Pursuing a graduate degree means many late nights studying, writing papers and stressing out about deadlines, but the stress of grad school isn’t just confined to the classroom. Graduate student who take their partner along for their journey have to navigate managing a relationship along with classes, internships, new friends and, for many, relocating more than once during the program. The stress of relocating was the most painful part of graduate school for Erin, who joined her partner in moving to Pittsburgh, Durham and New York City all in the name of love and joint graduate degrees.
Goodbye to the Real World
A two-year break from the real world was an exciting chance for Erin to pursue a Master’s degree in Communication while her partner Jamie received his MBA, but it also required leaving their comfortable home in Atlanta and venturing into the unknown together.
“The process of going back to school actually took several years, starting the year we were married, but even all the build up left us unprepared. I struggled to find a job and felt left out knowing that Jamie was getting his Master's.”
For the couple, grad school meant putting things like buying a home and receiving promotions on hold in favor of downsizing and saving to spend two years without jobs, but they finally realized a perfect solution for Erin’s FOMO.
“We ultimately realized that going back to school at the same time meant neither of us felt stuck in a job we didn’t love. Plus, it meant being able to pretend we were in college again at the same time!”
Moving, Moving, And Moving Again
While she was quick to note that having a partner while in graduate school meant a lot of love and support during a stressful two year degree, Erin recalls being overwhelmed with searching for apartments, packing, and never feeling settled in.
“Moving is probably my least favorite thing in life. Even moving to a city that I really liked still made me nervous. Jamie and I were constantly butting heads about how close or far we should live to school and how much of our loans should go to housing expenses.”
Figuring out how to find quality, affordable housing was a major challenge that required taking time off of work to hunt for apartments in Pittsburgh. The couple opted to move in April, sixth months before their programs began, which meant finding housing during a time when housing was more limited. After two days of touring apartments ranging from swanky to sketchy, they stumbled into a perfect compromise.
“Aside from tuition, housing and relocation were our biggest expenses, so we were very eager to cut down on the costs, downsizing to a 700 square foot apartment just outside of the neighborhood where most of our classmates lived. It was newly renovated, beautiful, and insanely cheap.”
This compromise was great financially but proved to be socially frustrating. Sometimes it felt like they were missing out on get togethers and spending a lot of time apart on their respective campuses. Once Jamie secured an internship, they began working out how to make a summer in a totally different city work financially, while ensuring that they could return to an even better housing situation once the summer was over
“Jamie’s internship included housing, which was an incredible relief for us. When we started looking at our finances for the summer, we realized we could potentially break our lease, move our stuff into storage and return to a new apartment closer to school. We’d be able to avoid paying rent on an unoccupied apartment, but only if our landlord approved of leaving,”
Luckily, their landlord was flexible and willing to end the lease early, so long as they could find tenants to move in and cover the last two months of the lease.
“We decided to list our apartment on Craigslist, which meant having to show a lot of random people our place and answer a lot of weird texts. Most people were totally fine, but it was always nerve-wracking not knowing who would be showing up,”
In the end, their apartment was taken over by two students from Erin’s university, which made the entire process easier and more trustworthy.
One Move Closer to the Dream
After several weeks of slowly moving all of their possessions into storage, they headed to Durham, NC for a summer in corporate housing. It was a lucky break that many interns aren’t afforded, but the pains of relocating proved inevitable for the couple.
Now, Erin and Jamie are preparing to move again — this time to New York City, armed with their new degrees and new career goals. The stakes of their search for housing remain high, because they’re facing the harsh reality of paying the remaining two months of their lease on unoccupied apartment in Pittsburgh while also paying to live in Manhattan. It's an expensive step toward their dream, but for Erin's it's all been worth it.
At RenTrust, know that the housing process is not only difficult for students, but also made more complex when they have a family. Are you a student or partner? Sign up to join our marketplace and make it easier for everyone!
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