Things to Think About When Considering Moving in with your Partner

Taking the leap to cohabitate with a significant other can feel like a big step – and it is! While it is not binding like marriage or coparenting, cohabitating comes with its own adjustment and challenges. There are many things to consider – budget, division of home-centered tasks, guests and visitors, food, merging routines; the list goes on.

It can be overwhelming to consider all of these nuances on top of determining whether or not you want to take the leap into cohabitating. Not to mention, you likely have a job, or perhaps school occupying much of your time. Adding on time for self-care, spending time with friends and family, and pursuing your hobbies can make it feel like there’s a lot on your plate!

A few of these conversation starters may help you and your partner share perspectives as you contemplate or prepare to move in together. Try to listen first to your partner’s ideas before sharing your own; oftentimes their point of view will provide you with more information upon which to respond effectively and respectfully. If you notice that the conversation starts to become heated, suggest taking a break, or moving on to the next topic. Revisiting sensitive subjects or concerns when both people are calm and clear-headed can make all the difference between a contentious exchange and a collaborative dialogue. 

So, where might you start? How about asking yourself/your partner… 

1. “How will we manage bills/expenses?”

Discussing finances and how to manage bill payment can feel uncomfortable, especially if you’ve never had a roommate or had to split bills with someone before. However, this question is more of a logistical navigation than anything else. Typical monthly expenses include rent, heat/electricity/gas, and cable/internet. Perhaps one person will pay the rent, and the other will pay the utilities. Maybe it feels more appropriate to split everything 50/50. Whatever arrangement you two decide on, make sure you (and your partner) feel comfortable with it and your bank accounts can handle the bills that will come your way.

2. AM + PM routines

Do you work from home? Does your partner work “off” hours? Are you both in the office 9-5? You’ll want to discuss your morning routines in advance of making the big move so that you are not both trying to jump into the shower at the same time. If you know that you and your partner are typically on a similar morning schedule, talk about that! Bouncing ideas off of one another will facilitate a productive conversation and give you both an idea of how the morning flow will run. Staggering your expected time in the bathroom is key to a seamless morning flow, as is determining what time you’ll both need to get out of bed. If one partner wakes early and the other is still sleeping, it may be helpful (and appreciated!) for the early riser to set out what they’ll need the night before to avoid excess noisemaking in the bedroom. Whether or not you need to make adjustments to your morning routine will vary based on your unique partnership, however having the conversation is always recommended. 

Nighttime routines tend to be more flexible, but are also important to review prior to cohabitating. Is it important for you or your partner to have dinner together? Is there a regular activity that either of you partake in after work, such as exercise, a night school class, or group meeting? Again, your particular arrangements will certainly vary as your lives evolve, but opening up the dialogue institutes a positive and proactive pattern of communication that will set the tone for more significant discussions that will come up in the future. 

3. Who’s getting a spare key?

Perhaps when you lived alone, your best friend had a spare key to your apartment. Maybe it was a trusted neighbor, a parent, or a sibling. Now that you will be sharing your space with another person, it is crucial to make a unified decision about who (if anyone) will have a spare key to your place. Consider situations like being locked out, losing your wallet, needing something while you’re out of town (hello plant parents) – who do you both trust with the contents of your home, who would also be accessible in case of an emergency or unfortunate mishap? During this discussion, it is advisable to share with each other the location of your most valuable documents and possessions, in case of emergency.

4. How do we handle visitors?

This will be especially relevant if you or your partner have family from out of town who likes to visit. Some family members enjoy having their own space (a hotel or AirBnB) to relax and spread out, and in other instances, family may expect to stay with you. One or both of you may have friends from elsewhere that would prefer to stay with you if they come into town. Is this something you and your partner are comfortable with? Does your living space allow for it? Talking through where your guest would sleep, keep their belongings, and how it may impact your routines will help keep a strong dialogue between you and your partner. 

5. Are there pets involved?

In the event that you or your partner already owns a pet, it’s worthwhile to review expectations regarding the responsibilities that come with animal ownership. Who will generally be feeding, walking, and caring for the pet? What does “caring for” entail with regards to this animal? Does the pet have particular triggers or needs that your significant other should be aware of? Is there a dog walker or other person involved in pet care who will need access to your shared home? A simple conversation will ensure you and your partner are on the same page regarding pet responsibilities, and if you are thinking about sharing a pet in the future, these are beneficial questions to consider prior to bringing home your new family member.  

6. How much would you spend on ___? Furniture and other costs

This may be the most important conversation to have prior to moving in together. Perhaps you or your partner has historically furnished your living space with items previously owned by friends or family members, or maybe you are an Ikea fan. It’s possible that one of you is accustomed to filling the home with items purchased online or from luxury retailers. Whether your style is similar or different, coming to an agreement or an arrangement on how you will furnish your home together is crucial in starting out on the right foot. It’s okay (and totally normal!) to have different experiences and expectations regarding furniture and big-ticket item costs; the key here is to work together and have a respectful and open dialogue about how you will approach this process as a couple. Resigning to the fact that each person will have to give and take is essential to forming a healthy and successful partnership. The earlier on you both come to terms with the idea that your shared space may not look or feel the same way your individual space did, the sooner you can begin designing your brand new home! 

We work with couples on navigating these transitions with kindness, compassion, and respect. Contact us if you would like assistance on managing these or other couples-related concerns you may have.