It sounds like a premise ripped straight out of a sitcom’s pilot script: Two couples and three friends, a grand total of seven people, moved in together to save up on rent costs and find a place to live during the coronavirus quarantine procedures.
The cluster of seven people are all students of Loyola University New Orleans and, like most college students in 2020, had to deal with the repercussions of the hasty quarantine procedures that launched in March of last year.
For Nicole Miller and Maddie Taliancich, a couple used to hopping between each other’s dorm rooms, this not only meant getting booted off campus, but the possibility of having to become a long distance relationship.
“I told my mom. Immediately I called her and I was like ‘I don’t know what to do. School is shutting down and I’m sad,’” Taliancich said.
That’s when Miller and Taliancich, only a few months into their relationship, got an interesting offer.
“Mom was like ‘well obviously Nicole’s going to live with us,” Taliancich said.
Miller’s parents’ only concern was imposing on Taliancish’s mother’s hospitality.
“But ultimately it worked out,” Miller said.
The Millers helped pay for groceries. And for three months, Miller and Taliancish stayed there before spending a month in Kansas with Miller’s family.
“We tried our best to not be super in the way of things,” Taliancich said.
In June of 2020, Taliancich and Miller moved into the home they live now with the other couple of the house, Zach Boylan and Shelbi Copain.
“We moved together under sudden circumstances. We weren’t planning on moving in together because we were both on-campus students,” Boylan said. “Covid got us kicked off campus because they didn’t have room. They were doing single rooms. They didn’t have room for upperclassmen. We had to find off-campus housing.”
Unlike Miller and Taliancich, Boylan and Copain had already discussed moving in together. They were originally planning to do it after graduation.
And just like Miller and Taliancich, Boylan and Copain lived with family for a few months.
“Zach actually moved in with my Dad,” Copain said. “When everything was in lockdown, that’s where we were living. He’s a real team player and a generous person. He didn’t really mind or have anything to say.”
Copain’s father offered to take in anyone else who needed a place to stay and figure it out from there.
“Later, when we realized we were never going to go back to campus, I instantly called our friends Nicole and Maddie,” Copain said. “I said ‘We should get a group of us together and get a place’ because New Orleans rent is expensive. I knew we were going to have to have roommates and we wanted to be together.”
The two-story house had an overabundance of storage spaces. Its four bedrooms and many closets were split between the seven residents. A year later, there are now six roommates.
“It’s nice to have this pod of people we can safely interact with,” Miller said. “We all know that we can trust each other to be safe… It’s smaller, but it doesn’t feel terribly lonely.”
Miller and Taliancich have gone on stay-at-home double dates with roommates Shelbi Copain and Zach Boylan, the other couple of the house.
“During New Year’s, we went to a restaurant and sat out on the patio and it was nice because nobody else was there,” Taliancich said. “But when we first moved in here, it was a lot of ‘hey, y’all want a drink in the living room? Just the four of us?’”
Despite the amount of people, the situation has worked out well for the group. While two of the couples permanently live in the house, a third couple is split between two homes.
“I don’t think that’s weird. The fact that there’s mostly couples in the house,” Miller said.
The group throws their own events to keep each other busy, including a “Hallo-Week” where each day followed a specific theme for the roommates’ costumes.
Now, following the trend of other New Orleans homes faced with a cancelled Mardi Gras, the house is decorated on the outside. Its purple, green, and yellow plates, bead necklaces, and masks making the perfect backdrop for their continued tradition of a week of costume parties.
“It’s been pretty great. Under the current climate we’re very fortunate because we live with each other and with friends. That kind of creates our own bubble,” Boylan said. “We can’t hang out with as many people as Pre-Covid. But in this Post-Covid world, having a bubble of friends that we don’t have to social distance from, because we live together… It’s been enough and it’s been very fun. A lot more than many people have.”