Deciding if you’re ready to buy a home with your significant other can be an exciting and stressful season of life. While it’s fun to start the process in finding your dream home, both of you likely have different expectations and opinions of what that actually looks like. When it comes to finances, location, size and caring for your home, things can get complicated quickly—especially if you haven’t communicated these things up front. If you’re open with each other and willing to listen and compromise, you’ll have fewer conflicts to deal with down the road. Here are five questions you should ask your significant other before buying a home together:
Is space more important to you than location?
The best place to start when you’re buying a home with your significant other is with a conversation on location. Would you rather have a large home with plenty of outdoor space and surrounded by neighbors? Or would you rather have a smaller town home that’s in the heart of the city? If you can’t see yourself settling into the city but your S.O. can’t stand the thought of maintaining a yard, try compromising with a house in between. Choosing to negotiate is a great way to make sure you’re both still satisfied with where you live a year or two later.
How long are we going to live here?
Investing in a home you both can see yourselves settling down in for the long run is different than buying a starter home. If you plan on staying in your new home long term and raising children in it, then you’ll probably want to discuss a budget for home upgrades or renovations throughout the years. If you decide on a starter home, you’ll want to discuss how you’re going to spend your money to make the house comfortable while you’re there. If you both have different opinions on what you’re ready for, take some time to weigh the pros and cons of both options before you jump into anything.
What’s our budget for safety upgrades?
This isn’t talked about in the home buying space as much as it should be. Safety is important, especially when you’ve just spent more than you’d like to admit on a down payment for your home. Unfortunately, safety doesn’t come free, and you may need to increase your savings goal to be as prepared as you’d like to be. You can start small, with security “props” like a fake security camera. Not only is it a fraction of the cost of an actual security camera, but “most fake security cameras have a noticeable blinking LED light that deters at night when criminals are active,” according to home security experts. This makes it a great stand-in while the both of you save for the alarm system you agree is best for your home.
How do we divide household duties?
Nobody enjoys cleaning the house, paying bills or purchasing groceries, but you’ve got to work out a system for day-to-day maintenance or else you’ll both end up frustrated. People often assume living with and adjusting to your significant other will be a breeze, especially because it’s someone you truly care about. Men and women have very different opinions on what living cohesively with someone else looks like so it’s important expectations are discussed up front. If you let the frustration with your partner build, it can lead to unhappiness and ultimately a split. If simply delegating and agreeing on chores isn’t working for you, try a chore chart where you either take turns or split them fairly. Of course you have to stick to the chore chart and pull your weight around the house for it to truly work.
Are we prepared for the responsibility?
Owning a home takes a tremendous amount of commitment and responsibility. You no longer have a landlord to call when your refrigerator stops running or your air conditioner stops working in the middle of summer. Paying rent or your bills a few days late simply isn’t an option anymore. If you know you aren’t prepared for the responsibility but your S.O. is pressuring you into it, it’s best for everyone involved if you speak up. In addition, if you can’t see yourself or your S.O. staying committed to the home for years to come, consider renting for a year or two before you buy. It’s a lot less stressful and financial safe to figure out if you just can’t live with someone before actually investing in a house together.