When you and your significant other are thinking about moving in together, this can be a tough decision. After all, how do you know you’re ready to take this step? If you’re not ready and you make this leap, you’re both going to run into a wide range of problems as anyone will tell you.
The simple answer is that you don’t ever really know. No one can ever be completely ready for this change. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t determine if you’re ready and then prepare for this step.
Use this article to first help you decide if you’re ready to move in together. Then, use the pre-move checklist to get you both ready for the change. Ultimately, the goal is to give you both the greatest chance of success and streamline this process.
Signs You’re Ready to Move in Together
You have an established relationship
Many people want to know how long before moving in together but there’s not an exact answer to this question. Your relationship should be established, meaning that you’ve been dating for a while; this is not a decision you should rush into, having that established relationship will help ease the transition. More than that though, you should both be committed to your partnership for the foreseeable future. This doesn’t mean that you are going to stay together forever, but you should both be interested in the long haul. On the reverse, never move in with someone you’ve just started a relationship, as that is the setup to a Dirty John style disaster.
You understand each other’s habits
This is a factor that makes or breaks relationships. Little things that might seem cute starting off can get very annoying very quickly when you’re sharing a living space. Maybe you want the laundry sorted right away but your partner doesn’t do this. Make sure that you understand your partner’s living habits and if they are compatible with your own. Traveling and spending the night with each other before you move in can be good indicators.
You can talk about money
The joint finances of any given relationship is one of the biggest sources of tension and stress. Even though you aren’t getting married at this time, money is going to become more of a factor in your relationship. For example, who pays for groceries? Cleaning supplies? Utilities? Date night? Make sure that you’re both open to discussing finances before the move. When bills start to come and things start to break, you’ll be ready to tackle these problems.
It’s a convenient choice
Keep in mind that this should not be the determining factor but is still worth considering. Maybe you’re both near the end of your leases. Maybe you’re spending so much time together that you’re basically moving in together already. If you’re starting to feel like you or your partner are together most nights, it might be a sign to move in.
You recognize that it will be a challenge
In fact, a sign that you’re not ready to move in together is when you don’t recognize that it will take a fair amount of work on both of your parts. Challenges are going to come up, regardless of how much you prepare. However, if you recognize that it will be a challenge and you’re still excited about taking this step, then you’re ready to move forward. Make sure that you’ve both discussed how problems should play out.
You’re both independent
If you’re co-dependent, then moving in will make things worse. It’s easy to get lost in each other when you move in, but you should still both maintain your own sense of identity. This means that you still have your own hobbies and activities apart from each other. Not only is this a sign of a healthy relationship, but it will also keep the spark alive. That spark is essential because when it leaves, you’re both going to be unhappy.
But you make time for each other
Even with your own interests, you still need to make it a point to spend time together. For some couples, this means having a date night once a week. This means that you’re not just spending time together, but you’re spending quality time together.
Checking off Your Moving Checklist:
Now that you’ve gone through these steps and feel comfortable moving in together, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Planning out how you’re going to manage your shared space has many practical aspects. This checklist will get you through the essentials.
Discuss dividing chores
This is an essential part of living with anyone so don’t assume that it will work out automatically. You probably have different standards of cleanliness so you need to set down who will be responsible for what chores and how often they should be done. For example, cleaning the bathroom every week is a reasonable expectation. You don’t necessarily have to have a list for chores, but it may be helpful, especially if you’re going to take turns on certain chores.
Decide which items you’re going to bring
Between the two of you, you may both have a fair amount of furniture, kitchenware, and just stuff. Chances are that your new place simply doesn’t need all these items. When you find yourself in this situation, evaluate what is going to go with you both to your home and what items you will donate, throw away, or put in storage. Plan to do this early, as it can take much longer than you might think.
Discuss finances and bill paying
When it comes to the utilities and rent, most couples split these areas equally but that might not be your situation. For example, if you do all the cooking, it might make sense that your partner pays more of the grocery bill. This is likely an area where the finances won’t be completely equal all the time and that’s fine. However, make sure that you both have a plan of how the finances are going to be run in practical terms. This will be handy when you start to get bills.
Decide on the property
When you decide to move in together, you’ll have to decide exactly where you’re going to move. For younger couples, this often means choosing a rental property. If this is your scenario, make sure that you’re both comfortable with the location and the rental cost. Even if you can afford a larger place, make sure that you can both pay your share of the rent comfortably for the best results. If your partner or you own a space, it may make sense to move into the owned home but not always. Regardless, know where exactly you’re going to be living.
This may not be a problem, but make sure that you’re both on the same page about pets, especially if you or your partner already has one. For example, if you have a dog, who is going to be responsible for walking the dog? Who will take care of the cat’s litter box? Although it usually makes sense for the “owner” of the pet to take the primary role of caretaking, this may not always be the case, especially if either of you travel frequently. Make sure that you have a plan in place about taking care of any pets. This is also important to discuss if think you might want to get a pet in the future.
Discuss any medical problems
If you or your partner get sick or are seriously injured, then the other person is going to be the primary person helping to navigate that illness. While you may not be legally responsible for making medical decisions, you’re still going to be involved. This becomes even more of a problem if either of you has a chronic illness or recurring health issue. For example, living with a person who has a food allergy likely means that you need to make sure that you can know what to do if your partner has a reaction. If you’re both relatively healthy and don’t have any serious medical problems, this is likely more of a minor area. However, you should be open to discussing your health and wellness together before moving in together. Have a general discussion, especially as you might not necessarily know if your partner has any health problems.
Finally, keep in mind that while the goal for most couples moving in together is to create a fair living environment, fair is not equal. Chances are, one of you will do more work, pay more of the expenses, or simply be more involved in your living together. Striving for a completely equal partnership simply isn’t practical but these steps can help you start off with a good foundation.
Remember that the ultimate test of your moving in together is compatibility and commitment. Both areas can be challenging to know entirely. Living together takes work, and it takes patience. It is well worth it, but don’t forget to put the effort in.