You’ve been dating for a few months now (or maybe even a couple of years) — things are great and moving in together seems like the most logical next step in your relationship. After all, you already spend most nights at each other’s places, you’ve already exchanged keys and you both feel at home at each other’s place.
Some couples seamlessly move in together by leaving things at each other’s place until someone’s lease runs out, but there’s never really a conversation about it. Other couples wait until they get engaged or married before they move in together. While this may be a requirement of their religion or tradition, the adjustment period might be quite harsh and the expectations may be high once they do finally move in together.
There are also couples who choose to having a conversation — one that’s not simply based on “it would make it easier” or “it would be cheaper.” Instead, they focus on “we’ve moving towards something together.”
To make sure you are not only headed in the right direction, but you make the transition smooth, follow these 7 steps:
1. Travel together and spend an extended period of time at each other’s place.
Whether it’s just a weekend or a few days, travel together and spend time at just one of your places without going back and forth. This will allow you to understand not only the other person’s daily habits, but also their down time, what they do when they’re not entertaining you for a few hours, what happens when one of you is on the sofa watching TV while the other is reading a book.
These are trial runs for living together — a way you get an idea of what it feels like to be together without doing everything together. After all, there will be a lot of down time once you move in and plenty of times when you will be together but you will each do your own thing.
2. Get an idea of each other’s deal breakers when it comes to the living situation.
If you cringe at the thought of dirty dishes in the sink, while the other person doesn’t start washing dishes until they run out of clean ones, maybe you can find some sort of compromise. People will have different ideas of what it means to be clean and tidy, now you just have to find a common idea that works for both of you.
3. Talk through every detail with each other.
The decision to move in together is a big deal. Don’t wash over it just because it’s convenient.
Yes, of course it would be cheaper or you could afford a bigger place together. Not to mention you’d never have to drive back and forth between places, you’d always wake up together and so on. But moving in together just for the sake of it usually doesn’t lead anywhere. Talk about what your expectations are with this move and what it means for the future of your relationship.
4. Decide who is going to make the move and what you are willing to compromise on.
Will you choose one of the places you have now or will you rent an entirely new place? What stays and what goes? If your partner moves into your place, you will have to make room for their things and together you will have to figure out a way to merge things together in a cohesive way while keeping your individuality.
5. Talk about your finances.
It might not be your favorite topic, but it’s something that left by itself can cause unnecessary frustration. How will you be paying the rent? The utilities? Who pays for what? And so on. Just figure out a plan — whether or not that means you split everything down the middle. Just figure something out before you start getting the bills.
6. Agree to give yourselves some time alone.
It’s easy to get into this habit of always doing things together when you live together. Remember you still need time alone. Whether that’s a night when you go out with your friends and you come back home to tell each other stories about the evening or however you wish to spend your time apart, you do need that time. The last thing you need is to become “an old married couple”, eat dinner at home every night and watch Netflix.
7. Remember to be respectful of each other’s space.
Maybe you’ve been living on your own for a long time and you didn’t have to tell anyone when you’re leaving or when you’re coming back, but that’s not the case now.
Even though you shouldn’t need to give a report of everything you’re doing when you’re not with your partner, you should be mindful of the fact that you are in a relationship. So if you’re out with friends and it’s getting late in the night, send a quick message or make a phone call letting your partner know that everything is ok and you’ll be home at some point.
Sometimes people think this means they’re being tied down and their freedom is being taken away, but the reality is that if the situation was reversed, you’d start worrying about the other person too. It’s not lack of trust; it’s care.
While no one can tell you if you’re ready to move in together, taking these things into consideration might help you figure out where you stand and what you want out of it. Maybe you’re both OK with moving in together just to save money, or you think this will make it more convenient — as long as you are clear with each other about your expectations from the beginning, it should make for a smooth and beautiful transition.