Moving in with a significant other is an exciting step in your relationship. Planning for cohabitation is an emotionally charged time and while you may be feeling the love when you first move in together, your living situation can quickly go awry if you're not prepared for all the things renting with a partner might throw your way. There will be ups and downs, perhaps even a few surprises along the way, but overall open lines of communication, compromise and mutual respect go a long way to ensure the lasting success of your joint living arrangement.
Define Financial Obligations
One of biggest points of contention between significant others who rent together stems from finances. Be sure to have an open, honest conversation and set expectations for what costs will be shared and what you as individuals will be responsible for prior to moving in together. A good way to hold each other accountable for monthly rent and the overall wellness of your home throughout the duration of your tenancy is to include both of your names on the lease.
Maintaining a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive or Dropbox can help you easily track bill due dates and payments, shared costs of shopping lists, furniture and other household items as well as miscellaneous purchases such as take out orders and taxi fares.
Sharing responsibilities around your home can help build a foundation for a healthy long term partnership. Like any partnership, cohabitation comes with compromise. Assign the chores you absolutely despise to your significant other and vice versa. If you both hate one chore equally (we're looking at you, 'cleaning the bathroom') alternate completing the task or tackle it together, which will significantly reduce the time you have to spend scrubbing the tub or taking out the trash. Whatever system you decide, make sure it suits both of you to avoid any conflict or resentment down the line. And if you notice your partner putting in a little extra dirty work, make sure to let them know their effort is appreciated.
Aside from shared chores, it's good to get in the habit of cleaning up after yourself as a way to show respect for the spaces you share with your partner.
Make It A Home, Together
Collaborating on your home's design is important to ensure both you and your partner feel comfortable at home. Individually create an idea book on Houzz or board on Pinterest with images of your ideal home style, then sit down to compare designs and figure out what your new style together will be. It may require some compromise, but creating a space that represents each of you is the first step in creating a home together. Check out other expert tips for designing your rental for more ideas on furnishing your new place together.
Maintain A Healthy Living Environment
In any living arrangement, open lines of communication are essential to maintaining positive relationships in your home. Don't let issues fester; if something is frustrating you address it sooner rather than later to resolve the issue immediately and avoid causing larger, long term problems. Be mindful of how your significant other deals with disputes and address the situation accordingly.
Leave the stress of your workday at your office. If you work from home, set up boundaries so you can separate your work life from home life. While you may still need to check email or do some work from home, nothing says monotony like being stressed out day after day because of work, something that your partner likely cannot control. Walking in the door with a smile regardless of what happened earlier in your day is one of the quickest ways to brighten both of your days.
Be conscious of your partner's daily schedule and try to respect it as much as possible. For example if you get up very early for work and your partner does not, try and limit the amount of noise you make in the morning. Additionally, make sure to give advance notice of any plans that may affect your partner's routine, like having friends over or coming home late.
Enjoy Quality Time Together
Living with a partner doesn't mean you should stop scheduling some time to spend together. In fact, knowing that you'll see your significant other everyday can often lead to taking their company for granted. Keep in mind waking up and going to bed next to someone doesn't equal quality time and be sure to schedule some quality time in your schedules to keep your relationship a romantic, rather than platonic, one.
Finding things you can both do together around the house is also a great way to inject some quality time in your routine without having to explicitly plan it. Whether it's gardening, cooking or tackling a weekend DIY project, doing activities around your home is a great way to make it yours, plural.
Get Some Alone Time
Equally important as quality couple time is alone time. Defining personal spaces around your home can help ease the transition from independent living to cohabitation and give each person a place to decompress. Even if you live in a studio, knowing the desk, recliner, sofa bed, etc. is your space can help maintain your mental sanity.
If you own a television, invest in a DVR. Say Yes to the Dress vs Homeland; you don't want to fight this battle. Recording shows to watch while you're enjoying alone time is one of the simplest pleasures of cohabitation.