So, you’ve finally decided to take your relationship to the next level and move in together.
That’s fantastic! It’s a big step, and certainly a sign of a strong relationship.
But – while the idea is exciting, I’m sure you feel a little apprehension, too. That’s how it was for me when my husband and I finally decided to live together.
And although we were able to figure it all out in the end, I realized in hindsight that we could’ve spared ourselves so much confusion and irritation if we’d only thought of asking the right questions.
After all, no matter how solid you are as a couple, you’re still two separate people with different perspectives on some things. Maybe a lot of things!
Here are ten questions to ask before moving in together to make sure you’re both on the same page:
1) Why do we want to move in together?
“Because we love each other. Duh.”
Not so fast. You’d be surprised how many couples have different reasons for moving in together.
One might be all in because they’re so in love, while the other might be in it just to have someone to share the rent with.
Knowing your “why” is important because it’s something you’ll be going back to whenever tough times come up.
And believe me, they will!
2) How will we handle finances?
Or – who will be responsible for which bills?
Money is never an easy topic to talk about, but avoiding that difficult conversation might just bring a lot of awkwardness and conflict in the future.
It’s wise to be clear from the very start about:
- Splitting the rent, groceries, and utility bills
- Setting aside money for savings
- Compatibility in terms of spending and saving
For us, we decided to go 50/50, because our respective incomes were pretty much on the same level.
But for others in a different situation, a different percentage might work better. Whichever setup you land on, make sure it’s a system you’re both comfortable with.
And I really need to emphasize this – once you move in together, financial transparency should be the SOP.
3) How will we manage the chores?
Ah, chores. Arguments about chores might not have sparked a world war, but they’ve definitely sparked many a divorce.
You might think it’s insane to break up just because of chores, but I personally know couples who moved in together with the best intentions and the starriest of eyes…
…Only to throw in the towel because one of them always slacked off when it came to chores.
No one likes coming home to a messy space. Wait, let me double back on that – some people are okay with messy spaces, others are not.
If you and your partner are on opposite ends of the messiness scale, you’ll need to talk about that. Some compromise will definitely be required.
And use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. For instance, I hate doing laundry but I enjoy doing the dishes (yes, you read that right – I truly enjoy it).
My husband is the opposite. So he does the laundry and I do the dishes. Win-win.
Aside from keeping the house clean (or at least livable), how about the groceries and cooking? Do either of you have any special dietary needs?
Talk about all of that now, before you move in together and spare yourself the confusion.
4) How do we handle our “me time” if we’re living in the same space?
Here’s a tricky one, and a bit nuanced, too.
Now that you’re living in the same space, does that mean you’ll have to spend all your time with each other?
That might leave you both feeling a little drained after a while. The truth is, even the strongest couples need time and space apart.
So how will you handle it if you now occupy the same space?
Maybe you could coordinate it – while one of you reads a book alone, the other could go off on a solo run.
You should always allow each other room for personal space and growth.
5) What are our ground rules for our social lives?
Personal space and growth include your own social lives. You don’t have to give up your night-outs with friends just because you now live together.
But before that, establish an agreement regarding your social lives. Are you both okay with each other going out with friends on their own?
And if one of you loves hitting up every social event in town while the other prefers cozy nights in, that’s fine – just make sure you’re both on the same page about it.
The same goes for how you’ll entertain at home. Can friends and family pop over unannounced or do you need a heads-up?
And how long can they stay? This question is particularly relevant for family members who come to visit and need to stay for a few days.
This was one of our first issues when we moved in together. Our apartment was quite small, so we didn’t really have a guest room. Anyone who wanted to visit and stay over would have to crash on the couch.
Unfortunately, his relatives would come and stay for a week or two! Granted, they visited very rarely, but still, a week or so each time.
So, we had to have a discussion about the length of visits and we finally agreed on a max of two days for guests. Not that I was uncharitable, but our apartment just wasn’t decked out for long visits.
Set your own ground rules right from the start, so you don’t have arguments and people crashing on your couch for what seems like forever.
6) How do we feel about pets?
Similarly, talk about your preferences when it comes to pets, especially if either of you has one.
Even if you don’t, this conversation is crucial. Maybe you don’t have a pet now, but what if you’d like to adopt a dog or a cat eventually? Will your partner be on board with that?
This talk will prevent future debates and will help set clear pet boundaries in your shared home.
7) What are our ground rules for resolving conflicts?
Alright, you might be thinking, “Oh we’re good, we have a good system for resolving conflicts – this isn’t our first month together, you know?”
Newsflash: living together introduces a new dimension to your relationship, and as such, everything about your relationship will evolve. And that includes the way you communicate.
Let me give you an example: when we weren’t living together yet and we would have a fight, it was over in a matter of hours. We didn’t want to spend our precious time together in a haze of negativity.
But once we started living together, our arguments would stretch on longer. And we now had more to fight about, since we were seeing each other’s sides and habits that we hadn’t seen before.
We’d give each other the silent treatment, and this would go on for days.
I’m not saying yours will go that way, too. But it’s good to be realistic and consider how the move will impact the way you resolve conflict.
So, talk about it. Will you have a go-to strategy, like taking a time-out before discussing the issue calmly? Will you promise to never stonewall or yell at each other?
Mind you, you might not always be able to fulfill those promises in the heat of the moment. You’re only human, after all.
But the fact that you’ve established it as a ground rule makes it easier to keep it front of mind and manage your emotions.
8) Is there anything you’re not willing to compromise on?
Speaking of conflict and differences brings me to this next point – compromise.
It’s the backbone of any successful relationship for sure, but let’s be real: aren’t there some things you just can’t budge on?
For me, it was a dedicated space for my art hobbies.
For him, it was to have an hour for playing video games after work.
Unfortunately, we didn’t think to talk about it ahead of time, so it was a little rough finding it out the hard way.
Knowing things like these will help you have a smoother transition as you begin this next chapter of your life.
9) What are our future goals?
Another conversation worth having is the “future talk”.
This goes back to your “why”. Are you moving in as a trial run for marriage, or is this more a matter of convenience?
Maybe you’re not at the marriage part yet, but it’s still good to talk about the direction your relationship is going. It’s good to know whether your goals align, and if they don’t, if that’s a deal breaker.
That way, you won’t have to resort to your exit strategy…
10) What’s our exit plan if one of us wants to move out?
I really hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but again, let’s be real – not every relationship works out.
Sadly, couples move in together and can’t make it work. What happens then?
Well, if you didn’t talk about an exit strategy, what would happen is a lot of arguing. Who gets which furniture? Who gets the dog? What about the lease? Are we splitting everything 50/50?
These emotionally charged conversations are ten times harder when you’re also dealing with the stress and heartache of a breakup.
So, as uncomfortable as it may be, having a pre-planned exit strategy is essential.
I suggest thinking of it as a prenup. Nobody gets married expecting to divorce, but having a plan in place makes a tough situation a bit more manageable. The same goes for moving in together.
Moving in together is an exciting time, but it doesn’t come without its challenges, many of them logistical, aside from emotional.
But as good ol’ Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
So raise these questions with your partner. The more prepared you are, the smoother the transition will be.