A couple is moving in together. They’re carrying a chair into the living room that’s filled with moving boxes and a matching sofa.

Moving In Together? 14 Relationship-Saving Tips From the Experts

Moving Tips and Hacks

by Kristin Hanes Posted on June 11, 2024

So you’re thinking of moving in with your boyfriend? Congrats! Moving in together is both an exciting and scary proposition. Up until now, you’ve probably only seen your beloved in their own environment and, possibly, on their best behavior. Moving in together means seeing all of your partner’s sides every single day.

Cohabitation is the second-most popular household arrangement in the U.S., right behind opposite-sex married households, at almost 12 percent, as more and more couples are choosing this path for a longer duration before getting married (if they do so at all). 

Moving in together presents its own set of unique challenges, from splitting chores to divvying up money to figuring out how much time to spend together.

We spoke to three relationship experts for tips and advice on making moving in with a boyfriend go as smoothly as possible. From questions to ask before moving in together to other things to discuss before moving in together, consider this your moving-in-with-a-boyfriend checklist.

A couple looks out over the city skyline from their balcony. Tall buildings are in the background.

Commitment or convenience? One of the things to discuss before moving in together.

1. Decide, Rather Than Slide, Into Moving In Together.

Sometimes, moving in with a boyfriend is done out of convenience. There can be all kinds of practical reasons for moving in together — your lease is up, you spend so much time at your partner’s place anyway, you’ll both save money, your roommate just moved out, etc. Maybe you don’t even live in the same city, and one of you is ready to move cross-country due to the inconvenience and expenses of traveling back and forth.

Regardless of all the external factors, it’s important to make a conscious decision that moving in together is the right next step for your relationship.

“You want to make sure it makes sense toward the arc of commitment in your lives,” says Dr. Alexandra H. Solomon, Licensed Clinical Psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. “I want people to find ways to make space for a conversation about why they’re moving in together. Looking at the ‘why’ instead of just the pragmatic aspects of cohabitation.”

Lisa Concepcion, a Certified Professional Life Coach with LoveQuest Coaching, says she often sees clients moving in together way too fast and for the wrong reasons.

"I see a lot of people moving in with their boyfriend because they want emotional nurturing or a mother/father figure to take care of them," she says. "Others might be inclined to depend on their partner financially."

Having a conversation about the goals and the whys of moving in together is a big first step toward making cohabitation a reality. Does one person think moving in together means marriage, while the other doesn’t? Would you rather be engaged before moving in with your partner? Or are you both okay with simply living together with no further commitment? 

Make sure you feel ready — financially and personally — to join lives with another person.

Q: How long should you date before moving in together?
Most couples move in together a year or two into dating. Moving in with your girlfriend or boyfriend, though, should be determined by emotional connection rather than longevity. When couples move in together is less important than why they move in together. Whenever you both decide that you want to live together, it’s smart to start the conversation months before you actually end your lease and pack up, so you have plenty of time to discuss logistics like finances, chores, and contingency plans — and go through this moving-in-together checklist.

2. Find the Right Move-In Date.

When do couples move in together? Some wait years, while others jump the gun and do so after only a few weeks. Even if you’re excited about moving in with your boyfriend, it’s best to give the process some time, so you and your partner can go through the important things to discuss before moving in together. Plus, you’ve got some packing to do!

Concepcion recommends signing a lease together on a new place and doing so intentionally. “Look at when your leases expire and plan a date when you’ll move in together. If one of your leases ends sooner, ask your landlord for a few extra months, during which you can pay rent month to month. Then, if the time rolls around and one of you gets cold feet, you still have a place to live,” she advises.

A couple is taking a break from moving in together and eating pizza. They’re sitting on the couch and surrounded by moving boxes and other items that have just been unpacked.

Are you moving into a new space together — or will the space be new to only one of you?

3. Figure Out Where You’ll Move In Together and What You’ll Bring.

Many people decide to move into the other person’s house or apartment, but if you decide to do so, there are some things to discuss before moving in together.

“In an ideal world, it’s nice to move into a space that’s fresh without any memories of the past,” says Minal Nebhnani, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Honest Space Psychotherapy. “But if someone is moving into someone else’s space, treat it as a new space rather than someone else’s old space. The person moving in should have an equal say about what stays and what goes, how to decorate, etc. They should feel the space is theirs as much as it is their partner’s.”

Have a conversation about which furniture you’ll bring, what you’ll store, and what you’ll buy together. Moving in together is a great time to downsize, get rid of stuff, or get a storage unit to keep larger items you won’t need in your new place together. You’ll also want to plan your moving process, whether you’re moving locally or long-distance. Will you need to rent a truck, hire full-service movers, or use a portable moving container to make downsizing and storage easier?

4. Talk About Chores and Money.

Chores and money are major fight triggers in a relationship, and it’s important to hash out the details before moving in with your boyfriend. Who will do the laundry, or will you each handle your own? Who’s in charge of cooking and doing dishes? Who takes out the trash? These questions to ask before moving in together should be hashed out before the big transition. 

