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Mi casa es su casa?
It seems now more than ever that people are moving in with their significant others.
But is it the right move for you and your partner? How do you figure out if you can live together and what questions should be asking yourself and each other before handing over a set of keys?
We enlisted the help of relationship expert Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy, to give us her insight and wisdom on a decision that could drastically affect various parts of your life.
1. What's the goal?
First thing's first, state the obvious -- why do you even want to move in together? Gandhi suggests you hash it out on your own first and then ask the same questions together to see if things line up.
Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions: Is it because we want to be together as much as humanly possible? Are we doing this to save money? Is one person's lease up and this is just “for now”? Are we doing this as a trial to get married?
"Be sure that you're both aligned on the 'why' so that you're both on the exact same page," Gandhi says.
2. How have you managed crisis in the past?
"If you've ever lived on your own (either rented or owned), you know that crises can happen," Gandhi tells "GMA." "There can be water leaks, insects, loud neighbors or a whole host of other things that can make life difficult to nightmarish. How do you two handle big stressors as a couple?"
Knowing how you react when you're in crisis will help mitigate how you handle crisis as a unit. "Do you come together, lean on each other and solve them together? Or do you take your stress out on each other and make a tough situation even worse?” she asks. “If you don't have a good track record of handling conflict together in the past, it might be wise to think through how you'd handle things before you shack up together.”
3. How will you handle finances?
According to Gandhi, "this is a biggie." Going beyond thinking about if you'll create a joint account that you both contribute to to pay expenses, it's important to ask if you, as a couple, are spenders or savers. “Who will do the paying of the bills: Is it one of you or will you divide and conquer?" she says.
Knowing what your tastes are will help understand how you both handle finances and treat a budget. "All of these things are worth thinking about -- money can cause lots of problems, especially if you haven't come up with clear directives on how you will handle things," she adds.
4. Are your habits aligned?
Know everything about each other's habits so you're not caught off-guard in a compromising situation.
Gandhi raises some important questions for you and your partner to get going on this point: Are you both morning people or is one of you a night owl? Does one of you like to have lots of friends over and the other doesn't? Is one person a clean freak and the other, well, not so much?
These are all key things to consider when deciding to move in together.
5. What's the long-term future of your relationship?
Moving in together could be a test of your ultimate goals as a couple. But if your goals about the relationship aren't aligned, you could cause it harm.
"Really know what you're doing," Gandhi tells "GMA." "All you're potentially doing is adding a speed bump into the relationship if you're not careful."
In the same way you make timelines for your own personal and professional goals, "putting timeframes on couple goals" is equally paramount, Gandhi says.
"Is moving in together all that you're both looking for long term -- meaning you don't want to get married -- or is it the way to 'kick the tires' on married life?” Gandhi says. “If so, what is the barometer for what a 'successful' living relationship looks like? And how long do you have to live together before you get engaged?"
In general, look at your situation to make sure you’re entering into it for the right reasons. Separate convenience from future commitment, and make sure you’re on the same page with your partner. After all, moving in together is a big step. Handle it responsibly.