Navigating the peaks and valleys of cohabitation
It is a big decision to move in with your significant other, and not one to be taken lightly. In our generation, there isn’t so much of a taboo around it anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge change in your life that has to be well considered. It is a choice with more weight than simply moving in with your BFF or a random roommate (even though these are important too—know if your friendship can survive close quarters!)
So I made the big decision to move in with my S.O. and as the cherry on top, we were moving clear across the country. I got accepted into graduate school in Boston, and my BF made the choice to come with me, and subsequently, we made the decision to move in together. So we began to plan this giant move in our relationship and in location from the small college town of Athens, GA to the big city of Boston MA. Not only were we moving in together, we were moving to a city neither of us knew—to an entirely different climate, vibe, and price tag. Let me tell y’all about this price tag, though! HAVE MERCY Y’ALL. We had to hunker down, have some real talk, and figure out how our lives would change, and how to successfully change it.
It wasn’t easy, there were certainly hurdles and struggles—most of which stemming from trying to find an apartment for a reasonable price from 2000 miles away. Spoiler alert, we actually packed up our places in GA and started our journey up to Boston without actually knowing if the apartment we applied for was approved or not. Thank God it was and we finally had an official place to live that wasn’t the back of our U-Haul. All of the logistics and stress of moving across the east coast was made easier however because I had my BF and partner in life there with me. So here’s a little bit of advice and wisdom I collected from my experience from our move that may help you if you’re deciding to do the same.
1-know why you are moving in together.
I recommend not just moving in because it’s convenient but because you think it’s the next step—and this may be my more traditional roots coming out, but I personally think it’s an important thing to consider. You may not be in it forever, but you don’t want to sign a lease, which is in and of itself a large commitment, without any intention of staying together for the duration of the lease at least. Even if you don’t vibe with marriage or aren’t ready for it yet, you’re still signing a contractual agreement binding you financially and relationally together for at least a year. So make sure you both a ready for that sort of commitment.
2-know the type of relationship you’re in
My S.O. and I have talked extensively and continue to have this conversation about what our relationship goals are. We have every intention of getting married but with graduate school and a giant move, we were not fiscally ready or in a position for that specific step yet. We know it will happen sometime after graduate school, and have mutual goals for our relationship and ourselves. Do not move in together before you talk about relationship goals. If you want marriage and your partner doesn’t ever want to get married, know that and act accordingly! Do not move in together with the intentions of somehow changing their minds on marriage…all the romcoms and real life examples say that’s just generally a no go.
You have to have the talk. This was definitely the most uncomfortable part of moving. Even more so than talking about the murky and scary future! Money is always an awkward conversation, but it’s the biggest and arguably the most important. Even if you have every intention of spending your lives together, if you’re not up front and on the same page about money you are already setting up relationship land mines for your future life together. Not everything is split right down the middle depending on where you both are in your lives. Be honest about it! Do the math, and then do it again. This is so important so you can know what you can comfortably afford and what percent you can contribute. Talk about how you’ll pay for groceries, if you’re getting cable, and whose name is on what bills. Because especially if you’re moving across the country together, you don’t want to get to a place and realize you can’t actually afford to be there.
4- moving sucks
It sounds so exciting…moving, starting a new chapter, etc. the movies make it looks so romantic and adventurous, and some parts are. But some parts are also not so charming. It is usually August so it’s hot as hell and you’re packing and lifting things and trying to shove all of your worldly belongings into a box and it’s terrible and sweaty and the worst. My advice that I wish I had taken to heart when I was moving is to plan your packing. Plan what you’ll throw away and what you absolutely need. If you both have pots, just bring one set and donate the other. Why did we bring both? I have no idea. Know that the heat and the boxes will not be glamorous but has to be done, and is better done together! Don’t just watch as your partner loads, and tapes, and lifts; actually help out! It’s both your lives being packed up so get in there and geterdone!
5- moving costs a lot of money, too
Know that the actual moving process is incredibly expensive too. There are many costs involved: there’s the truck/moving service, the rent, the security deposit, the broker fee, and the God forsaken tolls when you finally get rolling (that will doubt or triple if you’re towing or driving a moving truck yourself). Factor out all the expenses and make sure to save up. It’s nuts how expensive it can get.
6-make sure if you’re moving to a new city for you, that your S.O. is happy too!
Make sure they can find a job they are happy with, friends they get along with, and a community you both jive with. I’m not saying to hold their hand and do the job-hunting for them (unless they ask, then be generous and help). But be as supportive of them as they are for you. Don’t be afraid of waiting it out until they find the right position, just plan ahead for the financial investment it will take to wait. Because if both of y’all have a job or school you’re excited about, you’re bound to be happier together in your new city.
7-know that you live with this person now
This may sound dumb but know that this is no longer your house, or their apartment, this place is now BOTH of y’all’s place and a start to a new shared life. They are bound to piss you off, leave the seat up, load the dishwasher wrong, or any number of annoying things; and guess what, you’ll annoy them to, but its life, and life together. My advice is to not try and correct every weird or annoying thing they do because, for every weird thing they do, you have a weird thing you do too. Know that love is loving all their weirdness too. It’s compromise and it’s making it work idiosyncrasies and all. But also be honest; if it is driving you nuts, let them know! Maybe they don’t know they are doing it. Honesty is absolutely key.
8-chores are a part of adulting, too
Keep your space (relatively) clean! And agree on who does what and when. Weekend mornings are our allotted cleaning time. It’s annoying sometimes but it’s important. You won’t resent the other for not pitching in if you agree to a cleaning plan, and you’ll be less stressed when the space is clean too. This is your investment in your life together, it’s best to keep it well!
9-know its different than before
Know that this is, in fact, uncharted territory. Even if you’ve lived with people before, it’s your first time living with this person. Expect change, but don’t expect it to fix any problems you may have had before. Know that there will be a new routine that includes this person. There will be something to expect every day that makes coming home so sweet. There will be more quiet moments because you’re no longer planning every moment you spend together. Lean into those quiet and routine moments, they are so sweet and so fulfilling.
10- Make time
Even though there is a new dynamic, for example, you’re in the same room together but one is doing one thing and the other something else, you’re not really engaging. This happens a lot in our apartment. I will be working and watching TV while he is on his computer playing video games. We’ve had long days at works and class and need our time to decompress. We are together but not really. These moments work and make living together nice, but it’s not really quality time. Make time to be truly together. Be diligent about planning dates or making dinner together, playing a game or going on walks together. Be intentional about your relationship and about really being together and engaging with each other. You assume it will be natural and easy when you live together, but it’s almost more effort to make this time together than it was before.
In summary, be intentional, but respectful, and open, and be honest. Know what you’re getting into, and know that this is now a shared world you’re creating together. Things will be messy, but they will also be so very sweet.