Lisa and Bryan Are Moving in Together, But Where and Why?

Lisa and Bryan are moving in together and, against everyone’s better judgment, are documenting it on the internet. I’m mediating so it isn’t totally them just publishing their personal emails to each other—they’re publishing their personal emails to ME. Lisa’s terrible with money and Bryan is great with money. They are shooting for a February move-in date, but first they have to find a place.

SUBJECT: (no subject)

Are you guys still moving in together or have you come to your senses? Also how did you make this decision in the first place?

SUBJECT: Re: (no subject)

Bryan and I first decided to live together one very drunken night in August when our relationship was a very mature four months old. At a wedding after party in San Luis Obispo after countless bottles of wine, a few glasses of scotch and a shameful amount of Jagermeister shots, Bryan asked me to move in. Knowing it was too soon, I told him I was not about to move in with someone unless I knew were … ya know… moving forward in the relationship at some point. He said, “Are you talking about marriage? Oh, don’t worry, I’m going to marry you.” After hours of watching bridesmaids walk down the aisle and father-daughter dancing, that was all it took for me. 

Over the next few days we started discussing the details—the wheres and whats and hows. We came up with a dream apartment with a dream price tag:
2 bedrooms
2 bathrooms
Hardwood floors
Central Air
Laundry in the unit
Some sort of yard and/or patio
A stable for the pony I’m going to get

And we decided all that was fairly worth about $2000/month. Assuming we’d split that evenly, that seemed doable to me. I am currently paying about $800/month to live in a spacious 3-bedroom in West Hollywood, with roommates. What’s a couple hundred more a month? Especially for all those amenities. Done and done.

That was… until we started looking. By the looks of Craigslist and some other website rental agencies, we might have been aiming a bit too high. We live in Los Angeles. Sure, there are neighborhoods where a $2000 2-bedroom exists, but I’m not willing to start carrying a gun to get the mail (or live in the valley). And that’s when the financial shame spiral hit.

I remembered—for the first time in this process—that I am in debt and moving costs money. The last month’s rent, the security deposit, the movers. Where is that money going to come from?? It started seeming really irresponsible to throw away an extra $2,400 a year. That’s $2,400 that could go toward that debt. $2,400 that could go to a few weekend getaways a year. $2,400 for all that pony maintenance.

And thus started my semi-annual financial breakdown. What fantastic timing! You know, that time every few months when I realize I need to be making at least $200,000 a year to live the life I want to live (and am irresponsibly already living). Luckily, this time when my mind started spinning to the point of nausea, I was able to turn to my friend, partner, and future roommate, Bryan, to help me off the ledge.

I’m really lucky that even though Bryan doesn’t have my financial woes, he’s still able to sympathize with money freakouts. He agreed that there is no reason for us to spend more than we’re paying now. We decided to downsize our expectations. We can live in one bedroom, right? We can deal with doing our laundry in some communal space like we do now. We can get more window fans and do dishes by hand if need be. We can let the pony sleep in the bathtub.

We’re now looking for something in the $1600-$1800 range. We’re not looking in my neighborhood, which, unless you get in to a rent controlled place like mine, is pretty pricey. Our dream home is looking less like a fantasy, but we’ll both be there, right? So how can it be bad? LOVE MAKES PEOPLE SETTLE FOR LESSER THINGS!!

Plus, at a one-year-old’s birthday party this weekend Bryan promised to build me a house some day. Other people’s momentous events make him really romantic and generous. I can’t wait to go to our first funeral together.

SUBJECT: Re: Re: (no subject)

“Oh don’t worry, I’m going to marry you” !?!??!?!?!
That’s not real life. That’s movie dialogue. I’m very proud of you for putting off moving in together immediately. Nobody is sane in the first few months of a relationship, and I’m glad you recognized it.


Today I was in traffic for 80 minutes. It usually takes 20 to get to work. I finally got to the intersection where the problem was stemming—it was a huge water main break at the corner of Bryan’s block. So my first instinct was to call Bryan and tell him so he could take another route. And what did he say? “Oh, I saw it when I walked out my apartment so I took the freeway” AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO TELL ME???????????????

So I realize we need to budget for an larger couch for him to sleep on some nights.


You didn’t CC Bryan on this, I noticed.


No I can’t wait until it goes up and he sees how mad I am at him.

SUBJECT:  Re: Re: Re: DEALBREAKER!?!?!?!?!?

Oh jesus christ this experiment is already going awry. Forward this to your boyfriend before it goes on the internet.


Lisa and I can be easily distracted by marathons of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet, so knowing we needed something to write about forced us to start having the conversations we needed to have—well, that and Lisa’s semi-annual financial breakdown.

