It’s a key conversation that all couples have at some point during a long-term relationship. When do you move in together, and when is the best time to make that critical decision? And what do you need to do to prepare yourself in advance?
But knowing when to move in together isn’t necessarily some cookie-cutter answer. Some couples decide quickly, taking that pivotal step soon after dating.
Others won’t even entertain living under the same roof until after marriage. All situations have pros and cons, and it’s important to outweigh the potential risks beforehand.
So, how soon is too soon to move in together? Let’s get into everything you need to know.
9 Signs It Might Be Too Soon to Move In Together
Many ask themselves, how long should you date before moving in together? How soon is too soon to move in together? But a couple’s relationship may have less to do with specific time lengths and more with achieving appropriate milestones.
Because here’s the truth- you don’t want to ruin a good thing by moving too fast. The decision to move in together needs to be critical and thoughtful.
Moreover, haphazardly jumping into the choice can cause immense stress for everyone involved. Here are some red flags that it might be too soon.
#1 You’re in a Brand New Relationship
When you first meet a romantic partner and start dating, it’s normal to put them on a pedestal. For a few months, it can seem like everything they do is absolutely perfect.
But that euphoria starts to fade over time as you notice more issues or flaws. Eventually, your partner becomes a little more human and a little less spectacular.
This transition isn’t bad (it’s simply the effects of the honeymoon phase wearing off), but it can certainly be jarring.
It’s better to experience this evolution before assuming that moving in together is the best step. You both need to see each other for who you really are- instead of only assuming you’ll stay the best versions of yourselves.
#2 You’re Only Doing It to Save Money
Your rent or mortgage payment can get pricey, and it makes sense to want to cut down on those costs. But if that’s your primary motive to move in with someone, proceed cautiously.
In that case, it may be better to live with a roommate before moving in with your significant other.
Money shouldn’t be the top priority. It can be a variable, but if it’s the main one, you’re probably not making this choice for the right reasons.
And if things go south, that may cost you even more money (to break out of a lease, buy furniture back, deal with legal issues).
#3 Your Partner Doesn’t Talk Much About the Future
Are you planning to get married? Do you want to have children together? Do you envision living in an apartment for a few years while saving for a down payment on a house?
The answers here are obviously important. But what’s more important is that you and your partner routinely talk about what lies ahead. If they shut down- or become dismissive or defensive- it’s too soon to move in together.
They might not be serious about their commitment to you. Or, they may be unsure of what they want, which could result in a frustrating cycle of immaturity and impulsivity.
#4 You Deny Needing an Exit Strategy
Relationships end. That’s the painful truth. And if you’re not married, you may have very little (if no) legal protections when breaking up with someone.
Michelle Seidel, B.Sc, LL.B, states that cohabiting individuals have rights based on their specific states.
In some states, for instance, unmarried couples may meet the criteria of common law marriage. In community property states, couples both share an interest in the property- even if one person’s name isn’t on the title.
But she also points out that most states are “equitable distribution states,” meaning when a marriage ends, the court divides their shared assets based on what the court deems appropriate.
And so, it’s very important to have some tangible exit strategy should the relationship end.
This requires having a mature, honest conversation with one another. For example, if you have pets, who will keep them? Who will keep the couch, table, or TV if you buy furniture together?
And if one of you owns the property, it might be worth consulting with an attorney before moving the other person in.
#5 You’re Dealing With Numerous Life Transitions
Starting school, changing careers, grieving a loss, or coping with a serious injury all represent significant life transitions. These transitions (even when positive) can cause immense stress on an individual or relationship.
That said, it probably isn’t the best time to make important decisions when you’re this vulnerable.
Instead, it would be best to focus your energy on coping with the change. You don’t want to add more change (and stress) to your plate!
#6 You Don’t Know the In-Laws or Any Other Family
If the relationship is serious, you two will likely have some relationship with each other’s families.
Even if they haven’t met you yet (because they live far away or scheduling time together has been challenging), they should know about your role in your partner’s life.
It’s a red flag if you’re “hidden” to the rest of the world. This could mean your partner is doing something sneaky (like they are still in a relationship with someone else).
