Sometimes in long-term relationships, there comes a point where a couple discusses taking that next step from "just dating" to "moving in together." While it seems like a natural progression in any relationship, it's actually a huge step to take as a couple. Sure, you may think it's not such a big deal when the two of you spend every other night at each other's own apartments anyway, but sleeping at someone's apartment and actually sharing an apartment together are completely different things – trust me. While moving in may seem like an adorable and magical idea – playing "house" always makes every girl excited and happy – it's a big f*cking deal, especially if there are things you're unsure about or questions you don't exactly have the answers to.
1. Make sure it's something you both want to do.
Everyone feels as though it's natural to move in together when your relationship reaches a certain point and you're a certain age (in your mid-20's/early-30's). And, while it is a normal step to take in many relationships, you want to make sure that you and your partner are both happy and comfortable with the idea of living together. If one person is more into it and the other isn't ready – don't f*cking do it. You both need to be ready to take this step together because if one person isn't ready, resentment will grow and your relationship will suffer because of it. I know a lot of couples who broke up after moving in together because they just weren't ready or at that stage in their relationship to do so.
2. Make sure you're doing it for the same reasons.
If you're moving in with someone because you want to build a life with them, but they're moving in with you because it's financially convenient for them – it's going to create tension. Make sure you discuss your intentions before you move in together. Make sure that you're both on the same page and understand what living together really means. It's not the same as just dating someone and staying over their apartment, you two are no cohabitating which means what's yours is theirs and vice versa. You don't want to have false expectations and hope and create conflict because you were both unclear of what you want.
3. Talk about finances, no matter how weird it may get.
When you move in with someone, your finances are now up front and important in your relationship. Most people will tell you not to discuss money with your partner unless you're married, but, if you're living together – everything matters in terms of money. And, it's more than just rent. You're going to paying for rent together, electric, cable, internet, food, furniture – everything you want to put in this apartment will be both of yours, not just yours or theirs. If your partner is financially irresponsible, that's a big consideration you need to weigh before moving in. If you make more than your partner, that's also something to think about. You don't ever want to be stuck paying for 90% of the things in your apartment and your partner mooches off of your financial well-being, you'll begin to get angry and resentful and will end up blowing up on them about it. The best thing you can do is discuss how to split things and make a schedule for things such as laundry, groceries and other necessities.
4. Talk about the future you want for your relationship.
If you're going to move in with someone, realize it's at least a 1-2 year commitment. Some leases will be for only 1 year and others for 2, but when you sign that lease, you're committed – unless, of course, it ends badly and one of you moves out. But, if you're looking to stay in it for the long haul, it's important to discuss what each of you wants for the future. Now, if you're only dating for a short amount of time – this may be uncomfortable for you to talk about the possibility of marriage, etc. But, maybe that means it's too soon for you two to be moving in together, too. If you want to get married and your partner doesn't, but you're living together and building a life together, it could be uncomfortable and awkward for you to come to this realization. You'll begin to feel trapped and feel as though you've made the wrong decision by moving in with them. Think long and hard about what you want and make sure it's a solid conversation before you take that step.
5. Set boundaries for each other.
Every relationship is different and everyone likes and is comfortable with different things. But, when you live with someone – it seems as though comfort and "boundaries" may go out the window, especially if it's a small apartment. You two are going to be together every waking moment you are home, so it's important to set some boundaries for each other. If not, you'll be at each other's throats all of the time. Maybe when your partner comes home, they need an hour or two to themselves to unwind and just relax without you jumping on them as soon as they get in. Maybe you need more time in the bathroom in the mornings than they do. Whatever the issue may be, discuss what makes it work for you both before it turns into a bigger issue when you move in together and all you do is fight.
6. Pay close attention how they treat their "stuff" and home.
If you spend a lot of time at your significant other's apartment before you decide to move in together, pay close attention to how they are in their own home. Do they clean up after themselves? Do they treat their furniture and appliances well? Do they take out the garbage, do the dishes, dust? These things may not seem to matter to you because it's not your own home, but once it is – it'll matter. If you're with someone who throws their sh*t everywhere and doesn't care to clean up after themselves, it can change your desire to want to live with them. You are no body's mother and don't want to have to work all day to come home and pick up after someone else. You'll end up blowing up on them.
7. Discuss your schedules and how they may differ.
Your partner may be a night owl and you may be an early bird. Your work schedule may be completely different than theirs. Whatever it is, talking about it before moving in together is vital. For example, I work from home a lot and my partner commutes and we discussed this before we moved in together. Some mornings, his alarm goes off super early when I can essentially be sleeping in, but he'll get ready in a different room. On the weekend's when he's off and can sleep in, I wake up early to work and do it in the living room instead of waking him and being in the bedroom. The bottom line, we make it work and are considerate of each other's time and schedules. If you're on different schedules, you have to find ways that you can be considerate of each other and if not, maybe it won't work with you two being on such different schedules.
8. Talk about friends, having people over and how you feel about "entertaining."
Sometimes, you want to have a girl's night at your apartment with your friends and your partner is exhausted from a long week and doesn't want to be bothered. Other times, they'll want to have Football Sunday at your apartment, but you have work to catch up on. Make sure before you plunge in that you have the same feelings about having people over and your friendships. If your partner isn't comfortable with having people over all the time and you're someone who loves to socialize and entertain, that could become a bigger issue down the road.
9. Discuss eating habits and health goals.
Some couples may completely differ in eating habits, health desires, and workout plans. For one, I'm a horrible, horrible eater and my boyfriend knew this before we moved in together. That's why before we did sign the lease for our apartment, we talked about how I can't always leave junk food around the house because he wants to try and eat better/healthier. Was I mad? No. Do I bring junk food into the house? Yes, but I hide it in only places I know where it is (lol). Bottom line is that if your eating habits don't mesh, you have to talk about ways to make it work for you both. If you're a diet-freak and your partner is someone who likes to junk-out all of the time, find a happy medium.