three Men and A Baby?

Via Wikipedia: “Architect Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), cartoonist Michael Kellam (Steve Guttenberg) and actor Jack Holden (Ted Danson) are happy living their lives as bachelors in their lofty New York City apartment. They all have different girlfriends, successful jobs and a carefree and somewhat hedonistic lifestyle.”

alpacasloth (#108)

@kiloriley Premiering in 2013: Four Men and a Compost Bin.

melis (#42)

I RAN DOWN HERE TO SAY THIS

melis (#42)

Ohh my God you guys if we are all very very careful and also if someone drops off a baby at that apartment we could get a real-life 4 Men and & Baby so STAY COOL EVERYONE oh god this is really happening

Megano! (#124)

@melis OMG YES. Anyone have a spare baby lying around?

selenana (#673)

This reminds me of an article for last year, remember this?
All the single ladies
Also the concept of cohousing.

His subject is good, long while I find this topic and I think it is here, world population day

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