So you’ve been dating this guy (or girl) for a while, and you’ve realized that it’s time to go beyond just a drawer at each other’s places. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up together each day, share a cup of coffee before work, and talk about life with each other over home cooked meals (that you made together) every night? And the savings! How much money will you save by pooling your resources and sharing expenses? Before you start living in the rose-colored dream of cohabiting with the love of your life, though, it’s time for a reality check. Sure, getting ready for work together each day sounds great, until you realize you have to clean your love’s toenail clippings out of the sink before you can brush your teeth. And beyond the obvious hygiene/housekeeping issues, there are some other important questions to ask yourself before you shack up.
Are You Ready for Your Relationship to Change?
While you’re dating, you usually see each other when you’re at your best or somewhat close to it. Are you ready to see your significant other in his comfy sweats every weekend or in her sweaty and smelly gym clothes every night? Moving in together erases some of the mysteries of your relationship and you have to be ready for that.
Where Will You Live?
Is one person planning to move into the other’s place – or will you be getting a new place together? If it’s the former, be prepared for some issues to come up. When someone’s lived in their place for a while, it can be hard to have another person come in with new stuff and new habits – and taking up space. Starting off on neutral territory can help prevent that feeling of being invaded.
How Will You Divide Labor?
You probably don’t need to be reminded that it’s the 21st century and women don’t have to do all the housework. It’s a good idea, though, to come up with a plan for dividing the chores that have to get done every day. Understand that the work won’t always be 50/50. When one person works 80 hours a week, and the other only works part time, then it only makes sense that the partner with fewer responsibilities take on more at home. If you view your cohabitation as a partnership, where each person pulls their weight, then you’ll probably be more successful than those who make rigid lists or never communicate.
How Will You Divide Expenses?
This is a biggie, and absolutely must be addressed before you pack a single box. Be honest with each other about your finances (including your credit history) and what you can reasonably afford. Develop a plan for handling all of the house obligations, whether you split 50/50, or one person handles the rent while the other covers utilities and food, or any other combination that works for you. No matter what you decide, always pay the bills that in your name each month to protect your credit history and keep a checking account in your own name.