What to Do Before Moving in With Someone

by Meg Favreau on 8 July 2013 (3 comments)

Nobody wants to go into an exciting new situation expecting the worst — especially when that situation is moving in with someone, whether it’s just a new roommate or your significant other. But there are some precautions you can take to ensure that, if one of you ends up moving out earlier than you expect, everyone is financially protected.

1. Make Sure Everyone’s Name Is on the Lease

In an article about protecting your finances when you move in with someone by Business Insider, this is the first suggestion, and for good reason. First of all, as the article notes,

In the unfortunate event that you break up with your partner and one of you has to move out, the person whose name is on the lease is in the best position to maintain possession of the space. If both names are on the lease, you each have a close to equal opportunity to remain in the apartment and renew the lease.

Conversely, if you’re living with someone who decides to move out early and that person is not on the lease, you could be stuck paying his rent and have no legal recourse. If that person is on the lease, though, he’s legally required to keep paying rent.

2. Create a Joint Budget

If you’re just moving in with roommates, this might be something as simple as noting who buys what shared household items when. But if you’re moving in with your significant other, this could be part of a much larger conversation about things like life goals, family planning, and even retirement and long-term care options. If you’re not sure how to get the discussion started, check out these tips on talking with a loved one:

Genworth Guide

3. Maintain an Emergency Fund

I once stayed in a relationship partially because I didn’t have the money to move out of the house we shared. That’s not a valid reason to continue dating someone, but I was stuck because I didn’t have an emergency fund. Similarly, if your roommate turns out to be crazy or you discover that your apartment building has an incurable roach problem, you want to have the financial cushion to get yourself out of the situation immediately. The roach thing actually happened to me as well — but because I had a proper emergency fund at this point, I was able to move out almost immediately.

4. Understand What’s Important to the Other Person

We all have our quirks — but those quirks can come into sharp relief when you move in with someone. Discuss expectations about your living situation — how often should different areas be cleaned, and who should clean them? Are there quiet hours to be observed? Rules for having visitors over?

5. Understand That the Other Person Might Hate Your Stuff

And you might hate some of theirs. Open up the space for free (respectful) discussion. Find ways to compromise (you get to keep the orange couch if he gets to keep the lamp shaped like a fireman*), keep these items in your personal space, or if you have the option, shop for new items together.

6. Enjoy It

The best cohabitation situations aren’t just to save money. While you won’t always love having another person around (even if that person is the love of your life), there should be a certain joy to sharing a space with someone, whether it’s a roommate or a partner. Have fun!

What advice do you have for people who are thinking about moving in together?

* This is a real lamp; I’ve seen it.

This article was made possible by the support and inspiration from Genworth Financial, a S&P 500 insurance company with more than $100 billion in assets. Check out Genworth's website for other life planning information, such as this guide to retirement.

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Guest's picture

I love the fact that you specifically said have both names on the lease. Far too often people not only move in together too early in the relationship, but then don't even protect themselves. It is too easy for someone to get mad and throw a fit...resulting in you being out on the street. It's a simple thing to take care off and like all the other things in this list, it only requires thinking about it ahead of time.

Guest's picture

My advice would be to have a trial run. Spend a couple weeks together and see how it goes.

Guest's picture

My advice would be 1. Make sure that other person and you are compatible as roommates before moving in with them. If you are friends or even acquaintances with the new roommates soon to be ex roommate, try to talk to them and see what went wrong or why they are moving out. 2. Discuss how bills and rent will be paid before you even move in. Will one of you write one check and the other give you cash or will they give you a check or will you each write a check.

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