Deciding to move in together is a big step, so with a checklist at hand, you can assess just how ready you are.
Every couple has its own milestones. One of the biggest is the decision to order that moving truck and co-create a shared living space.
Should you move in together? There’s a lot to factor in and no one-size-fits-all timeline. But there are several signs that might indicate that you’re ready.
This question is very individual to each couple, says Kim Egel, a marriage and family therapist in Cardiff, California.
“However, if you think of a new relationship as a life transition, then you can give the relationship at least 1 year to wait to make the leap to cohabitate,” she says.
How long do most couples date before living together?
“Same gender couples, on average, move in together within 6 months. For all other couples, it seems to be on average about 2 years,” says Dr. Brenda Wade, a psychologist in San Francisco, California.
Research from 2017 found that from 2011–2015, 70% of marriages among women under 36 years old started with at least 3 years of cohabitation before marriage.
Signs you’re both ready to move in together
It’s not a matter of when you should live together but why, says Wade.
“Sit down and ask yourselves why you want to live together,” she says. “The secret ingredient is being clear, which means don’t try to figure out things after you move in together. Figure it out before.”
You may be ready to move in together if you’re on the same wavelength about:
- alone time
- your future as a couple
- how to set up your living spaces
It can also help to be open about what it’s like to live with a certain mental health condition, so you both know how best to support each other.
Here are some guides to living with and dating people who have:
Love is a start, but it’s not everything. There’s a lot more that goes into a couple moving in together.
1. You’re used to each other
If you’re already spending most of your nights together, and have successfully weathered disagreements, meeting each other’s families, and relationship hardships, you might consider these solid steps toward cohabitating.
2. You’ve talked about finances
Will rent be split down the middle, or proportional to how much you earn? What expenses will be shared or separate? It’s a good idea to get on the same page about this before you sign on the dotted line.
3. You have a game plan for chores
The dishwasher isn’t going to unload itself, sadly. While you may have some idea of each other’s habits, consider discussing how you’ll divvy up cleaning and how much mess is OK with each of you.
4. You’re setting boundaries
Will phones be allowed in the bedroom? Is there a pet in your future?
You might take time to co-create a vision for your sacred space that makes sense for both of you, while setting healthy boundaries from the get-go.
5. You’ve learned to argue in a healthy way
If you can successfully overcome disagreements, communicate effectively, and listen to your partner, you’ll have a better chance of success in a shared space.
6. You can be yourself
“When you start dating someone, you may feel obligated to keep all of your typical, but occasionally humiliating behaviors… hidden from them,” says Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist in Chicago, Illinois.
“It may be time to live together if you’ve grown so comfortable that you’re not holding in gas or pretending to be a more delicate eater than you are,” Lombardo adds.
7. You feel excited
It’s natural to have mixed emotions about a big milestone. But, ideally, you’ll feel more excited than nervous about this upcoming transition.
If you feel dread, anxiety, or pressure to move, pump the brakes until you can sort out your feelings.
It’s helpful to understand that anxiety and depression can affect decision-making.
Egel says that if you’re feeling unsure, you should have more intimate conversations around the future.
“Factor in important topics such as want for a family, finances, and emotional readiness,” she says. “These are topics that can help deepen a connection, or show where there is work and a conversation to be had.”
If you need support, a relationship coach or a couple’s therapist can help you navigate challenges and improve communication.
There’s no perfect how-to list on dating, moving in together, and marriage, so there’s no “right time” for everyone.
When to move in together is a decision you’ll have to make as a couple.
Before you make the big decision, it can help to take an honest inventory of your relationship, finances, and vision for the future. If you need more support or are feeling pressured, consider reaching out to a professional who can help.