This is a post I’ve had in my list of editorial ideas for the longest time – basically since Adam and I moved in together last August. I kept thinking I’d wait a couple months before speaking on the subject, and now a couple months has turned into 9 months. Though, I suppose that’s actually a positive since I now have more experience with living with a significant other, right?!
WHERE I CAME FROM
Since college, I spent several years living in a group house with a bunch of friends, then a few years living in a two bedroom with one other girl, and then, finally, living alone. So, the prospect of moving in with a guy was terrifying – not that I was nervous about taking that step with Adam, but just the idea of sharing a closet, taking someone else into account when decorating, and how to get someone else to be as OCD clean as I am.
It was daunting. Luckily, it’s all worked out and I’m not nearly as high strung as I thought I would be sharing space with someone else, but now I’m going to walk you through the whole process and share my tips on a smooth transition for moving in with a significant other.
Okay, this picture…I mean, we had to get at least one with Hamp in it for our engagement pictures, right?! She’s clearly not realizing this is her cat model debut. Photo cred: Lauren Miller of Lauren Louise Photography.
WHEN TO MOVE IN TOGETHER
So, when should you move in together? There are so many factors at play here. For us, we lived across town from each other when we started dating and I didn’t have a car, so there was a lot of back and forth. I had duplicate toiletries at Adam’s place. I felt like I was neglecting my cat (#crazycatlady). And, most of all, I felt like I was wasting so much time commuting between our homes.
We started looking at places to buy after about 7 months with the intention of moving in together when we found something. To this day, I feel like we’ve looked at over 40 properties, so needless to say, we haven’t found the perfect place. However, as my lease came to an end, we knew it didn’t make sense to renew just because we hadn’t found a place to buy, so we found an apartment in a neighborhood that suited both of our needs and wants.
If I had to make a list of the top things to consider when moving in together, I’d say:
- Make sure you’re on the same page for the future. Don’t move in unless you’ve had some sort of discussion about where you see the relationship going. You don’t want to find out six months in that he never wants to get married and you imagined a ring coming imminently or he wants 4 kids and you were dreaming of a childless life of traveling the world.
- On the same note, don’t worry about what people will think if you do or don’t live together before getting married. I know judgment comes from both sides. I personally didn’t want to move in together before getting engaged because I saw that as the level of commitment I wanted in making such a big decision. Adam wanted to live together first. We ended up living together for a month before getting engaged and, at the end of the day, it really didn’t make a difference either way so I should never have gotten worked up about it.
- Know the other person. This seems kind of crazy to have to say, but I recently heard someone talk about how much things changed when they moved in together. I really think you should be spending so much time with your significant other before you move in together that there aren’t any massive surprises in who that person is. Positive surprises in regards to how great it is to live together are wonderful, but you don’t want to be shocked to find you don’t know how to live with this person.
- Don’t move in just for the convenience of cheaper rent. I’ve seen this reasoning go south more than a few times. You want to move in together because you legitimately envision a future with this person…and not just an immediate future that has more disposable income.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFOREHAND
Before you move in together you’re going to want to sit down and have a few big discussions. Don’t just say things in passing and hope they were internalized by your significant other. Make it a priority to put these out on the table and hash them out before you sign that lease.
- Where do you stand on finances and budgeting? I’m the kind of person who wants to spend as little on rent as possible while still living in a place that I’m glad to come home to every evening. I was going from spending $1700 on rent for my studio and I knew I wanted to spend closer to $1000 on my half of rent, so I made that clear at the beginning of our housing search.
- What do you want and need in your home? My biggest priorities were budget and walkability, but I also wanted a place that was updated, stylish, and would feel like a wonderful place for us to start our lives together. That meant that I was willing to sacrifice space in a major way and Adam was able to get on the same page when we found an apartment in an awesome location that felt spacious despite being a 614 square foot one bedroom.
- What are you each bringing to the home? Logistics here. Make sure you don’t end up with two beds in a one bedroom or that you aren’t both attached to absolutely bringing a large amount of heirloom furniture.
- Discuss household expectations. This can range from chores to grocery shopping to no cell phones in bed rules. I am an absolute neat freak, so I have made it clear that I am 100% willing to take the lead on cleaning, however if I ask Adam to pitch in on a particular item, he’s quick to jump to the task. I also handle grocery shopping because Adam can’t stand it, however he’s the one who gets dinner going in the evenings.
- Tying in household expectations and finances, discuss life spending. How do you two plan to spend money in general? For example. I prefer we eat most meals at home because I’d rather we not waste money on takeout when both of us enjoy cooking. Wherever we can save on expenses, I’m on it, so that we can have more money for travel (and our upcoming wedding).
THE BIG MOVE
Let me speak from experience, and follow what I say, not what I did. Hire movers. Seriously, don’t even think twice about it. We did not hire movers because I thought, “I’m getting rid of all my furniture besides for a few side tables, a coffee table, and chairs, how hard can this be?” Mind you, I’ve always hired movers for every move since I graduated college.
Well, let me tell you, spending an hour and a half at the U-Haul rental facility and then trying to buy a U-Haul and then loading it up for multiple trips is NOT how you want to start out your life’s journey together. Perhaps we’re better for having gotten through it, but, in retrospect, I would rather have had this move go as easily and stress-free as possible.
COMPROMISE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
You’ll quickly learn after moving in together that compromise is the best thing you can learn. I know it’s said often, but it bears repeating. This applies to things as silly as closet organization – could I easily have taken up our whole closet? Absolutely. But, I didn’t want to be that girl and I knew it was important to make Adam feel like I was making room for him so I felt strongly about giving him a full half of the closet.
It also applies to more serious topics like how much time will you spend together vs. apart? I definitely need my own space, but luckily I work from home and am able to get that alone time all day long if I want it. On the weekends, I’ve learned to manage our social lives in a way that means asking what the other had planned before making my own plans. With living together definitely comes a sense of working together as a unit more so than when you’re just dating but living apart. Side note: that might have been the most stark adjustment for me because I was always the girl that said, “I don’t need to ask my boyfriend if I can do such and such plans!” and now I’ve realized that out of respect, we both run things by the other.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM LIVING TOGETHER
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I can let loose a little bit on my rigid schedule and organization. I’m super type A and I was so worried about having to accommodate someone else in my own home, but I’ve been able to relax a bit (just a tiny bit) and not get thrown off when things don’t go exactly according to my plan.
The importance of setting boundaries so that you don’t become roommates. This goes for everything from closing the bathroom door to, as I mentioned before, making time for yourself to not letting yourself go. Seriously, making a little effort to look attractive even when you’re just sitting around the house goes a long way! So often I feel like I see memes and cartoons online that glorify bumming around the house unshowered and sloppy with your significant other as the pinnacle of coupledom – and that is definitely not what I’m aiming for. I‘m all about being comfortable and enjoying a lazy Sunday at home, but there’s a line.
Also, making time for quality time is essential. Sure, sitting on the couch watching Netflix can be quality time if there’s a show you both love watching and discussing together, but don’t let that get in the way of going on date nights or discovering new activities together. Just because you live together and see this person every day doesn’t mean you should stop putting meaningful time together on the calendar.
Lastly, it’s SO much easier and more fun to wake up and go to sleep in the same place as your significant other and not have to worry about who’s taking an uber home to grab another change of clothes!