Officially living together!

My boyfriend has moved in! I started writing this post back in August, at which point we had mostly decided this was happening, but kept waiting to publish it since I didn’t want to jinx it! He moved his furniture in this past week and we’ve been working on rearranging things. We have a ton of duplicates (even some triples and quadruples…): some of which we’ll keep, some we’ll donate, and some we’ll sell. It is super exciting and scary all at the same time. He’s been unofficially living at my place for months now, so we’re just making it official now and saving some money (mostly him, but me too). My fixed expenses are going from $2,000/month down to $1,600/month (only $600/month once the mortgage is paid off!).

We’ve been splitting groceries all year, so we’ve got that down pat. We have our checking accounts linked so we can transfer money to each other super easily (free and instantly from the website or app for our credit union!), without seeing the other’s balances, and we’ve also opened a joint checking account that we’re slowly figuring out what we’re going to use it for (currently: groceries and travel). We’re on the same page with savings and investment strategies and what we do with bonuses and other extra money and we know how much money the other has and makes and such.

The big question though is what to do about housing expenses. If we were renting apartments, it would be easy. We would look for a new apartment, probably a two bedroom + den, move into it together, and split everything 50/50. But we’re not renting apartments. Also, ew are those types of apartments expensive at $3,200/month! I own my condo (well 2/3 of my condo) and it is a good size for the two of us, while my boyfriend was renting an apartment.

What I’ve seen some people do is just split everything down the middle when they move in together, even though one person owns the place. I don’t want to do that because of the amount of equity I have. I also don’t want my boyfriend to pay me rent or for him to see me as a landlord. Everyone assumes he will pay me rent and are super confused when I say that he’s not. This is a serious, long-term relationship. Plus, my HOA rules don’t allow for only renting out part of my unit.

So what we’ve agreed to do is to split all of the outgoing expenses other than the mortgage 50/50. Logistically, this means taking a look at all of the expenses, adding them up, and then arranging the puzzle pieces so that we each pay for unique line items that add up to the same amount. This means me paying the property taxes, him paying the HOA dues, and then us splitting the utilities (electricity and internet) evenly. I look at it that the mortgage payment is mostly principal at this point, so it is part of my savings strategy, just like my boyfriend’s rent savings will go to his savings strategy.

It’s been pretty fun him slowly moving in over the last few months and decorating the condo together :) It’s shifting from my place to our place as we move more and more of his stuff in and rearrange the furniture and as we buy artwork and new furniture together. I look forward to years of this!

If you have any questions about how we decided to split expenses or how we’re doing it, go for it! We’re still figuring this out as we’re going and nothing is really set in stone yet.

P.S. I finally told him about my blog a couple of months ago and he seemed to think it was kind of cool! I’m trying to convince him now that he should write a post sometime ;)

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37 thoughts on “Officially living together!

  1. Congratulations! A big step no doubt, but being able to have those financial conversations is super important. As for the specific arrangement between you too, those don’t really matter as it isn’t one-size fits all. As long as both people understand and are on the same page, that is good enough.

    Congrats again, and best of luck to you two! I’m sure you’ll find a good place for those additional monthly savings!

    • Thanks! It isn’t one-size fits all, but it was really helpful to listen to stories from people who had similar experiences figuring this out as we were figuring out what to do!

      Part of the monthly savings is going to a special assessment for the first six months of the year…the rest will probably end up going to the mortgage and it’ll reduce my FI number by about $120,000 :)

  2. Good post and .. Congrats!! It is a good step in my book to combine things… So I’ve always been in that position where I significantly more in than my other half.. and it felt unfair to split things 50/50 from a dollar amount since my half was much less of my income than her half..

    So we shifted a bit more towards looking at our incomes and making it even based on % of income, such that we were paying a similar % of each of our individual incomes towards the housing expenses. This also has allows them so have a batter savings opportunity and get themselves better established individually as well.

