Where To Live While Separated/During Divorce
Before we talk about where you’re going to live after divorce, you may need to decide on living arrangements during a separation. A marital separation usually means one of you leaves the marital home. Some couples use the separation to repair, regroup and stay together. Other couples use separation as a stepping stone to divorce.
There are states and countries where a couple must be separated for a length of time before a divorce can become final. That usually means either you or your soon-to-be-ex has to find a new place to live at least temporarily. Renting while separated is sometimes a good option.
To say I was devastated after my divorce is an understatement. My husband had a three-year affair, so I told him he had to leave our home. My heart was broken, and life as I had known it for 33 years fell apart.
In those early chaotic days after discovery of the affair, he stayed in the basement at a friend’s house. We both seemed to want reconciliation, but he could never break off that other relationship. He had three different apartments in the course of three years because I believed him each time he said he was finished with her. He never was, so when hope of reconciliation was gone, he got his own apartment.
Some options for living while separated or early after divorce:
- Staying with friends
- Staying with family
- Staying in an extended stay hotel
- Renting or buying an apartment, condo or small house close by
Staying In The Home
Rules and regulations about separation and divorce and living arrangements are unique to individual states and countries. What works in one state or country might not work in another. Check with an attorney to figure out who should stay in the marital home and who should leave.
To make that decision about where to live after divorce, and to get more clarity on our finances, I set up a meeting with the accountant who had done our taxes for years. When I walked into his office, he gave me a hug, and said, “I am so sorry about this. I just can’t believe it!” We talked a bit. He supplied me with a box of tissues, and put our records on the table.
The first thing he said was, “Suzy, you need to get out of that house as soon as you can! You can’t afford it. Your youngest is finishing high school then off to college. The house is too big for you. The upkeep would be a burden. Start looking for the best place to move after divorce, NOW!
That had been our dream house. We designed it with spaces we loved, and I had the fun of getting to pick out everything from top to bottom. It was an amazing house with a great yard and a creek. A perfect place for gatherings of family and friends. But I knew he was right.
After realizing that a serious downsizing was inevitable, I started researching where to move after divorce. I cried as I looked for places in neighborhoods that I could afford. One of my dreams was to have a house that “looks like Thanksgiving,” and has some space inside or out where I could host family gatherings and swim team dinners. I finally found a place where I could afford the payments.
I loved that place, and I got to decorate it just like I wanted. I shopped garage sales and close-out sales. I found an old metal farm gate for a headboard for my new bed (I even put white lights on it!) Moving to that house was a huge step to forging a new life for myself!
Many times that decision of who stays in the marital home after divorce is determined by what is best and least disruptive for our children. But often neither spouse can afford the house, so you both have to start thinking about the best place to move after divorce.
Our marital home was home base for us, our children and our dog. Since my ex was the one who had the girlfriend, he left. Some women, however, are so angry (or afraid if there is abuse involved) that they just pack up and move out of the marital just to get away! Talk to an attorney to see if that is in your best interest before you do that.
Should I Move?
If you decide you need to move out of your marital home after divorce, you have to figure out if you should move to a different part of the city or state or maybe even a different part of the county. If you have family in another country or are really adventurous, you might decide to move to another part of the world. I wanted to stay in the neighborhood, so our last child still at home wouldn’t have to change schools at the end of high school.
The book, Under the Tuscan Sun, is a great book about a single mother who moves to another country. It’s a good read and I think it was a Netflix series, too. Try to think of after-divorce moving as a fresh start and an adventure and not a catastrophe!
Here is a list of things to consider when you are deciding if you should move and/or where you should move after divorce. These suggestions are from Money Crashers, a financial site:
Where Should I Live? – 14 Factors to Help You Decide the Best Place
- Employment Opportunity
- Real Estate Value
- Crime Rate & Statistics
- Proximity to Family & Friends
- Education System
- Commute Time & Public Transportation
- Food Options
- Town or City Size
- Health Care Facilities
- Proximity to an Airport
Staying Close To Children/Family/Friends
After divorce, especially if we have children, we want to make life as stable as we can. Moving after divorce is never easy. In fact, it’s listed as one of life’s greatest stressors, especially if you are leaving a familiar area to somewhere strange and new. But it can be exciting, too.
