As a relationship advice columnist, I get letters all the time from people who are contemplating moving in with their significant others and need advice ironing out some of the wrinkles that come up with discussing such a step. For example, deciding how to split the bills, especially when two people earn different amounts or have varied expenses and debt, is a common issue. For those of you who are considering moving in with your partner and hope to avoid some common pitfalls and a potentially disastrous living situation (and even a breakup), here is a list of 15 things you and your significant other should do before shacking up together.
1. Articulate at least one reason besides convenience and finances to move in together.
2. Save enough money for three months' rent (security in event of a breakup).
3. Reach an agreement on how rent/mortgage and household expenses will be split.
4. Discuss your financial situations in detail.
5. Be in agreement about potential future steps in your relationship, like marriage and kids, and when you'd like for those to happen.
6. Discuss how household chores will be divvied up.
7. Clean out your closets and get rid of all the crap you no longer want or need.
8. Celebrate a one-year anniversary together.
9. Go on a trip together. For several nights. Preferably one that requires a flight or two or a long time together in a small, confined space, like a car.
10. Be comfortable doing all your private bathroom activities in each other's homes.
11. Spend a whole week together.
12. Introduce your pets (and your kids if you have them!).
13. Decide whose furniture you're keeping.
14. Pick out some new sheets and bedding that complements both your tastes.
15. Have an exit strategy (Who keeps the apartment in the event of a breakup? Will the person moving out find a new roommate for the person staying? What about the deposit on the apartment? Etc., etc.).