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?