This is a life update I honestly didn’t foresee coming – or if a part of me did, it was the last item on the ‘list of bad things that could happen’. It was one of the reasons I wrote about on why my then-partner and I haven’t bought a house yet after years of being in the market. At the time, it was more a logical list of things that could go wrong than an actual possibility.
But it happened anyways. I bought my house in November, 2016 and by April, 2017 I moved out after the relationship ended.
I had this goal of owning my own home since I could remember. There are the obvious emotional components of wanting to own your own home – pride of ownership, raise a family in it and homeownership as an accomplishment.
And there was also the financial reasons for it – eventually having a paid off home to live in in retirement, real estate as a hedge against inflation and a forced savings plan.
I wanted to buy smart and so I took my time until I found the right one – the right one being as close to perfect for the life my ex-partner and I were planning for. I didn’t want to a buy a “starter home” either and then upgrade in a few years – that to me would be a waste of resources, time and effort, so I bought one we could grow into.
We were together for almost five years and had openly talked about marriage and raising a family without hesitation so I truly believed our future was set. I was confident in setting down roots.
So to prepare as best I could for the future, when I graduated in 2014 and started my full-time career, I immediately went to work on tackling my debts and saving up a down payment. I polished up my credit score and history so I could get approved for a house mortgage. My ex-partner did not have the best credit history and so I had to be able to get approval on my own. But who cares? We were a team – we just needed to work on the obstacles as they come, no one’s perfect.
We found the house in October, 2016 and had moved in by the following month. I won’t go into details but the relationship ended after 5 months of living together. By the end of April, I had moved back in with my family.
My ex-partner still lives in the home until it’s a better time to sell.
Our Joint Finances
I solely managed our money during the relationship – and I see now that that was a mistake. He handed me the reigns and I did with it as I saw fit. I would discuss major money concerns (like saving up for big trips or purchases and debt repayments) and update him on our finances regularly. But most of the everyday stuff was on me. I didn’t mind doing it, I enjoyed it and he was happy to let me take control.
I feel like I did a good job also. By the time we bought, we had saved up $50,000 in 3 years to put towards the house. We had no credit card debts, our four cars were paid off and we were living a comfortable and fun lifestyle. We only had my student loans left to pay off and he was working on rebuilding his credit history after making some bad money mistakes in his past.
I was optimistic for our future.
Financial Life After A Long-term Relationship
Because our finances had closely melded together during those 5 years, it was difficult to separate things again. It was difficult in the logistics of figuring out how much belonged to who and then transferring the appropriate amounts out to the right accounts.
It was difficult also to detach my self-worth from our “combined net worth”. I had been so proud of how far we have come as a couple and so when I saw my net worth essentially cut in half, my confidence took a hit also. It felt like all those hours I worked shift work at the hospital and the financial sacrifices I had made amounted to so little 3 years later.
I became angry at my ex-partner. I blamed him for destroying the progress we were making. I blamed him for now being stuck with a house that’s too big for myself alone.
At the end of the relationship, I felt that I was forced to leave my own home because I had no other choice. I was miserable living there and eventually, my physical and mental health started suffering. My confidence in myself was at an all-time low. I was fragile and if you had said the wrong words in the wrong sequence, I would’ve broken down right there and then. The house which was supposed to bring me so much joy and excitement for what’s to come was the last place I wanted to be in.
I just needed to get out of the environment and figure out the “house stuff” later.
The reason it took me this long to be able to finally write about this was because of how ashamed I felt. Since this blog was born, homeownership had been one of my big goals. I had written several posts on it and even updated you guys on the progress. And then five months after attaining my goal, it all crumbled down around me. No amount of planning could’ve prepared me for this.
Taking Responsibility & Moving Forward
I disappeared for months after I moved back in with my family. I just needed time to deal with the heartbreak first, and do some much-needed self-love secondly. I had the support of my family and close friends egging me on. I also received support from the internet – friends I’ve met through this blog who cared enough to ask how I was doing!
It took a lot of time to learn not to react impulsively about my situation. In the beginning, I was angry. I threatened my ex-partner with lawsuits and eviction notices during the worst of it – anything to “get back at him”. It wasn’t healthy for me and it was destroying me more than it was him.
I made the choice to buy the house. That’s in the past now and unfortunately this is my current situation – broken up with a shared home. Moving forward, I wish to completely sever myself from my ex-partner by selling this home as soon as the time is
Selling the house now is too great a loss – the mortgage cancellation fee and realtor fees alone will eat up the 10% down payment I put into the house. Renting the house out is one solution but those first few months, the idea of having to find and deal with tenants in my state was the last thing I wanted to do.
I am extremely lucky to still be able to afford this home and my lifestyle despite this major life event. I’m lucky that I sunk my money into a hard asset. I’m lucky that I was able to save up an emergency fund to float me in case other things pop up. I’m blessed to have a family who always has my back. These reasons allow me to take my time to figure out what my plan is going forward and so I believe I have little to be resentful for in the grand scheme of things.
More than a cautionary tale, I hope that you see the silver lining too. Maybe don’t buy a house with someone you aren’t sure you’ll be with, if you can help it. But even if you did, you have the power to make new choices to get back to where you want to go.
The best advice I received was to take my time. During the worst of it all, I wanted to just be done with it and do whatever needs to be done to free myself completely of my ex-partner. I see now that if I followed that route, I probably would’ve been worse off in the end – I had more to lose than my ex-partner. The house is in my name and I would’ve been solely responsible for the mortgage cancellation and realtor fees. I needed to bide my time and make smart, and not rash, decisions to make it through with as little damage as possible.
Now, five months after the relationship ended, I am solidly on my path to a brighter future. I feel like I have dealt through the ugliest of post-break-up emotions. Looking back, I had no regrets with how much I tried and how much I gave to one person for five years of my life. I didn’t hold back and may have even stuck around longer than I should have. I know now that even if the worst case scenario happens, that I lose the house and all the money I put in it, I have the means and ambitions to start over and rebuild again.
Best of all, I am much happier now.