Last year this time we covered some legal and relationship issues of moving in together. As the decision looms for many new grads, our bloggers Melissa and Audra are taking another look at this timely topic.
Melissa: If saving money is the primary reason to move in with your romantic partner, stop right there. You’ll be miserable sooner or later, and all that rent money you save for a few months is going to moving-out fees, breaking a lease, or buying new furniture after having to split mutually purposed items. Save your relationship, go on cheap dates, and don’t move in.
Audra: As a person who does live with my boyfriend, I agree with Melissa that you should never move in together just to save money. Sure, it could help with funds in the long run, but that’s not enough reason to jump into a level of commitment that you and/or your partner may not yet be ready for. It may not go sour, but living with your BF/GF isn’t like living with a close friend; it’s more about deepening your relationship and being secure and comfortable enough in your relationship to bring your lives together in more serious way.
Melissa: But if you genuinely want to spend all day and all night with your significant other, moving in together may be the right step for you! If you spend every morning and night together already, having a new place could entirely make sense.
Audra: However, it’s crucial to realize that spending all your time together is nowhere near the same as sharing a living space. Chances are that when you are hanging out together or going out on dates, you aren’t doing dishes or trying to decide who is going to clean the bathroom this time. In a lot of ways, living together can take a lot of the mystery and romance out of being with your significant other. You may learn things that you don’t like about each other and you may end up fighting all the time. However, you can also uncover many things that are totally endearing and tell you a lot about the person you are dating. For example, our first few days of living together, my boyfriend and I fought about everything. Literally everything…right down to how to properly use a Swiffer and where the furniture should go. That said, I also have seen another side of my boyfriend that makes me feel confident that I’m with the right person. Despite hiccups, we mesh when it comes to the big things and major decisions that arise when you cohabitate. It’s almost like getting married, and yes, just like with a marriage, when you choose to part ways, legal and financial issues can arise.
Melissa: Decide whether you’ll be moving into someone’s place or if you’ll be getting a new place. Determine who will be on the lease and what your system for rent and bill payments will be before you sign anything.
Audra: Personally, I think it’s always better to get a new place together. This way the place is new to both of you and it’s your place as a couple. When you move into an apartment where one of you already lives, it may continue to feel more like their space, decorated and furnished for their comfort. To me, it makes all the difference to experience the big move together and make all the initial decisions together, even the small ones, such as which cabinet the dishes will go into.
Melissa: Decide if you want to move into a group situation or your own place. Some couples prefer to live with roommates, as it breaks up tension during arguments and can be more fun, while others want a private home to themselves.
Audra: Although I can’t personally comment on a group type living situation, I do know from my years at college that mixing your relationship life with your friend life (or in this case, roommate life) can get really complicated and awkward. Privacy is more difficult to come by, everyone else is pretty much stuck in the middle of any conflict, and it’s difficult to set boundaries in this situation. So on a personal level, I think it’s always best to get an apartment just for the two of you. It’s difficult enough to get used to living with your significant other without bringing more people into the mix.
Melissa: A good rule for moving in with another person is to not go into anything that at least one of you couldn’t afford on their own. Even if you plan to spend the rest of your lives together, things happen, and maybe you want your own space after all. If it’s a studio or a one-bedroom apartment you’re renting, make sure either of you can afford the rent alone, or if you have a two bedroom that you’ll be able to sublet the other room, if necessary.
Audra: Agreed! You may think that you will be together forever, but sometimes circumstances change. You could find yourself in a big financial mess should you decide to part ways, so play it safe!
Melissa: Though I’ve never lived with a partner, I’ve learned from the successes and mistakes of my friends. Discuss everything before. Do you want a pet? Will you share cleaning responsibilities? Are there rules for morning bathroom time? Even if you’ve been together for a long time, issues and disagreements can arise when you’re sharing a living space.
Audra: Although it is impossible to address every single living situation before you actually move in together, it is key to discuss as much as you possible can before jumping into this commitment. As you’ll quickly learn if you choose to move in with your partner, compromise is key to successful cohabitation.
Melissa: That being said, living together can be a wonderful thing! You’ll get to know your partner in new ways and definitely achieve a different sense of independence, along with codependence. Many adults spend their lives living alone, while others live in couples and big families. It’s important to explore all types of living situations when you’re young, to know what suits you and what works best.
Audra: It’s true! Living together can really be a wonderful thing to experience! Despite the ups and downs, living with my boyfriend has been one of my best decisions and I’ve learned so much about myself and him in the process.
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