Picture this: you’re six, maybe twelve months into a relationship and things are better than great. They’re perfect. Your partner just gets you. You’re spending more nights together than you are on your own, and you start to wonder…should we move in together?
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, romance is in the air, and couples – yes, that includes you – might be thinking it’s time to get a place that you can both call home. But before you jump in and sign a lease (or a mortgage!) together, there are a lot of things you need to discuss to make sure you’re both making the right decision.
To help guide that conversation, here are five things to discuss before moving in with your partner.
1. Food, diets and cooking
During the honeymoon stage, you might be excited to cook for your partner, or you might be happier to splurge and treat your special someone to your favourite restaurants. But when you’re living together, the novelty of cooking elaborate meals may wear off. You’ll need to understand what you both expect in terms of cooking meals and ordering in, what food you want to eat regularly and how to divide cooking duties. Here are a few points to discuss:
- How often do you and your partner prefer to eat out, and how much are you comfortable spending each month at restaurants?
- What type of food do you each like to eat, and are there any preferences or dietary restrictions you need to know about each other?
- If you love to cook, but your partner can’t stand it, will they take care of the dishes and cleanup?
2. Managing day-to-day household upkeep
Speaking of cleaning, it won’t go well if one of you always feels like they’re picking up after the other. We all have our idea of what’s considered ‘clean’ or ‘tidy’, but here are a few ways you can share the load:
- Make a list of all the household chores – it can include everything from cleaning the kitchen, floors or bathroom to taking out the trash, doing laundry or even changing lightbulbs.
- Agree on how often each item needs to be completed; for example, you might think the bathroom should be cleaned weekly while your partner feels monthly is just fine.
- Divide the chores equally based on how long they take to complete and how often they need to be done, and consider the time you each have available. If you work part-time or from home while your partner commutes to work, you might be able to take on an extra chore or two to ensure you have more free time together.
3. Make sure your sleep and relaxation goals line up
Getting an adequate amount of rest every night is an essential part of our overall health and wellbeing. We all need our beauty sleep – yes, some need fewer hours than others, and some get their rest at different times. So, if one of you gets up early but the other stays up late, how will you balance that out?
- Understand your partner’s work schedule, what time they generally wake up and go to bed.
- Are they an early bird or a night owl? If you’re on opposite sleep schedules, you each need to be respectful of the other’s needs, and you might want a place with some extra space to act as a buffer between the bedroom and living room or office.
- How do you relax after work? Some need a bit of alone time to recharge when they get home, while others want some time to gab and vent.
4. Talk finances
It’s one of the most awkward conversations to have, but it needs to be had. And when you’re talking about finances, it’s best to put it all out on the table:
- Create a budget, including utilities, rent, groceries and even things like shared Netflix, Spotify or other subscription services.
- Figure out a way to fairly share those expenses. You can split them 50/50 or divide them based on income. For example, if one of you earns $60,000/year and the other earns $40,000/year, you could split them 60/40.
- To increase transparency, so you both know that everything is paid, you may want to consider a shared bank account for joint expenses. If one of you prefers to manage the finances, the other can simply deposit their portion into that account each month.
- Decide what you’ll each bring into the new home and what you want or need to buy together.
- If one of you has a pet, how will you share those expenses? Beyond buying bags of dog food or fresh kitty litter, you should both understand if or how you’ll share bigger things like vet bills. It might be worth considering pet insurance for peace of mind. If you do choose to go that route, BCAA Pet Insurance has flexible coverage options to fit your budget.
- Talk openly about your savings goals. If you’re renting, do you plan to buy a home? How much do you save each month?
5. Be prepared for the unknown
Once you’ve agreed on a meal plan, set up a budget, split the chores, decided what to buy for your new home and signed the paperwork, you need to make sure you’re protected.
In the event of an accident, home insurance can help cover your home, your new furniture and the personal belongings you’re each bringing with you. And if you’re buying a home, home insurance might even be required for the mortgage. Here are some things to keep in mind when buying home insurance:
- Whether you’re signing a lease or purchasing a home, there are advantages to having you both listed on the policy; in some cases, it may even be required. Speak to a BCAA Insurance Advisor to find out more.
- Your policy should include the value of your home and belongings – including big-ticket items like art, instruments or electronics.
- If you make any significant renovations or want to adjust your coverage, you both may need to sign on to the changes.
- If you need to make a claim and you’re both listed on the policy, your insurer will write the cheque in both of your names – another reason you should consider opening a joint bank account. Start by checking with your bank to see what options are available.
- Don’t leave savings on the table! If you own a vehicle, there might be discounts available for bundling your home and car insurance. And, if you both own a car, you could get a multi-vehicle discount too. Insure two or more vehicles with BCAA Optional Car Insurance and save 10% per vehicle.
Moving in with your partner is an exciting new adventure. Yes, there will be challenges, and you’ll both need to make compromises to make things work; however, when you find a good match, making sacrifices will make you stronger as a team. Talking openly about the topics listed here will smooth the transition and help you reach your shared goals together.