Moving in together is a big step, so be sure to tackle these important items before taking the plunge.
Congratulations — you and your partner have decided you’re ready to live together. That’s a big step, and one that could end up being a very positive experience for both of you. But before you take that leap, there are a few logistical matters you’ll need to deal with first.
1. Decide where you’ll live
If you own a home and your partner doesn’t, or vice versa, then moving out of a rental and into a personally owned property could make the most sense. If not, then you’ll need to decide whether to move into one of your existing rentals, or whether to rent a new place together. Or you might even be willing to buy a place together.
There are different options to play around with, but make sure the logistics involved work for both of you. For example, if you’re self-employed and work from home frequently, you may not want to move into your partner’s bottom-floor apartment in a bustling building, what with all the noise. Similarly, neither of you will want to live somewhere that’ll leave you with a rotten commute to work.
You’ll also need to choose a home that gives you and your partner enough space to coexist peacefully. Remember, the two of you might do just fine cramming into your studio apartment on weekends, but when you’re talking about a long-term living arrangement, that space could quickly get too tight for comfort.
2. Figure out how you’ll split the bills
Once you and your partner decide where to live, you’ll need to come up with a system for sharing the expenses involved. You might choose to split all common bills, like your rent or mortgage payment, heat, electricity, and cable, evenly down the middle. Or you might decide to share the costs proportionally based on your respective incomes, if there’s a large discrepancy there.
If one of you will be moving into a home already owned by the other, you’ll need to figure out a fair way to handle that, too. Will the former renter pay a certain amount of money into the existing monthly mortgage payment? And how will the property taxes be divvied up? These are just some of the questions you need to answer before packing your bags.
3. Get on a budget
Maybe there is a sizable gap between what you earn and what your partner brings home. Or maybe you’re coming into your living arrangement with different pre-existing expenses, like student loan payments. No matter the specifics, you’ll need to make sure the living expenses you jointly take on are ones both of you can afford.
To this end, it helps to set up a budget that maps out your different bills. That way you can keep tabs on how much you’re spending individually and collectively to ensure that your living costs are manageable.
4. Stick some money in the bank for emergencies
If you and your partner will be buying a home together, or moving into a home one of you owns, it’s important to have money on hand in case something major breaks — say, a water heater, air conditioning system, or kitchen appliance. A good idea, therefore, is for each of you to dip into your own savings and put some money into a separate account earmarked for home-related emergencies. That way, when things go wrong you can withdraw from that account without having to worry about where the money will come from.
5. Map out your exit strategy
With any luck, you and your partner will move in together, and all will be great. But in reality, that may not happen, which is why you need to sit down and discuss what you’ll do if things don’t work out. If you rent a home together, who will stay and who will go? And will the person who goes be responsible for covering a portion of the rent?
Similarly, if you purchase a new home together, you’ll need to decide what happens to it if you decide you no longer want to live together. Will one of you buy the other out? Or will you sell that property and split the proceeds (or, in the case of a loss, split the difference)?
It’s never pleasant to think about your relationship imploding or your living arrangement not going well. But if you don’t come to an agreement ahead of time, things could get even more ugly and stressful down the line.
Moving in with a partner is a big step, and one that could be emotionally, logistically, and financially fulfilling. Just make sure to check these important items off your list before taking the plunge.
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