So, you think you're ready to take the next step and you're seriously considering moving in with your boyfriend. But how do you know if you, your relationship, and your finances are ready?
First, Acknowledge It's a Big Change
Even if you think you love your boyfriend, living with him is a big life change. Living with him means you'll see him all the time. While that might sound romantic and wonderful – getting to watch your favorite show on Netflix whenever you want and sharing candlelight dinners whenever the mood strikes you – it doesn't just apply to the good times.
You'll see him after he's had one too many with his friends, and he'll see you when you are dealing with Aunt Flo's monthly visit.
While seeing your boyfriend more might sound like a dream come true, you'll want to make sure you're just as ready for the downs as you are for the ups. In that vein, we've got the following samples of questions that must be answered before moving in – and any potential messy complications.
30+ Questions to Answer to Before Moving in with Your Boyfriend (or Partner):
How Will You Address Finances?
You know that awkward feeling you get when you're out to dinner with someone and the bill comes and you both look at each other, not knowing who will pay for what? Now imagine that feeling, but with everything you need to live. It's not a fun experience and can cause a lot of stress.
Make sure both of you are crystal clear about who's paying for what.
Sample questions to ask include:
- Will you split rent and utilities 50/50?
- Who will be responsible for paying the bills and managing finances?
- Will you have a joint account, or will different bills come out of your accounts separately?
- Who handles paying which bills, and how do you expect reimbursement? Via check or via app?
- Who gets to keep the living space in the event of a breakup?
- Do you have enough money saved in the event you need to move?
- Will the other partner be expected to help subsidize these costs?
- Will you both start contributing equally to other expenses like furniture, home repairs, and maintenance, or cleaning services?
I know I just spit out a boatload of questions at you, but I'm trying to make a point. Make sure you have all of your financial details figured out ahead of time. Finances are one of the big reasons couples (both married and otherwise) break up, so tackling it before it becomes a problem can help you both save major headaches down the road.
How will you address problems?
No matter how well you and your boyfriend get along, problems will come up. Even if your relationship is picture perfect, emergencies will happen in your life (or his) that can be stressful on the both of you. Your pipes could freeze, or his family could be an absolute nightmare. There's no way to tell what will come your way.
Having a problem-solving method you can count on before problems come up will save both of you a lot of stress (and potential nights spent on the couch). Make sure both of you have a way you can bring up issues in your relationship and in your life that will help both of you address the problem instead of just fighting about it.
Sample questions to ask include: How do you prefer to resolve conflict? How should we handle when the other gets angry? Can we agree to not “fight dirty” when we argue?
How Do You Feel About His Friends and Pets?
If you're moving in with your boyfriend, you'll likely spend a lot of time around his friends….and if he has pets, they'll become your new roommates too. It's important to really assess how you feel about each of these components of your partner's life. After all, they're probably not going away. If you can't seem to play nice with the friends he has over more often, then your potential living space might be too contentious to stay in. Similarly, you're also likely to end up taking care of his pet at least now and then, especially when your partner isn't able to do so themselves.
Sample questions to ask include: Do you feel like you can get along with his friends, or do you find you're constantly butting heads? If he currently has pets, can you stand being around them? If you're a cat person, and your boyfriend has a slobbery dog, can you handle being drooled on?
What Does Our Future Look Like?
When considering the possibility of moving in with your boyfriend, you'll want to have a good long think about why. Are you just looking to save money by living together? If that's the case, it might be better for you to find a roommate you are romantically involved with.
But if you find you're already spending most of your nights together because you want to spend time with each other, it might be better for you to consider moving in together. Or, if you think you are ready to take the next step, and you're thinking about marriage down the road, then moving in together could be a great next step.
Sample questions to ask include: Have we talked about the future enough that I feel comfortable moving forward? What is our shared timeline? How long will we stay in our first shared home and if not, where will we move after?
Again, you don't have to have concrete answers to these questions – but it's great to have talked them through so you have a general idea about where you and your partner are at emotionally.
If the both of you have answered these questions and still feel good about your decision to move in together, then great! Pop the bubbly! If not, then you'll want to spend some time addressing the issues that come up before moving forward. Moving is super expensive and isn't something to be taken lightly (even if splitting living expenses seems too tempting to pass up!)
4 Additional Money Tips When Moving in With Your Boyfriend
Moving in together (whether pre-marriage or as part of getting hitched) is a big step in any relationship. Once you’re sharing the same space, it seems like you’re sharing everything – from food to soap and even clothes. But does merging your spaces mean that it’s time to merge your finances? Quite possibly, so we're here to help navigate this situation. Below are our best tips on how to manage money when living together with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Tip #1 – Have to Have the “Awkward Money Chat”
Before you ever move in together, you should first have a discussion about where you are (and where you want to go) financially. This is the time to be completely honest with each other. Financial expert Erin Lowry famously calls this “getting financially naked.” And we're talking about the nitty-gritty here. Do you have student loans? Credit card debt? Tell your partner before you move forward. You shouldn’t wait until your rental application gets denied to have that talk.
This is going to be your foundation if you guys end up discussing marriage and a lifelong partnership. If one of you isn’t prepared to merge finances upon moving in, don’t feel like you should just because you’re moving in together, but at the same time, it's important you know where your partner is financially since moving in together is, ultimately, a highly-financial endeavor.
Related: Here's a post on how to best talk about money with someone you love.
Tip #2 – It May Be Time to Make a New Budget
New living arrangements means new expenses. For example, you’ll go through all of those things (like toilet paper) that used to last for months in half of the time.
So, if both of you are open to it, your first course of action should be to create a new budget. If you’re merging finances, calculate your new spending amounts. Just make sure to track your new expenses and adjust your spending as needed! Even if you’re keeping your finances separate, or calculating up who-owes-what based on a percentage of income model, a new budget is a good idea.
Tip #3 – Split Your Costs Fairly
Since you’ll be buying more of everything, it only makes sense to split some costs. This can include splitting the cost of rent, of utilities, and even groceries. You won’t necessarily need two Netflix accounts anymore, so you can save $9 a month. Same goes for any other subscription services you’ve picked up over the years.
Another idea would be to divide up your shiny new budgets. You can volunteer to buy groceries if your partner pays for the cable or vice versa, but the most important part of managing your money while living together is communication. What's “fair” varies couple to couple, so don't assume that 50-50 is the best way to determine what's best for your joint household.
Tip #4 – Stay Organized
Moving in and living together can be a chaotic process. Make it easier on yourself (and your partner) by coming up with some sort of system for organizing your finances. This can be as simple as making shopping lists for groceries, to as complicated as spreadsheets or finding a finance app you both like. Then use it! Figure out what works for both of you so that you are both engaged and aware of your finances.
Tip #5 – Keep a Savings Account for Yourself
I don't want to rain on anyone's parade. And having a savings account just for yourself doesn't mean you don't believe in your relationship or that it won't work out. But women need to be smart in today's economy. I also can't think of anything worse than breaking up with your live-in boyfriend and being unable to move because of your finances. Even if it's just a small amount in a “Rainy Day Fund” inside of an app like Qapital, or if you're automating savings into a high-yield savings account, it's important to have a little tucked away – just for you– in case you need it.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2017. It has been updated in August 2018.