When the dizzy thrill of falling in love evolves to “you’re the one,” couples start talking about next steps. But there’s a substantial difference between “your place or mine?” and “our place.” Before you take it to the next level, contemplate these five things to consider before moving in together.
Before you start looking for an affordable place to share, talk about how you’ll share the rent—and the utilities, the cable bill, and the cost of groceries. Talking about money is uncomfortable for many people, but so is discovering your partner spends twice as much as you do per month on groceries, including meat, when you’re a vegan.
When you move in together, you need to know the difference between their stuff, your stuff, and “our stuff.” One partner insists on keeping a hideous buffalo head mounted on the wall, while the other refuses to part with Grandma’s dainty collection of teacups housed in a bulky display case. It’s unlikely that a place you find to live together will be double the size of the place you lived on your own, so some things will have to go.
Among the things to consider before moving in together is the prickly subject of what happens if it doesn’t work out. How will you redivide the possessions you’ve accumulated? It’s important to understand whether the laws in the state you are in recognize legal rights for cohabiting couples. For example, in the state of Washington, couples can demonstrate they are in a “committed intimate relationship,” and the state courts will create a division of property regarded as “just and equitable.”
If you’ve stayed over at your partner’s place many times, you should have gotten a sense of their style of housekeeping. Could you live with it? If one partner is a “socks on the floor” type and the other is an “a place for everything and everything in its place” person, there’s bound to be friction.
Sit down with your partner and decide who cooks, who does laundry, who takes out the trash, and who does the grocery shopping, and when. Some chores you’ll do together, while others you may leave up to each partner to do for themselves.
Your family lives halfway across the country, and your partner’s lives around the corner. Will they drop by unannounced? Will you be expected to spend every holiday with your partner’s family, never traveling to see yours? Map it out ahead of time so that neither partner will be perpetually disappointed or resentful.
Cohabitation doesn’t necessarily mean you must do everything together. Healthy couples retain their own sets of friends and stay involved in their own hobbies and interests. But if one partner expects to tag along all the time, it can get tiresome. So plan for your individual nights out with friends and when you’ll attend the theater or a concert together.
Moving in together requires compromise and, above all, trust. If you and your partner think you’re ready, congratulations, and good luck!