MOVING IN TOGETHER? TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HOME MERGER

By Beth Weinhouse
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When you decide to move in together with your partner, you're probably madly in love and believe that you're perfectly compatible. However, there are different kinds of compatibility, and no matter how in love you are, merging households can be tricky if you don't go into it well prepared.

Obviously plenty of other issues will arise after you move in together, but these helpful tips can help ease the moving process and the merging of both your households and your lives.

Evaluate your stuff before merging it
Unless you're moving into a mansion, merging two households necessitates getting rid of some things, especially if you've both been living on your own for a while. The easiest way to start is to eliminate the overlaps—you don't need two blenders or two living room sofas. If you're lucky, you'll be able to easily agree which items to keep and which to throw away, donate, or sell. If there are duplicate things that you have no room for but can't bear to part with, consider renting inexpensive storage space.

Decide whether or not to combine finances
More serious than whose coffee table gets to grace the living room is the decision about how you will handle your finances as a couple. Many couples merge their finances completely, others keep them separate, and still others find their own solution in between. For example, some couples open a joint checking account that each person contributes to for household expenses, but keep separate accounts as well. Financial education site Learnvest has identified six ways of combining finances, including the “We're All Equals Here” approach, the “Pick Your Bill” approach, and the “I've Got It” approach. Figure out which strategy will work best for your relationship and take the necessary steps to implement it.

Merge your attitudes and habits
Now comes perhaps the most challenging part of all: actually living together. It's easier to get rid of a coffee table than to change the way you live day-to-day, but that's what both members of a new household need to do in order for the merger to work. Deciding who will be responsible for specific household chores or how they will be shared is hugely important. Will one person do most of the cooking and the other most of the cleaning up? One handle laundry and the other deal with the trash? Whatever you decide to do, the point is to decide it together. “Compromise” is crucial to making everything work.

Protect Your Stuff
It’s important to protect everything in your new household by making sure you're covered in case of a loss or theft. Whether or not you insured your possessions when you were on your own, now is a good time to see about taking out renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance together. Policy coverages can be tailored to your own needs and circumstances—extra coverage for engagement and wedding rings, for example, or for one partner's impressive collection of cool electronic devices.

A security system is another smart way to protect your belongings. Today, you can turn your living space into a smart home, giving you the ability to control devices, monitor settings, and receive alerts remotely on your smartphone, tablet or computer.


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