Moving in with a significant other is a major step in a relationship, and is often met with nervous excitement, and maybe even a bit of uncertainty. Studies show that cohabitation has increased by 900 percent in the past five decades, with 18.5 percent of couples combining spaces to save money and to live on a shared income. Sharing a space for the first time is a huge learning experience for most couples, so preparation can seem a little daunting at times. Communication is key in any partnership, but especially when moving in, so be sure to discuss some of these helpful tips with your significant other if your entering this next exciting season of your relationship.
Talk Finances First:
Having a conversation with your partner about finances is an important step before making the decision to move in together. Being upfront and honest about your spending habits, expenses, current financial health, and any lingering debts or loans is a crucial first step. A recent study was conducted to compare relationship health in relation to financial health, and it found that 30 percent of relationships fail when finances become a problem. There’s a lot of great resources with useful tips about how to talk finances with your partner, so take advantage and don’t be afraid to breach this, often difficult, topic with your significant other.
The next step in addressing finances is to establish a budget together and get your check books in order. Creating a budget prior to your house hunt can help to establish how much disposable income you have to spend. This does not just go for rent, a mortgage or down payments, either. This budget will also help you two determine how much you can spend on home furnishings or appliances you currently lack, in addition to helping you calculate how much money you can spend for groceries, utilities, and repairs. Splitting rent or a mortgage bill can be a challenge when it comes to deciding how much each person should be contributing to each bill. But, being honest about your current income and financial situation will help you to decide how much each partner can pay towards rent, and avoid any confusion or disorganization when that first monthly bill comes in the mail.
Should you Rent or Buy:
House, condo or apartment? Rent or buy? When hunting for a new space, there are many aspects and features you’ll want to consider before making the final decision with your partner. Speak openly with each other about how long you expect to be in this space to see whether it makes sense to rent, or to invest in a property to buy. If you decide to buy a home together, make sure it has all the amenities that you want, and that you both are on the same page about what aspects of a home that are most important to you. Can’t hurt to start your search now.
All of these factors could make or break your new home. If you and your partner are looking for a forever home, it’s also important to discuss the future possibilities a home can offer. Buying a home that already has needed amenities can save money in the long run, and eliminate the need for costly structural improvements and repairs. So, be sure to discuss what each of you need and want in your new space, and make a mental note to keep in mind when your house hunting. This will also, help to reduce the possible candidates, and make the decision process easier.
Additionally, when discussing the pros and cons of renting or buying, you and your partner should discuss the paperwork that will be involved with each. It is imperative that both of your names are on a lease, mortgage or bill of sale, as tenants can legally be evicted by a landlord or property manager if a person who is not listed on a lease is found to be living in a rental home or apartment.
Combining Interior Styles:
Combining two people’s belongings into one living space isn’t easy, especially when you have two completely different tastes in interior design and home decor. This is very common, proving that opposites do attract!
The next step before making the big move is to envision a design for your new space, while being sure to equally take into consideration both partners’ personal styles. This is also the perfect time to organize and establish which home furnishings you need, which ones you already have, and what to do with the extra pieces that are no longer needed.
When deciding which pieces are no longer of use, or maybe you just have duplicates of them, there’s a lot of great options to let these items go. Taking inventory of each of your belongings before you box everything up will save you time, stress, and trips to the curb or dumpster upon your move. It will help you to visualize where you have doubles, such as beds, couches and coffee makers, and what items you will need to buy new, perhaps a kitchen table or new bath mats and shower curtains.
Donating the duplicate piece of furniture or appliances is a great option for charity and the environment. An item you no longer need will become an affordable option for someone else, and you will get a tax write off because of it. The Salvation Army offers a convenient pick-up service for donated items that comes right to your door. It’s as easy as just scheduling an appointment right from their website. If you choose to sell any items you no longer need, classified sites like Craigslist and LetGo are two great, user-friendly options. They offer the options to sell or give away for free, and they each have an app that can be downloaded on any smartphone.
