Notes on moving in with a SO

Notes on moving in with a SO

My boyfriend and I moved in together about eight months ago (where has time gone?!): it’s been all sorts of domestic bliss, but it’s also a pretty big life and relationship change that comes with some challenges.

This is the first time I’ve lived with a significant other (although I did have a guy roommate in Australia), and it wasn’t something that we entered into lightly. To be honest, it’s probably been more difficult for my boyfriend than for me: he’s incredibly laid-back about almost everything, whereas I can be much more intense and like things done a certain way. That said, it’s been a pretty smooth and wonderful experience: here are a few things that we’ve learned thus far!

Be ready for it

When we started dating, we both lived with our best friends about a 10-minute walk from each other (aka the most IDEAL situation); once Aly moved back to California in late 2014, I got a new (wonderful) roommate but it wasn’t quite the same. Even though we probably could have jumped the gun a little earlier, we took that extra year that I signed on my lease to talk a bunch about our plans and what we wanted and ALSO to really enjoy a final year of living apart! I know the “When Harry Met Sally” quote about “wanting the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”–but we also figured that in the grand scheme of things, we’d (hopefully!) be living together for a very long time so we might as well enjoy one more year of having our own space and more freedom within our schedules. And I’m so glad we did! I so thoroughly enjoyed all of those nights reading my book and drinking tea in my own bed.

Establish what your non-negotiables are…

I apply this principle to a lot of things in our life, especially travel: essentially, let’s be super upfront about what we aren’t willing to compromise on. When it comes to travel, we both set three things during the trip that we absolutely want to do BEFORE we leave–that way, we both know what each other’s priorities are and what we’ll be disappointed missing versus those nice-to-do activities. When it came to apartment hunting, we sat down and both listed out three things that we really wanted in our next apartment: David wanted outdoor space (whether it was shared or private), more space and amenities. I wanted great natural light, a dishwasher and outdoor space. We also both felt it was really important to NOT live in a studio: having a door to close for when we needed space (either in positive or negative situations) was important to us. Having these non-negotiables made it so much easier to narrow down potential apartments and eventually decide on a place.

…and use those to make life as easy as possible.

One reason why David didn’t push back too hard on me wanting a dishwasher, even though he didn’t really care? He knew that not fighting over who left the dishes in the sink would make our life WAY easier. As he put it, moving in together can already be tough–so let’s try to take the things that we can control and make sure that they’re set up to make life as easy and stress-free as possible.

Figure out the finance stuff upfront.

Ugh, talking about money can be THE WORST. That said, it’s one of those things that you just have to do. Our solution was to open up a joint account: we contribute the same equal amount at the beginning of the month to cover our rent and any shared household expenses (groceries, toilet paper, electricity, etc.). We also use it whenever we’re out together for dinner or drinks or when we share a taxi. It’s made life so much easier: we don’t really nickel and dime each other over anything, and it’s nice knowing that we have some shared assets. Also: we know that we both have our own accounts to spend exactly as we want, without any commentary from each other.

Get an outside perspective on design.

We worked with Homepolish as we designed our apartment, and it was super helpful to have a third party weigh in on some of our decisions. Not only did it make it easier throughout the process (especially in terms of sourcing), but I think it also helped us end up with an apartment that both of us love living in.

Maintain your own hobbies.

In the past, a real pet peeve of mine has been when friends move in with their SO’s and completely disappear and/or can’t do anything without each other. Now that I’ve lived with someone, I’m a little bit more understanding: it’s so fun to just hang out with each other, especially after a long day of work, and especially in a shiny new space. But! I think it is very important for both of us to be intentional about maintaining our own friendships and hobbies and lives–not only because I think it’s good for us individually, but I also think it makes the relationship stronger.

Buy a noise machine.

I’m an early-to-bed and early-to-rise type, whereas David is more of a night owl. Having a white noise machine has been SO key: it makes it easier for me to fall asleep while he’s still watching TV in the next room, and it makes it a little easier for him to sleep in when I’m already up bustling around the kitchen in the morning.

Be prepared to compromise.

The joys of making joint decisions! If you’ve been living with roommates, you’re likely used to this–but they suddenly become a little more complex once there are things like shared financial assets and emotional commitments. There are still things that I hate compromising on (aka I’d rather save money on electricity and sleep with a million layers and blankets, whereas David would rather just crank the heat)–but we both try to make compromises that we know will make the other person happy. It’s never a completely perfect system, but I think just being aware of it helps so much.

