If you’ve lived with someone before, you’ll know what you like and dislike about cohabiting. There will have been ways you could have been easier to live with (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?) and things you now know you absolutely can’t live with.
If you’ve never lived with anyone before, it’ll all be new to you and, although you won’t know what your partner’s like to live with until you move in together, there are certain things to think about to make the transition from independence to sharing a home easier.
Are your reasons to live together compatible?
First of all, before you both sign that joint tenancy agreement or get a mortgage together, you need to find out if your reasons for living together are the same.
If you see it as a precursor to marriage and/or having children but your partner sees it simply as a way to save the rent or cut down on their commuting time, then you’re going to have problems in the future.
Find out their goals and plans for your relationship before committing to moving in together. It’ll save a lot of heartbreak, also splitting up before you move in with each other is a lot easier than breaking up when you live together.
Stay together for long periods of time
If you generally only stay over each other’s homes at the weekend, you probably haven’t really seen how the other one lives. To really get a feel of how someone lives and whether you can live with how they live, you need to spend a proper period of time living with them so you can see them in all their snoring, toenail-picking, leaving the lights on glory.
When you only spend the night at the weekend, it can feel more of a holiday and you’re probably both on your best behaviour. Seeing someone first thing in the morning as they rush to get ready for work and not at their chattiest is quite a different experience from lazing in bed together on a leisurely Sunday morning after you’ve enjoyed a Saturday night out on a date.
Decide where to live and make the place your own
If, after finding out that yes, you do share the same vision for the future and yes, you can live with their bad habits you know about so far, then the next step is deciding where to live.
If you’re both renting, you might decide to rent somewhere new together for a fresh start. If one of you is renting and the other owns their own home, however, it usually makes more sense financially for the one who’s renting to move into the other’s home.
Or perhaps you’re hoping to buy your first home together which, even in London, isn’t always as impossible as it seems. Have a look at the Government-backed Help to Buy scheme, which helps first time buyers get on the property ladder in the capital.
But if you’re both already homeowners, you’ll have to decide whether to both sell up and buy somewhere together, or rent one of your homes out and live in the other.
The latter scenario is a good option because a) the empty home can be rented out as extra income; and b) neither of you will be made homeless if the relationship doesn’t last.
Although this is a good option, living in someone else’s house can cause problems and resentment because it’s difficult living in someone else’s house and it’s also difficult having someone living in your house.
If you do find yourself in this situation, make the place ‘yours together’, rather than ‘theirs’ by redecorating and buying new furniture, crockery and cutlery that you choose together to give yourself that ‘setting up home together’ feeling.
Respect each other’s boundaries
Just because you’re living together, it doesn’t mean you have to spend each minute of your spare time in each other’s company.
Of course, you might want to be with each other all the time and, if you do, that’s obviously fine.
However, some people like to spend time on their own sometimes. So, if you’re living with an introvert, allow them some space and don’t take their silence or habit of going into another room to be by themselves personally.
Also, don’t rely on your partner to keep you entertained all the time. Make time for your own hobbies and friends and don’t neglect them now just because you’re partnered up.
On the other hand, don’t ignore your partner completely. You may have had a full life of friends and hobbies before you moved in but you will have to make time for your partner now too.
If you find it difficult fitting in time to be together, make a plan to watch your favourite TV programme together, enjoy an afternoon tea delivered to your door, or schedule a date night out every week.
We’re willing to bet you have some bad or annoying habits and therefore you’ll have to compromise when it comes to your partner’s too. Yes, it’s annoying when the toilet roll is hanging the wrong way or the dishwasher hasn’t been loaded properly but you’ll just have to accept your partner does things differently to you. They probably hate the way you don’t put the tins away in the cupboard with the labels facing forward or that you put the ketchup in the cupboard instead of the fridge.
Share the chores
No one likes doing the household chores but if they’re left to one person to do all the time, this is going to cause resentment.
Agree who’ll do which chores based on which ones you like doing, don’t mind doing or at least can do without losing the will to live.
If there’s something you both hate doing, you can take it in turns.
You’ll never really know what someone’s like to live with until you do actually live with them. If it’s your first time living with someone, you’re probably quite scared at the thought of it. A bit of compromise between the two of you though and you’ll be able to live in perfect harmony for years to come.