Lifestyle writer Sophie Osborne takes a look at how to survive moving in with your other half. What seems like the easiest decision in the world can often lead to arguments over the most trivial of things; power struggles ensue over where to rent, different paint shades or who should pay what. Using our handy interactive tools, you can work out what suits you both and avoid falling into traps that could test the strength of your relationship. With expert tips, real life examples and some fun advice along the way, discover how to move in, without falling out.
So, you’re in love and you enjoy each other’s company? Maybe you’re starting to think about a future under a shared roof? Living together is a big, and let’s face it scary, deal. It’s natural to feel intimidated by the challenges.
Like many couples, our path to finding and feathering our love nest wasn’t traditional. A whirlwind of all consuming L.O.V.E, stolen sleepovers and heady ‘honeymoon’ getaways. We quickly made the jump of living together but it wasn’t long before reality bit.
We moved to the Big Smoke, started new jobs and had to completely adapt our lifestyles at the same time. Our new habitat was a box room in an overpriced grotty flat-share with (ex) friends. It wasn’t a case of finding ‘the one’ for us. We’d trusted our housemate to find our home. Big mistake.
Surviving those humble, at times horrific, beginnings laid the foundations of our life together. We still laugh about the permanently sticky floors. The sink that bruised your knee each time you visited the loo. Picture a squat and you’re getting close. It sounds cheesy but we had everything we needed in that room: each other.
Since then we’ve experienced the (tears of) joy in renting our first solo apartment, the awkwardness of having to stay at the folks’, buying then selling our first property and moving again to our current home.
Sometimes the merge can be gradual. An emergency pair of pants and a spare toothbrush often becomes a dedicated drawer. Sleepovers and spare keys become the norm. You might feel like you are simulating a home situation but making the change from ‘back to mine’ to ‘back to ours’ is worth careful consideration.
Every couple is unique, but what stage should you be at to know you’re ready to live together? Honest communication is key. Have you shared your goals and been clear about your expectations for the future?
It’s inevitable that moving in together will change things. Bear in mind best behaviours will soon fade to reveal odd habits. Romance gives way to routine. Be vocal if you have deal breakers at this point - maybe it’s time to reduce that record collection or edit your wardrobe?
Couples Mediator and Relationship Expert Debra Macleod recommends asking yourselves the following questions:
- Why are we moving in together?
- What is our goal?
- Is our cohabitation meant to be temporary or permanent?
- How will we handle housework?
Couples often have different reasons for living together – one partner may simply want to save money on rent. These kinds of assumptions can sink a couple’s chances for cohabiting success before they’ve even left the shore
Of course it may seem easier and cheaper when you’re spending so much time together to just move in but convenience should be a bonus. If you're making the leap because it’s the ‘done’ thing then reconsider - you should want to live together. Trust your instincts; it should feel like a comfortable step rather than a risky leap.
Moving in together is something that's easy to do out of convenience. It makes it easier to spend time together, and it's often a lot cheaper than living on one's own. Many couples are not interested in marriage, which is fine; however, partners must be on the same page about this so that there are no conflicting expectations – Samantha Joel, MA
Congratulations if this is the stage you’re at. Not wanting to burst your blissful bubble, but finances have to come first. Money is a common cause of relationship problems so it’s crucial to get this right from the outset. There’s no avoiding these sensitive conversations to decide how you’re going to handle bills and costs. Bite the bullet, make budget plans and stick to them.
How are our expenses to be sorted out? Don’t assume that one partner paying rent and other paying bills will work out to be fair. You will also have to account for your different incomes: a 50/50 split may be not doable - Debra Macleod, Relationship Expert
Use our calculator to find out how to divide your rent and bills. Just fill in the fields below.
You’ll also need to take into account any existing debts, organise insurance and individual security. Setting up a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’ as a record of ownership and responsibility ensures that neither of you lose out financially should you separate. Setting up automatic bill payments in advance will also save any issues later on.
It's much harder to break up when you live together than when you don't. You don't want to end up continuing to date someone who isn't actually a good match for you, just because you don't want to have to split up your stuff, move out, etc. - Samantha Joel, M.A.
