( Every relationship has its memorable milestones like moving in together. But how, exactly, do you know if you're ready to co-habitate? Is it a matter of how long you've been dating? Or whether you're getting married? Or whether you're in love? Or whether your leases are conveniently expiring at the exact same time? Plus, there are several questions to ask yourself to help you decide. First off, take the time to do a bit of self-reflection and decide whether you feel truly ready for this level of commitment. "A very clear ˜no that you're not ready is that you still feel like you want to date others," says relationship expert Jaime Bronstein, LCSW. He recommends working through this checklist of topics:

1. Money
Is one of you in debt? Are you super-skilled at saving money? How will expenses get shared? Do you want to open a joint account, or would you prefer to keep things separate? (These points are crucial: According to a recent Experian survey, 59 percent of divorcees say finances played a role in the breakup of their marriage, so handle the money talk early, regardless of whether nuptials are on the table you're sharing.)

2. Home maintenance
Are you a cleaner or more so a person who doesn't care how your living situation looks or feels? Who will do cleaning maintenance (you, your partner, or a commissioned third party)? Do you like food available in the kitchen (meaning weekly grocery hauls), or are you someone who shops at the spur of the moment for what you need? In cases like these, it's important to be respectful of each other's comfort levels and to come to an agreement about how you'll handle different types of home situations as a couple.

3. Family and friends
Do you like to plan get-togethers, or can people just drop by? Do you have holiday meals with family at your house? Do you like to throw parties? This may sound like a lot to talk through but remember: You are combining lives in many ways. If you're able to come to an agreement on all (or almost all) of these points, it may very well be the right time to sign your names to the dotted line of a lease. If you're not, consider taking more time to get to know each other and grow your relationship. Ultimately, says Bronstein, "You need to feel in your gut like this person feels like home."


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