You’ve decided to move in with your significant other. Now you’re wondering – what next? Where’s the guidebook for this?
Whether you’ve decided to move in together for financial, emotional, or practical reasons, you’re embarking on a huge step.
Before you start looking for a new place and packing your boxes, read the following tips to make sure you’re ready to jump into this next step together.
Answer these three questions
Are you compatible roommates?
Forget for a minute that you’re romantically involved with this person. If there was no physical attraction, would you still be able to spend up to 24 hours a day with them?
Do you have a clear idea of how household tasks should be divided?
Are you willing to do each other’s laundry? Who’s on dish duty? If one cooks, does the other clean up? Will one of you always be responsible for taking the trash out, or will you just get the chore done as you see the need? These may seem like petty things, but the small things can add up to big irritations.
Do you have completely open communication?
Living together requires a certain level of trust, honesty, and communication. Are you open and honest with your partner? If you haven’t been completely willing to communicate, this move might encounter some problems.
Before you start packing boxes, talk about your expectations for moving in together. Will you be more like roommates who happen to be dating, or is this the next step towards marriage?
Do you expect your significant other to let you know where they are and when they’ll be home, or will you both have free reign to come and go as you please?
Double-check your assumptions. Make sure your partner is on the same page.
Choose where to live
If one of you already owns a home, “where should we live?” might seem like a clear choice. What if that home is too far of a commute for your partner, though? Are you willing to both move into a new place that’s equidistant to work for both of you?
If your significant other decides to move into your place, you’ll need to make room for their things. If you move into their home, you’ll need to carve out your own space. And if you both choose a new home together, you’ll need to start discussing what type of size, layout, price and location fits you both.
Make furnishing choices
Will you ditch your old stuff and go shopping at Ikea? Or will you keep a mishmash of your old furniture to save money?
Remember, you have to take your significant other’s tastes into account when you’re building a new life together. You may hate that fluorescent yellow chair, but if he loves it, you need to respect that.
Throw out your junk
“Definitely avoid trying to force your partner to get rid items you think are unimportant,” said Dave Meyers, who recently went through this commingling. “It just starts a fight.”
A good rule of thumb is that each party should purge their own belongings, instead of the other person’s stuff.
“Sit down and talk about what you have room for and what you don’t,” Meyers says.
Get rid of duplicates by keeping the nicer of the two items. Once you both weed through your things, consider having a joint yard sale. Use the money you make from selling our old things to buy new items together for your new place.
Decide who pays the bills
How are you going to manage your finances together? Yours, mine, and ours bills? Will one partner be responsible for rent while the other covers utilities? Are you willing to open a joint account to pay all of the household bills together?
Kacie Shantz, who has been living with her significant other for two years says, “When it came to splitting expenses, we decided to split responsibilities by percentage. So, instead of he takes this bill, and I take that one, we’re both paying equal amounts respective to our incomes.”
Whatever you decide to do, have the money conversation early. Make sure both parties are happy with whatever arrangement you decide on.