Deciding to move in together is a big step in any relationship. There’s a lot more to it than just throwing your stuff into a van and heading across town. Merging your lives and your stuff is a great test of how you problem-solve as a couple. There are logistics to consider and then there’s the realization that you’ll be sharing space 24/7 with the person you love. You’ll gain so much insight into the way this person’s mind works. You don’t want taking it to the next level to kill off an otherwise amazing romance. Here are four things to consider before you make the move.
How will you settle conflicts?
You and your partner may be blissfully happy and ideally suited for each other, but you can bet that problems will come up. Life happens, and you’ll need to deal with emergencies in a way that satisfies you both without putting too much your relationship. Decide before you move in together how you each prefer to resolve conflicts and how you will meet in the middle. Having a plan in place will ease the stresses and anxieties that come with moving.
Who pays for what?
Arguing over money is one of the biggest reasons couples split up. Making important decisions about how you’ll handle finances before you even sign a lease together will save a lot of arguments. Draw up a plan and make sure you both understand exactly who pays for what. Will you each pay half of rent and utilities? Will you open a joint account to pay household expenses? Who will handle paying the bills and handling finances?
Where will you live?
Will you stay in your place, move into theirs, or look for a new place together? If you both live in tiny apartments with zero extra space, this question is easy to answer, and you can start combing through Craigslist together. The same holds true if one of you rents a studio and the other has three empty bedrooms.
But if you both have ample square footage, the decision becomes more complicated. You’ll want to weigh the advantages of both. Which location offers the best commute to work? Which is closer to parks, restaurants, and shopping? Which offers accommodations for any pets? Is one neighborhood safer than the other?
How will you combine stuff?
Take a look at what you both have and decide what you’re keeping. Most likely you’ll find you have duplicates—beds, sofas, tables—and you’ll want to sell or toss extras before the move. Put this decision off until after the move and you’ll wind up with a very expensive relocation. The heavier the load, the more you’ll end up paying movers if you skip downsizing. If you’re doing the moving yourself, the move will take longer.
Tip: Handle keep/toss conflicts gently
Your partner may be happy to turn loose of some things, but resist tossing others. Gentle suggestions and open communication will go much further than heated argument if you really want something of theirs to go. Asking to throw their stuff away in stages can lessen the immediate impact of change.
Remember that your relationship will outlast all the furniture you’re combining or picking out together. Your relationship, not stuff, is the priority.