I recently became a DINK when I moved in with my partner in New York City.”DINK” describes someone who lives in a double-income household with no kids.I’m paying $150 less in rent for a more spacious apartment with a backyard and a basement.

This is part of our series Splitting the Difference, which examines the financial lives of couples.

I’m a DINK, which means I live with my partner and we have double income, no kids.

Living in New York, I can see how much your life can change when you couple up. Before I lived with my partner, I was typically spending nearly half my income on rent, and I couldn’t afford to save for big purchases.

But moving in with my partner allowed us to get a bigger place for less money. And I’m finally able to buy things that add so much value to my life.

See for yourself.

In 2021, I moved into a New York apartment by myself for the first time.
The author snapping a selfie after signing her lease.

I’ll never forget my 24th birthday — the day I signed a lease by myself for the first time.

After two years of living in a shared three-bedroom apartment in New York where my roommates changed every few months, I was finally getting my own place. For $1,650 a month, I had a 500-square-foot space with one bedroom on the third floor of a walk-up building. It was far from perfect, but it was mine.

About a year later, in 2022, my long-distance partner and his dog moved in with me, and we renewed the lease together for one more year to save up for a larger home.

By splitting rent in half, my partner and I were able to successfully save up for an upgrade. But sharing the limited space was difficult, especially since I was used to living in the apartment by myself.

Two years later, I’ve coupled up and moved into a much larger space with my partner. This “double income, no kids” lifestyle makes me a DINK.
The author enjoying her new home.

In May 2023, it was finally time to find a new place. We scoured the internet and toured several apartments before we found the perfect one.

For $2,975 a month, we now have a 1,200-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with 1.5 bathrooms, a basement, and a backyard.

Cut the rent in half and I’m spending about $160 less than when I lived in the smaller apartment by myself.

These are the perks of a DINK lifestyle.

My new apartment has upgraded my daily life in many ways: The kitchen has more room, I now have outdoor space, and I have more money each month.

In my previous apartment, I had just a fire escape outside my bedroom.
The author’s fire escape in her previous apartment.

Having a way to get fresh air without leaving my building was a necessity for me when I was finding my solo apartment.

But reality set in when I started looking within my budget. At the time, the only outdoor space I could afford was a fire escape outside my bedroom window.

The fire escape was just big enough for me to sit crisscross applesauce, and I even found some free cushions on a nearby stoop to upgrade the space.

When I lived there, I’d climb out my window several times a day to feel the wind on my face and look down at the street. It was cramped, but it was still peaceful.

Now I have a fenced-in yard with a patio, a firepit, and plenty of grass for my small dog to hop around in.
The author’s backyard in her current apartment has a patio and a fire pit.

I never dreamed I’d have my own backyard in Brooklyn, but here we are.

When we put our money together, my partner and I were able to find a ground-level apartment with a 1,000-square-foot yard. Our dog loves it. She can run around whenever she wants, without waiting for us to take her for a walk.

Every morning, rain or shine, I wake myself up by stepping into my backyard and feeling the air on my face.

I also eat and work outside when the weather is nice — thanks to the previous tenant, who left behind patio furniture and a firepit. Having a dining table for six makes it easier to host friends. And I love sitting around the fire with our pals on cooler evenings.

My previous apartment had a modest kitchen with wooden cabinets.
The author’s kitchen in her previous apartment.

My previous apartment’s kitchen was simple. It had a stove, an oven, a fridge, and a shallow sink that made washing dishes challenging.

Without a pantry or ample storage space in the cabinets, I used a bookshelf to store most of my dishes.

There wasn’t a dining area, either, so I added a kitchen island with stools that I used for cooking and eating.

My new kitchen looks modern and has more appliances.
The author’s kitchen in her current apartment has a dishwasher and a microwave.

My new kitchen has stainless-steel appliances and two amenities the previous one didn’t have — a microwave and a dishwasher — which has made cooking and cleaning so much easier.

The ceilings are taller, and so are the cabinets. I no longer need the extra shelving I used in my previous apartment.

To the right of my kitchen is a dining space with a small table and chairs, too.

In my previous apartment, the bathroom felt cramped.
The author’s bathroom in her previous apartment.

The bathroom in my old apartment was so small that I couldn’t take a landscape photo of it. It consisted of a toilet, a shower, and a small vanity with limited storage space.

My new bathroom feels twice as big and has modern finishings. I have an additional half bath in the basement.
The full bathroom in the author’s apartment.

My new bathroom has a larger vanity, a roomier shower, and more floor space. This makes getting cleaned up less stressful and more relaxing.