    As far as looking at your equity position and where you are at and looking that you are mostly paying that rather than interest I would not factor in that specific… That’s just a fact of where the mortgage is at right now.. I would split the monthly payment, taxes, and utilities and get an average of that number over the past few months and then just come up with a nominal figure so you both have a number to pay which constitutes a similar % of each of your individual incomes and then you can leave it that if anything goes over that average you will pick up the rest since it is more your gain than his.. If your incomes are in the same range well it kind of becomes a wash anyway so that just depends.

    just my thoughts…

    • Thanks! We make similar incomes so 50/50 seemed like the best split. He doesn’t want to contribute to the mortgage in any way, which I agree with, and that’s why we didn’t include the mortgage payment in the splitting of things. Once the mortgage is paid off next year, I wouldn’t want him to be paying towards a non-existent mortgage either.

  3. Fascinating! I don’t know what I would do in that situation… probably just ask for rent or split all expenses 50/50. Hard to say. I don’t like dealing with fiddly bits every month, but you don’t seem to mind.

    • We weren’t really sure what to do either and it took months of talking to finally come to this solution.

      My boyfriend doesn’t like dealing with fiddly bits either, so we set it up so he doesn’t have to. The HOA dues are on auto pay and are the same for all 12 months of the year and then possibly change for the next year. He has the (bimonthly) electricity bill on auto-pay, so I transfer him half of the money after it comes in. I have the internet bill on auto-pay and it’s the same amount each month, so he has an automatic monthly transfer to me set up for his half of that amount. And then we each have automatic monthly transfers to the joint checking account that we’re trying out using for groceries.

  4. Congratulations! How awesome it is that you’ve found such a great partner who shares your perspectives on finances, and on life. When my boyfriend (now husband) and I first moved in together (shared rental), we split joint expenses based on our % of income as we made really different incomes. That seemed the only equitable (not equal) way to us, so that we could each continue to save for retirement, etc, which was important to both of us. You don’t say, but it sounds like you both make a similar income, so 50-50 is fair? Re: the mortgage/equity being kept separate — I can see why you wanted to do that. I have seen situations where 1 person owned and the other rented and moved in, and the whole “paying them rent” thing can change the dynamic and contribute to conflict. Whatever way, as long as you both agree on how and why you’re doing it that way, it will work out great.

    • Thanks! We do both make a similar income, so 50/50 is fair. I didn’t want to see that dynamic change you mentioned, which is part of why we spent so long thinking about this. I think the way we have things set up, that should be fine. For example, there is a special assessment next year by my condo board and we’re splitting it.

  5. Glad you guys worked out all the details in a way that works for you! Seems like every couple seems to do their own unique way of splitting costs when moving in, so as long as everyone’s happy and feels that they got a fair end in the deal it sounds like a recipe for success.

    Consider me as 1 vote for a post from your BF on what he thinks of your goals and what it’s been like to share your financial history after reading it on the blog! =)

  6. This is super interesting! I’m considering buying a condo next year and I’ve been talking with my live-in BF about how we’re planning on doing the rent thing. Note, there’s a huge gap between our incomes– mine is easily 3x his. So far, I’ve mostly fell on the side of a low flat rate. It’s way less than market value, but more than half my HOA fees for sure! About the rate of living with roommates in a super cheap apartment in a bad area of the city or something (which he might do were we not dating and living together). Alternatively I’ve considered charging him zero rent if he takes on a couple more household chores. I find it really cool/fascinating you’re willing to have you’re BF contribute such (relatively) little in terms of rent despite relatively equal incomes.

    • We’ve put a lot of thought into this (as I’m sure you have too) and I was thinking about this for most of the time I’ve owned my condo in a general sense. Have you talked to your boyfriend about how he wants to contribute? My boyfriend definitely had a few things that were important to him and we took those into account when coming up with this plan.

