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Tips for Moving in Together: Your First Year

Pamela Hoffine-Hurd, CMA,  Sr. Mortgage Advisor

August 22, 2022 — 8 min read

So, you've decided you're moving in with your partner? Sharing a space with your significant other may sound like a blast, but it comes with unique challenges, like learning how to divvy up chores, or how to split finances. If you're looking forward to your first year living together, use these tips for moving in together to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

How Soon Should You Move in With Your Partner?

While the answer to this question is unique to each couple, about 50 percent of couples in the U.S. that eventually move in together will do so after about a year, according to a study from Stanford University. The study says that about 70 percent of couples will move in together after approximately two years.

However, what's right for one couple isn't right for every couple. Numbers aside, before moving in with your partner, make sure you understand how your significant other lives. While some partners click instantly as roommates, others need more time to work through personal issues. During your first year living together, you will see your partner at their best and at their worst. Prepare yourself ahead of time to make a hard choice if your personalities don't mesh or if there are complications when it comes to figuring out how to split finances.

"Sit down and ask yourselves why you want to live together," Kim Egel, a marriage and family therapist, said. "The secret ingredient is being clear, which means don't try to figure out things after you move in together. Figure it out before."

Tips for Moving in Together: Your First Year Living Together

From the moment you step foot across the front door, your first year living together is about getting to know each other. It will be full of changes and adjustments as you adapt to each other's habits and routines. If you think you're ready to move in with your partner, make sure you're on the same page about practical matters.

Before moving in with your partner, set realistic expectations.

Expectation: I'm going to lose my independence.

Reality: Many people in committed relationships fear losing their individuality, but if you're intentional about continuing to do the things that make you happy, you'll bring your best and most fulfilled self home to your partner.

Expectation: Your style and tastes will meld seamlessly. Reality: Odds are, that won't be the case. You may dream about a coral-toned bathroom, but your partner may be dead-set on their Seahawks-themed bath mat. Expectation: It will be simpler to manage money under one roof. Reality: When you live together, it's harder to ignore discrepancies in money management styles. Additionally, since you're splitting more than the dinner bill, the issue of who pays for what becomes a bigger conversation. Talk about expectations before moving in together and set up a time to check in about it in the future.

Before moving in together, make sure you understand each other's histories.

Your partner probably grew up in a different environment than you, with different people, priorities, and perhaps different values. If you're serious about living together, it's your job to find a middle ground.

It's natural to believe that the way you learned to do things n your childhood home is "the right way" to do something, but in most cases, it's not. Typically, there are many different ways to complete a task. Before you digest additional tips for moving in together, make sure you understand that your partner may have strong feelings about certain topics or day-to-day routines. That's okay; reassure them that their feelings are just as valid as yours, then work together to find common ground.

Father, mother and toddler girl relaxing in living room during their first year living together.

When you first move in together, give each other grace and time to adjust.

Cuddling on the couch and watching the sunset together is nice, but sharing a bathroom and paying bills together? That's real. Moving in with your partner is a big transition, and if you don't have grace, you may grow resentful. If it's your first year living together, be prepared to adjust to a new, more dynamic communication style. You must tell each other what the house rules are from your perspective, and then listen to what their rules are; if they break a rule, gently point it out, but don't assign blame.

More Tips for Moving in Together

Learn to work around each other's sleep and work schedules.

First comes love, then comes.... a frank discussion about the realities of living together? Having different working or sleeping hours is more common than you think. In fact, did you know that about 30 percent of couples have different bedtimes, according to a study from the United Kingdom?

Instead of getting upset about your different hours, use that energy to plan future time together, whether it's a couple of meals together or a long weekend getaway. If a lot of time passes between seeing each other, find small ways to show the other person affection, like making a home-cooked meal or buying them a thoughtful gift, like flowers.

Decide how to split finances and household expenses.

On our list of tips for moving in together, this one's a biggie. Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it can contribute to potential conflict if left unaddressed. To successfully cohabitate and build trust, you must talk about your money habits and take steps to develop a clear budget. When creating a budget and/or splitting finances, here are some important questions to ask each other:

  • Growing up, what message did your parents communicate about money, and how does that impact your approach to finances today?
  • Do you like to save money, or do you generally have little to no money left at the end of the month?
  • How much are you willing to spend on furniture?
  • What's your annual income and what are your outstanding debts?
  • What are your long-term financial goals?
  • What is your current credit score?

If you're afraid that talking about how to split finances may upset your partner, your relationship may not be ready for this next step. You should also talk about the degree to which you want to split your finances--do you want to divide up shared expenses, or is it time to open up a joint account?

Figure out how to handle chores.

It's tempting to just assume chores will get done, but it's important not to sweep this discussion under the rug (pun intended). More often than not, there are tasks that fall through the cracks; by having a conversation upfront, you'll help to mitigate future arguments and/or misunderstandings.

If your partner has a different schedule, don't force them to follow yours. Instead, opt for a more flexible arrangement. Talk about the things that need to get done and determine the best time to do them. You should work around each other's schedules and let your partner know why that time works for you. You should also try not to criticize how your significant other accomplishes a task; if you don't like the way they're doing it, ask if they'd like to switch things up, but don't immediately launch into all the ways they're "doing it wrong".

Close up of two women unrolling carpet after deciding to move in with their partner.

Learn how to handle conflict.

"Why can't they do their own laundry?"

"Why do I have to wash all of the dishes by myself?"

To be honest, these are petty complaints, but over time, they can accumulate and take their toll on a relationship. The best solution to this problem, and perhaps the most applicable of our tips for moving in together, is learning how to compromise.

  1. Talk beforehand about how you will work together to handle these situations, and agree that you will help each other to do that.
  2. Learn to walk away when you start to become angry. Say something like," I'm just too angry to talk right now, can we please talk about this later?"
  3. Don't discuss sensitive topics when you're tired and/or hungry; instead, find a time when you're both comfortable and relaxed. That way, the conversation is less likely to escalate into an argument.
  4. Don't be too proud to apologize. You may feel that you're in the right, and indeed, you may actually be in the right--however, finding a way forward that works for both of you are more important. If you're able to apologize, it will help your partner feel like they've been heard and that you empathize with their feelings.

Learn how to set boundaries.

If you've been dating a while, you already know--boundary setting is a hallmark of a healthy relationship. We're unique from each other; while one person may need more alone time than the other, their partner may be more hesitant when discussing how to split finances. You're showing respect for each other when you take the time to communicate your boundaries and understand your partner's boundaries. It may be as simple as asking your partner to refrain from eating your leftovers, or more complex, like informing them that you need space for yourself.

Whether you're thinking about moving in with your partner next week or next year, your neighborhood Mortgage Advisor is here to help. Reach out today to get started, or visit our blog for helpful homeowner tips.

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