I broke up with my fiancé over the summer due to a lot of unhealthy behavior on his part (all boiling down to honesty and money—how about that?). He agreed to let me keep the apartment for as long as I needed it, but then he started doing this fun thing where he would enter the apartment without warning. When he refused to give back his key and got aggressive, I knew I had to leave immediately.
I sent an email to my best friends explaining the situation, that I felt unsafe, and that I was moving back in with my parents. I decided that I’d commute back and forth to Boston.
One of my best friends and her wife-to-be was on the phone with me within two hours, asking me to move in with them. There wasn’t talk of rent, or an end date, or responsibilities, or the fact that they were getting married in two weeks. They just said, “We can move you in tonight.”
I love my generous friends to death, but when generosity trumps logic, things can go downhill pretty quickly, so it’s important to think things through a little more. Luckily, my parents instilled in me a crippling high work ethic, guilt complex, and sense of self-reliance. I insisted that my friends and I work out the following issues beforehand:
1. Establish a date that you both agree you should be out by. Mine was three months. I moved out of my apartment right when all the college kids were moving back to school. There was no apartment open for ages so this window was necessary. And even so, I had some budget stuff to work out so I could afford the first and last month’s rent, a deposit, and the monthly rent.
2. Pay some kind of rent. I asked how much, and they gave me a figure that basically covered utilities. I paid more. We all came out winners because it was still absurdly low, I didn’t have to pay anything else—not electric, not internet, not cable, not even food. But I was paying, and I’m sure that negligible amount of money helped them overlook some of my more annoying personality traits.
3. Chores! I think the fact that I washed dishes and made dinner most nights throughout the week made a huge difference. There was no set arrangement for this, but I would not have disagreed if there were. And if I couldn’t have paid rent I would have insisted on this. I speak for (almost) all filthy freeloaders when I say we do feel guilty, and we would welcome a work-for-shelter arrangement.
It all worked out in the end. I stayed with my friends for 110 days. I found an apartment with a roommate for a bit more than what my half was with my ex. My friends were 80 percent happy and 20 percent sad to see me go, and I felt the same way, but we’re still very close. They won an always available and very experienced dog/house sitter out of the deal. And sometimes before blizzards hit, I will go over, make them dinner, and sleep in my old room. Just for old times’ sake.
Liz Jordan maintains a blog about those months at htgo.tumblr.com.