Moving in together is a big commitment, and many couples struggle with knowing when the right time is supposed to happen. The answer? It depends. Asking the big questions is an essential step before moving in. Knowing them and great advice ahead of time can save you a lot of heartache and trouble later.
Breaking down the numbers.
Heterosexual couples tend to move in together after two years. For same-sex couples, it can be as soon as six months. According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of couples cohabitate in order to “test” their overall relationship and if it could last when living together. According to research, most modern women under the age of 36 lived with their partners for at least 32 months (nearly three years) prior to getting engaged to their partners. So while the averages speak for themselves, it’s important to consider other factors as well.
Make sure it isn’t just for financial reasons.
While 38 percent of couples living together did so for financial reasons, it shouldn’t be the only reason why. Having someone split the rent with you makes things cheaper, but it doesn’t mean your life will be better or that you’re ready to move in based on finances alone. You should also know as much about their financial situation as possible. Have you discussed salaries or how to fairly split bills? For some couples, 50/50 doesn’t cut it, especially if your S.O. spends a lot more time in the shower than you. You should also get an idea of how much debt your S.O. carries and their credit score. “As you take the first steps of applying for homes, whether that’s to rent or buy, your financial profiles will make a big impact,” said Farnoosh Torabi, a financial education advisor, for The Huffington Post. Just because it will be cheaper to live together doesn’t mean it couldn’t turn massively expensive if your partner has a history of bad financial choices. Oh, and don’t cosign that credit card until you have that conversation, either.
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Do you see marriage or some long-term commitment in the future?
Moving too fast before really getting to know your partner can be a disaster if you sign a lease together. Breaking any kind of legal written agreement is tough enough without heartbreak, too. If you both see this as a long-term thing, then it may be time to test it out by moving in together.
You’re on the same page about life.
Dr. Brenda Wade, a clinical psychologist and Chief Advisor of OnlineForLove.com, recommends having conversations about what you want in life and living together early on, NOT after you move in. “The secret ingredient is being clear…figure it out before,” said Wade. So what should you be on the same page about? Finances, kids, career, chores, decorations, and every other tiny detail matters before moving in. Yes, discussing where your treasured Squishmallows can be displayed is a very important talking point prior to moving in.
You don’t want to change them and love them for all of their quirks and flaws.
If something about your partner annoys you now, ask yourself if you can put up with that when living together. No one is perfect, but if there is something you cannot stand now that you hope to “fix”, it will explode into a much bigger issue later.
Are you able to live independently if necessary?
Some people move in simply because they don’t want to be alone. But learning how to be independent is essential, especially in case of a breakup or other unforeseen circumstance. Besides, it may turn out that you enjoy living alone more. It’s possible that you may live separately and still have a very happy relationship…even after marriage. The Living Apart Together (LAT) movement has gained a lot of traction over the years and has been a popular option for couples who love each other, but need their space.
Figure out how to split the chores evenly.
Without making a plan for chores, some couples can start feeling a lot of resentment towards one another if one feels they are doing more of the work than the other partner. This is especially true for women, who tend to take on two more hours of chores than a male partner would. In Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, she fixed this problem with a “S..t I Do” list she sent to her husband to prove the point of…well, exactly all the stuff she does to keep the house running. Perhaps you and your partner can make a “Stuff We Do” list, instead.
Do you actually want to move in together?
Some people feel like there is a timeline of when certain milestones should happen. Picking out a time to move in after dating for a certain period of time is one of them. But no one knows better than you and your partner. If you think you must move in together to have a better relationship, examine where that thought comes from. Is it from your own desire to be with your partner more or pressure from others?