If you and your partner have recently decided to make the giant relationship leap that is moving in together, major congrats to you both! Whether you’ve been together several years or only a handful of months, this is a huge step in your partnership. But before jumping in with both feet, experts recommend having a clear-cut conversation involving a myriad of things to discuss before moving in together that can make or break your experience. “When moving in together there are emotional and practical aspects that are important in what I call your pre-decision moving in conversation,” says Mary Ann Mercer, Psy.D., psychologist and co-founder of Positive Life Answers and co-author of Endless Love, Romance + Passion: Secrets of Happy & Loving Couples. “When certain topics are not clearly talked about if can lead to many problems regarding expectations and hidden agendas.”
The best thing to do is to be upfront and honest about your feelings about moving in together so that you are both aware of each other’s expectations and can anticipate any future problems that may emerge. “If you are already having concerns with communication prior to cohabitation, learning how to communicate effectively will be a harder hill to climb if you start living together,” says Laura F. Dabney, M.D., relationship psychiatrist in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “If you are able to clearly communicate wants and needs, before living together, it will make it that much easier to talk to each other when disagreements inevitability arrive.”
Wondering what topics to cross-off your before-moving-in-together talk? Here are the things to discuss before moving in together, recommended by experts.
Your mutual need for time and space
Seeing as you’re going to be spending far more time together than before you were bunkmates, one of the most important things to discuss before moving in together is when and how you’ll be spending alone time. “Ask yourself the following questions: How much time do I want to spend together? Do I want to talk to my partner as soon as I get home or do I need some time to decompress?” says Dr. Mercer. “It is important to not take personally your partner’s time to be alone or decompress, as respecting the need for alone time is the best gift you can give your partner.”
How you’ll handle finances
Finances and expectations on who will be paying for what is an important thing to discuss before moving in together. “This conversation is essential only so that there will be clear boundaries and exceptions prior to signing on the dotted line,” says Dr. Dabney. “Bringing this up is quite easy, it can be discussed when talking about the price range of the new place, or if you are moving into one or the others home, you may simply state ‘okay, lets budget out what you will need from me so I know I can financially afford this!’"
The division of household chores
Neither of you deserves to feel like he or she is doing the majority of the grunt work—washing dishes, vacuuming, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning, etc. For this reason, Dr. Mercer recommends discussing what each of you expects from each other, who will do what chore and what to do to be responsible for your own items. “How are you going to split household tasks—50/50 or will you take turns?” she asks. “Aim to function like a good team together.”
How often to have visitors
One of you might love hosting while the other prefers to keep their home private. How often you plan on hosting friends and family can be a handy discussion. “The conversation is important so you know what the other person will want, such as how much notice they would like, and things along those lines,” says Dr. Dabney. “Bringing this up is easy, you may just want to say ‘Hey, my sister likes to come over at least once a week. Does that work for you?’" If, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work for your partner, try to come to a sort of compromise instead of stomping your feet because you’re not getting your way.
Come clean about annoying habits
We all have our quirks, be it brushing our teeth in the shower or sleeping in the nude. Before you move in with your significant other, mention these quirks to him or her so that they’re not an unpleasant surprise after the fact. “Often individuals are not aware of what is ‘annoying’ or ‘particular’ until you live together, which is why I recommend couples do a weekly ‘Sharing Withholds’ exercise,” says explains relationship coach Matt Morgan. “This exercise, which involves sharing what you’re grateful for over the last 48 hours, prevents things from festering and getting worse.”