How to Handle Moving Out After a Breakup

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Breaking up with someone you once held deep feelings for can be incredibly difficult, especially when you and your partner share a living space together. This practice of partners living together is growing more and more popular, with a 2011-2015 CDC survey revealing that around 72% of women and 70% of men between the ages of 18 and 44 were cohabiting with partners.

Moving out is one of the first steps to take when moving on from a relationship, and can be one of the most complicated. The process of gathering your things, dividing property fairly, and deciding who gets to keep the space can be a lot to wrestle with while processing the emotions of a breakup.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing different ways you can safely and amicably move on following a breakup. But first, three important questions.

Who Gets to Keep the Space?

When you make the decision to move in with a partner, the possibility of ending things someday is one of the very last things on your mind. More likely at that moment is the much happier thought that this will be your last roommate ever. Unfortunately, the end of a relationship is a very real probability, one that can leave partners in a lurch when it comes to the fate of their living arrangements.

In a situation where your name isn’t on the lease, you have a chance to simply walk away from your partner and the living situation, even though that can be painful to accept.

Things may get complicated, however, when your name is on the lease. In such situations, you have every right to remain on the property regardless of what your partner may think. However, if your partner insists on remaining on the property or having a share in it—perhaps due to how much they invested in the space—you could discuss a fair arrangement with your ex to avoid a back-and-forth.

If you and your former partner are named on the lease, you may involve your landlord to come up with an arrangement that avoids breaking the lease if you would prefer to move out. This could also spare you the loss of your security deposit. An alternative arrangement will be to sign the lease over to someone else or to sublet the property.

What to Do About Children?

One of the most challenging parts about living apart from a former partner is deciding on an appropriate arrangement if children are involved. Because custody can be a very dicey matter, it’s best to seek out legal advice and representation to help with managing things.

Above all, when deciding what move to make with your children, it’s always advisable to pick a setup that doesn’t affect their stability or sense of normalcy too much.

This may change if your move is to escape domestic violence or a turbulent relationship, however. In such cases, it is very understandable to prefer a wide distance from your abuser. Again, finding legal representation is a critical step toward gaining custody of your children away from an abusive ex-partner. This may be more disruptive to your children, but their health and safety is more important.

What About Shared Pets?

As with children, it can be difficult to find a suitable arrangement when it comes to furry or feathered companions, especially where they are jointly owned. Reaching an agreement with your partner as to who may provide better care and attention for the pets could be the best bet for their welfare.

You may also set up a schedule that permits the partner living apart from them to spend quality time in a neutral environment, or a setup that will cause the least conflict.

How to Move Out After a Breakup

With the big questions about your living space, children, and possible pets answered, you’ll want to get into the fine details of making the move from a space shared with a former partner. The following tips may help with smoothening the transition period.

Decide on the Best Method of Leaving

Knowing your partner and their typical behavior, you likely have an idea of how your exit from the living arrangement might be received.

If you predict that a considerable amount of pushback and fighting will accompany your decision—especially in an explosive or toxic relationship—you may plan a gradual transition where you remove only the essentials before sending in a moving team or trusted friends to pack the rest of your belongings. This may be carried out while you are safely away.

In situations where the split is mutual and/or amicable, you are at liberty to make a cleaner break of things. To avoid any strained interactions, you can agree to pack your belongings on a day when your ex won’t be present. Use this time to gather a moving team to collect the majority of your belongings to avoid having to return and rehash the pain of uprooting yourself from your previous home.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

A breakup is hard enough without adding the pressures of moving out along with it. This is why focusing on more consequential items is more advisable than losing precious time and energy arguing over little knick-knacks.

Depending on how the relationship ends, you may have the urge to get back at your ex for perceived wrongs by taking everything you ever spent money on. Or you might attempt to split everything—including the half-open carton of milk in the fridge—down the middle. These approaches may end up straining you more than necessary.

Instead, where possible, discuss the logistics of the move with your ex. For the best results, it’s always advisable to keep emotions to a minimum when deliberating, despite how emotionally charged the atmosphere is. You can speak about the best ways to share things that are jointly owned, or which have sentimental value to you.

Ask Friends and Family for Help

Moving out is a trying experience, and the financial component only adds to the stress. To cut down on costs, and the emotional toll that leaving your shared space will bring, it is always advisable to seek out the help of your friends and family.

Take advantage of your dad’s pick-up truck, let your cousins carry your favorite furniture down the stairs, allow your best friend to take an inventory so you don't forget important possessions, and so on. A breakup may take two people, but moving out can oftentimes require a village.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

The combination of breaking up and moving out can be an incredibly lonely experience, but making the transition to the next phase of your life doesn’t have to be. You should take the opportunity to lean on trusted friends and family for support.

You've grown used to living and spending most of your time with your partner. Now more than ever, it's time to ask your closest friends and family members for help with whatever you might need. Call on them at low moments, set up outings, and fill out any newly empty hours by reconnecting with your loved ones.

A Word From Verywell

Leaving the comfort of a relationship is hard enough. Also having to remove yourself from the space that contains many of the memories you and your former partner made together can be an entirely different ballgame.

Despite how difficult it may appear, ripping the bandaid off and venturing out on your own can be the step in the right direction you need to move on with your life. Speaking honestly with your ex, splitting possessions equally, and of course, depending on the support of loved ones, are just some of the ways to get through the difficulty of moving out and moving on from a relationship.

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nugent C, Daugherty J. A demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral profile of cohabiting adults in the United States, 2011-2015. National Health Statistics Reports Number. 2018;111.

By Elizabeth Plumptre
Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences.