Moving in with your partner is a big step in the relationship. You go from being dating partners to sharing a living space, and while it can be exciting, it can also present challenges. Here, expert tips to consider if you plan on moving in together.
“My first and biggest tip is to be sure to make the decision very, very carefully,” says Aimee Hartstein, a New York-based psychotherapist. “Moving in together is not a permanent decision, but it is one that is extremely difficult and painful to undo if it doesn’t work out.”
Make sure you know your partner well enough before taking that step and moving to a new place together. “You sometimes see couples deciding to move in together after a few months, and it’s almost always a bad idea,” Hartstein adds. “You don’t know each other in that short a time frame.”
If possible, move into a new, neutral space rather than someone’s already-established house or apartment. “Often this is just too challenging logistically and financially, but it can be tricky when one person has a longstanding history with space and has considered it theirs,” says Hartstein. “If you do move into one person’s home, that person should make sure to clear a lot of space for their new partner and make them feel like they have an equal say in things.”
When you decide to become roommates rather than just a couple, you will have to deal with the issue of chores and household responsibilities. “Start by making a list of duties that will need to be completed on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis,” says Rhonda Richards-Smith, a Los Angeles–based psychotherapist and relationship expert. “Be sure to review this list together to ensure that you are both on the same page with how each task should be carried out and who will take the lead.”
This can be one of the biggest stressors in a relationship, Hartstein says, so it’s a good idea to address it head-on. “The division of labor is tricky and can be always changing. But addressing it early on gives you a head start.”
Discuss what you both need most in living together, advises Dr. Paulette Sherman, a psychologist, author of Marriage and the Law of Attraction, and host of The Love Psychologist podcast. “Perhaps you need time alone, a clean house, or you like to entertain. Don’t let this be a surprise.” Other topics to discuss include your biggest pet peeves and how you will handle them; who will pay for what and who will take care of paying which bills; and your preference regarding neatness, including hiring a cleaner or doing it yourself.
Lastly, discuss how you’ll handle the inevitable conflict. “Preparation is key, and you must anticipate the valleys that you will encounter after moving in with someone,” says Richards-Smith. “Instead of waiting for your first conflict to occur, have a meeting before moving in to determine how and when you will address any issues or concerns that arise with your new living arrangement.”
Once you get into a routine in your shared space with your partner, it’s easy to make assumptions about what your partner is thinking and feeling at any given time. “Especially while you are adjusting to your new arrangement, it is a good idea to schedule regular check-ins with your partner,” says Richards-Smith. “Monthly check-ins are a great idea to reflect on what is working well and what areas you need to work on together to improve your living arrangement moving forward.”
Finally, be clear about your relationship status before moving in together and have open communication. “Some couples take the step of moving in together without fully understanding the arrangement,” says Richards-Smith. “This can wreak havoc in your relationship if you assume that living together is synonymous with exclusivity, while your partner does not necessarily believe that is the case.”
This includes the question of marriage. Moving in together can be a step closer to marriage, or it can be the final destination in and of itself. It’s important to have one or two conversations about where you both stand. “Make sure you are on the same page for what this step means,” says Sherman. “Are you trying to save money, moving for convenience, or is it a step before engagement?”
“It can be a problem if one person considers this progress towards their goal of marriage and the other person isn’t interested in marriage at all,” notes Hartstein. “As in all relationships, the more you talk about things, the better!”