Our family and friends can be a big support during this divorce transition, so sometimes choosing to stay where you are is a good thing. However, being too close to your ex and his girlfriend or extended family can be a problem after divorce, too.
Or maybe you need to move to be closer to your extended family and friends. It’s your choice.
If you suddenly have to figure out the best place to move after divorce, especially if you have to live on less than you’re used to, you should take into consideration what kind of job you are going to need to pay the mortgage or rent and support yourself and any children still at home.
The job market in potential future areas may help you answer the question, “Should I rent or buy after divorce?” Make sure you ask about the length of the lease and the availability of amenities and services around the rental property. I’m not sure it’s like this everywhere, but in our city it seems that new apartment complexes are springing up everywhere!
Consider Future Plans
If you are in midlife and you are suddenly figuring out how to get a job, you may have to ask for help in the divorce financial settlement for retraining or relocating costs. For example, if you had a job or career when you and your ex decided it would be best for you to stay home with your children, you may need additional time and funds for retraining after divorce. Make that clear to your attorney, especially if you gave up your career to stay home with the kids, or you worked so that your ex had the freedom to go to school or to move himself up the corporate ladder.
My attorney told me not to rush out and just take just any job before the divorce was final. Take your time. Think about what you want to do now. Think about what education or training you will need to get the workplace skills most jobs today require. Imagine what you see yourself doing a few years from now.
Finding an apartment or home after divorce that is close to a university or community college can make it easier to get the job skills you need. Many college towns have cheap housing available and have special services and pricing for mid-life or older women. Your children can sometimes take advantage of classes and activities there as well.
Where To Move
When you are trying to decide the best place to move after divorce, give yourself some time to research and look around a bit. Take a few solo trips — or with a friend or family member. Visit places that make you feel comfortable and welcome!
Branch out and try something new. Do you live in suburbia? Check out apartments downtown. Most urban areas have good public transportation and you can walk to many of the places you need…grocery shopping, drug stores, church, etc.
Selling The House
For me, selling our dream home seemed like an insurmountable job. But like many things about midlife divorce, we have to finally understand that we are setting sail to a new life and we are captains of that ship.
When it came time to sell our house after divorce, my ex-husband and I had already separated all of “the stuff.” I had asked our kids about artwork, furniture etc. they might want, and had chosen those things when my wasband and I separated everything.
Even after that, I had pretty much a whole houseful of 33 years of stuff we accumulated during our marriage. Like many families, kids who had moved away still had boxes and sports equipment and memorabilia stored in our basement.
One thing that made it easier to get ready to sell our home was to tell the kids that we were having the “Great Family Clean Out Weekend.” All the kids came home, and we sorted out everything that was left. We made three piles on the driveway:
This process is easier and more fun doing it together. My kids put a lot more stuff in the Trash or Give-Away piles than I did. Read more about it in my Radical Recovery book that is part of our MasterPlan Program and Community.
CAUTION! As soon as you go through that sorting stage, have a junk service (preferably one that recycles) pick it all up as soon as possible. It always rains when you have stuff out on the curb, so get rid of it all ASAP! Getting rid of it keeps you from going out and bringing something or other back into the house!
To Rent Or Buy?
Your accountant, financial advisor or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can help you answer the question, “Should I rent or buy after divorce?” They help you analyze your overall financial situation during and after divorce, and can work with your attorney to figure out how best to maximize what you need and deserve financially in your divorce decree.
Owning a home comes with lots of responsibilities that you don’t have if you rent. Also consider renting a room from a friend or an AirBnB until you get more clarity. One RADiCAL woman stored her furniture and did house sitting for a couple of years to keep a roof over her head.
In most mid-sized cities with both urban and suburban living areas, you have a wide range of choices about where to move after divorce. Some of those choices take more of an adventurous spirit than we can muster soon after divorce. So renting can be a good option at first.
Apartment living provides built-in neighbors during a time when you’re sorting through after-divorce friend and family relationships. Many apartment communities have work-out rooms, pools, laundry facilities that might make it easier to meet new people who don’t know anything about your divorce.
Whatever you decide about where you’re going to live during separation and after divorce, your life is usually just one big jumble of overwhelming change and stress at first. During that chaos, you are forced into making decisions that will dramatically affect your future. That’s why getting support and connecting with other women going through divorce is so important. Don’t try to struggle through all of this on your own.