Often, in a thriving relationship, there comes a time when you both realize there’s a better way to manage your living arrangements. No more buying a second toothbrush for his place or making closet space for his work clothes at yours. That is the critical point when the only sane and sensible solution is to move in together.
Easy, you might think, we’ll just find a place we both like and take it from there. However, living together is more demanding than you might imagine, so take a rain check on packing your bags and plan some time to think through the significant challenges you’ll be facing. If you’re already sharing a rental apartment together, this might be the moment you decide to buy your first home together.
Location, location, location
Your arrangements might mean your current homes are relatively close to each other, which is, of course, a good thing because you may be able to find something suitable in the immediate neighborhood that won’t add too much to your commuting time. If you’re already living some distance apart, however, you’ll have to reconsider.
Besides the daily commute, it’s sensible to map out facilities that might be important to you in the future. Will your new home be convenient for local schools, for example, and are the area safety statistics positive and encouraging? If you or your partner do a lot of work from home, might a rural location be a better alternative to a downtown dwelling?
Whatever your situation it’s important to talk things through thoroughly with your partner. That way, you’ll avoid any misunderstandings and will enjoy a shared vision of your future together.
Let’s say you’ve arrived at the solution regarding your ideal location, then the next thing you need to consider is your joint budget. That is a very important factor because if you view and fall in love with a property that turns out to be beyond your means after purchase, it could lead to very severe financial consequences, not to mention a fair amount of heartbreak.
Aim to get pre-approved for a first-time buyer mortgage as a way to judge if your buying power stacks up. Your lender will calculate for both you and your partner:
- The amount of any debts you have
- Your credit history
- Your gross income
- The level of your down payment.
Those elements will help to determine the price range for any property you plan to buy.
Once you’ve identified one or more suitable properties take the time to make sure they have been inspected thoroughly, so that any potential defects or hazards are flagged up before you sign on the dotted line. When you’re satisfied that everything is as it should be you can then proceed to purchase with confidence.
After buying a property, it pays to keep saving in case of any unexpected maintenance issues that might arise. Better still, include in your home budget the facility to protect your new property and its systems, such as electrical and water supplies, as well as any appliances you own. Having made such a substantial investment in your new home, you owe it to yourself and your family to look after it. If you purchase a homeowners’ warranty, you’ll have made a failsafe choice that delivers a vital homeowners’ resource.
Just as you might save for college for the kids, put money aside to regularly maintain and update your home. Items do get worn out and it’s easier on your weekly outgoings if you also have a little something put by for minor, unexpected expenses.
As well as investing in the handsome property you and your partner or family will be sharing there is also the matter of making a psychological gear change to adapt to living together in your new home. When you’re living solo or with a friend you develop your own way of doing things, so you need to be ready to adjust to joint or family life, to agree the house rules and keep to them, and to be tolerant of each other’s little foibles.
A good example is agreeing how you will split monthly, daily or weekly chores, such as grocery shopping, paying bills or doing laundry. Who will balance the checkbook and who will take out the recycling? Work together to iron out any household issues in advance and, if a problem occurs, deal with it promptly. With a perfect property, a balanced budget and emotional equilibrium you will be set for a fair shot at happy ever after.