I admit I did ask Lisa to move in while under the influence of a few adult beverages, but love was in the air, we were at a wedding for God’s sake. They say drunk words are sober truths and that is definitely the case here. I had been thinking about asking Lisa to move in with me for a little while, but I knew it was quick and was afraid that it would scare her, so it took a little liquid courage to actually ask.

As Lisa mentioned, we had our first big discussion, which was about managing expectations. I have been thinking about moving into a bigger place for a while now but haven’t because I didn’t want to increase my monthly expenses. All of sudden when we started talking about moving in together I was all for spending more a month, the opposite of what I thought would happen if I ever lived with someone.

When we talked, we realized that while a few hundred more a month than we pay now doesn’t seem like a lot, that money could easily pay for vacations (I am currently working on taking Lisa to Paris next year – shhhhhh….), etc. An extra bedroom would be nice but sacrificing travel and fun for a room that will be empty most of the time doesn’t make sense. We’re going to have to compromise on a few things from our wish list, like making the pony sleep in the bathtub, but we will get those things as we move into better places over the years.

We also talked about the upfront costs that come with moving. First and last months’ rent, security, movers, etc. (Aren’t we too old to ask our friends to help us move?) That all adds up quickly. Lisa is concerned about where the money to cover these costs will come from. Fortunately, I’m currently in a financial situation that would allow me to cover most of the moving costs. I was hesitant though, to offer to take care of these costs because Lisa and I are both independent people, and it has taken awhile for her to accept me just paying for dinner when we go out. I made the offer and as expected Lisa declined—she indeed wants to contribute evenly.

This has been the hardest part for me because I respect Lisa and her wanting this to be an even partnership, but I was also raised watching my father provide for my family and me and I just want to do the same. I know money’s tighter for her than me right now, and I’d rather her not put herself in more debt to cover these costs when I have the ability to help. While she feels like me paying for these costs indebts her to me, I disagree—these are cost for starting our life together so these costs are ours. I feel like the money should come from wherever it is available. I foresee a lot more conversations on the topic in the future. We look forward to telling you all about them!

P.S. About the couch…we are not buying a new couch. We have discussed the things we’ll have to buy for the new place and replacing a perfectly good couch is not on that list! Besides, that couch is plenty big and comfortable enough for Lisa me to sleep on.


Lisa and Bryan live in LA. 


43 Comments / Post A Comment

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

Oh, I love this series. Here’s my unsolicited advice:

Lisa, let him help out with moving costs! I totally understand wanting everything to be totally equal, but my mom gave me some really great advice about when people offer to help you: let them do it and be gracious.

@aeroaeroaero Yes! I know there’s a lot tied up with money and gender and relationships that’s tough (for me) to navigate, but I think that another way to look at “equal contribution” is sort of “equal hardship.” So if you’re contributing equally to the rent, but one person gets to go clothes shopping every weekend and the other is wearing socks that are literally falling apart, that’s not very equal.

Also, letting people help you can be a kind of generosity (although again, it gets more complicated with relationships and gender and all that mess).

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@SarcasticFringehead Exactly! I wanted to touch more on the gender part of this, but I really didn’t want to make this all about ME, because I have no idea what’s going on with this couple.

Your point about allowing to people to help AS BEING GENEROUS is just so totally true. It sounds like a huge part of why Bryan wants to help out so much. You are very wise, SarcasticFringehead.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@aeroaeroaero I must jump in and agree! And once again (on the Billfold) compare marriage (or in this case, partnership!) to mini-socialism!

@aeroaeroaero Heh, I can’t take credit for the second point (nor am I very good at…actually doing it. But thanks!

theotherginger (#1,304)

@Lauren oh Lauren, you read my mind.

readyornot (#816)

this whole idea (by which i mean both the moving in together AND documenting it publicly) is great/terrible. but jesus christ i want to take them under my wing and guide them through the process. give them a list of questions they have to calmly, rationally answer together. the same ones my husband and i went through when we took these steps a few years ago. i think it would probably take away the humanity and thrill of reading, though. that water main break story! amazing.

and also: when we first moved to LA together (2010) we lived in a two bedroom place, one of four units in a big ol’ house, with dishwasher and laundry, for $1650/month. it was in Echo Park, no guns required! but sometimes drunks were sleeping it off on our block at 1pm. and also may not be convenient to lisa’s and bryan’s jobs. we moved to somewhere more convenient to my job, also new place is like twice as big, and it’s more expensive.

