Some couples make a very conscious decision to move in together with lots of discussion, negotiation and planning before the big "move in" day. The planning can take months if not years. Or in my case, it just happened, seemingly overnight.
One night a month into our relationship, my boyfriend came over and just never left. When I finally gave him some of my treasured closet space, I realized the deal was done -- we were officially living together. It just happened... naturally.
All kidding aside, there are lots of things to consider before you take the plunge to live together. It certainly takes the relationship to another level of intimacy and commitment but it can also spell the end if it's not done properly. Here are some things to consider.
His place, your place or new place?
One of the biggest questions is where you're going to live: his place, your place or a new place? Based on my experience with my circle of friends (who range in ages from 20s to 60s), it often depends on your life stage and lifestyle.
One friend of mine in her early 30s owns her own condo and her boyfriend is moving in. Another friend in her early 40s is keeping her condo as an investment (which she will rent out) and moving into a new home with her boyfriend and his kids, who will live with them part-time. Many of my female friends in their 40s or 50s are well-established in their careers and own their own homes or condos as do their boyfriends. I know one couple who are keeping each of their homes while they go back and forth between the two.
Protect your assets
Wherever you decide to live, make sure that you and your partner protect your investments (and all of your assets for that matter) with a written or legal agreement that clearly spells out obligations and responsibilities. Take the time to ensure you both agree to a well-documented plan, sign it, put it in a drawer and don't think about it again. Think of it as insurance to protect each of you -- probably never needed but good to have just in case.
Expenses? Don't expect it to be a perfect 50/50 split
The next big question is how to share expenses. It's not always 50/50 nor should it be. After all, you're living together, not splitting the dinner bill. One person in the relationship might make more money or have more financial obligations than the other.
For my thirtysomething friend who owns her own condo, she and her boyfriend have to decide whether he pays rent, half the mortgage (and earn equity in the condo) or cover all the other bills. You need to have the conversation and ensure that both people are comfortable with the financial arrangement.
Decide on a plan for chores and bills
OK this isn't exactly the most exciting part of living together but it's important. You need a plan to share chores and bills. If you pay the rent or the mortgage, maybe he covers all the bills? Do you keep separate bank accounts, open up a joint account to cover living expenses or a savings account to save up for a big trip or a bigger condo? And in terms of chores, maybe one partner likes to cook so the other person does more of the grocery shopping. Figure it out beforehand so you're not fighting over whose turn it is to load the dishwasher.
Have one big argument before you move in together
Yes, you read that right. Have one big blow out before you move in. I don't mean a minor disagreement over what to have for dinner or what movie to watch on Netflix. I mean a big blow out.
Why is this so important? Because the reality is that once you are living together, there are going to be disagreements. Some will be small: top on toothpaste, eating snacks in bed or toilet seat up or down (we all know the right answer to that one) but some arguments are going to be much bigger on more serious issues when one or both of you are really, really angry.
A big argument shows how each one of you communicates and handles crises and conflicts. This is key in a relationship. If you can have a big blow up and make up without harbouring any hidden feelings or resentment, then you can be confident that your relationship has a solid foundation and has a good chance of weathering the bad times. So have a big fight and get it out of the way.
Make sure your shared home is balanced
He has furniture, clothes and favourite items and so do you. You're a neat freak and maybe he's a little more casual. Be flexible to allow his things to blend with yours. Who knows, maybe you'll discover a new style for your home! Or you'll just tap into patience you didn't think you had as he insists on keeping that old 80s armchair with the worn out fabric.
Keep your energy for the fun stuff
Don't let your life together become about the routine of chores and bills. If it's the right relationship, it should evolve naturally, almost effortlessly. Keep your energy for the fun things that you enjoy doing together.
As much as I plan and prepare in my work life, I'm learning to live in the moment and savour the spontaneity and joy of my personal life and living together. And I find that I'm giving up more and more closet space without stressing about it. It must be love!
Are you planning to move in together with your partner? Would love to hear from you! Tweet me at @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.
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