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If you’ve been seeing your significant other for a while and all is well in your relationship, the next step may involve living together. In the UK, more people than ever are cohabiting before getting married, and a survey has revealed that living in a couple is the most popular living arrangement for those aged 16 and over. Moving in together may be one of the best ways to strengthen your bond, and it could potentially be a financially sound move. However, living together presents a few challenges, both relationship and money-wise, and there are things that you and your partner need to consider before the big day. To keep the love alive and to ensure that all goes well between you and your SO, here’s everything you need to talk about before moving in.
When should you move in?
Is there such a thing as the right time to start living together? In a Bridebook poll in 2017 which involved 4,000 British couples, it was revealed that the average couple dated for 17 months before moving in together. Bridebook’s founder, Hamish Shephard, said that the findings indicate that living together before tying the knot can “clearly be very positive steps to finding ‘the one’ and having a fantastic long-lasting marriage.”
Although the survey shows that most pairs wait at least a year before making the next step, identifying the ideal timeline for moving in together can be difficult—each relationship is different, after all. But you can take a good look at your relationship to find cues whether it’s the right time to cohabitate. Experts say that once you and your significant other understand and are willing to live with each other’s habits, then that’s a good sign that you can consider moving in. Being open and comfortable talking about money and finances is also a positive sign.
My place or yours?
Another thing to consider before moving in is where you’ll live. Should your partner move into your place, or should you be the one to relocate? When it comes to sharing a place, ultimately, the best thing that you and your SO could do is look for the best option that would make sense for your lifestyle and budget. For instance, if your partner owns a home and you’re renting, then it may be better for you to move into your loved one’s place. However, if your place is located near you and your SO’s respective places of work, then it may make more sense for your partner to move into your flat.
There’s also a matter of space—who currently lives in a place that can comfortably accommodate two adults? If you have the bigger home and the extra closet space, then your partner may want to move into your place. As for buying a new home together, it may be prudent to hold off on investing in a shared property until you decide to get married. Not only will it be less complicated, but it saves both of you from the trouble and heartache of dividing possessions and the home should the relationship not work out in the end.
My aesthetic vs your style
If you and your partner share the same taste in interior design, then you may skip this part. But if your SO prefers a traditional style while you lean towards an edgy and modern aesthetic, then you may have to sit down and talk about how you can compromise on this matter. A home should reflect both of your sensibilities, so finding out how to combine the best of both worlds is your best bet so both of you can enjoy and appreciate the decor. The best thing that you can do is to hire a professional interior designer who can successfully put together elements from each of your preferred styles. If money is a little tight, make a project out of it with your partner and learn to compromise and find a balance. This means that if your partner wants traditional furniture in the living room, then you can have an edgy and sleek fireplace and a state-of-the-art home entertainment system in the same space.
Having “the talk”
Talking about finances and paying bills may not be the most romantic things that you can do with your partner. You may not even look forward to having the money talk with your loved one as it can get awkward or uncomfortable. However, it’s one of the most important things that you should do to have a healthy relationship. Experts say that being honest and open about your finances can improve the trust and quality in your relationship. Moreover, it reduces the chances of having big financial problems in the future.
So how do you have “the talk” with your partner? The first thing is to determine your household expenses. This may involve rent, association dues, utilities, and groceries. Some people think that splitting the cost evenly is the right thing to do, however, this only works if you and your partner are earning the same—or close to the same—amount of money on a regular basis. If your partner is earning considerably less than you, then it may be difficult for your SO to pay their half. If this is the case, you can cover the bigger expenses, such as the rent, electricity, and water bill, then perhaps your partner can cover the groceries and the cost of your cable or Internet.
For personal expenses such as clothes, salon visits, and haircuts, each of you should be responsible for this and take care of your respective purchases. Also, don’t expect your partner to pay your credit card bills or insurance—you should take care of that on your own, the same way you always had before moving in.
Keeping the romance alive while living together
Living together makes you privy to all your partner’s habits and quirks, and you may discover something new each day about each other. But even though you’re living in the same space, it’s crucial to keep the spark alive to ensure a happy relationship. Make quality time for each other—remember that living together doesn’t mean that you’re spending lots of time together every day. Continue to go on date nights and flirt with each other. If it’s been a tough month, by all means, stay in, but make your meal a romantic one by lighting candles and playing soft music. Going the extra mile even though you’re living together is always worth it if you’re doing it for the person you love.
By being open, honest, and having the willingness to compromise, you and your partner can have a happy relationship while living under the same roof. As time goes by, there may be ups and downs as you continue to discover new things about each other, but be reminded that no matter what, it’s the love—and not the house—that binds you together.