WWYD: Moving In, But Only If Someone Moves Out

Today in “WWYD,” asking someone to move out, so another person can move in.

I’ve lived in the same two-bedroom apartment for four years now—at first with a significant other, then with a roommate after the breakup about two years ago. It’s a nice building, pets are OK, and it’s really close to major transit lines and other stuff that I really need in my daily, carless life. It’s also rent controlled, and while what I started paying in 2010 isn’t a steal, it’s certainly something I will not be able to find for that price now.

The roommate is a Craigslist find who is very awesome! He works late and spends weekends away often, so I don’t see him much, but we hang out outside of the apartment once in a while. He also doesn’t seem to mind that my boyfriend is over about five nights a week—they bro out sometimes, it’s fun.

The conundrum is this: My boyfriend and I want to move in together. The Right Thing To Do is tell Roommate this with a few months’ notice, and then start looking for a new place. But …

I just got into graduate school, and starting in the fall, I’ll have no income for the next two years. My boyfriend is in grad school, too, so: bargains are a focus. What I have saved is enough for rent on the place where I am now for most of the time I’m in grad school, and rent has gone up 20 percent in my city in the last year. Our options at the intersection of affordable and reasonable commutes will cost at least $200 more per month for each of us.

Is it totally cruel to ask Roommate to find a new place so that Boyfriend can move in? (If it matters, Roommate has a well-paying job and lots of friends in the area, so I imagine him landing somewhere OK.) — J.

I’ve been in this position—in Roommate’s position, that is. I lived with a friend for a few years and when things got serious with her boyfriend, they decided they wanted to move in together. It was a big decision for them, and the only other thing they had to worry about was how to tell me about it.

The three of us were sitting in the living room one evening watching something on TV when my roommate picked up the remote and muted the volume.

“Hey, our lease is expiring soon,” she said. “What do you think you want to do?”

“I think I’m okay with renewing the lease?”

“Well, [boyfriend] and I are thinking we’d like to move in together.”

My roommate and her boyfriend had been dating for a few years, and I was (am) also his friend, so this wasn’t a surprise development. I was happy for them! And then we talked about what our options were, and the decision was made that I’d stay in the apartment and find a new roommate, and my roommate and her boyfriend would hunt for their own place. Everything worked out fine.

My roommate did not ask me to move out, nor did I suggest that she move out. We had a normal, adult conversation about our circumstances. Not surprisingly (for someone who runs a website about how we should be more open to each other about our money), the two of us had always talked openly and honestly about our financial situations, so when we had this talk, our cards were already on the table. We were both in positions where either of us could afford to move out, so we both talked about what we wanted, and what made sense for the both of us.

So: Start the conversation, lay your cards out on the table, but don’t straight up ask your roommate to move out—the conversation may naturally lead in that direction. Your roommate moving out can be an option, but it shouldn’t be your answer. Unless it’s your apartment and you’re the sole name on the lease, your roommate has the right to stay too. You said it yourself—you already know what the right thing to do is. Your boyfriend and you also have to reconcile wanting to move in together and having the financial means to do so (which includes—and I’m not saying this will happen—having the financial means to leave a bad situation if the relationship goes sour).

Have the conversation with your roommate. Things may work out in your favor. And if it doesn’t go the way you’d like it to go, that’s another discussion you can work out with your boyfriend. Maybe you’ll have to commute a little further to make it affordable. If you want to be together, you’ll find a way to do it.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.




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