@readyornot send your questions to me! i will make them answer them!

deepomega (#22)

@readyornot Yes, agree with all your LA points. Live in Echo Park, or Palms, depending on where your careers are. Maybe northern Mar Vista if they work west of the 405. (Judging by the water main/freeway thing, my guess is they’re already in the Echo Park region.) I’m in a two bedroom, two bath, hardwood floors, big-ass windows place for 1700/month, in the safest neighborhood I’ve ever lived in. No yard tho!

sea ermine (#122)

@readyornot um, can you email your list of question to me? I’m moving in with my boyfriend in december and want to make sure I’ve talked over everything important with him. my email is seaermine at gmail dot com

readyornot (#816)

@deepomega ohhhh I didn’t even put it together that it was the thing that happened on Cahuenga. But she says she lives in West Hollywood. So maybe she works somewhere around Silver Lake. @Logan @seaermine I will send them to you but now I’m wondering whether it’s making too big a deal out of it? Just move in together, you’ll be fine, it’s not so scary.

@readyornot Oh man. I’m trying so hard to not respond. Reading what people have to say about our relationship is so much funner from behind a curtain, but I can’t help but respond to this. I work in the Toluca Lake area, so I take the Cahuenga pass up to Barham. Good detective work, gumshoes!

readyornot (#816)

@Kara M & Lisa L@twitter Oh Lisa! You can hide behind your curtain! I totally would. Here’s what I have to say about your relationship: you guys sound pretty level-headed, self-aware (especially about your differences), and willing to communicate, with an occasional assist from adult beverages and Logan’s intervention. I think you krazy kids are gonna make it! And I can’t wait to see it unfold.

Mike Dang (#2)

The first thing I wanted to tell Lisa and Bryan to do was to downsize their apartment hunt to a 1-Bedroom to help keep their budget in check, and I’m so glad they figured that out on their own in the process.

oiseau (#1,830)

I can relate so much, but I am the Brian and my boyfriend’s the Lisa. And we already live together.

oiseau (#1,830)

@oiseau … I feel like ‘being good with money’ is stereotyped along the gender line so sometimes I feel weird being the responsible one because I’m a woman.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@oiseau Don’t feel weird! I think men and women both have their weird things about money. For instance, Brian feels pressure to make enough money to “provide” for Lisa, perhaps to the expense of his own financial or emotional well-being somewhere down the line, and you feel “weird” about being responsible, even though that is totally a great thing!

bgprincipessa (#699)

@oiseau There’s also “being good with money” versus plain ol’ “making more money” – not because gender, but because life choices!

oiseau (#1,830)

@bgprincipessa I am both good with $$ and am making more of it, and it seems like whenever anyone is aware of that balance (different from typical gender norms), their first reaction is some variety of ‘hmmm why are you even with him if he’s so poor/not providing for you/you will probably always make more than him, dump him now before you regret it later’. Which is weird and insulting because that is not the reaction people have if the genders are reversed, but after you hear it so much it starts to eat at you a little? Bf always makes enough to pull his own weight, too, so it’s not like he’s a leech or lout or layabout. jeez

theotherginger (#1,304)

@oiseau being a leech does not have to do with money, but more with being a juicebox. gender and money, why are you so complicated?

@oiseau Same here. Same here. Me = Brian, him, Lisa.

To be honest, I don’t have a huge problem with others’ perceptions, but sometimes I do wish our incomes were more equal.

I just wanted to express my appreciation for the pony considerations.

eagerber (#1,958)

@polka dots vs stripes one of the tags for this post is “a stable for the pony i’m going to get” — haha!

@eagerber I’ve been promised a pony (and jet, actually) from my aunts for decades, I didn’t realize I should be considering his/her housing situation when I pick out apartments with my boyfriend! I have to remember to ask for a pony that fits in the tub…

janestreet (#1,123)

obsessed with this. we need a picture though. i need to know how adorable and cute you two are in a picture to pair with how adorable and cute you are in emails. seriously, i cannot focus until i know that bryan is six feet tall and lisa has curly hair. OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND? the internet need to know, guys.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@janestreet Amen amen amen amen. Truer words.

honey cowl (#1,510)

Also you guys, my boyfriend and I, though we have been together for nigh on 3 years now, and our relationship will lead to marriage, have yet to move in together. Why? Because you really can’t UN-move in together. So we are waiting it out and giving ourselves so much more time to ask these questions. Meanwhile all of our friends who moved in together right after college are breaking up left and right. JUST SAYIN.

LDW@twitter (#1,216)

Being financially equal in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean splitting everything 50/50. It can mean putting an equitable proportion of your income towards shared expenses. If Lisa and Bryan agree that they should each be putting, say, 1/3 of their respective incomes towards rent maybe that might work

OllyOlly (#669)

I like to think of fairness in money pooling situations as creating an equal financial burden on each person. Last year I had a full time job, but my boyfriend was still in school. We figured out what he could afford for rent (about $300 without having to take out more loans), then what I could ($1,100) and found a place within that budget. We both shared in the prize (?) of living together and the porportinal burden on our budgets.

Now we can pay the same. Which is great, but I don’t view our first year as him oweing me anything. It was was the most fair in my eyes.

