You’re in a committed long-term relationship, and you’re ready to take the next step: You’ve decided to move in together. Now, it’s time to get down to business. Moving in with a significant other is complicated compared to moving in with a roommate or friend. It’s more than a new living situation– it’s a whole new stage in your relationship.
This new step is probably both exciting and scary (read: terrifying), but the transition can be broken down into simple, logical steps that make the process more manageable and less overwhelming. Make sure you both are active participants at every stage of the process, and that you are communicating your opinions and listening to your partner’s as well.
Ask yourselves why
OK, first things first. What is the real reason you are moving in with your partner? Is it because your lease is almost up, and living together makes financial sense, in addition to being more convenient? If you are spending a lot of time at each other’s homes, moving in together may seem like a logical next step, given your lease is up for renewal anyway.
Does one of you look at moving in together as a possible prelude to marriage?
No matter what the reason is, discuss it with your partner beforehand. Have a frank and open conversation, so the right expectations are set, and both of you are on the same page. Answering the “why” may take some serious introspection and heart-to-heart communication but it will be a worthwhile effort, as you figure out next steps.
Once your partner and you have decided to move in together, take a look at the checklist below to figure out how to go about the process.
What it entails
Have you ever gone camping or traveled together as a couple? If so, you may be aware of what it means to share space with a significant other. It is slightly (or a lot) more complicated than it looks.
For starters, it is a good idea to take inventory of all of your respective belongings before moving in together, and then take a common decision as to what items will make it to your new space, and what will need to be donated/tossed/sold. This could be a difficult and time-consuming task, as most people are attached to the things they own, and often reluctant to part with them. It makes sense to do a thorough decluttering of both your apartments before moving in together, so you will not have extra stuff to pack, move and unpack. And you can save on serious moving expenses as well. If required, get some storage space so you don’t have to let go of everything you love.
It isn’t always easy to carve out personal space in a shared apartment. If you are an introverted person who needs alone time, be sure to communicate this to your partner before moving in together. Let your partner know what you require in an honest and respectful manner, and be sure to grant them their space too.
Know that you will inevitably run into an annoying personality trait in your partner that drives you crazy. You may choose to let your partner know how you feel, or you may be okay living with it. Nevertheless, it is good to be aware of this possibility, so you don’t feel shocked or disappointed when you are finally living together.
Be prepared to adjust to your partner’s living habits, and think about how best you can communicate as a couple to smooth over the rough patches.
Deciding where to live should start with one question: Do we want to move into a new apartment? Some couples prefer this option because it feels like a good way to start a new chapter in the relationship. Moving into a new apartment also means that both individuals get to weigh in on important factors such as location, neighborhood, layout, interiors, etc.
If you decide to go with a new apartment, take some time to think about your requirements. What part of town would you both like to live in? Do you have a preference for a specific neighborhood? How far or how long would you like to commute for work? What is a rent amount you are both comfortable paying monthly? Make sure you take into consideration most, if not all, your requirements as well as those of your partner’s, as you go apartment hunting.
Finally, when you have found a place you both like, and you are ready to sign the lease, be sure to include both your names on the document. In the unfortunate possibility of a future breakup, it is better to have both individuals on the lease.
Once you’ve discussed the why, and you know what you’re getting yourselves into, it’s time to start making decisions. The first step is to have a detailed discussion about finances, which can be a tough conversation to have.
No, you aren’t getting married and combining everything, but you also aren’t roommates who have to split everything evenly. Discuss who pays for what, how much rent each person is responsible for, and how to handle day-to-day expenses and unexpected costs. It may be a practical solution to open a joint bank account for household expenses, and keep all other expenses (cell phone, car repairs, insurance, etc.) separate.
Having a candid conversation about shared finances is absolutely necessary before you move in together, as it can go a long way in preventing rude surprises in the future.
Divvy up household duties
Moving into a new apartment is fun but keeping it clean can be a real chore. Maybe one of you is a secret slob and the other is a cleaning freak… No matter what your cleaning tendencies (or the lack thereof) are, set up a cleaning routine that works for both of you. It takes time and effort and money to keep a home clean and beautiful, and the chances of a routine succeeding are higher when both partners are invested in it.
Have a rough breakdown of tasks and responsibilities. Keep it as general or as detailed as you like. Post it on your refrigerator, make a game of it, and give each other brownie points… Yes, household chores can be fun too.
Talk about the possibility of a breakup
Talking finances is tough, but it’s far easier as compared to the “what if” conversation. It is a good idea to make a plan in the unlikely and unfortunate event of a breakup. This plan can include details about handling expenses of breaking a lease, splitting your belongings, sublease options, etc. Consider drafting a cohabitation agreement, a legal document (similar to a prenuptial agreement) that both partners sign clarifying things such as division of assets, custody of children, and other logistical details.
Move in together
Now it’s time to move in! Enjoy spending time creating a shared space together.
Moving in together with your partner is a special experience. There will be good times, maybe bad times, but be sure to communicate what you feel, and encourage your partner to do the same. Be patient with each other, and learn as you go along.