Moving in together
What should you know before you ditch your leases and settle into sweet domestic bliss?
For most, moving in with a partner is a major milestone. Goodbye, long commutes. Hello, lease-long breakfast buddies. But while cohabiting can bring you closer, it could also open the door for conflict or conversations of the relationship-changing kind.
What to expect
Puppy love all over again.
A honeymoon period
Living with your partner tends to send a jolt of renewed excitement into a relationship. At first, you might find yourself competing to be the ‘best roommate they’ve ever had’, which could translate into doing all the dishes, rarely leaving the house, staying in and watching TV with your best friend in bed.
But while this period is great, rest assured that it'll eventually fade.
... and the uncomfortably intimate
It almost goes without saying, but moving in with your partner also means you'll see a lot more of them than before.
Like a lot, lot more.
We’re not just talking about the sight of them passed-out after Friday drinks or scrambling to put their face on in the morning, either. You’ll also be getting intimate with their finances and financial habits and what they mean for your shared living situation.
What's good to do
Moving in's a pretty big step. Don't do it rashly.
Talk about why you're moving in and what you want out of it
While it might just seem like the 'done thing', moving in too fast could lead to more harm than good. That's why before you commit to sharing your space, it's important to ask yourself what your reasons are.
Will living together help you cut down on the financial and emotional cost of a long commute? Or is it because you lug half your house to their place and back each weekend?
Knowing your reasons will also help you answer this next part: what are your goals for moving in together?
Let’s say you’re moving in because you're saving up for a house together and the cost of two separate leases is too much. Now could be the time to revisit your shared savings plan or consider buying some new, long-term furniture.
Plan out how you'll pay for your new place
Before you start browsing house listings, you’ll need to sit down and take an honest look at what you can afford.
In general, it's best not to spend more than 25% of your combined (or your own) salary on rent. But as with everything else, you'll need to chat to your partner—whose salary could be quite different from yours—about what they feel comfortable spending.
Then you'll need to consider how to split your monthly rent. One simple way to keep things fair is applying the percentage rule.
This means that the two of you might resolve to put a percentage of your income away into a separate account, which you'll use to pay the rent as well as other shared costs.
This is by no means necessary though! There are plenty of other ways to manage your household finances, and you shouldn't jump into getting a joint account if you're not ready for one.
Chances are good the two of you already have your own things already, like your own furniture or entertainment subscriptions. Why double up?
Things like your Netflix accounts will be quick to merge, but don't stop looking for cost-splitting opportunities there. Say you pay for a membership to a carshare program. Most likely your partner will need a car from time to time too, so why not share the cost with them?
When it comes to furniture, try applying the “keep, sell, donate or toss” rule. This means deciding what you both want to keep, what you're willing to sell for a little extra cash, and what you can give away.
You'll need to be practical about it, too. If your favourite desk doesn't fit in your new apartment? It doesn't fit in your new life.
Set some house rules
Start off by considering what you'll need from one another. Like say, will you need to set limits on each other's screen time, so you can stay connected with each other instead? Or will you need them to adhere to a set cleaning schedule to keep your shared space nice and clean? While it's easy to let things go in the name of love, being clear about your needs or boundaries will help keep your relationship healthy.
Then take your finances into consideration. An important ‘rule’ to set early on is how much you’ll budget every month for your groceries, rent, entertainment, or shared savings goals.
It can also be helpful to set a regular date to chat about all things finance, like if you need to adjust your budget for a change in circumstance or save money for repairs. Again, it's important to approach these chats with your boundaries and needs in mind.
If these dates don't sound like the most romantic thing in the world, think of it this way. They're a chance to check in with how you and your partner are doing, and with what the pair of you quite literally need.
Have an exit strategy
Break-ups are tough enough without the added stress of sorting through belongings or finances. While you don't necessarily need to talk about it right now, it's good to know how you'll financially disentangle yourselves if things go wrong.
This might mean knowing which item of furniture belongs to which person, or each being responsible for a separate utility. This latter strategy could also help if the relationship ends in a little friction — it means you can either be civil and pay each other what you owe, or cover the full bill in your name on your own.
Let's put it all together.
Have you ...
Found a place that works for the two of you, both in terms of location and rent?
Discussed and found appropriate ways of managing your money together, like creating a shared budget or sharing subscriptions?
Established a set of rules for how you'll run your household together, like divvying up chores or setting 'budget chat' dates?
Links & resources
Here's what you should know - and prepare for - before you move out.
A joint account has pros and cons. Find out more.
All the home loan buzzwords explained, tips for saving and first home saver schemes
A quick primer on what you need to think about, financially, if you split up.
Let’s take it from the top, and get it straight. What should healthy financial behaviour in a relationship look like?
You're willing to talk about your money
The good, the bad, and the under-the-bed cash stash: when it comes to talking about money, you're willing to bare it all. While some topics might make you squirm or others leave you searching Google for answers, you ultimately recognise that money's far too important a topic to remain silent about.
You share or understand each other's financial values
While you don't need to see eye-to-eye on every little detail, sharing or respecting each other's financial values is important. It means you'll understand each other's financial habits and how they fit into the broader picture.
You make and manage financial decisions together
Good relationships are founded on equality. That means you should have an equal say on all things, no matter whether it's where you go for dinner or when you leave, but especially when it comes to how the two of you manage your finances.
Sometimes, what looks like a fair or normal way of dealing with money together might just be the opposite. Here are three major red flags - but be warned: they're often subtler than you'd think.
Your partner shuts down every money conversation
Communication is the lifeblood of relationships. If your partner's not willing to talk to you about debts, savings or income flow, even when you're splitting the rent, it's not a positive sign.
They make you feel like a fool
No-one likes being made to feel incompetent, especially about something as important as money. If your partner makes you doubt your financial ability - or worse, openly mocks it - it could be a sign they're trying to make you rely on their support.
Money responsibilities feel unfair
While we all want to support our partners, taking on too much financial responsibility can be a burden, both logistically and emotionally speaking. Moreover, it could negatively impact your own savings and financial future.