If you are keeping some of your old pieces, but they are a little rough around the edges or do not match your partner’s existing furniture, some DIY refurbishing is the way to go. All you need to do is take a trip to your local craft or hardware store for some paint and polish. This makes it easy to tie old furniture into any color scheme, and make them a great accent statement piece. It is also more affordable than buying new items, and will allow you to put some of the money you saved towards other things you need, or an item that you want to splurge on.
When it comes to the “need” part of your decorating list, don’t be afraid to invest in a few pieces with a larger price tag than what you are used to. You can even use some of the money you gained by selling some of your unused items or by refurbishing a few of the pieces you kept. Quality furnishings are a functional, long-lasting purchase, and will hold up better than the furniture you assemble yourself and stay in good shape longer than the pieces you got as a hand-me-down, ultimately saving you money in the long run. Pick a room that you spend a lot of your time in, and invest a little more into the pieces you add to that space. Comfortable and easy to clean living room furniture is always a great investment, especially if you and your partner entertain often. Or maybe you spend more time in your dining room, or office, and want durable seating and tables, that also add a grand center statement piece to the room.
Make Safety a Priority:
Once you have your finances in order, have picked the perfect space for the beginning of your life together, and have the inside furnished to fit both your styles, it’s time to make your home safe and secure for you and your partner. More than two million home burglaries are reported in the United States every year, with 30 percent of break-ins happening from unlocked doors or windows. Security systems are an affordable way to keep your home safe, while giving you a piece of mind that both you and your combined assets are safe. SimpliSafe is a great option, that comes in compact sizes, and is made of durable materials to avoid damage. It also, is built with double back ups in case of a power outage or if an intruder damages the keypad or device, the police will still be alerted immediately.
Explore the Area:
If your moving to a new city or unfamiliar neighborhood with your partner, do some research to learn about cool, upcoming events and notable attractions before your big move. Search for the restaurant all the locals rave about, or the little store front that offers deals you can’t find anywhere else. Moving to an unfamiliar place can be scary, but tackling it with the love of your life can be a fun adventure. Searching your new area restaurants, bars, shops and outdoor areas before your move will make it that much easier to find places that make this neighborhood feel more like home. It is also a great bonding experience with your partner, and can make the close quarters of your new shared space feel like a home base, rather than a house arrest. Getting out and enjoying yourselves on the weekends and maybe even taking some time to explore separately can be healthy for your relationship, and make living together 24/7 an easier transition.
The Dreaded Chores List:
No one will disagree that living with a significant other for the first time is full of new experiences, and one of the most difficult learning curves you will have to adjust to is navigating the other person’s cleaning and lifestyle habits. It’s easy to get frustrated with your partner if it seems that they aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to keeping your new space clean. This can very easily lead to an argument (or several), but preemptively communicating your cleanliness expectations with your partner will save you from many future arguments about whose turn it is to vacuum or when the bathroom was last cleaned. Dividing up a chores list based on what each partner is comfortable with is a great way to avoid conflict, while also helping to establish a routine that will keep your house clean.
Sharing a living space with a partner doesn’t mean that you have to share everything within that space, either. To avoid arguments over who called dibs on last night’s leftovers, or someone monopolizing the TV during a playoff sports game, discuss personal boundaries with your partner and be open to theirs, as well. It’s okay and very common to want your own space within your shared home, so talk with your partner and maybe even establish separate areas within your home that are strictly dedicated to each person. This can make it possible for one person to enjoy their hobbies and alone time, while the other has their own space to do the same. You can even goes as far as dividing up the fridge to stop that leftover thief, but maybe just start with the separate spaces.
The Exit Strategy:
When moving in together, it is important to always consider the possibility of the relationship not working out forever. Researchers have found that about 50 percent of couples who move in together will marry, but about 33 percent end in divorce within the first ten years of marriage.
Don’t let these statistics scare you. Every couple is different, but it is still an important step to plan for, especially being in a shared investment. This conversation can be one that’s easy to avoid, and no couple wants to talk about the possibility of a breakup, but being open with your partner about what items belong to who, and who will continue to live in the space, is a great starting point. This will make it easier for items and spaces to be delegated, and it also gives you and your partner an idea of what each of you owns or might even cherish. So, make it a positive experience by bringing back some nostalgia as you go through your belongings to figure out who owns what assets.