Do you live with an SO or are you planning on moving in soon? Any tips/lesson learned/funny stories to contribute? 

  • My boyfriend and I moved in together 6 months after we started dating! … Although it was kind of an extraordinary circumstance as we are from different countries and lived in another one. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but looking back now, almost 4 years on, I wouldn’t change a thing. We are fairly well-matched cohabitants.

    I’d definitely agree with the non-negotiables point when looking for an apartment, it makes the search much easier. However, my boyfriend was hoping we’d get a dishwasher when we moved into our new apartment, and we ended up getting one. But, funny enough, we don’t use it now because we only have 3 large plates so it doesn’t make sense to use a dishwasher because we’d run out of dishes! Who knew that you’d need lots of dishes in order for a dishwasher to be worth it? haha

    Also, like you said: sorting out your finances is so important. We actually have a spreadsheet that we use on a daily basis where we track our joint spending and at the end of the month, the person owing the money pays it to the person who spent more on joint expenses during the month. Some people think it’s tedious but I track my spending anyway so it isn’t an extra effort and this way we manage our finances completely separately. I do see the value in having a joint account, but we just haven’t had any issues with this system we established 4 years ago!

  • I went through something similar about three months ago when moving in with my SO except our apartment is nowhere near as nicely decorated as yours! I love the idea of using the joint rent account for meals out, etc. as then there is never any discussion involved. And I’m definitely copying the suggestion of getting a noise machine!

  • Mr. Big

    I typically come from the place of “if at all possible, say yes” and if I ask a question and get a “no” to one of my requests trusting that it is because it is a big deal to my SO. Keeping score and (religious) quid pro quo can lead to resentment and feeling owed things. Life doesn’t work that way.

  • Crystal Richard

    My boyfriend and I just moved in together in March and despite being 35 and 32, neither one of us had ever lived with a SO. And we did it after 3 months of dating – which was even CRAZIER. It has definitely been a learning experience too but if anything, I think it brought us even closer together. Yes, there’s compromise and he sucks at emptying the dishwasher but it’s really been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We both admit we knew each other was ‘the one’ from the first date – so this has just been a really exciting milestone that (hopefully) doesn’t end 🙂

  • Oh man. I remember when my (now) husband and I moved in together. I wish we had read this list first! Ha! Also: the white noise machine is GENIUS. Great tips, Christine!

  • Ashley G.

    My fiance and I were just marveling this week that we have lived with each other for nine years (yes, I know)! You are spot on with the finances, although I’ll add that when I was making less than him for many years, my contribution to our joint account was less so that our fundamental expenditures and discretionary spending were more proportional to our respective incomes. And now that I’m earning equal, we put in equal amounts. I think that arrangement totally helped with any awkward financial heartburn. Compromising and prioritizing are also key – we used those when we bought a house together three years ago and have never had any regrets. The white noise machine suggestion is genius. I might have to consider one of those to help ensure our future wedded bliss 🙂

  • The joint account for shared expenses is SUCH a good idea!!

  • camorose

    Totally get your point on finances–I think it’s most important to just get it all out in the open and figure out a system that works best for you. It sounds like you have a system that works great, although just the thought of tracking all my expenses in a spreadsheet gives me the heebie-jeebies! Yay to things working out, even when it’s a bit more impulsive! 🙂

  • camorose

    Noise machine is SO key when you’re on slightly different sleeping schedules 🙂 And yes, the joint account makes life just so much easier–we can use it for shared taxis, meals, etc. So much beyond just rent and toilet paper!

  • camorose

    You’re very very wise! 🙂 xoxoxo

  • camorose

    Yes! That’s so fun! When you know, you know 🙂

  • camorose

    Haha yes! I actually hated the noise machine when I first started dating my boyfriend, but I have done a complete 360 and now I LOVE it!

  • camorose

    Totally agree on the finance part. It makes sense for us to contribute equally, but I’ve heard of partners contributing more/less depending on income and I think that makes so much sense too. And yes–I’m all in on the noise machine! So great if you have slightly different sleeping schedules!

  • camorose

    Yes! Makes life so much easier, and we can use it in so many instances!