So you’ve been dating someone special for a while. Things are going well. You’re thinking you should move in together. But is it time?
- How long and how often have you seen each other?
- How well do you know her or him?
- What DON’T you know about her or him?
- How well is the relationship going?
- Will moving in together ruin the good thing you have?
Along with marriage (which may well factor into everything, if that’s what you both decide to do), the decision to move in together should not be made lightly.
Moving in together is a big decision to come to.
If things go bad, it can be difficult to extricate yourselves, once you’re living together.
And the fact of living together may cause the relationship to fail, if you haven’t considered all the angles that come with it.
Taking this step means you’re ready for a deeper commitment to each other.
Be Sure You’re Not Moving in Together For the Wrong Reasons
If the main thing driving you to want to live together is a strong physical attraction and great sex, take a breath.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s a great thing to have, but it’s probably not enough.
Shared sentiments, common interests and compatibility are needed to sustain a relationship . . . especially one in which you’re living together.
And think twice if your main motivation is to pool resources and cut your living expenses. That’s a nice added benefit but shouldn’t be the driving force, unless all you’re seeking is a roommate living arrangement.
A few other reasons it might be too soon or a bad idea all together to move in together:
- You feel pressured to do it.
- The thought of moving in gives you great anxiety.
- You don’t feel safe, fully respected and/or valued by your partner.
A Few Things That Indicate Your Move In Together Will Work
iStorage offers a few signs that you’re ready to move in together. You:
- Can argue without yelling
- Have no problem doing things apart
- Make time for each other
- Know about your partner’s bad habits
- Recognize there will be challenges
Before Calling the Movers . . .
Frederick Hertz, author of “Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples,” says the first step toward moving in together is to figure out what will happen should you part ways:
“You can either plan your breakup in a civilized, caring, thoughtful way, or you can try to avoid it and have it be a nasty fight later on.
If you are renting or own a home, figure out who will stay in the event of a breakup. Nail down who will pay any pesky fees or taxes. Come up with a plan.”
The same article suggests being honest about what fears and worries you each have about this move, and also address what will happen if things don’t work out. And what will happen if either of you gets sick or dies?
“Some unmarried couples might benefit from a cohabitation agreement, also known as a no-nup, a legal agreement about who gets what in the event of a breakup or major life event.”
Have Discussions About These Things . . . Before You Move in Together
What kind of relationship does each of you want?
Do you both want a strictly monogamous relationship or a polyamorous one?
Do you agree to a so-called “open” relationship, allowing for casual sex with others or even full-blown relationships with others? Don’t agree to this kind of relationship unless you’re really okay with it.
What DON’T you know about her or him?
You should have already shared some important things – including how these things will impact the relationship – such as:
- Health conditions and illnesses
- Any addictions – alcohol, illegal drugs, over-the-counter or prescription drugs
- Religious affiliations/practices
- Political viewpoint
Don’t consider the move in together until you’ve known each other at least 6 months.
Be aware that no matter how well you prepare and discuss arrangements, things will come up once you live together that you hadn’t planned for. This is inevitable.
But, if you wait until you really get to know someone before moving in, and the relationship is strong, navigating those bumps will probably be easier.
Work Out Financial Matters Well Before You Move in Together
This is a big issue. Many couples break up over money problems. Know as much as possible about each other’s financial situation beforehand.
- How much savings and income do you each have?
- How much debt do you each have?
- What recurring expenses (other than household expenses) do you each have?
- What have you noticed so far in how each of you handles and respects money?
The money questions above and in the following list are designed to jump-start those conversations, taking them one step at a time.
But first, a suggestion: Approach money questions in a romantic relationship with the same care and consent as you do conversations about physical intimacy and each other’s sexual backgrounds. They can feel similarly sensitive as you move from one stage of reveal to the next, so try to ask each question with an empathetic smile.
- What do we want our life together to look like?
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- How do you think your financial priorities might change in the next 10 years?
- Is there anything about your finances or future finances that I should know about? Anything about my finances or future finances you’re curious about?
- If we share a household, do we want to share money?
- Do you like managing household money? Who’s in charge of our shared domestic homework?
- What happens if one of us dies unexpectedly?
- Should we talk to a lawyer?
- How do we stop having this same fight about money?
- Whom could we ask for help in a money emergency?
Address some money issues once things get serious
Cosmo wrote an article about money and dating that sets the stage for discussions about finances:
“The time to discuss money and your relationship is when you think the relationship is ready to get serious. If it’s headed that way, the conversation should be had before it gets too serious. Nor do these have to be big, heavy conversations.
