Moving in with another person is a big deal. You’re connecting two or more separate lives in a very real way. Whether it’s a friend, family member, roommate or romantic partner, it’s hard to move in with someone without some anxiety. After all, how do you know they’re not a horrible roommate? How do you know they won’t immediately adopt fourteen cats and never rinse their dishes?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guard against all potential moving-in-together misfortune. There is a way to guard against most of it, however: talking about it! Ask the important questions before paperwork is signed instead of after. Here are the eight questions you need to ask–and answer!–before moving in with any roommate.
Why are we talking about moving in together?
There’s a surprising amount of psychology research behind the reasons roommates (couples especially) move in together. In research on cohabitation done by the Barna Group, five common reasons were listed for people to move in together. They were: as a test, to spend more time together, convenience, to raise a child together, or to step up commitment.
There is no guaranteed “right” answer to the question of why. What does matter, however, is that your expectations are lined up. If one of you thinks your relationship is changing and the other is looking to lessen their financial burden, things don’t line up. That’s when issues can start occurring.
Are you aware of your roommate’s biggest pet peeves?
No matter how much you love or enjoy someone, no one is without flaws. Be honest with each other about the things you find annoying. Be honest about the things you prioritize, too.
Work together to make sure you can address these arguments-in-the-making before they happen. If one of you is a slob and the other a clean freak, how will you address it? If one of you hates tigers and the other only eats Frosted Flakes, what are you going to do about it? Have a big, long talk about these things with your roommate before it’s too late.
Are both roommate’s names going to be on the lease?
This will be a discussion of both trust and logistics. Things don’t always work out the way you plan, even if you have the best of intentions. If only one of you is on the lease, changing the situation will be easier if something comes up.
That type of realism can be hard to consider when making a life-changing decision like this one. If you don’t trust the person you’re with to pay their rent unless their name is on the lease, that’s also a red flag. Figure it out before you’re signing the papers to avoid making a decision you’ll regret later.
Who will pay for what?
You can spend a lot of time with someone and not know the reality of their spending habits. Write down and detail which roommate is responsible for what before you do anything else. Include who will pay what amount, to whom, when.
Avoid future money arguments by laying everything out now.
Which roommate is responsible for managing the bills?
Once you’ve determined how you’ll split up the costs, you have to decide who will actually pay those amounts, and when and how. Discuss who’s paying for what and make a plan before the move. Remember to cover the utility bills, internet, moving costs, and more.
Even if your particular situation makes payment plans feel so obvious that you don’t have to talk about them, we recommend having the conversation anyway. It’s always better to be on the level before misunderstandings occur. You don’t want to miss a bill payment because you both thought the other roommate was going to pay it!
How will we divide up the responsibilities?
Cohabiting successfully is all about communication and met expectations. Figure out who will do what before these things need to be done. This can include responsibilities like cleaning, vacuuming, buying groceries and any other chores.
Figure out who prefers doing certain things and make an agreement from there. It’ll also be good to figure out who is doing what when planning your move as well.
What are our rules regarding having guests over?
When people move in together, they sometimes don’t realize the compromise that comes with cohabitation. You won’t be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Lay out your expectations regarding guests and respect before a problem arises.
For big gatherings or parties, give each roommate as much notice as possible. Respect each other’s needs and social personalities. If one roommate is extroverted and the other introverted, how will you handle it?
How will we address potential arguments or conflict?
Life isn’t perfect, which means that at some point conflict will happen. Deciding how you’ll handle conflicts before they happen is the best way to keep them from getting out of hand.
How you decide to handle them depends on you and your needs. You could agree to use a mediator, ask your parents or close friends for input, or agree to always have a means of stepping away when things get too heated.
Once you’ve had a healthy discussion answering these questions, you should be good to go. All you’ll need to do next is find the right place and hire the right moving company.
Bekins has years of experience helping individuals turn multiple living spaces into one. Give us a call today if you want to learn more about our many packing and moving services.