Solomon encourages couples to make an agreement rather than a compromise when talking about chores. “Agreement implies both people are invested in the plan, while compromise highlights the fact that both people aren’t getting what they want. It can be a good idea to write out your agreement so everything’s clear and on paper.”

According to Solomon, that’s because who does what around the house can trigger old childhood wounds.

“When couples move in together, it’s where old family issues are played out,” says Solomon, author of Loving Bravely: Twenty Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want. “If I’m cooking and you’re watching TV, I feel you have become my absent father, and I’m my overworked, resentful mother.”

Money is also a big issue to talk about before moving in together. Have an open and honest dialogue about who is paying for what. Will you split the rent, or will one person pay rent and the other be in charge of food and bills? Do you put money into a joint account for household expenses or do you keep your own accounts? 

“However detailed you can get about the way things are going to operate, the better,” says Concepcion. “This is a huge, necessary conversation, and people need to be on the same page before they cohabitate.”

 A happy couple standing together by the window, looking out at the day as they enjoy their morning coffee.

Live together for a week or two before deciding that moving in with your boyfriend is the right choice.

5. Do a Test Run.

Maybe you and your boyfriend have taken some trips together or spent a weekend binge-watching your favorite movies and enjoying takeout, but that’s not the same as sharing your day-to-day life.

Live together for a week or two before deciding that moving in with your boyfriend/girlfriend is the right choice. Go into the exercise with the mindset that you’ll each behave as you would in your regular homes. This gives you time to get to know each other on a deeper level, and you’ll have time to go through some questions to ask before moving in together officially. 

6. Make Contingency Plans In Case of a Breakup.

Nobody wants to talk about breaking up when you’re on the cusp of something exciting like moving in together, but these types of conversations are important. 

“People think they are going to jinx their relationships if they talk about breaking up,” says Solomon. “There is a way to talk about it. For example, you could say: ‘While all our energy is going into making this a successful, wonderful next step, we do need to talk about what happens if it doesn’t work out.’”

She recommends keeping money separate, at least at first. Later on, couples can create a joint checking account to deal with household bills.

Concepcion says furniture and the lease agreement are also important topics in case of a breakup. “Make sure you both have an understanding as to who will get the furniture, who leaves and who stays in the apartment, do you forfeit the security deposit, and what happens if you’re buying property together and you’re both on the deed.”

If moving in with your boyfriend means also buying property together or taking out a mortgage, she says you may want to consider hiring an attorney to draft an agreement that can stand up in court.

“Make sure this is an open, honest, and loving conversation,” says Concepcion.

Q: Is it common to break up after moving in together?
Breakups are no fun to think about, but they do happen all the time. Recent studies show that around 40 percent of first marriages end in divorce, so if moving in together is a step in that direction, breaking up is a real possibility. While not as exciting to discuss as what kind of couch to get for your new shared place, talking about what will happen if you break up — who moves out, how you’ll split things up, etc. — and writing it down in an agreement is a wise way to keep things civil in the event that does happen.

A woman is having some “me time” by doing the child’s pose on a yoga mat. There is a small plant behind her in the background.

Moving in with your boyfriend shouldn’t mean losing your individuality.

7. Remember To Make Time for “Me Time.”

Moving in together is an exciting step in a relationship, and you may be tempted to spend all your waking hours with the other person.

But it’s still important to maintain your own sense of individuality. Create a little corner of the space that’s all yours, like a reading nook or a desk.

Also, be sure to schedule time away from the other person. 

“Continue seeing your friends, going out on your own, having your own life and hobbies,” says Nebhnani.

Plus, keeping up with your own friends and hobbies ensures you always have something new and exciting to talk about at the dinner table.

8. Rethink Self-Talk.

No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, reevaluating language can be a big part of moving in with your significant other.

“I have been a couples therapist for over two decades, and what I know for sure is that the word ‘lazy’ needs to be banned from our relational vocabulary,” Solomon wrote in an article on rethinking laziness. “When we chalk our partner’s behavior up to laziness, we’ve written the entire story — beginning, middle, and end — and left no room for our partner to co-author with us.”

In some scenarios, you might even be tempted to label yourself as lazy. In either case, reevaluating your language is a productive way for you both to feel heard.

“Resist the urge to say, ‘You didn’t put the fresh roll of toilet paper on the thingy. You’re so lazy!’ Instead, ask what therapists call a constraint question: ‘What keeps you from putting the fresh roll of toilet paper on the thingy?’” writes Solomon. “This question positions you and your partner on the same side of the issue. You are inviting your partner to explore with you the blocks to what you perceive as a simple behavior.”

A couple is discussing serious issues in their kitchen. The man is unloading the dishwasher while the woman is leaning against the island.

Dividing household chores is one way to keep resentment at bay.

9. Expect Bumps Along the Road.

Do relationships change when you move in together? They often do, because you can no longer always be on your best behavior. Also, being together more often means more opportunities for disagreements.

