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Merging Households Without Breaking Up

Renters Warehouse Blog

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These days when two people join their lives, there's usually more than a hope chest to lug through the door. In most cases -there are two separate homes, and years of acquired belongings to merge. Talk about a challenge!

The good news, though, is that there are ways to calmly and rationally navigate the process of merging households -without descending into a series of desperate negotiations -and without your new home ending up resembling something off of Hoarders!

The secret to a smooth transition is to try to view the process as something enjoyable -and to treat it as a fun blending of your personalities. After all, it's the start of your new lives together -so why not have some fun with it? Use this time to get organized, get to know each other a bit better, and personalize your new home, turning it into a place that you'll both be able to love and enjoy.

Who knows? You may even be able to convince him to part with his collection of Star Wars posters -as long as you're prepared to toss a few things too!

Merging Belongings

The moment of truth: discovering just how many things you and your dearly beloved actually have. At this stage, there's a good chance that your mountain of stuff will double in size.

Don't panic! That junk pile isn't as daunting as it may seem. A simple plan will help you to conquer the most imposing of tasks and allow you to quickly and efficiently determine which things to keep, and which ones to toss.

    • Take Inventory


Start by taking inventory of all the practical items that you have. This includes bigger items -such as furniture, TVs, appliances, and the small things -like dishes, blenders, and toasters. Don't bother inventorying things that have sentimental value, just list the practical things.

    • Get Rid of Duplicates


Once you have the lists, it's time to decide if you really want two of everything. In some cases, two items may be good -like two TVs. But generally, you're not going to want two refrigerators. Tag the duplicates that you don't want with Post-its, or create a list, and then make a plan to sell or donate them.

    • Organize Personal Mementos


Don't feel pressured into getting rid of personal mementos that hold sentimental value. Likewise, keep in mind that your loved one will most likely have their own collection of personal belongings as well. Remember, you can't change them -so don't even try! Still, just because something has sentimental value, doesn't mean that it must be displayed prominently in your new home. When it comes to mementos, try to determine which pieces you're going to display, and which ones may be better left stored in boxes, or perhaps displayed in the office.

    • Agree on a Decor Scheme


One key to making the transition process more organized -and a lot more fun, is choosing a decor scheme that merges both of your tastes. This will give you a starting point when it comes to deciding which furniture and decor you want to keep, and which things you'll need to get rid of or store.

When New Mexico-based marketing executive Kristi Lawrence married at 35, she soon found that the process of moving from her house into her new husband's place was emotionally jarring. "He was used to having his house decorated a certain way," explains Kristi, who, at the time felt like she was losing her identity. Their solution? Several conversations aimed at incorporating Kristi's possessions into the overall decorating scheme. "Over time our decor has evolved into a wonderful representation of us," Kristi says.

When blending your decor, it's important to view your significant other's things and suggestions with an open mind, and plenty of understanding. Both people need to work together to create a new style that involves incorporating things that are important to each other. After all, "If your merged home looked exactly the way you truly desired," writes New York City-based marriage therapist and author, Sherry Amatenstein, "You'd likely be living in it alone!"

    • Consider Storage


Face it: there's no realistic way that your 35-member-strong ceramic owl collection is going to work in the new place, but then again, his favorite plaid chair is unlikely to as well. On the other hand, though, there are a lot of good memories attached to some of this stuff. For these items, consider storage as a temporary solution. This will give you a chance to set up the house, and see how it looks before making any final decisions.

Merging Responsibilities

Next comes the task of merging responsibilities. Things like finances and chores all need to be discussed.

    • Finances


It may sound unromantic, but finances are an important part of your new lives together. Money is the number one cause of stress in relationships, according to a survey by SunTrust Bank, and it's worth having some important discussions to ensure that you're on the same page from a financial point of view. Being honest about your finances and assets is an important first step, as is creating a system for spending and savings. Equally important, is deciding how your money will be kept. While some spouses pool their funds in joint accounts, others opt to keep their money separate. Some find that setting up a joint account and keeping some funds separate makes the most sense. The important thing is to find a system that works well for both of you.

    • Chores


To help ensure a smooth transition -it's also a good idea to have honest discussions about who will be responsible for what chores. For some, this could mean that the task of making dinner falls to whoever gets home earlier, while others may find it beneficial to work up a "chores chart." Just make sure that the tasks don't fall too heavily to one person, or resentment will soon start to build.

Merging Homes

Once the decision has been made to merge households, the next question that usually arises is,

"Where should we live?"

If one -or both of you are renting, then the decision is usually fairly straightforward -you move into the place that has the most space, of course! Or, go apartment hunting together to find a more suitable place. But if you both own your own homes, then the decision may be a bit more challenging.

    • Your Place or Mine?


Choosing which house you'll use as your future abode can be a difficult process. After all, there are lots of good memories there! Obviously, though, the right place for both of you is together, and it's important to carefully mull over the decision together and come to a unified solution -or else one may be left feeling like they're not being heard. Openness and honesty, as well as the ability to listen and understand the other person is key. If you dislike their place, and would prefer to stay in yours, make sure you communicate that upfront, to avoid any confusion or resentment later on.

    • Know Your Options


If you both each own your own home: congratulations! You're in an extremely advantageous position -and have plenty of options too.

You could, of course, sell one of the homes, but if you're like many people and having a hard time deciding on which one to keep, you may want to consider renting out one of the homes while giving the other a trial run to see how you like it. If you both find that it's not working, you could always move back into the other home. Another compromise would be to sell -or rent out both of the homes in question and purchase a new home -a place to make new memories together.

Renting out the homes is an especially good idea particularly in today's uncertain economic climate. Renting will allow you to hold onto your investment while it appreciates in value, while at the same time giving you extra cash flow in the form of monthly rental income. Many other landlords start out this way, and it can be an excellent way to set yourself up for financial security in the future. Just be sure to create a plan and make sure you're clear on your responsibilities as a landlord, or outsource them; so that you can hit the ground running as soon as you start.

When merging households, it's important to keep the end goal in mind -a home that symbolizes your new lives together. Through it all, try not to lose focus on what's really important -each other!

"My motto at this stage in life is that people are more important than places and places are more important than things," says Washington D.C. resident Rick Spees, who married at the age of 59. "It comes with age," he continues. "You finally know what is important and not important."

Whether you're the one moving, or staying put, try to be understanding to your significant other, and view this time of change as a new chapter in your life. After all, it's the perfect time to have a clear out, get rid of the old, and start fresh again -and who doesn't want that?

Homeowners -are you looking for help managing your rental? At Renters Warehouse, our team of professional landlords is happy to help. Visit us today to learn more.

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