Couples forced to live together after split amid cost of living crisis

Cost of living People look at properties on display in the window of Winkworth estate agents in Islington, London, Britain, December 10, 2021. Picture taken December 10, 2021. REUTERS/May James
Cost of living: Most couples say they are living together after the breakup because neither can afford a place on their own. Photo: May James/Reuters

An increasing number of people in the UK have found themselves forced to live with their ex after splitting up as the cost of living bites.

Over a third (34%) of those who purchased a house with a partner and then split up have had no choice but to live together after the breakup because they can’t afford their own place, according to property site Zoopla.

Couples were forced to live together for an average of 1.3 years after they split up, with one in eight having to continue to share a bedroom.

For 95%, it was at least one month. It was not a pleasant time for most — just 9% said they were able to remain diplomatic, while 30% said it was awkward, 27% found it was upsetting and 22% went as far as to describe it as excruciating.

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“Buying a home with a partner is a wonderful, exciting experience. But if the worst does happen and you split up, it’s going to be awkward if you’re forced to remain living with them. There’s also no getting away from the fact that breaking up is expensive, from having to shell out for a new place, to penalty charges for ending a mortgage early,” Daniel Copley, consumer expert at Zoopla, said.

Logistics or finances are the main reasons most continue to live with an ex they own a home with after a split.

Nearly half (47%) said they simply couldn’t afford to move out. Some 37% said that they had no savings at all when they and their partner split up, rising to 46% for women.

Meanwhile 17% stayed living together for the sake of their children, whilst around one in eight (13%) were involved in a stand-off with their ex, with neither party prepared to move out.

The research found that for many, living with a former partner immediately post-break up was a miserable experience.

About 15% said that their ex-partner began seeing someone else whilst they were still living together. Adding to the complications of the situation, 6% even said their ex had a new partner stay over.

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“As hard as it can be, the most important thing is to stay civil. This may require a bit of emotional detachment from the situation. It will help with the second step — taking considered, but swift action.

“When you break up, physical detachment from that person is vital. See if you can stay with a family member or friend for a couple of days to do some real planning and get some perspective,” behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings, said.

Amongst those who moved out whilst their partner continued to live in the home they owned together, two-thirds (67%) continued to pay their share of the mortgage. On average, respondents said the process of getting out of a joint mortgage took a year.

But 42% of married respondents said that it took them longer to get out of their joint mortgage than it did for them to get divorced. And even once the mortgage did come to an end, 29% had to pay a fee for ending the agreement early — on average £2,643.

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