Down in the basement we have an additional half bathroom, which is especially helpful when we have friends over.

In my old place, I spent about $200 a month on laundry services.
The author’s dog sitting on a pile of laundry in her previous apartment.

New Yorkers know how hard it is to find an apartment with a washing machine and dryer. In fact, you’d be lucky to get a place with laundry services in the building.

In my previous apartment, there were no laundry machines on-site. I decided early on that my time was valuable enough to pay for pickup and delivery services from a laundromat.

I had my laundry picked up every two weeks. Including tip, it cost me just under $100 each time.

But now I have a washer and dryer in my apartment. In New York, this is a huge deal.
The author’s laundry machine in her current apartment.

When I tell my friends who live outside New York that my new place has a washer and dryer, they don’t understand why I’m so excited.

But in this city, I rarely see apartments in my price range that include this amenity. So for me, being able to wash and dry my clothes and sheets whenever I want is a taste of luxury.

I’m saving $200 a month by doing my own laundry. Add that to my rent savings, and I’m pocketing about $360 more each month than I did when I lived alone in my previous apartment.

In my previous apartment, my bedroom doubled as my office.
The author’s office in her previous apartment.

Most days I work from home. When I’m deciding where to put my office, I go for the room with the most natural light, which can be a mood booster and natural de-stressor.

In my previous apartment, only the bedroom had full-sized windows, so I put my desk in the corner next to a window. It was a pleasant workspace, but I had a hard time shifting out of work mode at night.

Therapists say that having your home office in the same space where you relax can make it harder to separate work time and chill time.

Now my office fits in my kitchen.
The author’s office in her current apartment is next to the back door.

In my new apartment, my office space is next to the dining area in the open-floor-plan kitchen, where sunlight beams in from a tall window and a windowed door to my backyard.

Working in the kitchen as opposed to my bedroom makes me feel more active and motivated. And I have an easier time relaxing in bed at night.

My favorite part of my office space is that I’m right next to the back door, so I can take quick breaks outside.

In my old place, the living room was cramped into the kitchen.
The author’s living room in her previous apartment.

I had an open floor plan in my previous kitchen, too. I used the additional space as a living room.

But it wasn’t ideal. The space was tight and narrow. My couch barely squeezed between the fridge and the wall. And there was no room for a coffee table between the couch and the TV.

Now I have a basement big enough for a living room and a guest bed.
The author’s basement in her current apartment has enough space for a coffee table and a guest bed.

My basement is a huge upgrade from my previous apartment. It’s the same size as the first floor — doubling the living space.

Down there, I have a living room large enough for a couch, a love seat, and a coffee table. The back of the room houses my full-sized guest bed.

Having this much extra room in my apartment makes my place the go-to spot among my friends. I love playing board games and watching movies with my buddies — especially when I don’t feel cramped.

My previous apartment had two tiny rooms that couldn’t fit much furniture.
One of two tiny rooms in the author’s old apartment.

My previous apartment had an odd layout. Known as a railroad apartment, it was the shape of a train car — all the rooms were in a row, with the kitchen at the front, the bedroom at the rear, and two tiny rooms in between that could barely fit anything in them.

I used one of these tiny spaces as a guest room with a full-size bed and a bookshelf, but I couldn’t fit a nightstand in there.

In the other small room I had my love seat — which didn’t fit in the living room — and my electric drum kit, an alternative to a real acoustic kit that wouldn’t fit in the space and that I couldn’t afford with my savings.

I’ve been drumming in bands since I moved to New York nearly five years ago, so having to settle for this practice tool over the real thing was challenging — I’ve had to rent practice spaces with shared drums and use house kits at venues that have to be vastly adjusted for my size. (I’m 5-foot-3, which usually makes me the smallest drummer on the bill on any given night.)

There’s enough room in my basement now for a full drum kit.
The author’s new kit in her current apartment.

The combination of the basement space and the money I was saving in my new apartment meant that after five years of gigging in New York, I could finally purchase a real drum set. I hadn’t had my own kit since high school, so this was a huge deal for me.

Having a kit to call my own rather than playing on random sets in practice rooms means I can customize it to my liking, from the size to the tuning. And while I can’t play too loud, I can practice whenever I want and play new beats as soon as they pop into my head.

The drums, amenities, and backyard in my new place make me feel happier and more relaxed on a daily basis.

I sometimes miss my previous apartment. It was so lived in and filled with memories. It’s where I figured out how to live on my own. But I’m also happy to have moved on with my partner and my dog. The new apartment has created a better life for all three of us.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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