You've been dating your partner for a while, and things are going great. You get along well, you've met each others' friends and have managed to make good impressions on each others' families. All in all, it feels pretty perfect!
If you're lucky, you see each other often enough to have a few things at each others' places. So, you might be wondering...is it time to take the next step and move in together?
First and foremost, you should move in together for the right reason: because it's right for your relationship. Wrong reasons to move in together are: because your partner is pressuring you (which is a whole other can of worms and could be a major warning sign), because your friends or family are pressuring you to do so, because you want to save on rent (even if you live in an expensive city like New York, where there's a lot of pressure to move in together early to save on rent, it's just not worth it if you aren't actually ready to live together) or because you think you "should" move in together because you've been together for a certain amount of time. When you're ready to move in together, it should be a mutual decision that both of you want.
Before moving in together, you should be sure that you're on the same page about what it says about the relationship. For example, is moving in together the next step before marriage, or is it simply moving in to live together without any expectation that it affects whether or when you might get married down the line? Being sure that you're on the same page about this is important to prevent future misalignment on expectations down the line.
Before you move in together with your partner, it's important to be sure that you're both comfortable being around each other in your natural states. If you've never seen your partner when you're not both showered, groomed and well-dressed, you're not ready to move in together. Living together means being comfortable with each other when you have morning breath, are smelly after coming from the gym or are sick — if none of these situations have happened to you and your partner yet, you're not ready to move in together.
Inevitably, you and your partner will fight. No matter how strong a relationship is, conflicts will arise; before moving in together, you'll want to be sure you've had and resolved a few fights so you know how you deal with confrontation as a couple.
Going on vacation together as a couple is a great, time-bound way to test out living together. If you can travel together and be around each other 24/7 for a weekend or week-long trip, living together will likely be enjoyable, too.
Just like a standard roommate scenario, sharing basic lifestyle choices is an important prerequisite to successfully living together. If you're a health nut who goes to bed by 10 pm every night and your partner is a fast food-loving night owl who regularly stays up until 2 am, you're likely going to struggle to live together (and possibly to make the relationship last in the long run, too). This doesn't mean you and your partner have to be the same person — but some basic alignment in your lifestyles is necessary.
Once you're living together with your partner, you'll need to be able to feel comfortable giving each other open feedback about how living together is going.
Once you share a space with your partner, it'll be important to split chores so cleaning and upkeep-related tasks can be shared. If you can't do this, resentment will build on the part of the person who's stuck doing the lion's share of the work. Having done chores together in the past, while living in your own places, is a good test run for these mundane, but necessary, activities.
Before you move in together, you and your partner should know each others' financial situations. Once you start applying for apartments together, you'll know each others' credit scores and incomes — so if those are already known beforehand, you'll avoid nasty surprises that might strain your relationship.
If your relationship is already totally co-dependent, moving in together will exacerbate this characteristic and make you two retreat into the relationship, to the detriment of your other relationships (such as with friends and family). Before you move in together, you want to be sure that both of you can maintain boundaries and retain your own lives once you live together.
While the early days of a relationship are heady and passionate, they're a terrible time to move in together because they are simply too early. Wait until after the honeymoon phase is over before you make a major decision like moving in together.
Moving in together shouldn't be a way to prove to yourselves (or others) that the relationship is on solid footing. So, if you feel that you're moving in together to prove that you're a good couple, you're not in a good position to move in together.
Moving in together will always affect the fabric of your relationship, so you need to have thought about this — both on your own and together as a couple — before moving in together. If you haven't had those conversations with yourselves and each other, you're not ready.
If you can't talk to your partner about money, living together is going to be near-impossible, given how many expenses — such as rent, groceries and utilities, to name just a few — are involved in living together.
Traveling together teaches you a lot about a person, be it a friend or romantic partner. If you and your partner have yet to travel together, you're definitely not ready to take the much bigger step of moving in together.
Living together typically means sharing a lot of things, so if you are or your partner is territorial about your belongings, it'd be best to resolve those feelings before moving in together.
If you've never been in a tough situation together, it's hard to predict how you and your partner will handle the inevitable ups and downs of life while living together. It may be worth waiting until you've made it through a rough patch before you decide to move in together.
It's only natural to regard major life changes with a bit of apprehension, but if you find that you're more scared than excited by the thought of living with your partner, you're not ready to move in together. In fact, if you feel this way, your partnership may not be right for you at all.
If you're moving in together for purely economic (to save rent) or practical (because you spend a lot of time together anyway), it's not right. You and your partner should move in together because it's the right next step for your relationship.
If you and your partner fight often, your relationship itself probably needs some work... and you're also not ready to move in together.
This should go without saying — but if you've never spent the night together, it's going to be pretty difficult to anticipate what living together might look like. The exception to this, of course, is couples whose religious or personal beliefs conflict with this step.
Deciding where you'll live together — whether it be in one of your current places or a new place altogether — is an important conversation to have. There are upsides and downsides either way, which will be different for each couple.
Before moving in together, you and your partner will have to have some serious discussions about money. You'll have to decide how to split the rent, utilities, internet, groceries and more. You'll also want to discuss whether you're going to buy new furniture to furnish the new joint apartment, what each of you wants to bring from your new space and how you'll pay for new furniture, household goods or appliances if needed.
This is especially important for couples with significant income or debt disparities. Ultimately, you need to decide what it means for each of you to pay your fair share towards living together.
Inevitably, moving in together means you'll both need to streamline your possessions to eliminate overlap (you don't need to each bring a microwave to your cohabitation situation) and reduce clutter. Making these decisions together will help you two start cohabitation with a well-edited space.
If you have the luxury of it, designating separate spaces in the new place for each of you is a great way to maintain personal space, freedom and identity. If you don't have a big enough place for this, it's important to ensure that you're both getting out to pursue your own activities (and even if you do have your own spaces in the new place, you still want to do this, too).
While you might not want to think about it right before moving in together, it's important for both of you to agree on what the plan would be in case living together doesn't work out. Who'd stay in the apartment, if anyone? Will you put money aside in case you need to break the lease? Knowing the answers to these questions in advance is helpful in case things go sideways.
Moving in together is an exciting step for any relationship. When handled well and done for the right reasons, it'll bring you and your partner closer together and allow you to reap the benefits of being around each other on a daily basis.
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