But now with two full time salaries, we also are debating the “We can afford something nicer, but is that money worth it?” To upgrade in DC I’d probably be looking at giving up a $1,400 a month apartment for an $1,800-$2,000. And I also views all opportunity costs in spending more on rent as missed opportunities for vacation!!

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

@OllyOlly Yes, I really like this approach also – it’s what my now-wife and I did when we moved in together, and I think it was successful.

Also, you’re never too old to ask friends to help you move. I love helping friends move! The moving of heavy things sucks, but the pizza and beer and hanging out is always great.

deepomega (#22)

Ditch the central air and the yard, and all of that is definitely possible! And please, please, please do not generalize about neighborhood safety based on neighborhood appearance/cost. Move to Palms.

Blondsak (#2,299)

Oh goodness. I hope the best for them of course, but I also hope these entertaining e-mails will still continue to be published after they move in together and the petty spats/serious fights/”This was a big mistake” moments increase tenfold. That always happens to a degree when you move in with an SO, but based on this inaugural post’s characterizations + the fact that they have dated for such a short time, I foresee some extremely hilarious fireworks ensuing between these two.

Maybe I’m a cynic, but if someone told me “I am going to marry you,” in those words, after a few months, without asking how I felt about the situation, I would not think that was romantic. I would think it was creepy and probably run away. My now-fiancé told me, *after* we had the conversation where we decided to get married, that after the first night we spent together, he told his friend that he was going to marry me. I told him that I was really glad he hadn’t told *me* that at the time, because if he had, it definitely never would have gotten to that point.

EM (#1,012)

@mirror_father_mirror Have you been scarred by a crazy ex-boyfriend? I ask because I was scarred by a crazy ex-boyfriend, and would now recognize “excessive early devotion” as a warning sign of future batshit insanty, whereas when I was 19 I just thought it was romantic. Hopefully you were just sensible from an early age though!

Also I don’t know the ages of these two, but I think the four-month declaration of devotion might be reasonable if it is between two mature adults who know themselves, their goals, and their priorities well. I had a similar gut reaction but I am a frosty, jaded cynic.

Thuja (#2,542)

@Michelle I had a crazy propose to me when we were really young too. I thought is was super romantic until I realized he proposed to just about every girlfriend he ever had. Still does!

@Michelle If anything, it was the opposite–I spent most of my late teens and early-to-mid-twenties in the kind of (frankly, fucked-up) relationships that, even after years of romantic and sexual entanglements, were never *called* relationships. So someone who wanted to call me his girlfriend freaked me out.

(I feel like this had something to do with coming of age in NYC, where people don’t really date?)

ETA: It also creeps me out a little when it seems like a one-way conversation, where the guy decides he wants to marry the girl, who it is just assumed will want to marry him, cause you know, chicks just wanna get married. I’m not saying the couple in the post are like this, there’s just something about the way it was phrased that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@mirror_father_mirror yeah, it takes consent and what the woman actually wants completely out of the equation. which reminds me of a creepy ex.

Thuja (#2,542)

As for laundry, I would like to introduce you to the love of my life the portable washing machine. The communal laundry in my building is awful. One load to wash and dry is 3 bucks and only has ONE WASHER for the whole building. And having to go to the laundromat just means I’ll never do laundry. Lo the portable washing machine. It hooks up to my sink! I have to do lots of little loads and air dry (how European) but I have to schlep no laundry up or down any flights of stairs. The one I have is a Haier brand and goes on sale all the time. You gotta load it evenly though or it will be super noisy

theotherginger (#1,304)

@Thuja whoa. I would have loved this in my old place.

Megano! (#124)

Hahaha, so when I saw their list of wants for their new apartment, is it bad that I cackled? Like, cackled a lot?

navigateher (#555)

This is a fun series! Moving in together really seems to be a bigger deal in there than it is in here. In here everyone’s doing it. Couples that have been dating for a year with no plans to move in together are being treated as curious exceptions, and many move in together much, much sooner. After two years people are seriously starting to wonder what’s wrong with them. It’s because we don’t in general do the roommate thing. People don’t live with strangers pretty much ever, unless it’s a student housing situation, and even those are being converted as “family apartments”.

cmcm (#267)

I can very much relate to this series because my boyfriend and I are also about to (very early, probably too early) move in together.
It’s been really interesting taking a survey of family/friends about what they think of us doing it (we’re only a few months into the relationship, but I’m moving to his city for my PhD and due to financial circumstances and the fact I’ll still be travelling to my old city half the week for work, NOT moving in together seems mental to me, especially because boyfriend owns his house).
About half of the people I’ve asked have been like YOU WILL RUIN EVERYTHING and the other half have been like, meh I don’t see why not, you’re both grown-ups and financially it would be irresponsible to not live together.
Can’t wait for more of your updates! I need advice!

Comments are closed!