There are many great reasons to move in with your significant other. For one, shuttling back and forth between houses can get tiring, and what’s more, you’re paying to maintain two homes even though you are basically living together.
To make it is easier on both of you, it might be time to consider moving in together.
Moving in with your partner is a step forward in your relationship, but it can also be a challenging transition. This post will help you to choose the best living arrangement for you as a couple, as well as guide you in what conversations you and your partner can have to make the move easy and stress-free.
1. Discuss Your Long-term Goals
It’s important that you’re both open about your reasons for moving in together. One of you may see the move as a way to save on rent, while the other may consider it a step towards marriage.
Even if your goals are different, it doesn’t mean living together won’t work out. Agree to assess your relationship after a certain number of months have gone by to see if expectations are being met.
You should also consider your longer term housing goals and how moving in together will affect them. Are you hoping to upgrade to a larger or newer rental in the future? Are you looking to buy property in the next couple of years? If you’re a homeowner, are you planning to upsize to a larger home?
In all of these cases, moving in together can be beneficial. Right now, you and your significant other are probably both paying separate housing costs and other monthly bills.
When you combine your households, you may be able to cut your expenses significantly. Together, you could afford the rent on a bigger space, or save up faster for a down payment on your first home.
2. Consider Your Housing Options
Keeping your long-term goals in mind, decide what kind of housing arrangement will make the most sense for you as a couple right now.
First, you’ll need to decide whether one of you will move into the other’s home, or if you will find a new place together.
Your Home, or Mine?
If you decide only one of you will move, choosing who could be a simple decision if you’re renting a small studio apartment and your partner has a spacious condo. However, if your living arrangements are similar, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each home.
Some things to consider include:
- Rent and other living costs, including utilities
- Size: consider the need for personal space now that there are two of you
- Amenities, such as on-site laundry, closet space and storage, and adequate parking
- Proximity to school or work, grocery stores, parks, gyms, and other places you frequent
One last thing to discuss is the lease. If you’re moving into your partner’s condo, will you be a co-tenant or simply an occupant? Make sure your partner also checks the rules for occupancy in their lease and informs their landlord that you’re moving in.
Finding a New Home
You may prefer the idea of starting a new chapter in a space you’ve chosen together. If you do opt to look for a new home, you’ll need to decide if you’re ready to buy, or if renting is the better choice.
Renting might be best if you carry debt and/or don’t have significant savings, if you may need to relocate for personal or professional reasons, or if you’re uncertain about your future as a couple (it could be challenging to divide assets that you co-own if you separate).
Buying property could be the better choice when you don’t have any significant debts and have saved enough for a down payment (usually 10-20% of the purchase price), and you’re both ready for a long-term commitment.
Once you choose a housing arrangement, you have some other tough decisions to make, such as what to do with your belongings.
3. Combining Households
Chances are you’ve both accumulated a lot of household items over the years, and unless you’ve found a significantly bigger space, you won’t be able to squeeze two households worth of belongings into one.
First, make a list of the larger items that you both own, such as sofas, tables, shelving units, and dressers. Then decide together which ones you’ll keep. For example, you probably don’t need two kitchen tables.
Next, inventory the rest of your belongings, such as electronics, kitchen appliances, equipment, and even clothing. The items you’ve decided to get rid of can be sold, donated, or thrown away.
You’ll save time and money if you take care of this before you move, rather than paying to move those belongings and then disposing of them later. Plus, you can use the extra cash from selling your belongings to help with moving expenses.
4. Be Real About Money
While some prefer to keep their finances private, it’s a good idea to be aware of each other’s financial standing so you can divide expenses fairly.
Have an open and honest conversation about your income, monthly expenses (including non-essential expenses such as meals and entertainment so you have a better picture of each other’s spending habits), savings, and outstanding debts. After you’ve had this discussion, decide the best way to share expenses.
It’s a good idea to keep some expenses separate. Maintaining responsibility for personal bills, like credit cards and cell phones, can help you to build or maintain your individual credit score.
Shared expenses such as rent can be divided evenly, which is a good option if you have a comparable cash flow. However, if one of you earns significantly more, you might agree to split your expenses by income.
Discussing your finances in advance can build trust between you and your partner, and having a plan to divide expenses can ensure a smooth transition as you combine households.
5. Agree on Responsibilities
Another thing you can do before moving in together is to divide household responsibilities.
Consider your expectations around cleaning and other household responsibilities. Are you a neat freak, or are you fine with a few dirty dishes in the sink? What about your partner? You should both be clear about your standards, and try to be understanding of each other to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.
You can decide together whether to just pitch in when needed, or divide the chores 50-50.
Understanding each other’s preferences and creating a plan in advance can help both of you to manage expectations and avoid conflict.
6. Put Your Plans in Writing
Once you’ve made all of your arrangements, the last step is to create a Cohabitation Agreement, which is a written contract for unmarried couples that describes the terms of their living arrangement and lists their separate or shared property and debts.
Writing a Cohabitation Agreement allows you to create an initial plan for living together, including the division of expenses and household duties. In addition, it can encourage you to have conversations that you may not have had otherwise, such as a discussion about each other’s spending habits and savings goals.
Enjoy the Transition
Living together for the first time can be exciting as well as challenging. Prepare for the transition by sharing things like long-term goals and personal finances in advance, and proactively dividing expenses and household responsibilities.
Moving in together is a big step in your relationship, so enjoy the process of combining your lives, creating new habits and routines, and strengthening your connection.
Are you planning to move in with your partner?