It’s 2018 and the cost of rent in London is more than ever. You’ve got yourself into a relationship (one that seems to be going on for longer than usual, much to your pleasure) and you’ve reached a stage where life would be easier if you just lived together. You could spread the cost of everything – the rent, the food shop, the toiletries, the cat litter – whilst finally enjoying having bae by your side every single night, possibly for the rest of your life.

So, how can you make sure that a few years down the line they haven’t kicked you out?

Sharing is caring

Be prepared to share everything. Not just your space and your favourite jumper, you’ll also have to share responsibilities. Did they cook dinner? Offer to do the washing up. Find a balance that you’re both happy with. Did they order take away last week? Well now it’s your turn. Don’t be the person that lets their partner do all the work, even if they claim that they don’t mind everyone loves a helping hand to lighten the load.

Decorate

Make your place feel like home. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have plants and candles all over the place and your favourite art on the walls. Personalising your living environment can be a simple but effective form of self-care. If you have a strict landlord that won’t let you put any nails in the wall, try and get hold of some free-standing shelves or order yourself some Command strips that don’t leave a mark upon removal. Got a fussy bae? The more you do together, the less chance there is of them moaning about it later. Let them choose the colour scheme and the sofa cushions. Remember that you can’t win them all. Maybe you can have a few vetoes each just in case you really really can’t stand the thought of a bright pink toaster.

Carve your space

As the novelty of living with someone you actually like wears off, you may begin to realise that you’ve neglected your favourite pastimes. Pick up that Xbox controller and play until sunrise. Ask them to keep the noise down as you’re reading that book you’ve been putting off. Nothing’s worse than coming home and finding out your partners finished the latest season of Rick & Morty without you so find a show you don’t mind them watching alone whilst you’re busy. Make sure to set clear boundaries if you feel like you really need to, we don’t all like discussing our day at work whilst we’re on the loo.

See your friends

Keeping in touch with friends gets harder when life starts to catch you up, but it can be made even worse if you and your partner are always waiting until you’re both free. If you saw your friends without them before, you can do the same when you’re together. Anyway, your old friends might need a break from this new compulsory companion.

Communicate

As obvious as it sounds, good communication can be the key to stress free cohabiting. There will be bickering and angry texts and arguments. But there will also be discussions and comfort and love. You don’t need to know where they are all the time, but maybe they could let you know what time to expect them home so you’re not calling their mum at 3am. Maybe they need to tell you about yourself because you’re not helping out enough or they just need a good moan about their day at work, either way you’re their go-to and you need to listen up. But maybe you can save the work talk for before 7pm because it’s stressing you out too. Perhaps you can call Tuesday evening Pasta and No Phones Night so you spend some time together over your favourite dish. Date night, nail clippings, light bulbs, emptying the bins, buying bread – it’s all up for discussion.

At the end of the day, sharing a home with someone you love (most of the time) can be a great way to improve the self-care in your life. So make sure you’re not moving in together just for the cheap rent.

“Come live with me, and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove” – Christopher Marlowe