The decision to co-habitate with your partner is a serious milestone in the relationship—not something to be treated casually or done hastily and spontaneously. Moving in together indicates that you’re both committed to each other, and are heading in the direction of permanence or even marriage. This means there are many things to discuss if this next phase in your relationship is on the horizon.
Your relationship is going well and things are falling into place. One or both of you think it may be the right time to take the next step and move in together. Before you just spring into action and get busy with moving, make sure you take the time to talk to your partner about these important factors.
His place or yours?
The first question is, where are you going to live? It’s all too easy for one or both of you to assume you already know the answer. Maybe your beau thinks you’re just moving into his place or perhaps you think your place is perfect for you both. If you’re moving in or vice versa, remember this: it’s no longer your place or his, it’s both of yours. Sounds simple enough, but that means you will need to share your space. He may want to hang up his sports or Star Wars posters, and although that may mess up your feng shui, you have to remember he wants to feel at home, too. On the other hand, if you move into his place, what will it take for you to feel comfortable? Whose furniture will you keep and what will be discarded?
The best solution may be for both of you to find a new place together. That way it’s not yours or his, but a neutral location where you can start your next chapter together. Even if this is what you want to do, there are still some things you have to talk about. Discuss must haves and simply cannot do; do you want to stay close to family? Will one of you be commuting while the other has an easy two-minute walk to work? Take these things into consideration as you’re looking for your new place.
One or Both of You May Need to Adjust to the New Space
Whether you stay at one of your places or find a new apartment, it’s going to take some adjusting. Even if you were spending nearly every night together, it’s not quite the same as living together. Get ready to learn some new things about your significant other and your similarities and differences. For example, does he have an open door policy and like to have buddies over to play video games while you prefer a quiet evening in? Is he a neat freak and you have a tendency to get cluttered? These are the types of discussions you’ll need to have early on.
You will also learn about how much space each of you needs. Now that you’re spending so much time together, you may have to carve out some alone time to pursue your individual interests.
If you’re living in a new place you should also discuss what is required for each of you to feel safe. If you’re in a new or unfamiliar neighborhood, you may also want to consider some easy DIY security upgrades like a wireless alarm system or motion detectors. Also, it may help you to come up with a leaving-the-house checklist to remember to lock your windows and doors but also to make sure electronics are powered down before you leave the house.
Bills, Bills, Bills
If you haven’t discussed money with your partner, this is a topic you should tackle before you move in together. Will you write a check to your SO and he will write a check for both of you? Will you write separate checks? What about your utility bills? If he insists on having ESPN but you never watch TV, will you split the cable bill evenly or is that his responsibility? Money is an unpopular topic to talk about, but it will save you some headaches if you have the discussion early.
Who Gets the Dog?
If one of you has a pet, who will handle the responsibilities like walking the dog or cleaning the litter box? If it’s your dog, your partner may just assume you will handle everything, but what happens when you’ve had to work late and you come home to find out your beau didn’t walk the dog or feed him?
Talk about how things will be different when you live together. Will you both care for the pets or will it be one person’s responsibility?
Take Out the Papers and the Trash
In addition to the responsibilities that come with a pet, how will you divide household chores? This is something you really need to talk about because if you just assume one person is in charge of a certain chore, it may make one of you resentful if you’re constantly stuck with a task you hate.
You may want to designate responsibilities like you do the cooking and he does the dishes and you do the laundry and he cleans the bathroom. Or you may want to devise a system where you rotate responsibilities. You can do whatever works for you just do yourself a favor and make sure you talk about this!
Why Do You Want to Live Together?
What is the real reason the two of you want to live together? Is it simply easier to split the rent versus paying for two places, or is it for convenience: so neither of you have to pack an overnight bag? While these are added perks of cohabitation, they shouldn’t be your underlying motivation. As you can see, living together is a big adjustment, and one you should discuss at length before making a rash decision. Make sure the desire is there and that you’re not just doing it for financial necessity or convenience.
What does moving in together mean? Believe it or not, it may mean something different to each of you. In many cases, men and women have a different view of what living together means. While some may think it’s a step toward engagement, others may have a different idea entirely. One of you may want to get married in the near future, while the other isn’t thinking in those terms yet. Before you move in together, make sure you communicate about what you both want from the relationship. It may be hard and scary to bring up the topic, but it will save you a lot of anguish in the long run if you’re both not on the same page.
Remember: You’re Teammates, Not Roommates
When you share an apartment you will naturally discover some unflattering things about your partner. This is a great chance for you to learn to embrace the good with the bad and learn to communicate and pick your battles. At the end of the day, remember, you’re significant other isn’t just another roommate who splits the rent and you only see on occasion. You’re joining forces, you’re sharing space, and hopefully you’re making memories that will last a lifetime.
If you think you are ready to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, make sure you sit down together and have a heart to heart. Good luck, you’re taking an exciting step in your journey together!