A lot of people approach moving in together, getting married, and having kids with a highly romanticized viewpoint. This is a dangerous way to approach cohabitation because you’ll get frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

“I want couples to anticipate and expect that real life is far messier and bumpier than the idealized view,” says Solomon. “There’s an element of sharing domestic life that is just a grind because there are so many points of possible friction. My way vs. your way, my definition of normal vs. yours, my needs vs. your needs. There are just so many more opportunities for conflict.”

When you do have conflict in your relationship, Solomon wants to remind you to focus on the positive and what’s going well. “When we’re scared, we tend to focus on what’s hard, our losses, or the downsides to a situation. Instead, try to focus on the good things.”

Expecting bumps when you’re living together means you’ll be able to handle them better rather than feeling surprised and let down.

10. Embrace Vulnerability.

Solomon touches more on what real life after moving in with your boyfriend looks like in her blog and gives three tips to keep in mind.
While going through the things to discuss before moving in together, remind each other that — while there will be plenty of “me” time — you and your boyfriend will also see each other at all times of the day. 
For some, this won’t feel like the end of the world, but for others, it can be terrifying. Knowing that you have the strength to be seen, especially by your partner, is essential when you’re thinking about moving in together.
It can require a lot of soul searching and maybe even meeting with a couples’ therapist.
“We know that relationship conflict is inevitable, and we know that transitions tend to spike conflict,” writes Solomon. “What matters less is if you and your partner experience friction. What matters more is how you handle it.”
She goes on to outline three steps — let yourself be seen, ask yourself the “Mirror Question,” and focus on the good. 

Give Yourself Some Grace.

The first step is going to be accomplished fairly easily. If you wake up anxious, decide to skip that workout, or simply have a bad day at work, they’re going to be there through it all, and that can be incredibly uncomfortable.
“Your best and bravest path is to be honest and direct when you are struggling… Remind yourself that you don’t need to bring your A-game in order to be worthy of love,” writes Solomon. 

See Yourself More Clearly.

From there, the “Mirror Question” comes into play. Really, it’s as simple as getting into the habit of asking yourself, “What is it like to be with me right now?” By doing that, it’s a lot easier to understand the impact that your words and actions are having at home, and it can open the door for more conversations during this transition. 

Remain Positive.

Finally, sometimes focusing on the good is the best possible thing you can do.
“When fear is in the driver’s seat, it is easy to become hyper-focused on the bumps and miss out on the blessings,” Solomon writes.
If you grew up in a home that encouraged criticism over love, make it a habit to let your partner know when they’re doing well. It helps foster a safe environment over an icy one.

A couple is sitting together on a couch having a deep conversation. They’re both turned toward each other, and the man is raising his hands while he speaks.

Talking about feelings can be uncomfortable, but it prevents bigger issues later.

11. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Moving in together means there will be lots to discuss — constantly! You’ll be learning as you go along, possibly discovering things about your partner you never knew before. While some of those things might be cute, others might be downright annoying. 

What’s important is that you communicate.

“People are going to have a lot of new feelings they haven’t thought about or expressed before,” says Nebhnani. “All these new feelings are natural, but it's good to talk about them rather than bottling them up and exploding later. Choose a time every week for a check-in. You can have a running list of things that bother you, and during check-in time, bring them up with your partner.”

Communication can make or break a relationship, especially during times of stress. While there are plenty of things to discuss before moving in together, the true test will be how well you keep having those conversations long after you sign the lease and unpack your boxes.

12. Talk About the Future.

While you’re communicating, one of the things to discuss before moving in together is what happens down the road. Do you see moving in with your boyfriend as a path to marriage? Does he feel the same way? Once married, do you want a family? It may sound daunting to mention these questions and expectations to your boyfriend — perhaps because you’re anxious about how he’ll respond. But not knowing his mindset before moving in together can lead to even tougher conversations down the road. 

13. Know How To Approach Conflict.

If you find that you’re struggling, adopt a “we” perspective over a “me” perspective — but don’t carry that language into your conversations. It might sound cheesy, but if you’re learning to healthily approach conflict for the first time, “I” statements are important to incorporate into your vocabulary.

Remember, when moving in with your partner, you’re going to be approaching any issues together. Your feelings, however, are still your own. It’s important to keep in mind that their actions are making you feel a certain way, but they don’t define your entire relationship.

“It’s really easy to point a finger and see what our partner is doing,” writes Solomon. “It’s harder to see how our words and actions contribute to a problem.”

A man and woman are happily laughing and dancing together in their living room.

Moving in with your partner is work… and play!

14. Above All, Have Fun!

While moving in together poses its own set of challenges, it’s also a unique opportunity to really get to know and have fun with your partner. Now that you’ve made it through this moving-in-together checklist, think of new and exciting things to do together, like ballroom dancing, getting a scuba certification, or taking up an outdoor activity like cycling.

Moving in with your boyfriend is also a great opportunity to get to know yourself and your own triggers. A partner provides a mirror that shows you what you need to improve.

When done with open communication and a positive attitude, moving in together just might be the best decision you’ve ever made. If you’d like to learn more tips and tricks for making the move happen, check out the rest of the PODS Blog.

Kristin Hanes is a freelance writer and blogger living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in SF Gate, Marie Claire, and Realtor.com, among other publications.

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