Couple resting by moving boxes and drinking out of mugs

When you and your partner decide to move in together, picking the location you’ll call home is a major part of this next step in your relationship. Will you live in the city or suburbs? Close to family or across the country? Whether you rent or buy, you have a lot to consider when deciding where you’ll live out your happily ever after.

   

The friends and family plan

You and your partner may be the center of each other’s world, but you may have other people in your lives you enjoy living close to. When deciding where to live, you may want to consider your family and friends. How much time do you spend with your nearest and dearest, and how important is it that you can drop in at a moment’s notice? How close is too close? Are you willing to compromise proximity to them in exchange for other housing wants and needs?

If you and your partner have (or plan to have) kids, it could also be a good time to think about how they may factor into your friends and family plan. Do you plan on lots of sleepovers with grandma and grandpa? Will you rely on family members for childcare? The phrase that it takes a village to raise a child is true, so these are important questions to consider when determining where to hang your hat.

The game of life

You don’t have to map out the rest of your life right in the moment, but before you decide where to live together, you should sketch out your major goals for the future. If you plan to have children, you should consider school zones and the type of environment where you want them to grow up. For instance, maybe you want them to have easy access to culture like the arts and museums, or perhaps you foresee weekends exploring the great outdoors together as a family. The associated costs of raising children should come into play, too. For example, can you afford to live in your chosen school district or do you need to budget for private school? What are local daycare rates?

Your careers may also be a factor in choosing a location. Depending on your line of work, your flexibility on location might differ from your partner’s. Consider commute times, whether you’ll need a home office and how your earnings might impact where you can afford to live.

City chic or country cozy

In addition to kids and careers, other aspects of your daily life and preferences are important too. Maybe you can’t imagine living far from a body of water, or you thrive on the buzz of a busy urban center. When weighing a city, suburbs or rural setting, think about transportation preferences and access to amenities, including entertainment, dining and shopping. The community feel and neighborhood vibe could have a big impact on your happiness with the location.

Your hobbies and favorite pastimes can have an influence as well. Will you have a backyard for entertaining friends? Are there affordable local gyms?

And don’t discount the weather. Are you okay with shoveling snow or do you need a healthy dose of sunshine for your mental well-being? Think about how climate may affect your wallet too. Insurance requirements (such as flood insurance), maintenance and utilities can all vary based on the climate where you live.

Read more: How to create a home buying wish list that ticks all the right boxes

Affordability index

Your budget and financial goals can have a major impact on where you decide to live. If you buy a home, you’ll want to get the best mortgage rate and term possible. Ally Home offers numerous loan types and term lengths to suit your needs.

In addition to average rents and home prices in the area, make sure you factor in other costs of living. If you’re going to buy a home, in addition to your monthly mortgage payment, you’ll also be paying for property taxes, homeowners’ insurance and for maintenance and repairs. Our affordability calculator can help you determine your home-buying budget.

If you need a car to get around, consider the price of the vehicle as well as auto insurance, gas, maintenance and any fees for parking. Don’t forget about other day-to-day expenses, like groceries, restaurants and entertainment. These other costs can add up fast and can be a big influence on whether a given location is truly “affordable” or not.

Find your happy place

Deciding where to live as a couple will involve a lot of research, open communication and probably a little compromise. Inject some fun into the process of getting on the same page financially with these date night challenges. There’s likely one or more factors you and your partner don’t agree on, but with a little work, you can figure out how to meet in the middle.

And remember where you decide to live doesn’t have to be set in stone. As they say, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, so the location you choose may change down the line. Wherever you decide to call home, you’ll do so together.

Start planning your shared future today.

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