Posted on December 10, 2019
First comes love, then comes commitment, then comes cohabitation in a new apartment building.
While you’re super excited to take things to the next level, you’re probably also wondering how to make moving in together easier. Because, let’s face it, not even the most delusional honeymoon period can withstand a year lease that includes shared expenses and dirty socks left on the floor without some major preparation.
It’s ok. You’ve done the most important part, seeking advice for moving in together. While there are always bumps in the road, remember that this is supposed to be a joyous time and an important milestone for your long-term relationship. From discussing your financial situations to seeking therapy, we'll share our tips on how to make moving in together easier.
Before you start hitting the pavement looking for the perfect place to call home, it’s important to set boundaries –– both physical and emotional. Examine your current lifestyle and living situation and be honest about what you need in order to feel safe and comfortable. Is it central air conditioning? A dedicated office space? No toothpaste in the sink? Maybe you need one afternoon or evening a week to be at home alone and have some personal space.
Likewise, speak up about your deal breakers, or habits that cause anxiety. Discuss how you each handle stress, and figure out the best way to care for each other and the living space to mitigate everyday triggers. If leaving dishes in the kitchen sink is your partner’s default, but it drives you crazy, it’s important to address before you even have a sink with dishes in it.
Whatever it is that makes your current home feel like YOU, make sure you communicate, compromise, and create a plan to make it happen.
Whether you’re coming from a roommate situation or living alone, chances are you’re in a groove with delegating household tasks. A new living arrangement will mean new chores and responsibilities. Have a frank conversation about strengths and weaknesses. Cleaning, paying bills, fixing things around the house, food shopping, cooking and pet care should be divided up based on strength and, frankly, who doesn’t mind doing what.
Some sage advice for any couple moving in together, especially, is to try delegating categories of household responsibilities and chores instead of sharing individual tasks. For instance, one person could be in charge of all food and meals, which includes grocery shopping, cooking, and restaurant reservations, as opposed to just making dinner.
One of the biggest contributors to arguments and frustration in a cohabiting relationship is finances. Just remember, transparency is best, especially when it comes to money. Most people bring some sort of debt into a relationship, so it’s important to figure out if and how that factors into your finances while living together.
Be upfront about expectations of the distribution of financial responsibility as related to everyday living costs, as well as your both your financial goals as individuals and as a partnership. Understand your past and current spending habits, and decide if that behavior will work for the other person in this new living arrangement.
Whether you keep your finances totally separate or decided to open a joint bank account or credit card, lay clear and firm boundaries to be revisited every few months. Financial conversations about living expenses should be ongoing and flexible.
Truly, the best advice for moving in together is to make sure you’re ready. No, there will never be a perfect time, but avoid rushing into cohabitating because of a flaky roommate, rising rent, or the end of a lease. Even if you’re not ready to get married yet, have the big conversation around where you see yourself in five years, both as individuals, and how you envision your relationship growing. Do these things align with moving in at this time? Trust your gut and work through issues together.
If you’re still wondering how to make moving in together easier after considering these conversations, it might be worth it to find a couples counselor. Therapy isn’t just for when problems arise; it’s an amazing tool that can help prevent future issues before they appear, and strengthen your relationship prior to making a big commitment. In fact, pre-moving in counseling is becoming the new premarital counseling as marriage rates decline and instances of moving in together increase. You may even wish you had gone to therapy with every roommate you’ve ever had. Find a nearby location today!
At the end of the day, no matter how many big, potentially uncomfortable conversations you have, moving in together is never easy. But, with a lot of communication (especially with a licensed professional!), it can be the best decision you ever make.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.