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The Essential Guide to Moving In Together

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Thinking about moving in with your partner? While the idea of spending more time together is no doubt exciting, the transition itself will require a lot of careful planning and communication. You’ll need to decide when it’s the right time to commit, move out of your current place, combine households and merge your interior styles, among other things. Rather than rushing in, it’s best to take your time to think things through. In this guide, we’ll walk through some important questions to ask yourself — and your partner — as well as steps to take to minimize stress and headaches during the moving process.

In This Article:
  1. Deciding the Right Time to Move In
  2. Conversations to Have Before Moving In
  3. Combining Households: Practical Tips
  4. Managing the Emotional Transition

1. Deciding the Right Time to Move In

It’s a question that can intimidate even the happiest couples, but moving in together is a major life decision that demands a lot of honesty — with yourself and your partner. From the get-go, you should think about the milestones you’ve hit with your partner thus far. How long have you been together? Have you met each other’s families, taken trips together or supported each other through difficult times? You’ll also want to evaluate your individual lives, including career stability, personal goals and emotional readiness. 

According to advice from marriage counselor K'Hara McKinney in Brides, it’s common for couples to date about one or two years before moving in together. She notes that couples who are ready to move in together “have effective communication about their feelings, wants and needs and are able to problem-solve together and develop successful outcomes effectively. They’re also able to ‘partner’ together. Partnering looks like taking a fair and equal distribution of the work required to help your lives function — even if that’s not exactly 50/50.”

 

Tip: If you constantly bicker or experience conflict with your partner, feel there are unresolved issues, or feel uncertain about your long-term compatibility, it’s probably not the right time. On the other hand, strong communication and problem-solving skills, a shared vision for the future and mutual goals, and feeling comfortable and happy in each other’s company are good signs that it might be the right time.

 

2. Conversations to Have Before Moving In

Before moving in together, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page in areas such as finances, chores and personal boundaries to avoid surprises and misunderstandings. Remember—the goal isn’t to agree on everything from the start but rather to understand each other’s point of view so you can come to a healthy agreement.

Finances

Even if you maintain separate bank accounts, you’ll still need to discuss how you plan on splitting the rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and other household costs. Will you split everything 50/50 and Venmo each other? Will you create a joint account for shared expenses while maintaining separate accounts for personal spending?

Household Responsibilities

It’s a lot easier to maintain a clean household when there are two of you — but first, you’ll need to agree on how to divide chores. Consider each other’s strengths, preferences and work schedules, and decide whether you’ll each tackle separate tasks or areas of the home or have joint cleaning sessions every week.

You may also have different standards when it comes to common areas like the living room, kitchen and bathroom. It’s key to establish guidelines for keeping those tidy and respecting each other’s habits and preferences.

Personal Boundaries and Privacy

Moving in together means that “me time” is going to be even more important in your relationship. Recognizing your partner’s need for personal space and time apart is something you’ll both have to learn if you currently only see your partner a few times a week. You may have to work a bit harder to maintain your independent social relationships and hobbies, but it’s key for healthy cohabitating. 

Living together also means you won’t always have privacy after an argument. Develop a plan for addressing conflicts as they come up — there are healthy ways to fight, which will be all the more important when you’re living together.

3. Combining Households: Practical Tips

Merging two households involves more than just moving your belongings from one place to another. You’ll need to think about whose items to keep and whose to sell, toss, give away or put in storage, and how to create a cohesive look out of different interior design styles and sensibilities.

Take Inventory of Existing Belongings

To start, make a list of what both of you own, particularly when it comes to furniture, kitchen appliances and bedroom items like bed frames, mattresses and dressers. Identify duplicates and decide what you want to keep based on the condition, functionality, quality and sentimental value.

Deal With the Extras

When it comes to dealing with any extra items you may no longer need in your home, you have several options:

  • Sell your items on a third-party platform like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, eBay or Craigslist, especially if they’re furniture, electronics and decor in good condition. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of posting listings, consider having a garage or stoop sale.
  • Donate your items to a local charity or thrift store.
  • Pass items on to friends or family who are on the market for them.

Remember — you don’t have to get rid of items just because they’re duplicates. If you have sentimental items or valuables that are hard to part with, consider one of the following routes: 

  • Store them in a garage, basement or attic at home. Note that this will take up space and that some items aren’t suited for the extreme changes in temperature and humidity that typically occur in these parts of the home.
  • If space at home is limited, keep your items safe at a self-storage facility. Storage units are typically climate-controlled — important for furniture, electronics and temperature-sensitive items — to ensure your belongings stay in mint condition. Storage companies like SmartStop also offer flexible month-to-month rental terms so you can find storage for as long as you need it.

Figure Out Your New Home Aesthetic

Combining your individual interior styles to create a cohesive, personalized home can be a fun project for you and your partner, though be prepared to make compromises. Perhaps one partner can help design the bedroom while the other takes the lead in the kitchen or living room. You can also create nooks or zones for each other’s passions and interests — or even start fresh and try an altogether new interior design style. Either way, ensure that the way you furnish and decorate your new shared home is based on mutual input and, ultimately, a comfortable living space for both of you.

4. Managing the Emotional Transition

Beyond combining “stuff,” moving in together is also an emotional transition. Ackonwledge that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed about such a significant life change, and talk openly about your feelings and support each other through the process. It’s easy to romanticize what life will be now that you’ve finally hit this milestone, but there will be bumps along the way. It’ll take time to adapt to the new living arrangement, so be patient and understanding as you both adjust so you can share space and routines. Check in with your partner regularly during those first few weeks and months to discuss how things are going, and take the time to clearly communicate your experience as well. Remember: be vulnerable about both the bad and the good!

Ultimately, the aim of moving in together is to build a shared life that reflects both you and your partner’s needs and goals. Be patient with yourself and your partner, and have fun with this new chapter of your relationship. If you want more tips on how to reorganize and make the most of your space, explore the SmartStop blog.

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