      My stance originally (in 2012) was rent that was about half of all the costs (mortgage, HOA dues, and property taxes) and then we spit the utilities. At that point, I had about $700/month going to interest on the mortgage, which was more than half of the “dead money” costs.

      At this point, my mortgage will most likely be paid off by the end of next year and I will pay about $230/month in interest on average. My HOA dues and property taxes are similar amounts that are a bit more than the 2015 average interest amount. I feel like by splitting the “dead money” costs, we’re putting ourselves on a more similar foot for saving money than if he was paying me rent. It was also important to him that he didn’t feel like he was paying me rent / me being a landlord. I haven’t told many people about our arrangement other than that he isn’t paying me rent, but is contributing to the costs and everyone seems to feel like he should be paying rent! If he was doing that, I’d probably honestly just take his money and put it in a savings account labeled “Boyfriend’s Rent Money” and not touch it.

      Good luck with figuring out works for you guys!

      • I have talked with him about his preferences and I think this is roughly what has made the most sense for us so far (either $0+extra household chores or low rent). My BF was kind of in line with your boyfriend on the rent thing (didn’t really want to see me as a landlord). But I felt uncomfortable if we weren’t both to be contributing to the vagaries of household expenses/duties in a “from each according to his/her ability” way. And for me that meant I was securing us a house to share if/when we were married and paying the bulk of all mortgage+taxes+fees and that he was contributing to a degree appropriate for his financial situation. I felt having me bear 100% of the housing expenses on a 2-bed (where otherwise I would just rent the room out) was just as unfair as having him put up 50% of all costs. Of course this is all still a work in progress, so it’s been interesting to read how you’ve handled the situation to get some more ideas!

        • He’s saving a lot more money than I am with us moving in together in the “these costs must be paid sense” (I still have to pay the ~$1,000/month mortgage payment), which I feel a bit weird about, but I still think this is the best solution. I think if the mortgage was bigger, maybe he would pay for all the groceries or something to make up for that. We’ve been talking about this off and on since March, so it definitely wasn’t an easy decision!

  7. Yay! Exciting!

    I wonder what I would do in that case. We had the simpler situation of both being renters, but your split seems to make a lot of sense. In general, my opinion is that charging rent makes sense, but I can see why you chose not to for your situation.

    • Sometimes I wish we were renting because it would have been simpler, but this way (one of us owning the place) is cheaper, so it’s not all bad. We have agreed that we’d rather get new furniture than move since moving will cost ~$30-50k (selling and moving costs) and we’re not ready to buy a place together. We are both optimistic that we’ll make it with the place we have though, which is good!

  8. Congrats Leigh! Been a long time reader, and it’s funny how our timelines have intertwined. I bought my condo shortly after you did, and my fiancee officially moved in this past weekend as well, even though she’d been unofficially staying 4 nights a week. Would also love to see a post by your boyfriend. Is it slightly weird that he knows your net worth figures now, or since he makes a similar income you’re not too worried about it? I find it’s easier for me to share financial details with those who have similar to more success as myself.

    Glad to hear your bill strategy is working well for you guys. I’d probably do something similar and total everything spent minus straight principal repayment and split that 50/50. My fiancee makes a good amount less than me and is also still in the process of selling her condo, but once it sells we’ll probably be splitting expenses proportionally based on our incomes.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the new job in a future post as well! I know you’ve given us a rough total compensation picture from your previous company and would be interested to see how the new job compare via salary, bonus, stock granting and benefits. Keep up the great work in 2015!

    • It’s great how many new people are commenting today! I love it!

      Hah, my boyfriend had been staying 7 nights a week ;) His important mail had been coming here for the last several months. One of my reasons for holding off on telling him about my blog was until he knew my net worth figures. We had a discussion about that a few months back though. I told him the URL when I went out of the house for a few hours so he wasn’t sitting there reading while I was there lol. We have similar incomes though and had already discussed savings strategies before we talked about what we had already saved.

      I do have a post in the works on the new job! It’ll go up at some point…. I’ve been a bit busy lately. Moving, holiday prep, all while changing jobs is time consuming!

  9. Congratulations on the big step!

    I think you’ve come up with a great solution for you and your boyfriend. He might eventually consider owning his own house if he wasn’t moving in with you. If it feels fair to you both, that’s enough.

    • Thanks Jenna! I like this strategy as it gives us similar savings power. Maybe we’ll be able to buy a house together some day or maybe he’ll buy into my place later if we get married and decide to stay here. Lots of future options!

  10. Congrats! Until you are married, I like your approach of paying for your mortgage yourself and having him pay for the HOA and part of utilities. That way you don’t have to calculate how much each of you own of the house. In our case, we bought our house together before getting married, but we were already engaged. I had a bigger down than my husband, so we keep a spreadsheet of what we each paid into it. At the end of the mortgage, we will own almost 50/50 unless one of us pays it off earlier. But right now it’s like 80/20 ownership. Enjoy!

    • I totally thought of that spreadsheet idea! You’re right – I wouldn’t want to do that unless we were getting married, so this is simpler for now since it creates no question of ownership.

  11. Congrats. This is a smart approach. Once you decide you don’t plan to charge him some kind of rent – this is the way to go. Interest payment is a small component anyway so you just remove the conflict and you are not placed in a worse financial position because of it. It also protects you from any ownership claims (not sure how valid any could be, but better to be safe).

    A couple years from now you may want to reevaluate. An uneven split of remaining costs that is not perfectly matched to imputed rent is an approach I have seen that is not like paying rent, but a more fair split of expenses. Another approach is renting your existing place to someone else and renting a new place together with an even split – total costs may be higher, but your costs are lower and feels completely fair without the paying rent issues.

    • Renting a comparable place would cost us about $3,200/month. All in, the monthly carrying costs on this place are about $1,700/month. I also can’t rent my condo out due to rental restrictions, so it would need to be sold if I moved.

      We’ll probably re-evaluate again in another year how this place is working for us. We’ve discussed him buying into the place some day if we were to get married and stay here rather than buying/renting another place.

  12. It may or may not work for you, but when I first started combining expenses with my now-spouse, we had a joint credit card for joint expenses. Then, we each paid half when the bill was due. You have to be completely on the same page regarding what counts and what doesn’t, and being responsible with credit is a given.
    The law may treat charging your partner rent as a problem, I know it was a thing for us, just as a heads up. It’s not possible to do so where we live, without creating entitlement to the property.

    • We’ve talked about the joint credit card and will probably get around to it at some point soon. We do agree it’s probably the ideal system, but we just haven’t done it yet. (hello busy holiday season and moving!)

      What do you mean that the law could treat charging my partner rent as a problem? How is it a problem?

      • I’ve heard/read something similar, but I don’t remember there. I would also advise against having him pay housing dues directly or even make the number match it exactly unless you are really really sure it is not the type of thing a judge has ever said would create an ownership interest.

        • That happened to my friend. His ex was paying for housing expenses on his home and when things went South my friend ended up paying him 10k to avoid arbitration.

        • Just curious, but what would you advise him to pay so as to not create an ownership interest? It’s not really fair for me to pay for everything. I can’t charge him rent either per HOA rules. We did sign a legal document stating that the condo stays my separate property and we are excluding the mortgage from any of our calculations. I’m not really sure what to do beyond that.

        • This is a do your own research type thing from my perspective (since I don’t know anything beyond an imprecise memory of reading or hearing something), but your signing an agreement is a good move and might be sufficient, particularly if you were very explicit (say something like no payments to Leigh or direct payments of any expenses including HOA, utilities, cable, any expenses related to the condo or any other payments will create an ownership interest in the condo, absent a signed agreement giving BF ownership interest in condo). Basically hit everything you can think of and then include catchalls. Likely you would be good with something like that, but this is not legal advice.

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