Are you ready to move in together? The ultimate checklist.
Madly in love, or just sick of living out of a bag? I get it. After months of awkwardly carrying clean undies around in my handbag, I’ve shacked up with my boyfriend and straightened my stuff out. And I’m not just talking about my belongings.
If you’re talking about moving in with your partner, here are a few things I’ve learned to consider first.
#1 Know if you’re introverts or extroverts
You know those fluffy personality quizzes you do when you’re procrastinating real work? Here’s an excuse to drop what you’re doing and take one: before you move in with a partner, it’s critical to know where you both get your energy from. In a sharehouse, it’s easy for an introvert to retreat to their room for some soothing solo time; when it’s just the two of you, it’s more difficult – especially if the other person needs to talk or socialise to process their day.
My boyfriend and I are both introverted, and avoid being constantly in each other’s space by instilling an anti-date night rule. On Tuesdays, I wake up early for a beachside walk and coffee with a friend, and after my post-work yoga class, I’m wiped out by 9pm and asleep hours before my boyfriend comes to bed.
#2 Sort out your separate life
Living with your partner, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of sharing everything. And sure, it’s fun, but when it erodes your independence, sidesteps your interests, and whittles your emotional support system down to a single person, cohabitation can become unhelpful and isolating.
I moved into my boyfriend’s house and felt really nervous about this. So, we actively try to maintain our lives separate from each other. We often socialise independently, he’ll never come to yoga with me, we won’t always cook and eat together at home, and, in addition to each other, we both go to other friends for problem-solving and emotional support.
#3 Give up on roses
Living together, you’ll quickly prioritise small, domestic gestures of affection over larger, seemingly more romantic ones. I love fresh flowers as much as anyone, but my boyfriend getting our air conditioner fixed while I was at work on a sweltering 40-degree day, or going out to get me homemade lemonade when I was PMSing and craving it were gestures far more caring than any big gift or expensive dinner.
#4 Unleash your vulnerabilities
Over the last few months my boyfriend has seen me at my best – reading intelligent novels before bed, rising early for that aforementioned beach walk, whipping up healthy weeknight dinners – and at my very worst. Tears, shouting, snapping, sluggish sleeping in, sad single-girl food (just last night he was looking for the leftover cooked rice to make fried rice, and I had to tell him I’d just eaten it for dinner, cold, with soy sauce and peanut butter) … he’s seen it all.
When you’re dating but living apart, you can conceal your bad habits, short temper and inadequate diet, but when you’re living together, it’s all out in the open. There’s no hiding from your true self, so no choice but to get comfortable quickly with your partner seeing everything.
#5 Set up a date night
…or a standing coffee stop every Thursday morning, or a regular weekend bushwalk, or a weekly life drawing session. Whatever you choose, you’ll have to make an effort to have quality time with your partner once you move in together. Yeah, you’ll spend a lot of time together, but it’s all incidental time, not the deliberate time you used to have before you moved in together.
#6 Set up your communications lines
My boyfriend and I know we’re not strong communicators, so we make a real effort to be clear, patient and understanding with each other – and that’s gone double since we moved in together.
Fights would have totally soured what ended up being a really exciting, wonderful experience.
There are no more assumptions about whether someone will be home for dinner, notes are left on the front-door whiteboard, the need for solo time is clearly articulated (“I promise I’m not ignoring you!”), and the anxiety and stress of moving was nearly completely vanquished with clear conversations about what we each expected from living together. We could have managed the move without knowing already how we best communicate, but the fights would have totally soured what ended up being a really exciting, wonderful experience.
#7 Know why you’re doing it
Moving in together because you can never find clean clothes? It might not be your time. It’s great having all your stuff in the same place and knowing where you’ll sleep every night, but make sure it’s not the only reason you’re shacking up. Does it feel easy, fun and right to move in together? Have you tested it out by travelling together? Are you at a point where you’re interested and just waiting for the right time, or are you forcing it early to prove a point (or to fix your washing problems?).
#8 Prepare to be disappointed
When you move in with your partner, you will not spontaneously become a: (a) the smoothie-drinking, crack-of-dawn-rising, boxing-class-doing picture of fitspo-health; (2) artistic decorating genius with a six-figure rug budget; or (3) person stuck living with a disgusting creton with secret gross habits. Don’t expect yourself to suddenly turn into your best self just because you’re in a new place or with a new person, and conversely, don’t worry that your partner has been concealing disguising or dangerous tendencies from you for months.
Sure, you’ll reveal your worse habits and more tender vulnerabilities to your partner (see point #4), but don’t fear that you don’t know your soon-to-be housemate. And chances are, all the new stuff will make you love them even more.
If you’re moving in together, you might also like to consider how you’ll work your finances – whether you split them or join funds.
Sophie Raynor is a writer and list-maker from Perth living in tropical Timor-Leste. She loves ethical development communications and taking about sweating, and tweets at @raynorsophie.