Deciding to move in with your significant other is a big relational step. You learn a lot about a person when you live together – for better or for worse. So, before you dive in and shack up with your partner, make sure you’ve given it some serious thought.
What to consider before moving in with your significant other
There’s a lot to consider when you move in with your significant other. Maybe you feel like you’re ready because you’ve been staying at each other’s places for months. Maybe you’ve even traveled together for an extended period of time. This is all good practice but these scenarios are not equivalent to living together.
Here are some questions to discuss with your partner before you decide if it’s time to move in together.
Why do you want to live together?
What is motivating you to move in with your partner? Are you at a point where you just need to be together all the time because you’re so madly in love? Or, do you live on opposite sides of the city and you’re tired of commuting? Or, maybe it just makes good financial sense to move in with each other.
Whether your reason is based on romance or practicality, there is no one “right” reason. Each couples situation is different however, this is a big step and things can get messy if you rush into it.
Where will you live?
You know you want to live together but now the question is where?
Will you both move into your place, your partner's place, or will you look for something new?
If you choose to look for something new, where will that be? What locations are you interested in? What location fits both of your wants and needs?
What can you afford?
Part of the conversation around where you want to live will probably be based on what you can afford.
To answer this question you are going to need to start to talk about your personal finances if you haven’t already done so.
Before you and your partner move in together it’s crucial for you to have an open and honest conversation about the state of your personal finances. This is especially true if you are looking to purchase a home because questions around credit scores, income, and debt will inevitably come up.
How will you split the bills?
When it comes to paying for your rent or mortgage, how will you split it? There are a few different options to consider.
Down the middle – you each pay for 50%
Proportional – you split rent/mortgage payments based on take home pay. So, if rent is $1,000/month and you take home $5,000/month and your partner brings home $2,000/month then you perform a simple calculation.
- Total monthly take-home $5,000 + $2,000 = $7,000
- The percentage that you contribute to the total monthly take-home $7,000 / $5, 000 = 0.71% (you make approximately 70% of your households take-home pay each month)
- You pay 70% of the rent which is $700 and your partner pays the remainder, $3000.
One person takes on the entire expense. Perhaps you’re in a situation where one person is making way more money and is happy to take on the entire payment to help the other partner out.
When it comes to splitting the bills make sure you also consider your other living expenses. How are you going to split utilities, groceries, insurance, etc.?
Again, there’s no one-size fits all solution. You and your partner will have to decide what works best for you. The point is you will need to have these conversations. One way you can work through these conversations is to create a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement that is made by a couple that is choosing to live together. This document provides you and your partner with the opportunity to outline what would happen if things don’t work out.
While we never want to go into a situation thinking about the worst outcome it is super important to protect yourselves. And, it’s better to make these types of decisions when you're happy and thinking clearly versus when you are in the middle of a break-up and emotions are running high.
Who will manage the finances?
Who will be responsible for ensuring that the bills are paid and the electricity stays on? Are you going to divide the bills and the responsibility down the middle or is one person going to take the lead? Is one of you more organized or financially savvy? Or, does one of you want to take on the task?
Regardless of what you decide, it is still important that both parties stay informed about your financial situation and it’s up to both of you to check-in and ensure the bills are paid.
How will you split chores?
Maybe you take vacuuming, dishes, and mowing the lawn if your partner agrees to do the laundry, dusting, and emptying the trash. Or, you can take turns and change up the chore chart each week or each month. Or, if you can afford it, maybe you’ll hire a cleaning service. Just make sure you have a conversation and do some expectation setting so no one is disappointed when you begin to cohabitate.
The theme that runs through all of these questions is communication. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how you do things. The important piece is ensuring you are both on the same page — so keep the lines of communication open and flowing.
When couples should move in together
If only there was an easy answer to this question!
When you decide to move in with your partner will depend on your specific situation and what you deem to be appropriate.
According to a Quartz analysis of a Standard study called “How Couples Meet and Stay Together,” 25% of American couples that move in together do so after four months of dating.
At the year mark, 50% of couples had shacked up and by two years over 70% of couples had moved in with each other.
Regardless of when you and your partner decide to move in together, there are a couple of things you might want to consider prior to shopping for a new home.
Make sure you both feel ready. You’ve sat down and had an adult conversation and you are both genuinely excited about living together. You both agree that this feels like the natural next step in your relationship as opposed to the thing you should do because you’ve been dating for X amount of years.
Make sure you’ve had the tough conversations. Moving in together should be fun and exciting, but make sure you set aside some time to talk about finances, chores, and expectations. While you want this to be a positive experience you also have to be realistic. It’s better to work through the details now and get on the same page as opposed to being surprised by something after you’ve completely changed your living arrangements.
Make sure you have the right intentions. Just like having a baby won’t save your marriage, moving in together will not save your relationship. So, if you’re thinking that more time together and less of your own personal space will fix any problems you and your partner may be having, please think again.
Make sure you know how to fight. If you haven’t had a major fight with your significant other than you probably aren’t ready to move in with each other. As I already mentioned, moving in together is not going to fix any problems – it’s going to amplify them. And when you are living together your partner will do things that drive you crazy, there’s no escaping it. As a result, you need to know how to fight and how to make up if you’re going to cohabitate.
If you feel uneasy, maybe it’s too soon
If the sight of moving boxes makes you feel uneasy and stressed, maybe you're just not ready to take the plunge. There is no right or wrong time to make the move. If you feel like you’re being pressured by your partner to take a step that you’re not ready for — maybe you should be partner shopping instead of house shopping.
While there are tons of benefits to living with a partner such as sharing the expenses, having someone to hang out with, and splitting the chores, it can also be very challenging. When you live with someone else you have to make compromises and there will inevitably be things about your partner that drive you bonkers. Like anything in life, moving in with your significant other will have its pros and cons. Only you can decide if the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
–By Jessica Martel