Moving in together is an exciting step in a relationship, but it’s important not to get lost in a dreamy romantic haze. Here are some down-to-earth concerns you’ll be glad you discussed with your significant other before packing all your worldly belongings into cardboard boxes.
1. YOUR HOME
What do you need in a living space? What’s most important to you when looking? Location? Proximity to family, restaurants, or public transportation? School district? Price? Do you want to rent? Own? Is one of you going to move into the other person’s home? If so, what are the ground rules? Be sure to get your priorities straight before checking listings or talking to a realtor.
How much physical space do you need: Do you need your own bathroom? Do you work from home and need a home office? Then there’s emotional space: Do you need a lot of alone time? How much time do you want to spend together? Do you want to talk to your partner as soon as you get home or do you need some time to decompress?
Do you have any? Do you want any? Do you hate birds? Do you have a cat allergy? Is that your dog or our dog? Who’s going to feed the fish every day?
How are you going to split household tasks? Will one person do everything? Will you split it 50/50? If so, how? Will you take turns? Will one person do the indoor jobs and the other person rake leaves and mow the lawn?
How tidy are you? Are you fussy about it? Are you a total slob? Can you live with your partner’s level of cleanliness? If you’re a neat freak, prioritize your concerns (say, a clean kitchen is more important than stray clothes on the bedroom floor); and if you tend to be messy, help come up with a plan for tidying up so your partner doesn’t have to nag.
How will these expenses be divided? Down the middle? By percentage of income? Who’s going to manage the household books?
Who will do the grocery shopping? Who will pay for it?
It’s also important to talk about expectations for spending mealtimes together—will you coordinate dinner every night? Will you eat meals together? Which ones? Where? Who will do the cooking? Who will clean up afterward? How often do you like to eat at restaurants or order take-out?
How many hours do you work each week? Do you bring your work home? Do you work at night or on the weekends? Do you stay late at work? Do you regularly go out for drinks afterward?
Are you an early riser or a night owl? Can you sleep with the lights on? Do you expect your partner to stay up with you or wake up when you do? Are you a light sleeper? Do you sleep in all weekend? Do you like to listen to loud music or play video games at 1 a.m.? Do you need absolute silence in order to sleep?
Are you planning to pool your money or keep separate accounts? Are you financially stable? Do you have large debts? Where does your money come from? How’s your credit score? Is there a chance one of you will become unable to support yourself?