Moving in with your special someone is a giant step and a trial run for your future together. While you’re undoubtedly excited to jump in, there are a few things to think about before signing the rental contract.

Here are seven tips to consider when renting an apartment as a couple.

1. Start With Transparency

Going on dates and sleeping over can give you a glimpse into how a person lives, but you must be fully transparent with one another. Moving in together is a thrilling journey, but neither of you deserves to be blindsided by surprise, like a low credit score or thousands in debt.

Be upfront with your partner and disclose everything from your debt and savings to your salary, credit score, and monthly expenses. They should do the same. Only then can you evaluate the best course of action moving forward. 

Can you boost a low credit rating before moving in together? Will one person’s salary be enough to pay the rent? Candidly answering these questions will make the transition to living together much more manageable.

2. Learn the Specifics

Now that you know the details of your partner’s earnings and expenses, you can plan for an apartment that fits the budget. Renting often comes with fees outside of the monthly payment. You’ll need to budget for the initial security deposit and furnishing costs if the accommodation is missing appliances or home decor. 

If you have a pet — or intend to get one — then you’ll need to ask about restrictions and additional fees. Some landlords may charge a one-time fee, a larger security deposit, or a heftier rent price if you have a furry friend living with you.

You’ll also need to plan for monthly utility and parking costs. Learn the specifics of the property to determine if they comfortably fit within your budget.

3. Discuss Long-Term Goals

As a couple, it’s essential to take time to discuss goals. Would you eventually like to buy a house together? Do you intend to stay in one area indefinitely, or would you like to move elsewhere?

Even discuss major topics like getting married and having children. It’s OK not to have every answer, but at least have the conversation so you can plan. These goals are often intertwined, so like your finances, it’s better to be straightforward.

4. Devise a Budget

Evaluate what you’ve learned and devise a budget. How much can you each contribute? What amount do you need to set aside to reach your collective goals? 

Many couples choose to keep finances simple and split rent and utilities down the middle. However, if you have a significant income imbalance, it might be smart to choose a proportional budget. Will one person be able to pay more each month? If so, how can the other person help to even the scale?

Remember that you are a team, not roommates, so focus on how you can grow and work together to make this budget a reality. Perhaps you can cook more at home and spend date nights in rather than going out every week. 

5. Plan to Split Responsibilities

Discuss how you plan to split the responsibilities and bills. Should one person pay utilities and the other pays the rent? Would you prefer to split everything equally? Determine these things in advance to limit confusion. If one person is contributing more money, can the other help with extra household duties?

Set dates to ensure bills are paid on time. Neither of you wants to be stuck with late fees or a lower credit score. Consider forming one joint account that is used only for bills. You can each contribute the specified amount, and it allows you to keep track of payments. Remember to discuss food expenses and emergency costs. 

Will you alternate who buys the groceries? If one person has a specialized diet, you may want to set a spending limit on the grocery budget. For example, have $100 to spend on food every week but buy specialty items individually.

6. Keep Separate Accounts

In general, you should keep separate bank accounts. This will allow you to keep track of your finances and debt. It also simplifies matters if the relationship goes south.

If you’d like to practice joint accounts, set up one for household expenses. You can also create secondary savings accounts for combined goals like a vacation or new furniture. Establish these accounts separately from your primary funds to retain a sense of independence.

7. Create a Cohabitation Agreement

Regular communication is the key to any healthy relationship. Now that you’ve decided on this joint responsibility, you should create a cohabitation agreement. While this may feel formal, it protects you both financially. This document should be updated regularly to reflect changes in your lives and relationship.

List responsibilities and create a plan for if you ever decide to part ways as a couple. Keep a record of large purchases you make together, and attach the receipts. 

Savvy Budgeting Builds Healthy Relationships

By utilizing these seven smart budgeting tips, you and your partner will be ready to move in together with confidence. Employ these guidelines as you continue to grow as a couple and watch as your relationship grows stronger.