So, you’re thinking about taking the plunge and moving in with your significant other, eh? Becoming one of the more than 4.5 million cohabiting couples in the UK? You’ve been together for a while, you’ve met each other’s families, you’ve been on holiday together, all that jazz. You spend virtually all your time together. And let’s face it, nobody loves living out of an overnight bag. So, it’s time, right?
Well here’s the thing. When you move in together, it’s a whole different deal than staying at each other’s houses on alternate nights and weekends. You’ll be in a shared space, and shared spaces mean shared drawers, finances and chores. All of which come with the possibility for shared frustrations. So, how can you make moving in together as painless as possible? Read on to find out more.
First things first: are you sure you’re ready? This might be a stupid question, but you should be sure you’ve seen each other at your absolute worst before committing to sharing a home. Spend as much time together as you can, go on holiday together (if you haven’t already) and talk about what you really want out of life. Your partner wants kids, but you don’t? That might not be a problem now but could be in the future, so make sure you’re on the same page.
Getting Some “Me” Time
Cohabiting doesn’t mean you have to be in each other’s pockets all the time, but you will spend a lot more time together. So, it’s important to still maintain some of your own routines, friendships and activities. Otherwise, it’s a sure-fire way to go a bit stir-crazy! Everyone still needs their own space from time to time, so make sure you ask for it.
You don’t need to like all the same things – in fact it’s great if you don’t! That way, you can go to yoga/play computer games/watch your favourite TV show in peace, while your partner’s out with their friends. Or vice versa.
Avoiding Financial Fallout
While it can be a good idea to have a joint “house” account for things like bills and weekly shops, we would not recommend going all in in the shared finance stakes. Keep your accounts, credit and investments separate, but be honest with each other about money. Not that we’d want it for anyone, but in case you do break up, it’s much easier when you’re not sharing all your finances.
In fact, why not draft a “prenup” – not an official one, of course (unless you’re a Kardashian or something), but maybe a spreadsheet where you list each other’s financial assets and liabilities, regular costs and major purchases. That way, in case of a break-up, you’ve got a record of where you both stand financially.
Moving in together can be a good time to review your finances too, and figure out where you can make savings and how you can divide up responsibilities like food shopping, rent, utilities etc.
Addressing Pet Peeves (and Pet Peeves)
No matter how much you love your partner, they’re sure to have little (or not so little) habits that really wind you up. Maybe they snore, maybe they never put their socks in the laundry basket, maybe they have… questionable taste in TV shows. Whatever it is, for every annoying little niggle you’ve got about them, they’re sure to have one about you too! Let’s face it, you never were good at doing the washing up, and as for the time you take to get ready, the less said the better …
You may not have even noticed certain things before, but there’s nothing like living together to really highlight each other’s flaws. So, it’s important to make sure that you talk to each other (ideally as soon as possible) about things that annoy you. Make a joke out of it if need be, or if it’s a particularly contentious issue, try getting out of the house and chatting over dinner. If it’s chore-related, come up with a rota or incentive scheme. Whatever the issue, communication and consideration are key.
If you’ve got a pet, you’d better make sure your partner gets on with him or her. Obviously, this is less of a problem with a hamster or goldfish, say, than with a cat or dog. But you’ve got to consider things like allergies, and the fact that what you may find cute (Aww, look! Fluffy’s drinking from the toilet again!) your partner might find … somewhat less than cute. Also, there’s always the risk that your pet might actually like your partner more…
Knowing Your Rights
On a more serious note, one thing you do need to be aware of if you’re going to move in together is that cohabiting couples have fewer rights than married ones. They don’t have any legal status (although there is a bill going through Parliament to change this), no matter how long they may have been together or even if they have children! So, if you should split up, you may find that you are out of pocket.
But all that aside, moving in together is one of the biggest and most wonderful steps you can take as a couple. Provided that you’re open with each other, communicate well, and make sure you both want the same things out of both your relationship and life in general, you’ll be able to live together in blissful, cohabiting harmony.
At least, until the next time Fluffy chews your partner’s favourite shoes …