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Are You Really Ready to Move In Together? Here's What to Consider

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When you're dating someone for a while, it's easy to think that you know everything about that person. You know what makes them tick, you've memorized their coffee order, and you might be able to read each other's thoughts. But have you ever heard people say that you never really know a person until you live with them? It's scary how true that statement is. Moving in with your significant other can be a really exciting step in your relationship, but it's definitely something that you need to prepare for. Here's what to consider:

1. Your differences

The two of you probably have many things in common, but chances are, you also have your fair share of differences. After all, you're two individuals with different goals and hopes for the future. He likes winter. You like summer. She's a neat freak. You're more of a slob. Are those things that you can deal with? Make sure to talk it out and set expectations for your shared living space.

If you're expecting your guy to put his clothes in the hamper, but he keeps leaving them on the floor (on the bed, in the bathroom, behind the dresser), having a chat about living expectations before moving in together could help you avoid a major fight later on.

"When my girlfriend and I moved in together, I noticed she liked to have the TV on as background noise while I would normally keep it off," says Alaina Leary, a grad student at Emerson College. "We had to learn [how to] compromise over everything in terms of living together."

Keep in mind, too, that just because you've stayed over at your SO's place doesn't mean you already know what it's like to live together.

"Get ready to see another side of your SO you haven't seen before," says Ana Maria Baez, a grad student attending the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. "It's one thing to crash with them now and then, but living together makes you notice a lot of details you probably hadn't noticed before (some of them good, some of them bad) simply because now you're spending much more time together in an intimate environment."

Does your SO have food allergies? Are you a vegetarian while he's a full-blown carnivore? You might be able to easily deal with these things if you live apart, but these differences become more apparent when you start to live under the same roof.

2. Your finances

If you haven't had the money talk, now is a good time to do so. Sharing a living space inevitably means sharing bills, and things can get dicey if you don't talk about how the two of you are going to pay once you sign on the dotted line. Whether you decide to split the rent in half or divvy up the utilities and other expenses (like groceries and furnishings), make sure you decide ahead of time and work to create a plan.

"Discuss finances heavily so there are no surprises or fights about it," Alaina recommends. "If there are bills (off-campus apartments, etc), discuss how [they will be paid] and who will pay them."

Not sure where to start? Create a budget for yourselves and determine which amount you're able to put towards your expenses each month. That way, when your first monthly bills start rolling in, you'll have a plan set in place and you won't feel overwhelmed during your early stages of living together.

Finances are a huge deal, so make sure you're covering all the bases when you lay out your budget; that includes everything from rent to entertainment to shopping. Consider each other's salaries when talking about monthly expenses and make sure that you have a game plan in case one of you gets laid off.

Related: 5 Financial Habits Every Collegiette Should Have

3. Your relationship status

Do you see your relationship with your SO going the distance? Or is the long-term future the two of you haven't quite discussed yet? These are major things to consider before moving in together. You may like the idea of living with each other, but if there is any inkling that the relationship might not last (and you're moving in with each other in hopes of strengthening the relationship), finding an apartment or taking a mortgage out on a house might not be the best idea.

"I personally haven't moved in with a significant other, but my best friend and her ex-boyfriend ended up moving in together, and it ended horribly," says Kayla Alexander, a graduate from the University of South Carolina-Columbia who currently works as a Communications Associate at Palmetto Health Orthopedics. "Not that everyone else's relationship is going to end poorly, but going off of the 'lasting potential' bullet, I would definitely suggest making sure that the relationship is strong. Unfortunately, their relationship had been rocky, so when they decided to move in together, they thought it was what would 'make or break' them. It was a good learning experience for her, but don't go into it with the expectation that living together will bring you so much closer because in many cases, it does the exact opposite."

Living with your SO also has the potential to make you both fall into complacency. Since you spend so much time together, you may throw caution to the wind and spend less time doing couple-y things and more time just living amongst each other.

"Remember, moving in together means 24/7 living, every day, so usually activities reserved as special occasions (like going out for dinner) can turn a bit more commonplace since you now live together," Ana Maria says. "Find a way to deal with how to avoid becoming monotonous in your relationship."

Keep going on dates, and remember that sex (or any show of intimacy) shouldn't be a chore. Leave a note for him in his lunch. Make dinner for her before she comes home from work. Take over laundry day if you're not the one who normally does it—just don't shrink anything.

4. Your schedules

Between jobs, school, errands and social engagements, your schedules may not completely line up. Make sure you're understanding of each other's priorities, work loads and separate to-do lists. Do you both need alone time after a long day? Designate places in your house or apartment that you can each call your own; even when sharing a space, sometimes you still need to be able to go home to a place that's all yours.

Now that you're living together, you're going to be spending a lot more time with each other than you're used to. It's so important to be able to have things for yourself (hobbies, your own career, time with your friends), so that you're not completely dependent on the other person.

"I just recently moved in with my boyfriend to a different state," says Melissa Paniagua, a graduate of the University of Southern California. "I think something you need to consider (as a girl or a guy) is to make sure you maintain your own thing, like friendships and hobbies and exercise. Since I was moving out of state to live with him, I wanted to make sure that I also had a stable job so I wouldn't feel dependent on someone else."

Another big talking point is sleeping arrangements. "When a couple lives together, they have to decide if they'll go to bed at the same time, and if they don't, what the other [person can do] while one is sleeping. Can they watch TV or will that be too loud?" says Alaina.

5. Arguments (& how they're resolved)

Getting into arguments with another person—a friend, family member or your SO—is not fun no matter how you slice it. When you live with someone, fighting with them may be a completely different beast all together. You can't go to your respective homes when things get heated and there's no immediate resolution.

"Arguing can become more common if you're not used to sharing spaces," says Ana Maria. "It's tricky because it's not as close as living with a sibling, and it's not as awkward as living with a platonic roommate. The dynamic is really different."

Liz Dewell, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, thinks open communication is the overall key. "If you can't ask the other to do true roommate things, like cleaning up their stuff, helping you cook a meal, or taking on the laundry, then it makes living together difficult. You can't just go back to your apartment to avoid a tiff or argument and cool off—you need to be able to talk through it."

6. Pets

Does your SO have a pet that is going to end up sharing your living space? Do you own a cat that your girlfriend is allergic to? You might not think about it at first, but definitely have a talk if an animal is being thrown into the mix. If you've never had a pet before, and your boyfriend can't part with his dog (please don't make him!), understand that you might have to juggle the responsibility, as well.

"My boyfriend has a dog, so moving in together basically made it 'our' dog and I had to take on more responsibility in the fur child department," says Liz.

7. Tackling the chore list

If you're a neat freak, chores are probably one of your favorite things to do. We're kidding! But in all seriousness, bringing up the fact that you each need to do a fair amount of household duties is of utmost importance. It's never fun when one person is tackling the chore list on their own, and it might lead to resentment and bottled up anger. Sit down as a couple and make a monthly chore calendar. Make sure that the list varies month to month so that one person isn't stuck on garbage duty all the time.

Still not entirely sure? Do what Jessica Rangel and her SO did—take a test run!

"We found an Airbnb that we could stay in for a month while we were transitioning between apartments, and it cost about the same as rent," says Jessica, a student at the University of Colorado Denver. "It was a full apartment and it was like we were living together. We got a feel for each other's daily habits. It helped us realize what worked and what didn't before we actually committed to signing a lease and move in full time."

Moving in with your SO can be a really exciting time, but make sure that you consider the things listed above before deciding to co-habitate. Once you do, you'll never fight over who unloads the dishwasher. We promise.


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