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Is It Time to Move In Together?

Niccole Schreck

Living with your significant other can be the best thing ever -- but it can also be a disaster.

Moving in together means committing to your significant other not only emotionally, but also financially. You'll both rely on the same lease, you'll split bills and chores, and you'll end up sharing everything from furniture to food. This is why many couples should make sure they are ready before they take the leap. However, trying to figure out whether the time is right can be a challenge. Should you first be together for six months? A year? Who really knows!

That's why we asked couples for their thoughts on the subject. Take a look at these insights before you pack up all of your belongings into boxes and sign an apartment lease together.

How soon is too soon?

When couples start thinking about moving in together, they should assess the length of their relationship. For example, you may consider, "We've been together for nine months, so that should be a long enough wait, right?"

A majority of the renters Rent.com surveyed (37 percent) agreed that six months to a year into dating is a good time to move in together. Of course, whether or not you follow that advice depends on your relationship, along with your views on marriage and finances. In fact, 15 percent of the 1,000 renters surveyed in March followed the more traditional route and said they waited until after they were married to move in together.

Dividing the finances

Before deciding to move in together, you and your partner must also have a serious financial discussion. Some couples let financial instability push them into a living situation they aren't emotionally ready to handle.

Once you decide the time is right to cosign that lease, discuss how you will divide costs. Our survey revealed that the No. 1 thing couples wished they had talked about before the move was money, specifically the way they would split costs.

Talk about how you would like to cover rent and other expenses. You can divide the costs down the middle, combine your finances or have one person foot the bills. Sixteen percent of renters mentioned that they split bills based off their individual income. It really depends on what the two of you think is right. Coming up with a plan for your finances will avoid future fights down the road, so you're not arguing over whose turn it is to pay the delivery guy for dinner.

Less time for friends

When you live with your partner, you will inevitably spend a lot of time with him or her. A whopping 63 percent of the renters surveyed said they rarely had a night with just their friends after moving in with their significant other. On the other hand, only 8 percent saw this time commitment as an issue. Interestingly enough, almost half of renters said the greatest benefit of moving in with each other was the opportunity to spend more time together.

If a weekly wine night with your girlfriends is a priority for you, don't let that change just because you have a new roommate. A balance between your friends and your significant other is possible -- you just have to be proactive about making it work.

Cleaning habits and responsibilities

More than 30 percent of renters said differences in cleaning habits was one of their biggest hurdles since moving in with their significant other. While life together shouldn't be a chore, figuring out who will be in charge of washing the dishes or scrubbing down the bathroom should be top of mind.

Surprisingly, only 11 percent of renters said they talked about the cleaning responsibilities before moving in together. While cleaning habits tend to evolve as a couple settles into living together, you can avoid drama by starting out with a basic understanding of who is going to tackle what.

Marriage beliefs and expectations

Are you moving in together because it feels like the next step or because you genuinely want to? Escalating a relationship because it seems like the logical decision may seem easier in the short term, but in the end, it could be a bad idea. Breaking up while living together can turn into a nightmare that will make you regret ever agreeing to share the same space.

Talk to your significant other about his or her thoughts on marriage and living together. He or she might not want to move in until you say "I do." Don't assume that your relationship is headed in the cohabitation direction until you've truly spoken about it. The survey found that more than a third of renters between ages 18 and 24 planned to wait until after their wedding to live with their significant other.

Let the marriage talk be a lesson -- it's a good idea to hold off living together until you've discussed some of the big compatibility topics in relationships, such as whether your partner wants to have children and where he or she plans to be in five years.

Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.

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