Buying a home with someone is a huge commitment. But beyond just the financial aspect of combining your savings into one down payment, taking out a mortgage and making mortgage payments together, there’s a lot to consider before moving in with someone – no matter how long you’ve been together.
If you don’t learn to compromise, moving in with a partner can come fraught with problems, says registered clinical counsellor Melinda Freitas. And what may seem like a non-issue for one person may feel like a huge issue for the other.
For example, “older couples come to the table with lots of material goods—things that are a source of pride and achievement for them, but which their partner might see differently,” Freitas says. “What furniture to keep and what to sell can cause a lot of tension, but don’t let one person take over; both should feel at home in the new space…and that takes some compromise.”
It’s much easier for young couples who are just starting out, she adds. “Many young couples don’t come to the table with a lot of material goods.” As such, many of the items in the new home can be purchased together; this also requires compromise.
But whose furniture to keep, sell or donate is only one issue you have to deal with, when combining two homes into one. Here are some other things to consider, before you decide to purchase a home and share closet space with your special someone:
- Loss of Independence: This can be tough for anyone who has lived alone for an extended period of time. It’s important—and even healthy—to designate an area in your home where each of you can go for personal space and time. It’s also essential to remember that you aren’t giving up your individuality; instead, you are choosing to share your life with someone you care about. Be considerate of your partner and make sure you’re both comfortable in your home.
- Honesty and Communication: Both partners need to be completely honest about their expectations, feelings, concerns and dreams for their future as homeowners. How long do you want to live in this home for? What are your goals as a homeowner? What are your concerns about being a homeowner? And after this, what’s next? Communication is crucial to a good relationship and, without it, one or both of you is bound to feel resentful.
- Merge of Finances: You’ve probably worked out who is going to pitch in what amount for the down payment, but you need to discuss who will be responsible for everything else. How will you split regular expenses, like groceries and bills? What happens if an appliance needs to be fixed or replaced? Or, worse yet, you need to budget for a new roof? Merging finances requires a serious discussion, in order to eliminate possible conflict down the road.
- Housework: When it comes to sharing the household chores, figuring out who will do what ahead of time can save a lot of stress. For example, you could make it a rule that if one of you cooks then the other person cleans. You could also pick two days each month where you both agree to vacuum and wipe all surfaces. In most relationships, one person is usually “cleaner” than the other, so setting expectations ahead of time can prevent unnecessary arguments.
Buying a home together and living under the same roof can be a wonderful experience, but you shouldn’t jump into it without having some serious discussions first.
“I see patients who come to me at an impasse,” says Freitas. “Sometimes one or the other is ready to move forward and the other is stuck. If there is a conflict based on fear or one is not completely committed to the idea, I will suggest to couples that they reconsider moving in together.”