The first thing you need to know about moving in with someone is: Don’t do it.
Kidding, but moving in with someone is, in a lot of ways, similar to getting married. The only remaining milestones after shacking up together are getting a joint bank account, getting hitched and getting pregnant. Moving in is huge step, and it must not be taken lightly because moving in general is already a giant pain in the ass. Before you consider making the leap, start by answering these two questions.
Is the honeymoon phase over? If you answered “no,” you’re not ready to move in together—unless you’ve been best friends for a decade and only now realized you’ve been in love the entire time.
Why are you doing this? If the primary reason is financial, it’s not the end of the world—but read on. There is a lot more to consider when you’re moving in with someone than money and, at the end of the day, you can’t put a price on your serenity or sanity.
If you’ve made it through those two questions, you now need to consider the details and decisions that come with living together. Let’s break them down—all 19 of them.
LET’S START WITH LOGISTICS
Will you both be on the lease? Moving into your significant other’s current place sets up a power imbalance from the start. It will never feel like your home and if/when the going gets rough, whoever moved in is going to be moving out. (A joint lease isn’t always possible, of course. If you have bad credit or your significant other owns a house, it might make no sense for them to leave.) If you’re the one moving in, always put aside money for an emergency nest egg in the event you’re suddenly out on the streets.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: FINANCES
This is the first of many uncomfortable conversations about money you need to get used to having. Are you splitting the rent down the middle? Or will one person be paying a larger percentage because they make more money? If that’s the case, will the other person make up for the difference by being in charge of household chores? What are the expectations?
What about utilities and food? Do you go Dutch when you dine out now that you live together, or do you take turns paying? Is one person going to be in charge of managing the bills? Or will you be divvy up duties? Figure this out before you move in, not during and not after. Money issues are the number-one thing couples fight about, so hash it out before you think about signing a lease.
Another huge factor to take into consideration is if you both have a similar sense of cleanliness. Are you borderline OCD and can’t live with someone who leaves dirty dishes in the sink? Is she a slob who leaves piles of clothes on the floor? Do you have tons of clutter and she can’t stand it? This probably won’t work in the long run unless someone is willing to change. I recommend talking about your pet peeves in advance so you’re both on the same page about what can slide and what can’t. And if you can afford it, hire a cleaning service. It will alleviate a lot of resentment and dumb, “Oh yeah, well when was the last time you cleaned the toilet?”-type arguments.
ARE YOUR ROUTINES SIMILAR?
I’m assuming you already know whether your routines are compatible. But maybe you’re a night owl who fell in love with a morning person. How is this going to work now that you’re under the same roof?
YOUR TASTES IN DESIGN AND FURNITURE
Are you buying furniture together? If so, who gets it in the event of a break up? You can’t really split a TV down the middle, so consider the unfortunate events of a break-up when you purchase items for the place you share. What happens to the extra furniture when you merge? My advice is that for the first year, you keep the best stuff in the apartment, split the cost of a storage unit for the overflow (if you don’t have a garage or extra storage spaces) and once you know you’re both in the relationship the long haul, get rid of the excess and the storage unit. Fifty bucks a month costs less than buying a new bed and kitchen utensils six months later.
HOW GOOD IS THE SEX?
Is the sex good? Not just good—is the sex great? I fucking hope so or there is trouble on the horizon. Your sex life absolutely changes when you move in together. Sex becomes more routine, less exciting and not as frequent. It takes effort to keep things interesting. So if you’re already having issues, don’t expect them to get better. Expect them to get worse.
HOW MUCH DO YOU VALUE YOUR ALONE TIME?
Kiss it goodbye. Kind of. Alone time becomes a precious resource when you’re living with someone, and you’re definitely going to get good at rubbing one out while in the time it takes for the other person to walk the dog. Some people need more alone time than couple time. Other people want to do everything as one unit. This is a conversation I suggest you have before you move in. Do you need an hour of silence after work just to decompress? Do your morning bike rides put your head in the right place to take on the day? Set the boundaries around space for you early on to avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings.
YES, SHOES PLAY A PART IN THIS
If you have a sneaker fetish and she’s, well, a typical woman, you’re going to have shoe-storage problem. Make sure you get proper organizers or a place with closets big enough to handle your couture. If your stuff feels cramped, chances are you’ll eventually going to feel cramped. Go to the Container Store together. That place is a dream.
ON MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Is she cool with occasionally feeding your Pit Bull? Because it’s now part of her responsibility. Does your Pit want to eat her cat? That’s going to be a problem.
“WHAT DO YOU HAVE A TASTE FOR?”
