This post was originally featured on Redfin’s blog, published on April 20, 2022 by Julia Weaver, featuring Paula from Bloom Matchmaking.
Whether you’ve been together for five years or five months, moving in with your significant other is a whole new adventure. And while this step in your relationship is undoubtedly exciting, it also has the potential to make or break your relationship. Moving in together can reveal unknown habits, grooming styles, etiquette, and cleanliness deal-breakers that may not have been known before.
Before moving in together, it’s important to discuss and be on the same page about a number of things, from chores and pet peeves to finances and future goals. We asked top relationship experts all across the country to share their number one question couples should ask before moving in together. So whether you and your partner are planning to move into an apartment in Boston, MA or a rental unit in San Diego, CA, you can be sure the tough questions are answered before signing a lease.
1) “What are your rituals and routines?”
As you prepare to move in with your partner, have an open conversation exploring your expectations and needs for your time together, and your alone time. You could start with the prompt, “What are rituals or routines that you feel are important for us to do together?” Consider any daily expectations or desires like how you start your day, end your day, share meals, check-in, take walks together, etc. Are there areas where some consistency would support your connection? Consider any weekly expectations or desires that nourish your relationship, like a date night. Ask each other, “What are rituals or routines that feel important for you to maintain on your own?” This opens up the space to discover and share the boundaries that support your well-being, which is key for the health of your relationship. These conversations should be ongoing throughout your relationship and years of living together as your needs and desires change and evolve. – Evin Rose, Certified Life Coach at Evin Rose Coaching + www.instagram.com/evinrose
2) “What are your financial expectations, habits, and goals?”
This is arguably one of the most important questions to ask before moving in together. Moving in with your partner is an exciting milestone, but it can also introduce new strains into a relationship. Set yourself up for success by talking about the finances of cohabitation beforehand. How will you split expenses like groceries, furniture, toilet paper, and repairs? Some ways to split expenses include: (1) logging shared expenses and balancing out inequalities on a regular basis; (2) trading off paying to generally split expenses; (3) agreeing that each partner is responsible for a particular set of expenses; (4) contributing equal funds to a shared bank account and paying shared expenses from there; (5) deciding if one partner will pay for shared expenses. There is no right or wrong way to approach the economics of living together – the important thing is that you’re on the same page and respect the rules you’ve established with each other. – Taly Matiteyahu, CEO, and Laura Ciccone, COO at The Blink Date
3) “How can we make our space remind us of each other?”
Regardless if you’re moving into one person’s existing space or a space that’s new for both of you, make sure you and your significant other feel at home in your new shared space. Be sure to display items that remind you of each other, not your exes. After I moved in with a boyfriend, he insisted on displaying his huge collection of wine corks he’d collected over the past 20+ years in our new living room. Every time I entered a room that should have been a space that reminded me of our love for each other, I was instead reminded of all his memories and experiences that I had not been a part of. Keep personal memories in a private place and make your decorations and household items about your shared memories with each other. – Camille Virginia, Author of The Offline Dating Method
4) “What chores do you want to be in charge of?”
When you’re thinking about moving in with your significant other, you need to talk about expectations before the moving vans arrive. Small household tasks can turn into major arguments if you haven’t talked about them. Talk about who is going to do what. Who will take out the trash? Who’s in charge of the cooking and grocery shopping? Who will do the cleaning or will you agree to pay for a housekeeper?
Talking about expectations is important because “disappointment is expectations unmet.” When you’re thinking about moving in together, you may not think too much about the day-to-day, but you need to. You don’t want to fight with your significant other simply because you hadn’t made it a point to talk about expectations. It’s so important to have these conversations before you make a move so you’re both on the same page and so the move is a smooth and happy transition. – Elizabeth Koraca
5) “What are your goals, values, and timeframes?”
I believe couples must discuss and negotiate how they plan to handle the day-to-day chores and financial responsibilities before living together. It’s necessary to have aligned core values and life goals, including a timeframe for getting married and starting a family. This helps minimize big disappointments in the future. – Arlene Washburn, Matchmaker, Science-Based Dating & Relationship Coach, and Founder of AVConnexions
6) “What is your expected timeline for our relationship?”
Another question to ask before moving in together is about the significance of this huge step. Are both parties ok with just living together forever? Does someone expect marriage eventually? What about kids? And if they want kids, do they have a timeline? What is their vision? Big steps require big values to align in order to avoid divorce or breaking up. Important scenarios to think about could be “which days do you get the dog?” and “what days do I get the dog?” Good luck and good love. – Claudia Duran, VIP Matchmaker at The Communication Studio
7) “What are your deal breakers?”
Ask your partner what’s most important for them. Is it a neat and clean environment? Alone time? Making the bed? Make that the top priority. Split the to-do list: list weekly chores and ask your partner which ones they prefer and which ones they hate. Finally, pick a spot (a shelf, a corner, or a whole room) in your new home that’s just for you and one that’s just for your partner. – Malaika Neri, Matchmaker and Coach Advanced Relationship Skills
8) “What do you need from me?”
The anticipation of moving in together and taking the relationship to the next step can be thrilling. It can also be a bit scary without some thought, discussion, and parameters. Take a deep breath and consider how to make the move a smooth one. Open communication, dialogue, and listening skills are critical when it comes to navigating a loving relationship, and it is no different when preparing to move in together. For a smooth transition and happy home, work out any kinks in potential areas of domestic conflict that might arise before you sign the lease. These topics include the basics, such as who pays for what and the division of household and yard tasks. At the top of the list, if either or both of the individuals have children from a previous relationship, it is paramount that both partners have given great thought to how this move could impact the children. Decide together what role a cohabiting partner should play (if any) in the day-to-day life of the children. Clear expectations and a plan for how the couple will navigate any big hurdles that may arise paves the way for that dream of a beautiful, happy, loving, joyful home together. – Margot E. Finley, Certified Matchmaker and Dating Coach at Finley Introductions
The bottom line:
Communication is essential
Before you move in with a partner, get on the same page about who contributes what to the household. This is essential, especially if your incomes are drastically different.
Clearly communicating your expectations and acknowledging your partner’s is key. The conversations you have regarding bills and the division of tasks like chores and yard work can serve as a litmus test for your overall relationship. If you can’t develop a plan that feels fair to both of you, you may want to put the brakes on the relocation. – Scott Valdez, Founder of VIDA Select
Consider scheduling a check-in every 90 days
One of the first things I would suggest is that couples should set boundaries and communicate. It’s important that you and your partner have an understanding of what the boundaries are and why it’s important to you. Discuss finances and what your recent spending habits have been like. Do your financial beliefs still align? Circle back to who takes which chores. Little things like not doing the dishes, picking up messes, etc., are little things that can add up over time. This creates tension that can spiral into a breakup. I suggest checking in on the relationship every 90 days or whenever you feel it’s necessary. Have an open conversation about how things are proceeding and how you’re both feeling about the arrangement. – Paula Bloom, Managing Director and Matchmaker at Bloom Matchmaking