Or, it could be a response to shame or embarrassment. None of these reactions are optimal and don’t make for a great foundation.
#7 You Don’t Feel Like You’re Over Your Ex
Are you in your current relationship for the right reason? Do you love your partner- or are you trying to seek revenge or move on from someone else?
Living together is a significant step. You want this to be a healthy and mature decision.
If you’re still hoping your ex returns, you’ll be distracted in this process. And that will likely backfire right in your face.
#8 You Feel Pressured
You should move in with your partner because you want to take that step. If it feels forced, it probably isn’t the best idea.
Remember that pressure can be direct or indirect. Direct pressure might look like your partner trying to coerce you into living with them.
Indirect pressure might be more abstract- for instance, you may feel like you’re “supposed” to move in together after dating for a year.
#9 You’re Not Sure if You’re Entirely Happy in the Relationship
This is a serious red flag that you can’t take lightly.
If you still feel ambivalent about your partner, moving in together is too soon. And if you’re hoping that making that step improves things, be aware that your thinking is probably distorted.
Living together requires compromise, open communication, and sacrifice.
You’ll have to consistently come together as a team to make the best decisions for your home. You can’t easily escape when you’re mad at each other- you’ll be under the same roof!
So, don’t make serious commitments if you don’t feel seriously committed. You will only feel more trapped should things worsen.
How Do You Know If You Are Ready to Move In With Someone?
Maybe you’ve been smitten with one another since the very first date.
You feel serious and committed to one another and think you’re ready to make the most move.
But are you? Here are some telltale signs that moving in together is the right decision.
#1 You Have Successfully Resolved Conflicts Together
It’s unrealistic to expect you to agree with your partner on everything.
Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. Likewise, relationship problems are typical- every couple experiences their usual ebbs and flows.
But how confident do you feel in your ability to resolve conflicts? Are you two capable of managing tension respectfully? Do you remain respectful of one another?
On the contrary, those are concerning red flags if you or your partner get overly defensive, aggressive, or impatient. Those issues will likely amplify once you’re under a shared roof.
You won’t have anywhere to escape once things get heated- and it’s harder to practice healthy conflict resolution if one or both of you feel smothered. You must first learn to fix problems together before moving on to the next step.
#2 You’ve Had an Honest Conversation About Money
You know money is important, but have you and your partner discussed the nitty-gritty details of finances?
For example, who’s going to pay the rent? Who pays the utilities or groceries or replaces worn-out furniture? Are you going to be sharing finances or keeping things separate?
Brandon Coussens, LMFT, indicates that it’s common for couples to have different money styles.
For example, one person might be a spender, whereas the other gravitates towards saving. While neither style is wrong, conflicts can occur when you don’t see eye-to-eye.
You need to be aware of the potential for conflict and have plans for mitigating it if it arises.
Coussens also explains that money creates different needs, desires, and perspectives.
After all, you both have unique histories regarding finances, and you must understand each other’s motives.
Joanna Amberger, CFP, recommends that you start having routine questions about money with one another. Some of her sample questions include asking about:
- Income and salaries.
- Current assets (investments, retirement accounts, cash reserves).
- Current debts and plans to accrue more debt (like going back to school or purchasing a car)
- Ongoing monthly expenses like child tuition, alimony, medical bills, etc.
- Individual and shared financial goals.
- Budgeting priorities.
She also recommends having a joint spending plan based on your current income and expenses.
She endorses opening a joint bank account for managing cash flow and preparing for your future.
It’s important to review how you’ll use this account to manage ongoing financial obligations. Some couples subscribe to a strict 50/50 rule. Others adjust proportionally based on income.
#3 You Successfully Traveled Together
Traveling together isn’t always easy, and you can learn a lot about someone else if you’re stuck together in a foreign environment. That’s why it is a great practice to travel together before moving in.
But Melissa Cluff, LMFT, shares that travel is paramount for relational health. She cites that getting away together increases happiness, offers novel experiences, requires teamwork, and boosts overall productivity.