As you share your life’s stories with each other, it’s easy to weave in mentions of your job, retirement status, mortgages, housing, savings, children, family expenses, debt, and other money-related values.
These natural conversations during the first few dates will let you know if you want the relationship to get serious.
Men don’t usually bring these things up. Women do. The key is to not get defensive when the topic arises, whoever mentions it.”
Is your partner resistant to discussing their finances?
Emily Garbinsky, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame, described “financial infidelity” as:
“Engaging in a financial behavior expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner, and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them.”
“A 2018 Harris poll found that 42 percent of adults in relationships admitted to financial waywardness. A 2019 survey from TD Bank found the most pervasive secrets people kept from their significant others were, in order from most common to least: credit card debt, hidden bank accounts, a gambling hobby and unpaid student loans.”
And she offers what things to watch out for:
“Experts advise watching for these warning signs: passwords to bank or credit card accounts that were changed without your knowledge; a credit card statement for an account you knew nothing about; and defensiveness or anger from your partner when you bring up money matters.”
How will you divide household expenses?
- Will you split costs down the middle?
- Or will the one with more money or income pay a higher percentage?
- Will each of you keep your own bank/checking account plus have one shared account for household expenses?
Other Things To Sort Out Before You Move in Together
Once you’ve gotten over the finances hurdles, here are more specifics to work out before you move in together:
Whose home will you move into?
These things may factor into your decision:
- Mortgage or rent amount
- Total costs to run
It’s probably not a good idea to purchase a new home together at the start, before actually living together for a while.
How will you combine all your furniture and other belongings into one home?
Although it will be tedious, doing an inventory of what items one of you will move into the home you choose will be helpful. Make a list of must-haves, things you’d like to bring, and things you’ll sell, give away or dispose of.
Are any children, other relatives or others moving in along with either of you?
Don’t drop any surprises here and say at the last minute, “By the way, my daughter and her two children need a place to stay for a few months. I said they could move in with us.”
It’s hard enough to make things work with one new person living with you. Think of the stress that will come by adding others into the mix.
How about pets?
Do either of you have allergies to consider? How will you get your assorted pets used to each other?
For instance, if your partner absolutely hates cats, but you have two cats you adore, how will that work out? Will she or he treat your beloved pets tenderly?
What about friends and family coming for visits and staying over?
Will you have the room for them and do both of you want to open your house to others? Will you both take care of preparing for the guests?
Where and with whose family/friends will you spend holidays?
Many people are sensitive about this issue. They have always spent certain holidays with certain relatives or friends, and want to continue doing so. How will you compromise?
If a balanced and fair agreement about holidays isn’t reached, resentments can crop up.
How and where will you spend vacations, and how will you finance them?
What kind of vacations do each of you like? If you have very different preferences, will you alternate vacations between your choices, or take separate vacations.
If you plan to vacation together, will others go along with you? Will you need to start saving for the vacation early?
Do either or both of you need alone time in the home regularly? How will you arrange that?
If you need alone time but your partner doesn’t, how will you navigate that? Can a guest room serve as your separate space? What happens when actual guests need to use that room?
How will you divide household chores and responsibilities?
You probably know how many things need to be done on a regular basis around any home . . . whether it’s a large house or a small apartment or condo.
Cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming and cleaning, taking out the garbage, lawn maintenance, snow removal. The list is extensive.
The better you divide these things up beforehand, the less likely one or both of you will grow to resent what the other is NOT doing.
How will your sleep, work, eating and other daily activities schedules mesh?
Are you a night owl and late riser, or early to bed and an early riser? How will your schedules impact the relationship?
Are you still working, either outside the home or at home? How will your work life impact the relationship?
Are either of you on a special diet, requiring special foods . . . or do you like to eat certain foods that the other doesn’t like or want to eat or want to pay for?
If either or both of you are very active outside the home, you’ll need to carve out time to be with your partner.
Should you write out all or some of the particulars regarding your move in together and each of you sign it?
You may feel that signing an agreement like this will kill the romance, or jinx the relationship. But if the important things are in a signed document, you’ll both be less likely to go against your agreement.
One More Thing, Before You Move in Together
My advice: Give moving in together a test run. Stay at one of your homes for a long weekend (or longer) and see how things go. Or take a trip together.
During your test run, pay attention to how compatible your personalities, habits and lifestyles are. Keep in mind the things I’ve noted throughout this article and see how your relationship stacks up.