The art of moving in together

Private Property South Africa
Veronica Logan

Moving in together is a big step for any couple, and it’s easy to get lost in the hype and excitement of sharing a space with your significant other 24/7. That said, signing a lease and moving in together can become stressful and less than pleasant without proper planning or consideration.

Here are a few things to consider when taking the plunge:

1. Living habits

While you may already have a good idea of how your partner does life, getting to grips with their habits which you aren’t normally exposed or privy to, is absolutely essential. Before moving in together, make every effort to understand your partner’s day-to-day behaviours and tendencies in order to remove any unwelcome or unexpected surprises later on. For example, their tendency to leave their shoes at the door or their habit of eating in bed should be brought up and disclosed before you sign the lease.

2. Money management

Money is probably one of the biggest areas for potential conflict when it comes to combining two sets of income and expenses. The key here however is communication and simply requires a frank and open conversation (or three) about each other’s financial situations, spending habits, needs and plans for savings. Furthermore, discussing what you can afford and how to navigate shared expenses is sure to stand you in good stead for the commitment ahead. If possible, aim to come up with a budget prior to moving in, that takes into consideration your combined income and expenses. Note that your budget might not be neatly split down the middle as one partner, more often than not, will earn more and therefore can opt to take on a larger portion of the expenses. Regardless, try and agree on how best to manage your money as far in advance as possible.

Read more: Money saving tips

3. Where to call home

Another potentially tricky topic to navigate is where the two of you decide to live. Ideally, a clean slate is always best as it gives a sense of freshness and newness to both parties. However, this doesn’t mean an established home of one partner can’t be considered, especially if you both agree that there’s no need for a complete change up. That being said, it may be worthwhile re-decorating the existing space so that it feels like home for both of you. Also, be sure to consider factors such as travel time to work, pet requirements, safety etc, particularly if you are the partner who is moving in. On the other hand, if neither of your existing homes suffice, it’s worthwhile working through potential locations and requirements before beginning your search.

4. What to do with your stuff

While moving in together combines two lives, it also realistically combines two households and therefore two sets of potential junk and clutter. With this in mind, and once you have settled on where you will ultimately end up, its worthwhile taking stock of what you own respectively as well as where there are duplicates. There’s a chance that you’ll both have similar furniture items, kitchen utensils or crockery, for example. This could therefore be a great way to declutter and get rid of any unnecessary items that you’ve been hanging onto before moving (see our article Lessons on decluttering from New York Times best seller Marie Kondo on how to do just that!). Not only will that save you from moving any superfluous items, but it adds to the feeling of a fresh, clean start for both you and your partner.

See more: Essential moving tips

5. House rules

If we’re honest, nobody likes thinking about or addressing the topic of “house rules”, however by agreeing upon and setting some basic rules upfront - for example who’s responsible for taking out the trash or doing dishes - you are sure to avoid any unpleasant confrontations or disagreements in the long term. Understanding what’s expected and important to each other is key in promoting a happy and conflict-free home life, as well as fostering a sense of compromise on those non-negotiable chores.

6. Re-decorate together

As mentioned, it is key for both partners to feel comfortable and settled wherever you choose to call home. The easiest way to achieve this is to re-decorate and choose the look and feel for your new space together, even when moving into the existing home of one partner. This will ensure that your space feels like a true reflection of the both of you and is not dominated by one person’s aesthetic preference. It can also be a really fun project to work on and once complete, will go a long way to cementing the feeling of togetherness and unity.

7. Consider your own space

Even though the point of moving in together is no longer living separate lives in separate places, it’s still really important to consider and make room for a quiet and private space for yourself. This could be an entirely separate room inside your home i.e. a study or even a bench in the corner of the garden, where you can read or just enjoy time alone. If neither are possible, be sure to venture out and continue with any personal activities or hobbies you were pursuing on your own before moving in together. Access to personal space is key to any successful relationship, so don’t feel that just because you are now living under the same roof that you are obliged to spend every moment of every day together.

Even though living together does take a lot of planning, discussion, compromising and perhaps even personal growth, the beautiful thing about it is that you get to do it together with the person you love and enjoy spending your time with. By taking stock of the above considerations and keeping a clear line of open communication, it’s bound to make the leap of moving in together all the more worth the while.

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