Beyond those benefits, travel can be eye-opening in learning more about your partner’s behavior. Maybe they get anxious when flying and like to get to the airport hours in advance, whereas you’re more laid back and carefree.
Perhaps they like buying food at the local market and cooking it themselves, but you prefer dining in finer restaurants.
These travel styles can coincide with living styles. Therefore, learning about these traits in advance can give you a better perspective about what to expect.
#4 You Have Had Practice Living Together
The decision to move in together doesn’t have to be entirely all-or-nothing.
You might be able to engage in a “trial run” by spending weekends at each other’s places. Or, you may even consider living together for a week or month before committing to the next step.
Katie Ziskind, LMFT, emphasizes the benefits of these trial runs. She states, “Moving in together is a huge decision, not one that should be done quickly.
Many people move in together and realize that they don’t like living together. To be successful, begin by spending shorter but prolonged periods overnight. Pick one person‘s residence and spend one night first.
Then before you know it, you might be spending a week there. Once you have worked up to over one week of living together, try to prolong it to two weeks of overnights together.
See how you do, see if anyone is irritable, see if people get annoyed, and get a taste for being in close quarters together.”
These trials allow you to get to know each other better. You’ll learn more about how your partner lives in their natural environment, leaving less room for frustrating surprises.
#5 The Idea of Living Together Makes More Sense Than Being Apart
Alisha Powell, Ph.D., LCSW, states, “You know when you’re ready to move in with your partner when it makes more sense to be together than apart.
Often, this means that you two have spent considerable time together and recognize that paying two sets of living expenses is no longer the best option.
You’ve spent countless weekends and have had sleepovers to establish a baseline of how your partner lives and can co-exist in the same space without major issues.”
This knowledge may be more intuitive than logical. At some point, most couples agree that it’s easier (and more enjoyable) to live under the same roof.
Some people have this realization after just a few months together. But it can take many couples 1 or two years to several years. Keep in mind that there is no “right-or-wrong” timeframe!
8 Things You Should Do Before Moving in Together
Is it too soon to move in together after 3 months? 7 months? 1 year?
As you have now realized, time is relatively arbitrary when taking this significant step in your relationship. That said, if you have decided to move in together, it’s important to complete the following tasks ahead of time.
#1 Decide Where You Will Live
It may seem easy, but that isn’t always the place. For example, will you move into your partner’s home? Will they move into yours? What about existing roommates? Are you kicking them out, or will they be sticking around?
Some couples find it easier for one person to move into the other person’s home. This can be beneficial if someone already owns the place, has it fully furnished, or needs to live there due to work or other obligations.
Others prefer starting with a blank slate. They want to shop for new furniture together and find a home that fits their needs.
Spend some time discussing the best options for your relationship needs.
Ideally, the optimal home fits your budget and is geographically accessible to your most important priorities (such as being close to your work, family, or friends).
#2 Discuss Your Values
Values are such an integral part of how we live our lives. Our values dictate our behaviors, relationships, and priorities. So, even if you don’t share all the same values with your partner, it’s important to be on the same page about what matters.
Jennifer Uhrlass, LMFT, recommends prioritizing this conversation before moving in together. She indicates that discussing values helps you “understand your partner’s inner world and learn what they feel motivated by.”
For instance, you may learn that your boyfriend intends on hosting his parents for dinner every weekend. Or, you might see how your girlfriend intends to convert one of the spare bedrooms into a craft room.
If you don’t explore these values before moving in together, you may feel trapped by unwelcome surprises.
#3 Review Unwinding Routines
Once you start living together, you will often be around each other. That can be exciting- especially if you’ve been long-distance. However, the nonstop connectivity may cause you to get on each other’s nerves.
Amy McManus, LMFT, recommends that couples identify “coming-home-after-work” rituals. She acknowledges that every person has their way of unwinding after a stressful day.
However, agreeing on how you two can come together once the workday ends can be beneficial.
She suggests couples greet with a hug and kiss and then unwind separately. However, you and your partner can negotiate an optimal strategy that honors your needs.
#4 Discuss Any Nonnegotiables
Do you have hard limits about what you will or will not tolerate? Moreover, is there anything either you or your partner refuses to do? You need to know what these are ahead of time!
