If you’re like many young adults taking their relationship one step at a time, you know that the decision to move in together is an important one that takes much consideration. Not only can it be a huge leap in your relationship, but it can be a big change for your finances as well. You’ll need to have a solid understanding of how to budget as a couple, split expenses, and weather financial setbacks. It’s also important to get a sense of how your partner handles their finances before you start pooling money together.
Though millennials love their high-speed streaming, instant messaging, and their one minute tele-commute, there’s one thing they’re taking slow: relationships. Millennials get married an average of four years later than adults did in 2000. That doesn’t mean young adults today aren’t committed to their relationships. For the most part, young adults now take more time to consider the fit of their relationship, which may be one of the reasons the divorce rate has been declining for years.
Young adults use this extra time to adopt a pet or two, take vacations, and move in with their partners before marriage. According to the Census Bureau, the number of adults ages 25–34 living with a partner is up 12 percent from just 10 years ago.
So before you move in together, use these handy printables to open up the conversation and make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your relationship and finances. We also put together a flowchart to help you decide if you’re ready to take the leap.
1. You Have Similar Wants in a Living Arrangement
Before committing to living together, it’s a good idea to get on the same page as far as expectations in a place to live. Think about your biggest priorities when it comes to your home. Do you prefer having a short commute to the city, or a large outdoor space?
Will you need additional space for either one of your hobbies, or do you want to split a smaller space to save money? No relationship can exist without compromise, so it’s perfectly normal if you have different visions of the perfect place to live. When it comes to making it work with your partner, it’s more important to be able to have a conversation about what’s most important to each of you and to adjust to each other’s needs.
2. You Have Experience Cohabitating
Do you and your partner already spend four or five nights a week together? If so, you’ve probably already been exposed to some of their habits that are only revealed when you live together. Maybe they leave the toothpaste cap off, or they use their phone in bed — we all have our quirks. Knowing if your partner’s habits are mostly endearing or infuriating to you before moving in will help smooth the transition.
Taking a vacation together can be a good trial run for living together. Since a vacation is outside of your normal routines and environment, you can use this time to establish new routines as a team, without the stresses of work and responsibilities.
3. You’ve Discussed Finances In-Depth
Though 94 percent of millennials discuss finances with their partners at least once a week, these conversations don’t always mean they know each other’s total financial health. Another study reveals that 44 percent of Americans admit to keeping financial secrets from their partner.
So even if you talk money frequently with your partner, make sure your conversations go beyond asking them to Venmo you for takeout. Discuss their income, credit score, debt, and budget to get a sense of their overall financial stability. This ensures when you both enter into a financial contract, like renting a house or apartment, there are no surprises.
Whether there’s a financial imbalance or not, take time to discuss how you’ll split bills and utilities.
4. You’ve Worked Through Arguments in the Past
In every relationship, it’s inevitable that you’ll disagree with your partner, and living together can raise the stakes when it comes to fighting. That’s why it’s important to know you both already have a healthy way of working through disagreements. Consider how important it is for you both to have your own space to cool off if need be.
If you haven’t had a big argument yet, it may be a good idea to talk about how you’ll work through any issues that arise once you’re living together. To get ahead of any possible disagreements, you may want to agree on who will do what chore before moving in.
5. You’ve Talked About Why You’re Moving in Together
It’s important to be on the same page about your future together, and what moving in means for the both of you. Many people may see it as the next step towards marriage, while others see it as a convenient way to save money with someone they already feel comfortable with.
Even if you think you have a pretty good idea about where you stand with your partner, it’s always better to be crystal clear about what both of you expect — even if that means no expectations. It’s simply to ensure you’re both on the same page.
6. You Can Communicate Your Needs
Whether you need your alone time or get irritated with shoes scattered on the floor, it’s important to understand what your needs are in a living arrangement and be able to communicate them to a partner before it becomes a conflict.
If you find yourself bottling up small inconveniences until they become larger problems, this may be a good time to reassess your communication skills. Practice asking for what you need with your partner before living together. Since communication is a two-way street, encourage your partner to voice their wants and needs more frequently if they tend to be less confrontational as well. Either way, having more open discussions can only stand to benefit you and your relationship.
7. You Have Money Saved in Case it Doesn’t Work Out
As with making any major financial shift, it’s important to have an emergency fund to cushion you in case anything goes awry. You may need more furniture or new decor to make your shared place feel like home. If you’re buying or moving into the house, there could be a number of hidden repairs or problems that quickly need fixing.
In addition, having money saved gives you the option to move out should you want to. The last thing you want is to end up trapped in a living arrangement that no longer works for you because you can’t afford anything else. Having some money saved puts less strain on your relationship, so both you and your partner know you’re in it because you want to be.