Moving in with a romantic partner is an exciting step in a relationship—a sign that both partners see the relationship progressing forward. Apartment hunting, selecting furniture, watching favorite TV shows, cooking dinner together…the honeymoon phase of cohabitating can definitely be a whirlwind. And we’re all for the excitement, we promise. However, couples would be wise to keep one foot planted firmly on the ground throughout the process. While moving in together doesn’t legally bind you to a person like marriage does, it definitely binds you together unofficially. From divvying up expenses to sharing responsibilities, here are six conversation topics to cover before you sign that lease.
How will you pay rent? Will you divide the expense down the middle? Will you each pay a percentage based on your income? Will one of you foot the bill? Can you both afford the apartment you have your eye on? There is no one “right way” to approach paying rent, so sitting down together and coming up with a plan that you both feel comfortable with is important.
Another expense-related conversation, how will you divvy up bills? Consider gas, electric, water, internet, streaming services, etc. Will you divide the bills up so that you each have certain expenses in your name? Will one partner front the costs and have the other partner reimburse them at the end of the month? Again, there is no one way to divide things up, but it’s worth discussing ahead of time.
- Bank Account
Consider whether you will open a joint bank account. Just because you choose to cohabitate does not mean that you need to combine finances, but some couples find it helpful to streamline shared expenses by opening a separate shared bank account.
- Credit Score
Talking about finances can feel awkward, but it’s important to dig into the nitty gritty and exchange credit scores if you plan on moving in together. A person’s credit affects more than just the interest rate of their next loan—it can impact their eligibility to move into an apartment in the first place. If your partner does have a lower credit score, it isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. That said, the sooner you discuss the situation, the sooner you can come up with a game plan for how the two of you will maneuver your path forward.
- Ground Rules
Rules and boundaries might not be the most romantic topic of conversation, but it’s wise to discuss them nonetheless. Is one of you an early riser and the other a night owl? How will you accommodate each other? Does one of you love to host friends and family, while the other is more introverted and appreciates their space? Maybe you agree to check in before inviting people over or decide to only host company on the weekends. Again, engaging in these discussions might feel like you’re nitpicking at each other, but setting important boundaries preemptively is better than realizing your habits deem you incompatible two months into a two-year lease.
- Personal Possessions
Sharing is caring…usually. If you’re prepared to share a home with your partner, odds are you’re comfortable with the idea of sharing your soup bowls and shampoo too, but rather than just assuming that you’re both on the same page, open up the conversation. Are there items that are personal? Your great-grandma’s China? Your partner’s bicycle? Your restaurant leftovers? We certainly hope that your relationship doesn’t crumble because your partner ate your last enchilada, but stranger things have happened. Discuss personal property before it becomes an issue.
Bonus Tip: Keep the conversation going.
Even if you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s of your shared living situation, there will likely be things that come up that you didn’t foresee. Hopefully, having some of these conversations ahead of moving in together will strengthen your shared communication and make it easier to engage in continued conversation as the two of you continue to grow and adapt.
At The Humphreys Group, we are firm believers in the power of collective wisdom and believe that engaging in authentic discussions is a fantastic way to learn from each other and from ourselves. To encourage meaningful conversation, we host periodic Conversation Circles, which provide an opportunity for women to have authentic discussions about money, including our fears, our successes, our memories, and the attitudes, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years. Are you interested in participating in a future Conversation Circle? Want to partner with our team to host a Circle of your own? Contact us today!