For example, a vegetarian might not want anyone cooking meat in their kitchen. A light sleeper might require complete darkness and absolutely no noise after bedtime.
Knowing these ground rules in advance- and accepting them wholeheartedly- can avoid intense conflict.
Remember that this rule also extends to household tasks and chores. Gary Brown, Ph.D, LMFT, cites one common example. Let’s say your partner is adamantly against doing the dishes.
Are you committed to this task for the rest of your relationship? If so, are they willing to take on an additional chore? Or, are they able to wash dishes with you?
#5 Review Pet and Child Caretaking
If either of you has dependents, you need to discuss the division of labor when it comes to caretaking responsibilities.
Who will be responsible for feeding the cats in the morning? Who needs to pick up the children from school? Who is going to walk the dog at night?
Some of these duties might happen organically, but it’s essential to have open discussions when either of you needs clarification.
Moreover, be careful of the temptation to get a pet together just after moving in. While it’s natural for some couples to share this milestone, caring for an animal inherently requires immense responsibility. You’ll both need to consider:
- The type of breed that works best for your lifestyle.
- How owning a pet will fit with your current schedule.
- Financial considerations for pet ownership.
- Rent restrictions.
- Caretaking responsibilities with walking, feeding, cleaning up, etc.
#6 Break Down Chore Responsibilities
Chores may not seem romantic, but they are necessary for maintaining the integrity of your home. Someone has to do them! And if everything falls on one person, it’s easy to get resentful.
That said, people often have different philosophies regarding cleanliness, tidiness, or general chore routines. You may prefer a neat house without any clutter anywhere.
Your partner, on the other hand, might not mind piles of clothes or wrappers on the nightstand. You may prioritize tidying daily to keep things in check, whereas your partner might prefer spending a half-day on the weekend cleaning the entire house.
You both must agree on a reasonable plan before moving in together.
Consider creating a checklist of responsibilities and identifying who and when each person will complete them. If something isn’t working, review it quickly.
#7 Prioritize Maintaining Individual Identities
It’s easy for couples to fall into a nightly routine of lying on the couch and watching Netflix together.
And while there’s nothing wrong with this behavior, neglecting your other relationships or passions could have serious consequences for your emotional well-being. Similarly, getting stuck in a rut can make the relationship feel stale.
Try to prioritize keeping a schedule outside your relationship and encourage your partner to do the same. Having individual identities is good for your self-esteem and can make your relationship more enjoyable!
#8 Schedule Date Nights
It’s essential to keep things fresh and spontaneous to have a healthy relationship. Otherwise, you risk transforming into roommates, and it can be challenging to transition away from that dynamic.
So, don’t put date nights and other adventures on the back burner. Instead, schedule special moments together in advance.
Build up the anticipation, and have fun with it! It’s important to remember why you’re together in the first place!
Can Moving in Together Too Soon Ruin a Relationship?
How long before moving in together will drama or conflict occur? As it turns out, you might notice problems immediately.
Any drastic change can impact even the strongest relationships. If you two don’t have a solid foundation- and the ability to work out disagreements- living together will likely only exacerbate even minor problems.
Ultimately, both partners must be on board with the expectations for the relationship and the new living arrangements. Love is great, but it’s not enough, especially when the bills need to be paid and the dishes need to be washed.
Remember that moving in together requires honesty and commitment. Are you two truly devoted to building a future together? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices for your relationship’s overall health?
If not, there’s no shame in waiting! If you two are going to stay together, you likely have a long lifetime of shared experiences. Don’t rush the process before you’re ready. Keep having conversations and assessing what you both need to feel prepared.
When is it too soon to move in together? Of course, only you and your partner can truly answer that question.
But if you genuinely aren’t sure, it might be better to err on caution. Waiting is often better than doing something too prematurely.
Remember that sharing a living space with someone is inherently vulnerable.
You both need to be willing to compromise and communicate openly with one another.
Getting to that point in your relationship may take time- and that’s okay! If you’re with the right person, it will be worth the wait and the effort!