There are many things to consider before moving in together. Romance without finance is a nuisance!
In the good ole days, marriage came before moving in together. While there are some couples that still recognize and believe in this tradition, many other couples have no problem with testing the waters before putting a ring on it. Whether you agree with living together before marriage or not, it's becoming much more acceptable these days. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Jumping into this type of commitment unprepared is the quickest way to put a potentially great relationship onto the rocks prematurely.
Talking excitedly about how cool it's going to be living together isn't enough discussion to ensure good results when it comes to moving in together. There are important factors to consider and all of the pros and cons need to be addressed before any action is taken.
Who is going to do the actual moving in? You? Your significant other? If the situation calls for one person to move into the home of the other, the logistics need to be ironed out. The person doing the moving will have to think about how much of their belongings they'll be able to bring and what may have to go into storage. The person welcoming the new roommate will have to prepare to let go of/share certain spaces/areas in the house and in the case of not having enough room, might have to get rid of some of their own stuff.
Couples agreeing to get a completely new place together have their own set of decisions to make and discuss about with each other.
Match the Finances With the Logistics
Money shouldn't be the most important part of a relationship but when a couple decides to move in together money can't help but become a major priority. Start crunching the numbers together. This is the time when you have to completely trust your significant other to share your financial situation and vice-versa. That doesn't mean giving access to bank accounts and pin numbers, but more along the lines of being honest about how much debt you both currently have (i.e. credit cards and student loans) and knowing how much each of you earn on a monthly basis versus how much would need to be devoted to rent/mortgage, utilities, bills, groceries, etc.
Knowing those crucial numbers will make it easier to estimate how much you both could potentially afford, which will directly influence what type of place you can get together (for couples moving into a new place together at the same time). It's also important to know each other's credit score. If one of you has a score that's in the crapper, that will likely mean putting financial pressure on the other. These are vital things to talk over. If bad credit is an issue with one or both of you, talk about the possibility of looking into bad credit loans. However, should a loan be in the plans, make 100% sure the person taking on the loan has the means to keep up with the payments in the long term.
Lastly, talk about who will pay what. Are you going to go 50/50 on the rent/mortgage? Will one of you cover the rent/mortgage, while the other covers other expenses? If one person earns more money than that other, those issues will need to be addressed in order to make sure no one is using their financial hierarchy to call the shots. It's all about compromise and just because a significant other isn't able to match their sweetie in terms of money, it doesn't mean they can't make up for it in other ways (i.e. making sure the groceries are taken care of, keep the house clean and organized, etc.).
List Bad Habits & Pet Peeves
The saying is true that you really don't know someone until you've lived with them. Regardless of how long you've been with your partner, living with that person will always cause you to see them in a different light. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is a good idea to sit down with your significant other and talk about what bad habits you have, as well as what pet peeves make you run up the wall. This is where honesty couldn't be more important.
What you learn from your significant other as a result of this discussion may blow your mind or not surprise you at all. But the point is to tell each other exactly what they're getting into and what will be coming along with the territory. Hashing out differences and coming up with solutions that involve compromise for potential situations is an effective way to understand how to handle each other at the worst of times, not just the best of times.