You’ve taken trips together, you’ve survived your first fight, and you’ve celebrated anniversaries. Now, you and your significant other are about to hit another milestone: moving in together.
Living together comes with all kinds of perks, like less rent and more quality time. But it’s a big transition, and lots of couples struggle with cohabitation.
You don’t have to be one of them.
Simply study up on these common mistakes couples make when moving in together. Once you know how to avoid them, you’ll be well on your way to domestic bliss.
Here are 10 missteps to avoid:
Mistake 1: Not talking about why you’re moving in
Be honest: Why are you moving in together?
Is it because you’re sick of the subway commute to your partner’s place? Are you looking to save money on rent?
It’s totally fine if money and convenience are motivations for you — everyone likes having extra cash in the bank — but those shouldn’t be your only reasons.
So with that said, do you see this as a step towards marriage? What are your long-term goals and plans with this person?
It’s important to be transparent with each other in case you aren’t quite on the same page. Some people assume moving in together is an unspoken promise of engagement, only to discover their significant other doesn’t believe in marriage at all.
Whatever you do, don’t move in together because you think it’ll “save” your relationship. It definitely won’t, but it will place you in a legally binding living situation with your soon-to-be ex.
Mistake 2: Ignoring the signs that you aren’t ready
Do you and your partner know how to compromise? More importantly, do you know how to move past fights?
These aren’t sexy skills, but they are essential for cohabitation. If you two have never settled a big argument — or have ongoing ones all the time — that’s a bad sign.
Here are four other red flags:
- You’ve never spent more than a few consecutive days together.
- You can’t comfortably talk about money, health, or other weighty issues.
- You’ve always been long distance.
- You’re rushing into this because of an expiring lease — or you’re rushing things because someone (family, friends, or your partner) is pressuring you.
If the negative signs are there, take a step back and rethink moving in together. Maybe you need to hit pause on the plan for a few months while you work out some issues, which is totally okay.
It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, or that you’re immature. It’s just smart planning.
Mistake 3: Avoiding the conversation about money
Figure out how you want to divide up your expenses first. How much will each of you owe per month? And how are you going to pay it?
Will it be an even 50-50 split? Or will you work out percentages based on income?
Make sure the division is fair, and that both of you feel comfortable with the final numbers.
The two of you may want to devise a budget while you’re at it. That way, you’ll stay on track with all your boring bills and your planned vacation to Thailand.
Another important question to ask:
Do you want to open a joint bank account?
It’s not for everyone, but it can come in handy when managing shared expenses. One BuzzFeed tipster recommends putting the same chunk of your paychecks into a joint account each month for bills, food, and cleaning supplies.
That way, “you’ll never have that awkward ‘I spent $35 on groceries yesterday, so it’s your turn to order food tonight’ conversation — you both can happily stuff your faces with Chinese food knowing everything is even.”
But no matter what system you land on, always make sure to keep the lines of communication open. If one of you is stressed about money or has an issue with the new budget, say so.
It might be awkward at first, but it’ll help you avoid fights in the future.
Mistake 4: Searching for an apartment without a gameplan
Then, come up with your list of must-haves. You can’t go into this expecting your significant other to read your mind. Unless he/she is a Legilimens or Professor X, in which case, run.
Be sure to also check in with each other frequently throughout the process. What does your boyfriend or girlfriend think of your broker? What about the pet clause in the lease?
Finding a new place is exhausting, and the only way you’ll survive is by keeping a united front. Well, that and following all these crucial apartment hunting tips.
Mistake 5: Procrastinating on the required renter documents
The good news: You can knock some of it out early. And you should, if you want to land a place in time and on budget.
Before you head out to the 15 apartment tours on a Saturday, you and your partner should each collect some key documents. Scan color copies of your IDs. Get and print letters of employment and/or pay stubs. Request a free credit report.
Next, bring all of these papers with you when you meet with your broker or prospective landlord so you can get an application ready immediately if the opportunity arises.
This boosts your chances of snagging a great apartment and preserves your relationship. Because if one of you stalls on printing a pay stub and it costs you that dream one bedroom, there’s bound to be resentment.
