Moving in together

Five couples expose the realities of shacking up.

Illustration: Dan Park

The trio

Retail operations specialist and retail sales associate, 24 and 28; Astoria, Queens

Apartment size:
Two bedroom
Together: 2.5 years (living together three months)

Sick of the hour-long trek between her place in Astoria and his in Williamsburg, this pair sought out a home they could share—with her roommate in tow, so they could afford a larger, nicer place. The three already had a pretty good idea of what it would be like to live together. (During the first two years of the relationship, he spent at least one night a week at the girls' apartment.) The couple sometimes clash over standards of cleanliness ("I'm the messier one," she admits, "but he's too neat!"), and they're still trying to perfect a system for notifying one another about when bills are due. Overall, they're both thrilled to know that at the end of the day, they have the other at home.

The fast track

Actor--exercise instructor and actor--architecture-firm assistant, 27 and 34, Soho

Apartment size:
One bedroom
Together: Two years (living together 1.5 years)

If you can tell on the first date that you're going to marry the guy who is taking you out, it isn't long before you start making bold moves. If you're this couple, though, you wait a few months before moving in together, so that you don't appear "imprudent," in her words. Since she'd lived alone for five years, cohabitation took some getting used to—particularly when it came to precisely how to clean the bathroom. Still, they've found that they're able to compromise and adapt. They also believe that moving in together has strengthened their relationship. "It feels like you are sharing a life, instead of just dating," she explains. Moving in together allowed them to get a dog, and on October 15, they got engaged.

The breakup

Waiter-bartender and comic-book-shop general manager, 28 and 29; Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
Apartment size:
One bedroom
Were together:
Four years (lived together 3.5 years)

This former duo's romance blossomed during college sci-fi club meetings, and they moved in together not long after making their coupling official. They found it easy to get along at first, but external factors—lousy roommates, an unreasonable landlord—put strain on the relationship. His nonnegotiable late-night hours, her constant job switching, and his massive comic and toy collections became ongoing problems that were frequently discussed, but never fixed. When they reached the mutual decision to break up, they continued sharing their apartment in an effort to salvage a friendship—and so that he wouldn't be stuck paying for the place alone. Eventually, both realized that they needed some space. She moved out, and they barely maintained contact in the year that followed. The two have become close again in the past two years, and this fall she moved in with him and his current roommates to get out of a bad living situation. Both hoped that the new arrangement would rekindle their romance, but after a month fraught with tension and a difficult job search, she decided to leave. Now they consider themselves "done for good," but remain close.

NEXT: The tentative twosome

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