- What I Wish I’d Known Before Moving in Together
- Roommate Checklist: 3o Things to Ask a Potential Roommate
- 1. Do You Look Forward to Us Getting Along Friends?
- 2. Do You Drink Much?
- 3. What Do You Do to Make Ends Meet?
- 4. What’s Your Budget Limit?
- 5. Roommate Checklist: What’s Your Policy on Visitors?
- 6. What Would Your Previous Roommates and Landlord Say About You?
- 7. How Often Do You Do Cleaning?
- 8. Do You Have Any Difficulty Paying Rent?
- 9. What Does Your Typical Schedule Look ?
- 10. Do You Avoid Certain Foods?
- 11. What’s Your Take On Pets?
- 12. What Can Stress You in Life?
- 13. Are You Dating?
- 14. How Long Do You Plan to Stay?
- 15. What Do You Expect Me?
- 16. How Can We Split the Costs?
- 17. Do You Have a Little Savings for Expenses or Emergency?
- 18. Have You Been Arrested in The Past and for What?
- 19. Roommate Checklist: What Do You Do in Your Leisure Time?
- 20. Have You Ever Shared a Room with Someone?
- 21. Do You Suffer from Illnesses I Should Know?
- 22. Do You the Room Cold or Warmer?
- 23. Are You a Party Animal?
- 24. What Music Do You ?
- 25. Do You Have Future Goals?
- 26. Can You Tell Me About Your Family?
- 27. What’s Your View on Privacy in the Apartment?
- 28. How Will We Fix Disagreements?
- 29. Is There Anything You’d Want to Know About Me?
- 30. How Do You Feel About Move-in Day?
- Prepare Roommate Checklist in Advance
What I Wish I’d Known Before Moving in Together
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When my boyfriend, Mike DiPasquale, asked me to move in with him after two years of dating, I was thrilled. Even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I was signing up for.
Just the prospect of no longer needing to keep two bottles of contact lens solution, two toothbrushes and two sticks of deodorant in two separate homes was enough to have me jumping for joy. Visions of plush rugs, soft lighting and cuddling in front of a fireplace filled my head.
Friends and family didn’t give me much practical advice before I moved into Mike’s condo, a third-floor studio inside a former South Philadelphia Catholic elementary school. His mother attended school here in the early 1960s; we boil pasta, play video games and take showers in what was once her seventh-grade classroom.
My mother gave us a $100 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel, but she didn’t tell me what to anticipate.
I Googled “Moving in with your boyfriend,” but the search results landed with a thud. The advice was dry and didn’t speak to my concerns: How do I know if I’m picking a compatible person to move in with? What if he’s annoyed by my hourlong phone calls with my sister, the sweatpants I wear around the house, or the insane amount of hair I shed on every available surface?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans than ever are choosing to live together before marriage.
And the Pew Research Center says more than half of all women aged 19 to 44 who marry for the first time have lived with their husbands before walking down the aisle.
Unmarried millennials are more ly to live with their partners than any previous generation at this stage in their lives.
It’s clear why couples find cohabitation so appealing. Aside from the convenience it affords, the prospect of splitting rent and utility bills is too seductive to pass up. Add in a desire to shed roommates and a reluctance to renew a pricey lease, and you can see why plenty of couples choose cohabitation, even if they aren’t exactly sure what comes next.
I was so focused on the elation of moving in with Mike that I didn’t even consider what would happen if our relationship went down in flames. We had never discussed who would stay in the condo, who would take possession of the Passat we leased together, or which one of us would get to keep our three-legged cat, Eleanor.
Turns out we’re not alone. Most couples don’t take the time to walk through the financial and legal implications of cohabitation beforehand. According to leading legal and financial experts, that’s a major mistake and a missed opportunity.
Frederick Hertz, author of “Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples,” says the first step toward moving in together is to figure out what will happen should you part ways: “You can either plan your breakup in a civilized, caring, thoughtful way, or you can try to avoid it and have it be a nasty fight later on.”
If you are renting or own a home, figure out who will stay in the event of a breakup. Nail down who will pay any pesky fees or taxes. Come up with a plan.
In light of this practical advice, I pushed Mike to discuss what would happen if we should break up.
