Ready for the next step in the relationship? Moving in with a partner can be a fun and exciting time, but it can also be a huge transition. Not only are you learning how to live with a new roommate (bad habits and all), but you’re forced to make bigger decisions as a couple. Of course it doesn’t have to be too big of a challenge if you go in prepared. Below, four couples share the tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way.
1. Create your home together
One of the most important things when moving in together is making sure the place feels comfortable for both of you. Combining things and decor tastes can take some compromise though. Rob Savitsky, 31, said that when he and his girlfriend Marissa McCoy, 33, moved in together, their biggest challenge was fitting two apartments worth of furniture into a 540-square-foot studio in Boston.
“We did have to downsize a bit and get rid of some redundant items, but ultimately we made it work,” he said.
Marissa added that she happily took over the decorating job.
“I enjoy making our apartment cozy and homey, so [taking over] these decisions to me was easy,” she said. “Of course there’s always something. There was a discussion about upgrading his college-style comforter to something more adult-like, and an even bigger discussion (one which I ultimately lost … at least for the time being) about the enormous brown leather recliner that he insists on keeping.”
She joked that since they live in a studio, when the chair is in full-reclining mode, it’s practically in the kitchen.
The couple’s biggest takeaway is that when couples are combining houses, they should compromise and only keep the things they love. And ultimately, isn’t that the vibe you want for your first home together anyway?
2. Be open to change
It’s no surprise your life is going to change when moving in with a significant other, but you might be shocked at how much your routine will, too. Prior to living together, newlyweds Josh Ramjist, 32, and Lauren Maher, 31, were on completely opposite schedules.
“Lauren likes to go to sleep early and wake up early,” he said. “But I’m the opposite. I’ll sleep in when given the opportunity and will happily stay awake throughout the night.”
“We’ve had to adapt our cooking and cleaning schedules based mostly around our often chaotic work schedules, so every week brings a new adventure in scheduling,” Maher said. She also took on the biggest compromise by agreeing to live in Brooklyn and commuting one to two hours per day — depending on traffic — so that they could live reasonably close to where he works.
“We have an open dialogue about the way we like to do things and recognize that just because we’ve done something a certain way our whole life, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it,” she said.
3. Break the habits (or learn to deal with them)
We’ve all got our bad habits, so it’s inevitable that they’ll rise to the surface when living with a partner. KC and Steve Forsythe (32 and 33 respectively) found ways to work around theirs in the Chicago home they’ve shared for three years. “I'm messier than him,” she said. “I hate to admit it, but it's true.”
KC is not shy about her bad habits. She admits to tossing her work clothes in a pile to sort later, leaving toothpaste in the sink and mascara stains on the towels. But Steve has his own bad habits, too. “He doesn't open his mail and just lets it pile up,” she said. She added they they both want to be better and know they’re only human and will slip up sometimes.
She said she’d probably tell her pre-move-in self that staying as neat as possible is not only good for your relationship, but also for your head space.
“I have since read Marie Kondo’s 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' and am much more determined to stay neat,” she said. “Yes, some things were a surprise, like the mail thing. But in the grand scheme of things, that's not a big deal. It's an important step in a commitment to live together.”
4. Communication is key
Julian Bannister, 27, and his husband, Yannick Jules-Bannister, 31, moved in together after only two months of dating. “We had a spark that we couldn’t keep away from one another,” Bannister explained. Because they were so young and trying to make it in their careers, they decided to take a room in a house with another couple to save money.
“As time went on, four or five months down the road, things went sour between the other couple and us,” Bannister said. “So we ended up staying in the room a lot.” And the confined space had an effect on their relationship.
Besides learning each other’s pet peeves, the couple realized they had completely different communication styles. “If there was a problem, I was the silent one who’d walk away, and he is the one who likes to talk,” Jules-Bannister said.
“We had to learn really fast how to communicate and use our words so that we could be on the same page,” Bannister added. “The advice I would give my pre-move-in self would be to communicate expectations from each other — certain things you’d like to know about each other when it comes to residing together.” The couple said they wished they’d written out their pet peeves and things they dislike so that they could talk about them before sharing a space.
“You can’t really change someone and you shouldn’t try to,” Jules-Bannister said. “It’s either you can live with it or you can’t, but if they do care about you, they will make the effort.”