Moving in with a romantic partner is a huge relationship step. Adult conversations about money, chores, and expectations are crucial to cohabiting successfully.
Not only does it set the standard, but showcasing you can discuss sensitive topics is an essential indicator of whether you should take the plunge. Regardless of how quickly you move in together, it won’t work without serious adult conversations.
Conversations You Must Have Before Moving in Together
Although every relationship is different, if you are considering moving in with a significant other, there are some things that you need to talk about first. You should be having numerous conversations about money, chores, future goals, and values before deciding to move in together.
How To Split the Bills
There is no right or wrong way to mix finances and living expenses; every situation and relationship is different. You may decide on a 50/50 split of everything, or you may decide that you will split things based on percentages of income.
Your relationship is your own, and you should do what works best for both of you.
However, the vital component is “both.”
All too many relationships have one person strongarm the other into a split that works for them but is detrimental to their partner. For example, a 50/50 split when one person makes 3x the other and refuses to live to the lower earner’s budget would be problematic.
Ensure the financial split is fair to both of you before moving in together.
It’s difficult to determine how to split the bills when you have no idea what the expenses will be. It’s crucial to talk budget before moving in together.
Determine where you will live and how much housing will cost. Discuss the other bills each has, such as student loans, credit card repayments, car notes, and insurance. Consider inflation and how you will budget for unexpected expenses or rising prices.
Stepping up When Set Backs Happen
The best time to discuss what to do in a setback is before the setback happens.
Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. People get sick and lose their jobs. Family members age and need assistance.
A plan for weathering these unexpected events will help ensure your relationship remains strong in the face of adversity.
Saving Together, Saving Apart
Living together means you’ll have joint expenses like rent and utilities. If you plan on maintaining the relationship, you’ll also want to consider significant future costs like buying a house, getting married, taking trips, and even retiring.
It’s essential to discuss these savings goals and make a plan for achieving them. How much will each contribute to these big goals? Will you save jointly or independently?
When discussing joint savings, it’s essential to consider your future well-being. Although joint bank accounts are wonderful tools for saving for mutual goals, both partners must also maintain individual accounts. Even the best relationships can fail; you never really know what someone will do when they’re heartbroken.
Spending vs. Saving
Some folks are spenders, and others are savers, and they often attract one another. Savers feel frustrated when spenders blow all their money, and spenders feel controlled when savers tell them they can’t buy what they want.
You need to compromise with your partner whether you’re the spender or saver. Savers need to take a step back and accept a few impulse buys, and spenders must stick to a budget. Relationships between spenders and savers can thrive when both are committed and agree to meet in the middle.
To Help Family or Not
Every family is different. Some have social or cultural expectations that children will care for aging adults, while others value independence and take an “each man for himself” approach to finances.
Before moving in together, you must know where your potential partner stands on this complex topic.
Some people send their parents a monthly check to help them pay for expenses, while others would go hungry to support their nieces and nephews. Others take care of their home expenses first and expect their families to do the same.
You’re in for an awful surprise if you commit to living with someone who will put their family first without discussing it beforehand. If you have opposite values, you’ll need to compromise on how to assist family financially.
How We View Money
Different people view money differently. Some view money as power. It lets them do what they want and garner control over their own lives and sometimes even the lives of others.
Others see it as security. Money lets them breathe, gives them options, and makes them feel safe.
Money as a status symbol is a common trope. These folks flash their cash, trying to tell the world how important they are.
Different views of money can lead to relationship conflicts, so it’s best to get on the same page before living together.
Who Takes on What Chores
Chores are the bain of life. They never end. There’s always laundry, dirty dishes, full trash cans, and more.
Women often find themselves completing the lion’s share of the household chores while their boyfriends kick back and relax.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Men are equally capable of completing the household chores. Discuss expectations about who will do what and how often before moving in together, and don’t get complacent about it.
Living together is a test to see if you want to take the next step in a relationship, and if someone refuses to do their equal share, they fail the test.
The Emotional and Mental Load
It’s not always as easy as making a chore chart. Sometimes, one partner expects the other to tell them what needs to be done and when.
The argument is that they’ll do whatever; just tell them.
The argument falls flat when two adults are living together. We can reasonably expect all adults to have basic hygiene standards and know when the trash is full, or the dishwasher needs emptying. Adults don’t need mothers to tell them these things.
When someone asks you to “just tell them what needs to be done,” they assign you the household manager job. They’re telling you they refuse to use brain energy to think about what must be done.
Both partners should take equal responsibility for managing the home. This expectation must be laid out before living together and reinforced as often as necessary.
What Happens if We Have Kids?
Discussing whether you want to have kids in the future is a vital conversation everyone should have before entering into a serious relationship. It’s a critical component of the life goals conversation.
Sometimes kids don’t follow the plan, though. They come along before we’re ready, and we must adjust.
Discuss this before moving in. How would you manage the household if a baby entered the mix? What’s the tentative plan for childcare?
The plans can always change, but having a framework before the life-changing addition to your home will help you manage it.
You should also discuss overall relationship expectations before moving in together. Talk about open communication styles, how to handle conflict, boundaries, and values you won’t compromise.
Discuss your expectations for every aspect of your life, from your financial life to your social life, boundaries with family members or staying out late with friends, and boundaries in your romantic relationship.
Having these conversations upfront will help ensure a healthy relationship for years to come.
Moving in together forces you to merge your lives. That may mean making lifestyle adjustments.
Those used to having their friends over every night now must respect that the home is a shared space. You’ll need to discuss expectations about going out, staying in, who controls the remote, and how to spend your free time.
Some couples want the same freedom they had before moving in together, while others expect that moving in together means they’ll spend more time together.
Discuss your expectations before moving in. However, be open to change and compromise. The first discussion should never be the last. People grow and change their minds. The key to a successful relationship is growing together.
Do you want to travel the world, or are you a homebody? Do you want to have children? How do you feel about living a frugal lifestyle so you can retire early? Where do you want to live? Do you see yourself getting married?
These are essential questions to ask each other before moving in together. All too often, couples take the plunge without discussing what each wants out of life and are shocked to discover that they want very different things.
You shouldn’t take the next step in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want the same things out of life as you. It’s better to end things early to find someone who wants the same things.
Communication is critical in a relationship. There are probably issues specific to your relationship that you need to talk about that I wouldn’t even have considered.
The important thing is that you need to have these conversations. If you can’t communicate with your partner before moving in with them, maybe you should rethink moving in together.
Continue The Conversations After Moving in Together
These conversations should continue after you move in together. Life happens, things change, and your expectations last year may not be the same ones you have now.
Continuing to have these hard conversations in the face of change will lead to a happy, successful relationship.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.