It was a mid-August morning in 2014 and Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” was playing through my AUX chord as my boyfriend, Evan, and I made a pitstop into a PNC Bank in New Jersey. The purpose of this trip to the bank was to withdrawal $600 from my bank account. A student bank account that at the time had seen a lot more fast food transactions that year than actual paycheck deposits. That $600 would be the price for me to make one of my first true steps into adulthood- to move into my own place. Of course that was just my part of the security deposit and first month’s rent. Evan would contribute $600 of his own. Of course I was not counting the additional $200 we would spend that day in security deposits setting up electric, gas, and Comcast accounts in each other’s names.
“If that’s what it’s all about
Mama if that’s movin’ up
Then I’m movin’ out
I’m movin’ out.”
I jokingly sang the chorus loudly as we pulled out of the bank parking lot and began to make our way down to the great state of Delaware. I glanced back at the backseat of my Honda Accord that was filled to the brim with household items (half of which we would end up rarely using). This was it. We were really doing this. That night I would be going to sleep in a place that I could call ours.
Now some people may think, “why so young?”. And they’re right, we were pretty young. The day we signed the lease to our first apartment, I was 20 and Evan was 19. The move in came only two weeks before the start of a new semester and only a year-and-a-half into dating. However, the idea of moving in together didn’t seem entirely brand new since I had lived up in Connecticut with Evan and his family for two summers already. Still, we were a young couple that was going to learn a whole lot about adulthood in that first year of living together.
“So you sign here. And you initial here. Now I need you to date and initial this,” the woman at the realtor’s office quickly told us as she walked us through the thick white packet of paper which would be known as our very first lease. A wordy contract that basically translated into “no matter how much you might get on each other’s nerves in the next 12 months, you are legally agreeing to stay under the same [very small] roof together.” My hands started to get clammy. Still, I was a 20-year-old who was moving in with the love of her life so I quickly signed the documents with my nicest and neatest signature. We were then sent on what felt like a scavenger hunt, to get our electric, water, and gas turned on immediately. Finally, we returned to the realtor’s office and were given the keys to our apartment. Did I mention that this was the FIRST time we had ever seen this apartment in person? Yup, we signed a lease without ever taking a tour of the building. Haha you live and you learn, right?
We climbed the rickety stairs up to the third floor of an old but beautiful Victorian style building. I could hear a guy on the second floor loudly cursing out someone on the phone as we unlocked our front door. Little did I know he would be just one of the many “interesting” neighbors we would come into contact within that building. When we walked into our one-bedroom apartment I silently inspected each room. This probably took about three minutes for me to do considering the size of the place.
It certainly wasn’t the type of apartment Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City would’ve live in, but it was a great size for two college kids just starting out and on a serious budget. There was a shower stall instead of a bathtub, so I quickly came to the realization that I would no longer have the luxury of comfortably shaving my legs for the next 12 months. But besides a few little “cons”, it was ours and I was proud of us. I no longer had to live out of a suitcase when I came home to New Jersey at the end of every semester. My car no longer needed to constantly have Rubbermaid containers in the trunk that contained personal possessions that only had a place to be hung up 9 months out of the year. I was home. And maybe it didn’t feel exactly like home in that moment (no really…ask Evan, I cried for two days straight because I was so homesick.), but this was something that I could call my own and a place that I didn’t have pack up at the end of every season.
As I write this, it’s crazy to think that this will be our FOURTH lease together this August. Today (luckily) we’re in a much more spacious and homier apartment, but I truly do believe that we made the right decision moving into that tiny shoebox apartment that summer. It definitely wasn’t easy, but we grew both as adults and as a couple. Financially moving in together was also a smart decision when it came to the price of college. Sure we had to pay rent those summers where we went home to see our families, but we also didn’t have to take out thousands of dollars in loans to live on campus. We certainly didn’t have the nicest furniture (shout out to Walmart) and for that first year we actually slept on a mattress and used plastic bins as dressers. I’ll never forget that first night in the apartment. Ev and I joked as we laid on a borrowed air mattress about how one day we could hold it over our future children’s heads that at one point in our lives we had to sleep in the living room because we didn’t have a bed or central air conditioning.
Our living situation wasn’t glamourous or even ideal, but we made it work. And as we started making more money, we were able to move into a bigger place and buy nicer things. Rest assured, we now have a bed!
As for us as a couple, I can’t imagine what exactly the dynamic of our relationship would be like today had we not moved in together. I guess to be honest I spent that first year or two waiting for that dreadful moment that people had warned me about- where one day we would get sick of each other and I’d realize we had made a horrible decision moving in together. To my surprise, that never happened. Living together has actually made a lot of things easier. So for anyone who is currently debating whether or not to move in with a significant other, my advice to you is to do what you feel is right. Every couple is different. You know yourself and your relationship better than any Cosmopolitan article or relative’s opinion. Moving in together definitely changes things, but it’s up to you and your partner whether those changes will be positive or negative.