I read an article on The Atlantic about two married couples getting a house together in D.C. so they could split the mortgage and other household duties “for the next few decades hopefully”. While I have lived with roommates for most of my college years and the first few years as a professional, I always thought about living on my own as the last step to being a grown-up.
Living with people mostly was a financial decision in my case. Only once did I live with a friend and more friends of his, the rest of the time I just got a room with complete strangers and hoped we got along. When I moved to the UK it was bumpy at first, I had horrible roommates in all three houses I rented, landlords didn’t give a crap about repairs, people were loud, splitting the bills was hell every month… so when I bought my own place, I was very careful to choose roommates I thought I could get along with.
But being polite, doing small talk about your day or lending someone a yogurt is miles away from actually deciding to get a mortgage with friends, binding your life to them for the next 30 years. Turns out one of the couples in this story is already expecting and all four are happy to welcome a baby into their lives. They talk about shared parenting, letting the parents-to-be have a date night once in a while, and so on. Their main point is not to rely just on their spouse as a source of moral and financial support.
I can imagine how that would work with a couple of close friends, but still, being pretty independent, I would need well defined quarters that would be only mine. No trespassing from them or their kid, ever. Having a big house with a big yard, more space for everyone is certainly a big perk, as they live in D.C.. Not sure it would make much sense in a lower cost of living area, where you can get your own house and yard without repaying 120% of your salary into it every month. If living with other people would allow me to have the extra living room and kitchen space I want to be comfortable and invite guests once in a while, and at the same time have a slightly bigger room, since the price per sqm tends to lower for bigger properties, I may consider it.
However, the couple would have to be really in sync in terms of lifestyle. You don’t know your friends well until you have lived with them for a while. I’d probably give it a try in a rental for a few month before taking the leap. And while it may be fun as new parents to learn together and a way to share the burden of sleepless nights and constant loads of dirty laundry, over the long term I can’t really see the pros of doing this with teenagers, or as empty nesters.
Imagine once you retire, the four of you are around the house all the time? Sure, you can play bridge and garden together, even be a caretaker to the first to get sick, but it seems even weirder an arrangement once the kids are out of the picture.
In the end I guess I am happy just living with my other half at the moment. Maybe as an overwhelmed parent I’d appreciate the help, but before committing to a couple of friends I think I’d rather take in an aging parent or a broke sibling.
What about you? Would you take a mortgage with your best friends to split the bills and chores?