Initially, he was reluctant to discuss the possibility. He said he’d be so devastated that he would start a new life from scratch. While I appreciated the drama of his response, we still needed to develop a road map.
Since Mike had owned his condo before we started dating, we agreed he should continue to live in it. I volunteered to move in with my parents until I found a more permanent place. I’d keep the Passat and pay the remaining payments on the lease. And Eleanor would stay with me. (I was thrilled I could keep the cat, but I didn’t want to cheer too loudly.)
After we settled on the details of our dissolution, we gave each other a long hug.
Pam Friedman, a marital financial expert and author of “I Now Pronounce You Financially Fit,” agrees that the biggest mistake couples make is moving in together before having these candid talks. She advises couples to be honest about their fears and insecurities and meet them head on: What happens if we break up? Or get sick? Or die?
Some unmarried couples might benefit from a cohabitation agreement, also known as a no-nup, a legal agreement about who gets what in the event of a breakup or major life event.
“You’ve got to think five steps ahead,” Ms. Friedman said. “And it’s no fun at first. Then it becomes a project you can work on together.”
Apart from thorny financial and legal concerns, cohabitation creates a new set of emotional constraints for couples as well.
Galena Rhoades, a professor and researcher who studies cohabitation at the University of Denver, calls it a “sandwich period,” when people juggle dating and marriage issues concurrently.
“When you live together,” Dr. Rhoades explained, “you face all the issues dating couples face — time together, managing friends, jealousy, ex-partners — but you also face all the issues married couples face, household contributions, managing money together and planning for future expenditures.”
It can be an especially risky undertaking if the couple immediately goes from a long-distance relationship to cohabitation. Katie Leggett and Allen Hotchkiss did just that. The couple dated for over a year while Ms. Leggett lived in the West Village and Mr. Hotchkiss lived in Chicago. Then they moved into an apartment together in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“We knew we could get more bang for our buck if we just took the plunge and moved in together when my lease was up, versus getting separate studios, or dealing with roommates for another year in our late 20s,” Ms. Leggett said. “It was definitely an adjustment.”
“There were very few surprises upon moving in with each other,” Mr. Hotchkiss recalled. “Talking about all of the possible ‘what if’ scenarios is the only way to make sure living together is the right move.”
A self-confessed Type A germophobe, Ms. Leggett follows a strict set of rules: No shoes in the house and no clothes that have been worn on the subways on the bed. She showers twice a day.
Mr. Hotchkiss is more laid back. “For me, it was about picking the right battles and respecting Katie’s key points of contention, taking my shoes off at the door or not wearing my ‘subway clothes’ on the bed,” Mr. Hotchkiss said. This willingness to meet in the middle eased the transition considerably.
Mike and I slid into certain habits when it came to chores. I’m happiest food shopping, cooking meals and emptying the dishwasher. Mike prefers washing the dishes, doing the laundry, making the bed and taking out the trash.
We were happy to assign chores whoever expressed more enthusiasm. However it quickly became evident that our cleanliness standards are wildly different.
Mike can spot a sesame seed five yards away, and he folds his T-shirts into precise, flat squares. I leave a trail of crumbs in my wake, and my clothes are not so much folded as herded into a vague rectangle. We had to adjust our standards. I’m learning to sweep up my errant crumbs, and he’s learning to live with a little chaos.
And I knew Mike detested clutter, but we didn’t have any discussions about how we would adjust his 874-square-foot space to fit both our physical needs. Apparently, this lack of conversation around design is also very common.
Sheena Murphy, a founder and designer at a Brooklyn-based design studio called Sheep and Stone, encourages partners to be explicit about their expectations and boundaries: “One of the biggest things people don’t do is talk about living together, what that means and how you’re going to set up your home.”
After a year of dating, Armando Morales and Annie Simeone decided it was silly for them both to be paying New York City rents, especially since hers was twice what he paid. Last June they figured they could make it work in Mr. Morales’s apartment in Ridgewood, Queens, pending a drastic reworking of the space.
Fortunately, Ms. Simeone works as a production designer for film and television. She created a rendering of the apartment and its furniture layout using a three-dimensional modeling program, which allowed her to envision various floor plans. Mr. Morales crafted custom shelving so they could save even more space.
