Moving in with a partner is a decision most of us make at some point in our relationship.

Some of us feel we know the person inside and out, while for others, moving in together is a decision made more out of convenience and timing, for example, our current leases are expiring at the same time.

It might seem strange to have an article like this on a real estate website, but really, relationships are at the heart of everything in real estate.

Thinking about the ins and outs of moving in together can save a lot of time and heartache when it comes to leasing arrangements and break fees if things don't go to plan.

We've gone around the office, reviewed our own experiences and those of people we know, and jotted down our top 5 tips for moving in with a partner for the first time. We hope they are useful to those of you taking the plunge!

1. Discuss and agree to Plan B should moving in together not work out

It might be negative to have this as point number one, certainly a lot of people make a go of things, but ours is a real estate site, so we're focusing on real estate logistics and requirements as a priority.

A lease is an interesting beast. In a lot of cases your lease and the legislation that underpins it has been put in place to protect you, the tenant, from being taken advantage of and to ensure you can use and enjoy the property to the full extent.

There are some parts of the lease and legislation, however, that have been put in place to protect the landlord -- and that's only fair.

A landlord shouldn't lose money if a tenant is destructive or doesn't respect their property the way they should, and they shouldn't financially suffer if your relationship doesn't work out and you need to break your lease.

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you are fully aware and you have discussed what happens if, worst case scenario, things just don't go to plan and one or both of you wants to move out.

Ensure, you know who will stay in the property and who will move out, and how the remaining partner will pay the rent -- keeping in mind they may not be able to get a house mate for a while, or at all if the property is a studio or one bedroom.

Also read through the lease and Fair Trading's website to make sure you both understand what happens should you both wish to terminate the lease and move out early.

In most cases, you will need to pay costs associated with re-advertising and re-leasing the property and these can run into the thousands. It is also very likely you will need to pay rent either for a fixed period, depending how far into the lease you were, or until a new tenant is found.

In many cities at the moment, the rental market is shifting in favour of tenants -- properties are staying on the market, unfilled for quite a while. This will mean you may have to pay rent at the property and at your new residence, should you move out, for a month or more.

"When we terminated our lease, we ended up paying the entire rent for six weeks, plus advertising costs, which ran into almost $10,000. I definitely recommend getting advice from Fair Trading, they really helped us understand our obligations and when things were going too far." -- Sarah

Now, onto making it work so break fees don't apply!

2. Share out tasks in advance

If you have lived alone or with house mates, you will have developed a certain approach to all your household tasks -- from how you clean and the standard you expect, to how you manage bills, cook, wash clothes and every other little job required to run a home.

Guess what? Your partner will also have their own way of doing things.

Allocating tasks before you move in can save a lot of time arguing over the best way to do things or that standards aren't to the level expected.

Draw up a list of common tasks and each take those you like best, then draw the rest, or those you both like, from a hat (or rotate them). How those tasks are done is then up to the person responsible for doing them!

"One of the toughest things about moving in together for us was we were both headstrong and had our ways of doing everything, so we would watch the other's process of, for example, cooking, and make 'suggestions' for how to do it 'better'. After a while, suggestions become very frustrating and turned into arguments!" -- Andy

3. Share the responsibility of financials

When you share out tasks, it's important one person is not solely responsible for the financials, especially if you share accounts.

This is not about trust, but about staying informed. For example, if you are responsible for paying all the bills, the mortgage if you have one, the insurances and all other costs, and you get ill or have to go on an extended trip, your partner a) won't know where your finances are up to b) may not be aware of who your suppliers are and when they need paying.

Document all your costs and your suppliers, all of your scheduled direct debits and bill payments and file invoices and receipts in a shared location so you both have a full understanding and overview of your household finance.

"A friend told us a story about her partner becoming ill and being in the hospital for months. He had handled all the financials, and she had looked after most other things in the household. She had no idea what bills needed paying as they came to his email address, and as he didn't file the invoices, she wasn't even sure about which suppliers they used for some utilities. It made a stressful situation much worse!" -- Arly

4. Be honest and open about your budget and spending

In Baby Boomer and Gen X days, many couples operated purely on shared bank accounts. These days, some couples choose to share all their funds in joint accounts, while others have a combination of joint and personal accounts, and others still only use personal accounts.

Regardless of how you manage your money, you are both responsible for household costs. Plan your budget together, know what your outgoings are and what income is coming in, and ensure both of you know exactly how much surplus there is every month.

If you share money, and one person is spending a lot more on personal shopping and it is becoming problematic, address it straight away, don't leave it to become one of the issues that tears at the foundation of your relationship.

If you don't share money, and one of you earns significantly more than the other, talk in advance about how this affects major purchases and things like holidays, so one partner doesn't always feel they are responsible for spending, and the other doesn't feel pressure to make money go further than it can.

"Our friend and her partner didn't share money, they had separate accounts. Every time it came to holidays, they would have massive arguments because he wanted to go overseas and she couldn't afford it. I don't know why they didn't just talk about it to begin with." -- John

5. Schedule time together

It might sound crazy, but sometimes when you live together, you actually spend less quality time together than you did before you moved in.

Life just gets in the way, chores become a priority, work runs late and because you don't have a scheduled time, with a specific activity away from the needs of your home, you find reasons not to just spend time together.

As soon as you move in, set aside a scheduled time to hang out -- maybe it's a date night, or a no-TV dinner or just a walk around the block every few days. Use this time to reconnect and to communicate.

"We set aside half an hour each afternoon when I get home to purely talk about our day and what happened so we're all up to date. We found we weren't spending enough time together, so we blocked out each Friday night just to hang out, sometimes we go out, sometimes we watch a movie at home, but if we don't do it, life gets in the way." -- Greg


Moving in together is a big step and a rite of passage for most couples, young and older. Make sure you know your legal rights as a tenant and what the process is should things not work out the way you intend.

Like any older couple will tell you though, relationships come down to how much work you are willing to put into them, and as we were told by a grandmother of one our Sale Ezy team mates, "The most important thing is never to go to sleep angry" -- we think that's some great advice!

*Some names in this article may have been changed for privacy.