Apartment Living Calms Resident's Separation Anxiety

February 25, 2019 |

Updated August 4, 2021

4 minutes

Leasing to spouses who are separated requires a special touch.

Conversations with prospective residents often reveal a brief glimpse into their realities and what brings them to the market for an apartment home. Some scenarios are celebratory, such as job opportunity but, unfortunately, this is not always the case. 

Separation from a spouse is a common reason for a sudden interest in a new housing arrangement. During these visits, leasing professionals often are exposed to a very painful and emotional process of uncoupling and the actuality that home may not always be “where the heart is.”

Here’s a Scenario

It was shortly after the holidays when Annie walked into our leasing office for an unscheduled tour. Annie was visibly exhausted. Within five minutes of our conversation, Annie was in tears and disclosed that her husband of 17 years wanted a “fresh start” and she needed to find a new home.

Her complications stacked as we talked about her unexpected life transformation; a teenage daughter, puppy and part-time employment status. 

Sitting with the leasing professional and talking about a residence swap from her 3,000-square-foot home to a 1,068-square-foot apartment was the last place on Earth that she wanted to be at that moment. I was meeting her at her lowest point and discussing one of the hardest topics she ever had to confront. I knew that signing that lease would feel like the final nail on the coffin; a punch in the face from reality that her family (as she knew it) was dissolving. 

As we toured the beautiful grounds of the community, the hope was that she would express some hint of excitement and thoughts of creating a new chapter in her life. Her expression was muted and any light at the end of the tunnel was shaded by all the grief and pain that came with this home-search process.

During the summer, Annie signed her lease and moved in with her daughter and puppy shortly after that initial community visit. Her stresses continued as she faced the transition with each passing. She was having little luck with securing a full-time job, her daughter was resistant to the new lifestyle and her ex-husband wasn’t willing to compromise in many arrangements. Although instant adaptation to the community was not expected, it was easy to empathize with Annie and her heavy stresses of divorce and carry the hope that she could work toward mentally enjoying her new residence.

Months later, in fall, Annie more often was out and about walking her dog in the community and carried a little more pep in her step. Sometimes, she was accompanied by someone whom I did not recognize. One assumption was that Annie may have started dating or, at the least, enjoying some time with a relative or friend. A few months later, Annie gave notice that she would not be renewing her lease for another term. In the section on the form requesting “reason for the move,” Annie indicated “getting back with my husband.”

During the initial meeting with Annie, happiness felt so distant and unimaginable. Obviously, not every separation ultimately results with reconciliation. However, with every case, there is redefinition and the ability to be happy in one way or another.

It was rewarding to know that our community helped Annie find the temporary space and peace to get her mind clear and decide what her next step in life would be.

Leasing professionals have a bird’s eye view of this evolution; a very gradual appearance from uncertainty to self-reconstruction. Although it can be very painful, deciding the best housing arrangement is a large component to this self-development. Moving out is one of the most painful steps of moving on. There are so many tough questions to answer: Who should leave? Who keeps what? Where do I go?

Five Benefits

With that, here are five benefits to renting during a separation:

  1. Flexibility.
    Renting allows a person to buy time while deciding what’s next. A home purchase is a serious financial commitment. This is not a decision to be made when feeling rushed or stressed. Most rental communities offer flexible leases: Anywhere from three to 18 months.
  2. Convenient Lifestyle.
    When things are uncertain, skip the hassles and additional stresses of homeownership. Find an apartment community that offers amenities such as pools and fitness centers onsite as well as maintenance and concierge services. Relax and take care of yourself. 
  3. Comfort and Privacy.
    Yes, lean on friends and family nearby, but renting provides a person more space and privacy for self-definition, especially if the situation calls for moving in with kids or pets.
  4. No Need for Furnishings.
    Some rental communities provide furnished apartments fully equipped with furniture, kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, linens and cookware. This is a great alternative to purchasing items to set up your temporary residence or using a coin-operated laundry machine. This also can potentially avoid the “who gets what” conflict from a setting where everything was shared down to the salt and pepper shakers.
  5. A Sense of Community.
    Many luxury rental communities pride themselves on cultivating a sense of community. Make new friends by participating in wellness classes or attending resident events – who doesn’t love free food? As a parent, consider the school district and “community” setting advantage that is beneficial for your child(ren) who are also going through housing transition. Change is never easy- find an apartment community that can make the transition as seamless as possible, so the focus can be on getting life back to normal.