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Divorce Resources for Women

Living Separately While Married: Where do I Live?

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WHERE TO LIVE WHILE YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE ARE SEPARATED?  

If you are considering a divorce in North Carolina then you probably already know that you must be separated for one year before you can file for Absolute Divorce. This means you may need to go house hunting for a short-term rental which only adds more stress. Fortunately, there are some very important steps you can take during the separation period that can make this transition a bit less painful. On the other hand, if you are not careful, there are some mistakes that can only make things worse. Let’s discuss the dos and don’ts of housing for your separation period.

DO

Give yourself some financial cushioning

If you haven’t moved out yet then it’s the perfect time to start preparing for the move. Whether you buy a new house or rent a modest apartment, you will need a safety net to cover the cost of rent and living expenses during the separation period. We’ve mentioned a cash stash before and advise you read up on how to best maintain one. Many apartments require a deposit as well as first and last month’s rent upfront. Start saving now before you move out if possible.

Consider the factors most important to you in your rental property/new home

Budget, comfort, and location are three essential factors in deciding where you want to live. This is true for any house hunter, but when you’re juggling the tasks of everyday life with the stress of divorce, it becomes all the more necessary. Having a secure home that meets your needs can be the foundation upon which you build an effective strategy for staying calm and collected in light of the circumstances.

  • Budget: Your budget is likely the most restrictive factor, and should be assessed first. Remember to live within your means, and determine what you can afford based solely on what you earn.
  • Comfort: This depends on your lifestyle and preference, and is subject to the amount you reasonably conclude you can afford budget wise. Keep in mind if you intend to buy a home after settling the divorce then the rental is only temporary. You may be able to accept a slight compromise on comfort if it meets your needs budget and location wise. However if you have kids, you should consider their comfort in this new house. It is important to have a safe and welcoming space for them. Even if you just get an apartment for the one year period, giving your kids dedicated spaces (perhaps a second room with bunk beds) will provide them a necessary level of comfort as they adjust to the new parental dynamic.
  • Location: You will of course want something convenient for work, but you should also consider the proximity to your kids and their school(s). This will make the transition from one to two homes a bit easier for your children.

Know your endgame

You may be focused on finding an affordable and comfortable short term rental but you should also be considering the long term at the same time. Knowing where you want to end up will influence the rental you get, the terms you agree to, and your overall level of contentment or anxiety during this transitional period. You should pay close attention to the lease agreement for your new rental. Some places offer month-to-month while others require a year commitment. Depending on the circumstances of your marriage, you may know the separation is permanent and a year lease is a safe bet. However, if divorce is not the endgame, and the separation is part of a solution to marital problems, the month-to-month terms may suit you better.

That being said, if divorce is the plan and you know the area in which you intend to buy a new home after the divorce, there is no harm in looking for a new permanent home. If you have the time and feel comfortable, reaching out to a local realtor, researching the community, and even attending open houses will provide you with valuable insight on the market and a leg-up when you do make the big purchase.

DON’T

Rush to buy a house

The common misconception that renting is just throwing away money might motivate you to take out a mortgage right away, but don’t. Buying a house is a big decision with lasting effects, and divorce is a time of uncertainty and stress. You may not be in the best state of mind to ascertain what you want and need in a home right now and for the next 10 to 30 years. Renting is not all bad. You may not be building equity but you are avoiding the tax burdens, maintenance, and permanence that come with home owning. You will be glad you didn’t rush into a new home during the divorce proceedings. Consider it one less stressor.

Overstay your welcome “crashing” with friends and family

It might seem easier to accept your friend’s offer to stay on the couch until you get back on your feet, or to cave when your mother keeps begging you to just move back in with her for a short time. While these offers are polite and well-intentioned, these arrangements often don’t end up working well for anyone involved. Separation, and subsequently divorce, are both periods susceptible to turmoil and turbulence. You will long for a place of stability and privacy that you have full ownership over in these hard times. It can also have a negative impact on custody issues when there are children involved. It is best to avoid the trouble of staying with friends and family all together.

Set up camp in a hotel room

Living out of a hotel for a year? Surely this is something only the Kardashians would do during a divorce and not your average person. However, you would be surprised. The ease with which you can book hotels may make this option alluring to those who are too busy or overwhelmed by the notion of apartment hunting. But this quick fix is not ideal for many reasons. Hotel rooms are pricy, tiny, and often lack the fixtures expected in an apartment or house. You will find yourself eating out often and surrounded by transient people which may cause harm to your mental health in an already painful time. Further, they are not suitable places for children to feel comfortable or stable, even if they do include those Belgian waffle makers and an in-ground pool. Skip the Holiday Inn and take the extra time to find a nice apartment – you will be grateful you did.

WHERE TO BEGIN THE SEARCH?

Thanks to the multitude of websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com, and even social networking sites like Facebook, you have many options for short-term and temporary housing. These sites allow you to filter available units based on your preferences and needs. Alternatively, you can contact a local realtor who will be able to do the heavy lifting for you. With all these factors in mind, you now have the tools in hand to begin finding the right new living space for you.

 

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