My husband bought a condo when we were dating and while it wasn’t ‘mine’ in any way, especially at the time, I went house hunting with him and I think he took my opinion into account even though we hadn’t really been together long enough for me to have a super big say. I was finishing school in another city about 5 hours away as well, so while I saw him on weekends we knew it would be at least a year til I moved in. I’m a (graphic) designer and so I went with him to pick out furniture and help him arrange it and move in and everything, so I was lucky that it did feel like my home when I moved in.
Anyway, he obviously paid for it all, and we ended up combining finances fairly early (lets say when we got engaged, two years before the wedding, but I can’t quite remember) so it was kind of one big pot as opposed to ‘well, I pay for X and you pay for Y.’ We really like the method that was mentioned up thread where you see the % of income you both have and contribute accordingly, though it doesn’t actually work for us, unfortunately (more on that later).
Fast forward 5 years and we have been renting the condo out for the past three years while we live with my grampa and help him out with things. The rent money has actually been used to pay my personal bills (phone, car, student loan, etc) because it was dollar for dollar about the same, so it was super convenient, even though technically it’s ‘his’ money from ‘his’ condo.
We are, though, taking advantage of the insane market in our town at the moment and listing our condo for sale (should go on the market tomorrow!) and the money will be used where we can–together–best use it, including paying off my student loans, even though it was never ‘my’ condo. I certainly hope he buys himself a nice present once we close, but he’s not going to be keeping it all for himself just because it was his place and he paid the mortgage.
Going back to what I said about the %-budget not working for us, we realised that because he has a stable income and mine is super all over the place (I freelance and we are also starting a business together which is pretty variable) it makes more sense for him to pay the ‘set’ bills of day-to-day life, plus give us an allowance each week for fun money. So we live just about 100% off his income but my income is split between savings, travel, a sort of slush fund, and that sort of thing, basically the ‘envelopes’ where it doesn’t matter if there is 50$ one month and 2500$ the next month. Obviously car payments aren’t so flexible! I’m only really saying that because I think ultimately it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you both feel like it makes sense for you and you check in every once in awhile to make sure its still a good situation for you both.