In New York, finding a good roommate is tough — let alone finding a roommate at all. For the most part people pair off with friends of friends of friends, or find someone on Craigslist. CRAIGSLIST?! I can hear my family shrieking now.
There might come a time, though, where you find yourself wanting to move in with your partner — out of ease or simply because you’re ready for the next step.
This past August, me and my boyfriend moved in together after a little over a year and a half of dating. The $15 cabs to and from each other’s apartments were starting to rack up and I was basically taking over his closet with my stuff day by day.
The decision to make it official and say goodbye to our single days of living with countless roommates was a big one. And while everything is smooth sailing living together now (he’s the best roommate I’ve ever had!), I think it might have been a different story if we moved in together after just months of dating. Establishing a stable base, becoming overly comfortable with each other and asking the important questions was key before making the leap of faith:
Do you see our relationship lasting at least another year?
Leases are typically a year in New York and they’re very tough to get out of. If we were to break our lease now, the cost would be around $5,000. These landlords don’t mess around! Of course in extreme situations, I’m sure they’d be a little flexible, but they’re not going to give you a hug and let you move out if you get mad over a heated argument with your boyfriend/girlfriend. And for a lot of young, working professionals in the city, $5,000 might be more than they’ll have saved in 5 years.
Speaking of arguments, do you settle them fairly?
Everyone in relationships has their moments where they get into fights over something — silly or not. But when things get tough, you might not be able to go to your bedroom and shut the door (!) or into another area of the house. Apartments in New York are so tiny — we don’t even have a real bedroom with a real door; it is technically a studio floor plan with a “home office” which only fits our bed and two small nightstands. There’s a sliding glass wall which basically just blocks off the hallway from the room if we’re having guests over.
If you do have a tense relationship, I would first recommend you wait to move in together or don’t do it until you solve your problems. It’s important you are both willing to compromise or be comfortable pouting next to each other on the couch because going somewhere else to cool down might not be an option. (Thankfully three weeks out of the month, I’m very easy to get along with so we spend most of our free time glued at the hip on our couch.)
Yes, Jessica, we know space is limited! But I’m going to say it again.
Combining our belongings definitely took some streamlining. I wouldn’t say either of us are pack rats (it’s hard to be in the city) but when we both brought all of our stuff and tried to shove it into one closet, space got a little tight. I’d suggest first cutting down on your shoes (how dare I suggest that, I know!). But shoes are so awkward to cram somewhere and when you do, you forget they exist anyway. Next, go through your clothes and be serious about tossing or donating things you haven’t worn in the past year or two. Then go through all of the “stuff” that you have, but don’t really need. Some of the things I kissed goodbye: a weighted hula hoop (LOL), random Halloween decor, my broken Keurig that I swore I’d fix, and bags of clothes and shoes.
Decide who keeps what.
We still joke about whose mattress we kept (mine). This was one of the harder decisions because one of us had to toss our mattress since there’s obviously never going to be enough space for two unless we win the lottery. Whenever I say I slept funny, he says, “If only we kept my mattress.” Thankfully that was the only piece of furniture we had to decide on — we had to buy everything else once we moved in.
Budget before you buy.
Agreeing on a budget is very important since in the city most of your paycheck goes toward rent. I was so desperate in my previous living situation because of the condition of the apartment that it seemed like I was willing to fork over anything I could to live in a nicer place. Thankfully, Mr. Finance Major kept me in check while we were looking and we only ended up going over our budget by $200.
Sit down and take a look at your bank accounts and come up with firm numbers that will work. I’d recommend finding a situation where you can always split the rent equally. One partner paying more will just create tension down the road — especially if the one paying less doesn’t do the dishes!
Most of all, think to yourself, “Would I be excited to come home everyday and see the same face — whether it be happy, sad, grumpy, etc?” If the answer is yes, you’re off to a good start.
And a word to the wise: if after you move in together you’re going to have anything delicious lying around — say, a chocolate donut — make sure you hide it before you take a nap. Otherwise that “door” might come in handy.
What other questions do you have about moving in together? Comment below!
Photo: Soppy, Phillippa Rice