At any age or time of life, moving in together is a big step in a relationship. If you spend nearly every night at one another’s home, the “shack-attack” seems sensible. Appearances can deceive, though; those of you who have lived with a lady before know there’s more to it than unlimited access to sex. Here, some essential questions to ask yourself — and discuss with her — before making the move.
Why are you making the move?
Because you are so in love you can’t bear to be apart. Because you want to enjoy all aspects of one another’s life, from sharing morning coffee to entertaining friends and families. Because you want to see if you really are compatible before popping the question. All good reasons. If you’re moving in together to save money on living expenses? How about, don’t.
Her place, your place or a new place?
It’s best to start out on neutral territory, which is easy if you are both renters. Even if one of you has a stunning pad and a great deal on rent, it may be best to resist keeping it. A new place will always be yours plural — not his or hers. Move in to her place and you’ll have a hard time getting her to make room in the closets for your stuff. Likewise, do you really want your lady rearranging your kitchen cupboards, redecorating every room and giving away your bedding to Big Brothers? Plus, setting up a home together and coming up with a joint style for your new pad can be a great bonding experience.
The argument for moving in to your place or hers is stronger if one of you owns. Here, though, discuss and be very clear about the terms (read: put it in writing) before making the move. You may even want to get a lawyer involved.
Even if you can afford to buy a place together, renting is the way to go when testing your cohabitation compatibility.
Do you have the same standard of living?
Are you the kind of guy who leaves his dishes in the sink for a day? Is she the kind of girl who leaves her makeup all over the bathroom? Is one of you a clean-freak? It’s important to take stock of one another’s living space and determine if you’re on the same level. If you’re not, there is still hope. While you’re still living in your own places, mention things that bother you about her home and invite constructive criticism of your own space. Do this in an open, non-passive-aggressive manner. For example, instead of saying, “Do you really need that many shoes?” try, “If we are going to be moving in together, where will all your shoes go? Could you try to sell the ones you don’t wear to a consignment shop?”
How will you split up expenses?
Spreadsheets are not sexy, but neither is a spat over who spends more on groceries. It’s essential to discuss how you will split up expenses before you move in together. Thinking that things will just balance out is a big mistake. Different formulas for expense division work in different situations. If one of you makes significantly more than the other, consider paying more rent, perhaps a 60-40 split. If one of you eats more (almost surely you), pay more for groceries. How do you keep track of it all? One way is to open a household-expenses joint bank account — scary, yes — to which you each contribute a monthly set amount. (You can also start to save for a vacation this way.) Alternately, you can collect receipts for expenditures, keep them in an envelope and do the math at the end of the month. Maybe it will all work out in the end.
Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk.