Cohabitation can be a beautiful thing. It allows a couple to split the financial burden of living expenses. It lets you take that all-important next step in your relationship. And, crucially, it’s a way to spend quality time with someone for whom you care greatly. For many couples, moving in together is an easy decision.
However, like other significant life decisions, it pays to think things through. Communicating in advance can help save you both from the potential fallout of miscommunication, unmet expectations or – worse still – legal headaches.
Especially if you and your significant other plan on buying, you want to make crystal clear arrangements for everything from financial responsibility to who gets to decorate the bedroom. To help in your discussions, here are four topics to consider.
Location, Location, Location
Whether you plan on renting or buying together, come to an agreement about location. Should you move closer to your workplace, their workplace, or some well-serviced spot in-between? What do you both want from a neighbourhood?
Are excitement and night-life more important to you, or would you rather move somewhere near a good school, anticipating children in the near future? Talking about location can be a roundabout way of discussing future plans and current obligations.
Reconciling Design Tastes
When you lived alone, you were the sole aesthetic authority. But now that you’re sharing a space, you both need to make concessions. Is there a way of reconciling your tastes to arrive at a shared look you can both be proud to call home? As always, be open and accommodating about their opinions while sticking up for yours.
The Legal Stuff
The legal side of cohabitation: often the trickiest to navigate, but often the most important to decide in advance. If you are buying a home together before marriage, or one party is moving to the other’s already-purchased home, you’ll want to explore your options with a real estate lawyer.
Do you draft a cohabitation agreement? What options do you have for the property title, and what is the right of survivorship in case one of you unexpectedly passes away? It’s heavy stuff to consider, especially in a fledgling relationship, but if things are getting serious, it’s better to nip it in the bud now than wait for a less convenient time. All you have to do is call a professional online wills and estates lawyer to get started.
Fair Divvying of Expenses and Responsibilities
Commonly, couples divvy their financial responsibilities based on their incomes. For instance, if one makes 30% more than the other, they will pay 30% more for bills, mortgage payments, etc. Alternately, you may consider a joint account, out of which all expenses are withdrawn. Others prefer to take the hardline approach: a 50/50 split is the only fair option.
Whatever you choose, now’s the time to decide – before financial responsibilities become intertwined. This Balance article about creating a couple’s budget is an excellent place to start – it contains valuable, actionable information for “the big talk.”
With all the tricky stuff out of the way, you can focus on what’s most important: sharing a space with someone you love (or, at the very least, like a lot)!