Someone asked me the other day, “Is a relationship just deciding what to eat?” She was joking, but there’s a lot of truth to that statement. You should know by now whether you’re “food-compatible"—aka, she’s not a vegan while you’re on the ketogenic diet—but now that you’re living together, who’s doing the cooking? What kind of food are you buying? Does one person shop for both, do you go shopping together?
Constant texts of “Where are you?” will drive you nuts, but disappearing until 3 a.m. without a word is just rude. If she’s a free spirit, she’s probably going to tell you she’s going to Coachella, not ask for your permission. How much freedom can you comfortably give one another without sacrificing trust and feeling insecure? Have a discussion about your expectations around checking in and going on solo adventures.
"WANNA WATCH NETFLIX?”
Back in the ancient days, before streaming, couples had to fight over who got to watch what, when. Disgusting, I know. These days, the only time when having control over the TV is important is when someone wants to watch a sporting event—or a congressional hearing. Make sure your S.O. knows when something you want to watch is airing live and (politely) let them know that they need to do their best to STFU. Nothing drives me crazier than a dude who won’t stop talking while I’m trying to watch the game.
I pray you’ve had the discussion about whether or not you want kids at this point. This kind of difference in opinion can amount to a relationship dealbreaker. If you haven’t had the discussion, have it before you call the movers. If you aren’t sure, don’t rob a woman who wants kids of her precious breeding years, when she’s most fertile. This is an unforgivable offense and men who do this are the worst—but that’s another Just the Tips column entirely.
Differences in age might not seem like an important factor to consider before moving in, but consider what will happen if you move in with a woman 15 years younger than you. In a year, you may suddenly be wondering why she’s so emotionally immature and wants to party all the time. Or maybe you’re younger than her and she’s nearing the end of her baby-making years, and you don’t want kids for another 10 years. It’s not always possible to bridge age differences and they can create unforeseen problems in the future. Consider the challenges you might be facing.
THE OTHER ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
She’s going to bleed. Don’t be squeamish. Instead, just ask her if she wants a heating pad (or a joint). You’re going to hock disgusting loogies every morning. You’re both going to go number two. None of this is sexy, but it is a part of growing closer as a couple. Getting over your self-consciousness surrounding natural bodily functions is perhaps one of the biggest growing pains. So get ready to get over it.
YOUR TOY COLLECTION
Are you into BDSM and she has no idea? If you have toys and fetishes she doesn’t yet know about, this is a red flag. By the time you consider moving in together, I would hope you’ve done a significant amount of sexual experimentation together. Is she cool with you watching porn, or will you have to hide it? Secrets, especially sexual ones, kill relationships, so bring your hidden kinks into the light and let her know who you really are and what you’re truly into. Transparency is necessary in order to have a successful relationship. That doesn’t mean they need access to your every disgusting thought—but if you can’t be your authentic, kinky self with the person you live and sleep with, who can you be genuine with? Because maybe you should be moving in with them instead.
DEALING WITH LOVERS OF YORE
Put letters and pics from your old lovers and relationships in a box and lock Pandora’s box up in storage. Not many still have this type of crap in the digital era—love unfolds via DMs and texts, don’t you know—so get rid of the pics of the ex on your phone, while you’re at. Yes, even that favorite butt selfie from your favorite fling. Cut things off with the ex who won’t stop sending you nudes on Snapchat after midnight, even if you really hate the thought of it. Living together is a clean slate and you should both want to enter it with as little baggage as possible.
YOU WILL FIGHT…WHAT THEN?
Excellent communication skills are imperative for successful cohabitation but even more important…do you know how to fight? I mean it. Not all couples do. Have you had big fights and made up? Do you know when you need to stop fighting and instead take a walk, see a movie or grab happy hour with a bud to vent? Then you’re probably ready to move in together.
ARE YOU A HOMEBODY OR PARTY ANIMAL?
If you’re both partiers, who knows when to shut it down and who doesn’t? Who grows into the clutch role, or do you grow into it together? Keep in mind that if you fell into a relationship heavily based on a certain lifestyle, such as partying together, the dynamic will drastically change, especially if one person decides to sober up. Ask yourself the hard question: Does this relationship have a solid foundation or is your significant other just a drug buddy you also fuck?
THE DARKER STUFF
What addictions are you hiding? Gambling? Drinking? Shopping? Cocaine? Pills? Porn? What mental health issues do you wrestle with silently? Are you prone to comatose days on the couch watching Netflix because you’re overcome with depression? Do you have crippling hypochondria or anxiety that robs you from experiencing joy in your life? Maybe you are still in denial about some of it, but that won’t last long. When you move in together, all secrets will eventually be revealed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but brace yourself. I had a therapist who once said, “If you want to know where your blind spots are, move in with someone.”