For more information about cohabitation agreements, you can check out advicenow.org
Search engines, handy mobile apps and useful tailored tools make property research simpler. It will soon become clear that it’s not just about ‘location, location, location’. The best way to agree on what to compromise on is by identifying your priorities. A simple way to do this is creating a ‘needs vs wants’ list - do this alone first and then create your joint criteria to refine your search.
Outside space for dog
Close to transport links
It can feel like a race but run your own
Get to know the neighbourhood
Stretching yourselves is never a wise move
Take photos and notes. Arrange viewings in daylight and in the evening
Don’t dismiss properties based on online pictures
When you move your thoughts may soon turn from undressing each other to dressing your space. It’s fun and savvy to start to visualising your interior early on.
Get creativity flowing by using imagery to help define your style. Be open to where you source inspiration - why not take a trip to an exhibition or design museum? Perhaps your favourite little café or store has details you can integrate? Books, magazines and Pinterest can be used for creating mood boards and MADExUnboxed is perfect for taking a sneak peek into real homes.
Decoration can be something enjoyed together regardless of DIY skills. Establish mutual sense of ownership, share ideas and take interest in each other’s desires; get excited about making a home together. Harmony takes teamwork but you’re bound to disagree. If you can’t agree then let a game of ‘rock, paper, scissor’ decide.
You may have very different (or even bizarre) individual tastes but this can result in some of the most creative and interesting design. By mixing and matching pieces, blending styles and eras you’ll create an environment unique to you as a couple. A well-loved home will tell your story through memories and mementoes. Art, photographs and accessories are a great way to do this and add interest.
Make sure there is at least one element in each room that really represents each of you separately - these don't have to be huge pieces, perhaps a small accessory or piece of wall art. Then work together to purchase or find the larger statement pieces. This way, your room is largely about the two of you together but still combines elements of your distinct personalities.
- Alessandra Wood, Design Historian
Select from the following preferences to find out which of MADE.COM’s
collections is best suited to you and your partner‘s tastes.
Shopping can, and should be enjoyable - the secret is in the planning. Establish what you’re working with by using a floor plan and taking measurements (this bit is important). Set budgets to keep you on track, allowing for a few luxuries. It helps to prioritise which areas need immediate attention and which can wait.
Regardless of budget, space is often the biggest luxury and cause of conflict. Clever storage hides a multitude of nick-nacks and consider multi-functional pieces and multi usage of rooms.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your cosy life together, but don’t confuse comfort with complacency. Share lazy weekends eating takeout in your pyjamas but don’t let that become the daily routine. Try to focus on being a partner first then a roommate and you'll be certain to keep that spark.
Appreciate that it won’t always be exciting but there should always be excitement. Create traditions, organise date nights, shake up your routines and try new things together - it could be as simple as trying a new recipe or switching off the TV to have a dance to your favourite tunes.
Research suggests that the key to maintaining the "spark" in long-term relationships is to continue to do new, exciting things together. Break the routine by doing something that's a little out of your comfort zone. - Samantha Joel, M.A.
Allocate dedicated chores based on preference but make changes to your responsibilities whenever possible to keep it enjoyable. Personal space is essential - just because you live together don’t feel like you need to spend 24/7 together. If space is an issue then simply request some - whether it’s a long soak in the tub or a quiet spot to read in, everyone needs a private sanctuary.
Respect and support each other as individuals making time for separate social activities and hobbies but demonstrate interest. Maintaining a joint social life having friends that you see regularly is a great way to have fun as a couple. Open up your home to entertain guests.
Keep your environment fresh with seasonal updates and new accessories. Rotate furniture layouts (aka ‘musical chairs’) and reconsider details; small changes make a big difference.
Design Historian Alessandra Wood recommends:
- Layer lighting so you can control the atmosphere and mood of your space. Perhaps you'd like a romantic dinner or bright lights under which to play a game. Use a mixture of overhead lighting, lamps, and task lighting to create innumerable atmospheres to strike a mood within your space
- Don't be afraid to indulge in a few special luxuries that will make your home feel like a fancy spa. Great towels and sheets, fluffy blankets and throws, and plush rugs will make your home feel like a paradise. When you love where you live and all the things inside, it makes living with another person much easier!”
All images courtesy of MADE Unboxed