Cohabitation is an increasingly popular trend among modern couples looking to ramp up commitment and lower living costs, especially in urban areas. No matter how you look at it, moving in with a significant other is a big deal and one that should be made with a plan you can both agree on. There are several ways to make the transition to sharing a home smooth and set up for long term success.
Move in for the right reasons
Ensure that you’re moving in with your partner for the right reasons. This shouldn’t be because your lease is up, or homeownership is too expensive on your own. Those reasons may be the catalyst for the decision, but have an open and honest discussion about what makes sense for your relationship. Some couples move in together quickly, others take a bit more time, whatever your journey is, just ensure cohabitation is the next step in your relationship and you’re not rushing each other for financial or practical reasons.
Decide on a financial strategy
All couples are different, and the degree to which you combine or keep your finances separate will be based on your comfort level. It is important to acknowledge however that eventually, household expenses will be difficult to completely keep separate. Larger expenses like your mortgage and property taxes are easy to divide, however household items from furniture right down to laundry detergent can be harder and could bring the potential for argument. Find a plan you can both agree on, whether that means a joint back account for household expenses or a spreadsheet to keep track of everything you owe each other.
Compromise on style choices
You may be one of those rare and lucky couples that have a similar decor style, but for the vast majority of people you’ll be learning to strike a balance between your two styles. This doesn’t necessarily mean neutralizing your home, but just ensuring that both personalities are represented. You may be combining furniture from past apartments or shopping new, but ensure your sympathetic to pieces that are meaningful and important to your partner, even if they don’t match your vision, and be equally as transparent about pieces you don’t feel you can work with. Starting a Pinterest board or searching through home decor blogs and pictures can help you see the similarities in your style and where your two looks can fuse together.
Find a way to divvy up chores
Figure out what you both like to do when it comes to household chores. Don’t assume this part will figure itself out without communication. It’s perfectly okay for one person to do all the cooking or cleaning if that’s what they prefer, as long as the overall burden is shared by both parties. The early riser may be the one to make coffee or take the dog out, while the person who gets home first may be the one largely in charge of dinner. Problems arise when one person feels a larger burden is being put on them and they are not getting the support they need and may not feel comfortable addressing the matter. Dividing responsibilities, opening up communication lines, having clear expectations and sharing the burden means both parties will have more free time to enjoy.
Plan purposeful together time
When you live separately, time spent together always seems special because seeing each other isn’t a given. Don’t lose that when you move in together. Despite seeing each other every day, most of your unplanned face time will usually be when you’re winding down from your day, cooking dinner, prepping your lunch or trying to get all your errands done. This usually means your attention is divided and you may not be in the best mood. Don’t just rely on the negative time in between obligation, ensure you still plan special outings or time with one another where your attention is completely focused on enjoying each other’s company.
Give each space and alone time
Your relationship is a huge part of both of your lives, but won’t be your lives. It’s best to acknowledge and speak openly about this before you move in, eliminating any guilt either party might feel about wanting time alone or with friends. Striking a balance may take some getting used to, but planning is key. Maybe once a month both parties get a night when they can invite friends over without the other person present. Or you both stagger your workout or errand schedule to give each other an hour alone every few nights. Alone time doesn’t necessary mean banishing the other party from your home either, a great way to acknowledge a shared need for me time is to create a nook in your home that can be used for purposeful alone time, whether it be reading, browsing online or catching up on e-mails. In condos, this can be as simple as a reading chair and side table with a room divider for added privacy.