When is the right time to move in with your significant other? Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact date or time that is perfect for everyone. The truth is that readiness to cohabitate is less about a specific timeline and more about a mutual understanding.
For some couples, moving into a studio apartment in a new city after knowing each other for only a few months is a great idea. Others may be skeptical of this situation. Some couples may decide to move in together after three years and a lot of careful thought. It can either be a perfect situation or a disaster.
So, while there is no hard and fast way of knowing if you and your significant other are ready to take the leap, there are some questions you can ask beforehand to gauge your readiness for domestic cohabitation.
1. What’s Motivating This Move?
Before moving in together, you need to be on the same page about what this move means. You need to be honest and clear with yourself and each other about what has prompted you to consider this step. For example, if you’re doing it for financial reasons, make sure your partner understands this going in. If one of you sees moving in as a prelude to marriage while the other sees it as a way to push off a proposal, though, then you may be looking at a recipe for a broken lease. Psychology Today suggests having the hard conversations now, starting with why you’re ready to live together. If you can’t have this talk without one or both of you changing your mind, then you should probably wait.
2. What Kind of Place Will Make You Happy?
When you move in with someone, there are going to have to be compromises, particularly when it comes to your living space. Everyone has one or two non-negotiable items that need to be discussed before searching for a new place, such as the budget, number of bathrooms or kitchen space.
If you’re moving to a large city like New York, there are a lot of factors to consider. Check out an apartment finding service like ForRent.com and talk about what you like and don’t like about each apartment (neighborhood, amenities, proximity to transportation) so you have a clear picture about what the other wants and needs.
3. How Will You Deal With Money?
Couples often only picture the romantic perks of moving in together — the lazy Sunday mornings in bed sipping coffee and the nights spent snuggled up on the couch watching movies — but conveniently forget about the not-as-fun aspects like making sure bills get paid on time.
A frank discussion about finances is an absolute must. Will you merge your money or keep separate bank accounts? Who will be in charge of paying the bills and how much will each person pay? How much are you willing to share about your financial situation now and in the future? Will you have a joint budget? What is your relationship with money like? Money is the root of many issues with couples, so talk about your financial plans and concerns before moving in. Use a budgeting app like Mint to share your finances and goals with each other.
Once you’ve answered these three questions openly and honestly, make the final decision with your partner about whether you’re ready to move in together or not. Know that it’s OK to ask for what you want, whether you’re ready for the next step or you need more time. Talk to each other, make reasonable compromises and maintain your happy relationship.
This is a post by, Sally Brooks, a writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian who lives in New York City with her patient husband of ten years and her very chunky baby. Also a recovering attorney, Brooks’ work has been featured in “Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review” and “Jurist.” A lifelong wanderer, Brooks is currently working on a memoir about her Appalachian Trail thru-hike.