Mistake 6: Only putting one person’s name on the lease
By making sure both your names appear on the apartment lease.
As Kiplinger’s explains, this move holds both parties accountable for the rent should things turn sour.
If you end up taking your ex to court for skipping out on payments, your case will be much stronger with two names — not just your own — on the lease. It’s a situation you don’t want to imagine, obviously, but it’s happened before.
Mistake 7: Failing to consolidate your stuff
You need to decide what to keep, store, sell, donate, and ditch together (our decluttering flowchart will make it easier). Start with the furniture, because that’s the trickiest. Whose bed makes the move? What about the couch? Coffee table? Bookcases?
Come into this discussion willing to compromise, and be realistic. You may cherish the chairs you scored for $15 at a yard sale in college, but they’ve probably seen better days.
Next, move on to duplicate appliances, like TVs, microwaves, coffee makers, and blenders. Who knows, you may even decide to shrink 11 big kitchen appliances into one small Lakeland Multichef. And don’t forget about your duplicate drinking glasses, eating utensils, and cooking tools. Those items need to be considered, too.
Also keep an eye on little things like books (here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of) and DVDs (here’s how to store and sell DVDs for cash). There’s a good chance the both of you own copies of Almost Famous (or Bad Boys), but you only need one in your new place.
Once you’ve sorted everything to satisfaction, plan out any necessary trips to the storage unit, Goodwill, and/or dumpster. Actually, skip the first two trips we just mentioned because MakeSpace will not only pick up, store, and deliver your stuff back, but we’ll also take your donations to Goodwill (if you live in NYC, Chicago, or Washington, DC).
Then, just to put a bow on everything, pick out one new item for the apartment together. It can be a lamp, a dresser, or just a set of coasters for now. It’ll help the place feel like a shared space — and give you both an early lesson on making household decisions.
Mistake 8: Not dividing up chores
You don’t need to map out a strict chore schedule, but do talk about expectations and the chores each of you hate doing the most. Maybe you loathe laundry, but your partner doesn’t mind it. Which means your partner can grab that task, while you take care of the porcelain throne scrubbing he/she can’t stand.
If there’s a massive gap between the two of you in terms of tidiness, you might want to hire a cleaning service. That way, the “neat freak” isn’t constantly losing it over the “slob’s” trail of dirty socks.
Mistake 9: Spending all your time together
Go out for drinks with your college friends. Post up in your favorite coffee shop with a new book. Keep up with any hobbies or interests your significant other doesn’t share.
Is there an art exhibit you’re dying to see, that you know isn’t his/her scene?
Go to it by yourself.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should ditch date nights, or refuse to hang out with your partner’s friends in favor of your own. It just means you should have an active social life that’s yours.
Giving each other space is key to preserving the peace, especially if you live in a tiny apartment with your significant other. Talk to each other about alone time, because it applies to more than just that standing Margarita Mondays appointment you have with your coworkers.
Sometimes you’re going to be upset or overwhelmed, and you’ll need some space (or perhaps an Ecocapsule) to sort out your feelings before you talk to your partner about it. Make sure your partner knows that it doesn’t mean you’re mad at him/her, or don’t trust him/her.
Maybe you just need to sit alone on the couch for a minute, preferably with a sleeve of Oreos. Your partner can join in later.
Mistake 10: Hiring a shady moving company
It’s tempting to speed through this step. You’ve just spent weeks sorting through your stuff, assigning chores, and having many long, serious talks. Can’t you just pick a mover and be done with it?
If you need to hire movers, don’t solely rely on the first company that appears in Google after you search “cheap movers near me.” Do your research, ask your friends, and compare prices. Sites like imove and Unpakt will help you sift through your best options.
11. Not calling MakeSpace for storage
When it comes to finding storage for the extra Crock-Pot, coat rack, comforter, and mattress in your inventory, don’t go with a random self-storage facility way across town where insane things happen. Go with MakeSpace.
Next, we’ll transport everything to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll even create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you have in storage.
But that’s not all. Here’s something you and your new roommate will absolutely love:
When you want something back from storage, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.
You and your significant other might disagree on how to cook spaghetti, but thanks to MakeSpace, you’ll never disagree on how to store your stuff.