Before You Go From Dating to “Living in Sin,” Read This
Thinking of moving in with your partner? It sounds like a great idea: you’ll get to know each other better, and maybe save money. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, unfortunately. After all, the statistics for successful cohabitation are about the same as those for first marriages: nearly half end in failure. Even if it seems unromantic, you need to discuss some issues before you commit to cohabitating:
If you’re renting, you need insurance to cover fire or theft; make sure both your names are on the lease, so you can share a policy. If only one of you is listed, the insurance company will consider the other person to be a “guest” whose property might not be covered.
Leasing or buying:
If you move into his or her condo, and split the monthly mortgage payments, consider putting your name on the title and the mortgage deed. Otherwise, you won’t be the one building equity. And if things don’t work out, all you’ll have are fond memories of the money you spent every month.
Decide whose furniture you'll use, and what happens to the things you buy together, like the large-screen TV or couch. If you always sit in that chair, does it make it your property if you split up? Does it matter whose credit card was used to purchase the wine chiller? Make a plan for both spending and ownership of your stuff.
Be prepared for the landlord’s credit check. Go to annualcreditreport.com (the government-mandated, totally free credit-report site) to get your reports, then share your findings. You’ll learn a lot. And if your “roommate” has bad credit now, think about what could happen to your own finances when you move in together.
Before you move in, you can easily draw up a “cohabitation agreement” that’ll cover issues like those above. And it might be helpful to put domestic issues (neatness, loudness, refrigerator-stocking) into the deal, even though those can’t be upheld in court. Of course, you never want to go to court over a breakup. But talking about potential conflicts in the beginning means you’re far less likely to wind up fighting in the end.
Written by: Gemma Allen, Judge Michele Lowrance, and Terry Savage, authors of The New Love Deal
Illustrated by: Vidhya Nagarajan