divorce couple
Image – Canva.
  • The number of people registered with Centrelink who have separated but live under one roof has increased to 53,231
  • This is likely due to the critical undersupply of rental properties
  • Even if the couple can sell a house, there may not be enough equity for each to buy a separate home

More than four decades ago, there was a song released by Aussie band Mental As Anything which featured the lyric, “If you leave me, can I come, too?”.

Of course, times were much different back then, so this anti-break up anthem probably wouldn’t be viewed as favourably today.

But the song popped into my head when I came across a quite heart-wrenching news story recently outlining the growing number of people who are separated but continue living under the same roof because they haven’t been able to afford to move out. The movie War of the Roses springs to mind as well.

Clearly, this situation is no laughing matter, because according to Services Australia, the number of people registered with Centrelink who are separated but live under one roof has grown from 38,772 in 2017 to 53,231 in 2022.

While the agency doesn’t capture the reasons why separated couples continue living together, the story outlines that according to The Separation Guide – an information and connection hub for people going through separation and divorce in Australia – it is seeing an increase in the number of people who say they can’t move out because of cost-of-living increases and interest rate rises.

One can only imagine how uncomfortable it could possibly be to still live with your partner after you’ve both decided that your relationship has come to an end.

Financial binds

The main reasons why this situation is occurring is because of the critical undersupply of rental properties around the nation as well as the changing lending environment making it more difficult for some homebuyers to secure finance.

If a couple has been together for a significant period of time, sure, they probably have equity in their home, but the capital growth still may not be enough for both parties to purchase another home separately.

Likewise, when we are seeing vacancy rates of less than one per cent around the nation, it is mind bogglingly difficult for tenants at present to secure a rental property, with rents rising strongly as a result. Again, this may mean that individually neither party could afford to pay rent somewhere else.

As you all know by now, the reason why I co-authored The Female Investor – Creating Wealth, Security & Freedom Through Property was to help create more financially independent people.

Just consider the alternative outcome if both of these people also had their own properties that they had purchased prior to their relationship?

Owning separate parcels of real estate may have enabled them to purchase another dwelling to live in using equity or even selling down their other individual assets. They would have had some options.

I am not suggesting that we all need to assume every relationship will fail, or that we should all be constantly watching out for the “what ifs”.

What I’m talking about here is that owning a property or two in your own name, and independently from any future or current partner, will always give you more choice if the worst happens and the relationship comes to an end.

Such a scenario would ensure that you both could move on with lives – rather than being stuck not even being able to afford to move out of your former marital home.

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