“We have a classic New York railroad, with a kitchen on one end and the bedroom on the other. In between is an office and a living room,” Mr. Morales said. “It’s perfect for a couple in that you can be together but also have separate space when you need it.”
Another reason couples choose to cohabitate is to spend more time together. It’s been interesting to see how Mike and I use that time.
most modern couples, we are never far away from our cellphones. We’re quick to browse social media at the slightest lull in conversation. I prefer to scroll through while he’s more of a guy. Over time, I sensed that our willingness to plug in (and ignore each other) was affecting the quality of our interactions.
Christine Carter, author of “The Sweet Spot” and “Raising Happiness,” sees this play out in plenty of couples. She recommends setting ground rules for technology usage and minimizing double-screen time, as she calls it.
If you’re doing something mindless with your partner, watching TV, just focus on that. Don’t also check your work email, play Candy Crush or do anything else to draw your attention away from each other.
“Your partner can be a source of deep and lasting joy, connection, meaning, fulfillment,” Dr. Carter said. “Your phone cannot.”
In the end, some of my initial concerns proved silly. Mike doesn’t mind that I shed Mr. Snuffleupagus in August. When I conduct marathon phone calls with my sister, he catches up on his social media apps. He’s happy to scrub the toilet, as long as I clean the shower.
We are stronger for taking this step and navigating our sandwich phase — this premarriage, postdating bubble — with clear eyes.
Having those difficult talks about our finances and being more mindful of the space we share, the chores we perform and the habits we cultivate, we’re well on our way to creating a happy home.
After living together for two years — and after countless loads of laundry and a dizzying number of dishwasher cycles — Mike and I tied the knot on April 21, 2017. Eleanor is thrilled.
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Roommate Checklist: 3o Things to Ask a Potential Roommate
Picking the right roommate follows the same route as that of choosing a significant other. It helps to find someone whose values and lifestyle align with yours. Ideally, the right roommate should be compatible with you, at least if you are to get the best experience of living together.
Additionally, there should exist mutual respect between both of you- this is a person you are going to spend a lot of time with, after all. Finding the perfect roommate starts with coming up with a roommate checklist- asking the right questions, that is.
Throwing ideal questions at your potential roommate will, without doubt, give you insight into who a person is exactly, and how they prefer to live.
A roommate checklist is about more than seeking to determine whether or not you can get along (we all know that there is no guarantee that great pals don’t necessarily make great roommates).
Now, if you are on the hunt for that ideal roommate, make sure to do your due diligence to find one that matches you big-time. Below are 30 things to always ask a potential roommate. By the end of the article, you should have a better idea of whether living together with him or her is a good idea. Read on.
1. Do You Look Forward to Us Getting Along Friends?
When you are looking for an ideal roommate, you expect to become great friends with them, right? Well, you also expect that your new-found friendship will lead both of you to share your things freely.
But you would not be surprised to find that your potential roommate is a total opposite- he or she could be the kind of person that doesn’t expect much more than the occasional greetings.
They could not be interested in sharing, maybe because it’s in their blood, or simply because they prefer living a solitary lifestyle, parallel to other people. So, it is important to know the expectations before you can move in together.
2. Do You Drink Much?
Excessive partying is one thing that can drive a wedge between a good friendship. Similarly, there’s a lihood that you could become great friends if both of you do.
This means that it’s extremely important to know the approach your potential roommate has towards partying, drinking and drugs. Do they see drinking and smoking inside the room as a big deal? Make sure to touch on this before renting a room together.
3. What Do You Do to Make Ends Meet?
There’s nothing that can tell more about a person than their job, right? It also gives you an idea about what their typical day looks . Also, listen to how they talk about what they do. A potential roommate who is stressed out by their job could mean an added stress to you as well.
4. What’s Your Budget Limit?
Yes, it may sound awkward to ask someone you know little about finance-related questions, but it helps to make sure that you’re reading from the same script. You can seek to know the most amount they can spend on rent and other expenses.
Getting such information is also particularly useful if you’re finding a roommate to fill an empty corner in your current residence. You know you don’t want someone who will always be stretching themselves thin to make their rent every single month.
5. Roommate Checklist: What’s Your Policy on Visitors?
This is yet another important question we can’t afford to ignore when it comes to the roommate checklist.
You know, it is unreasonable to expect someone to never expect visiting guests. But communicating with your potential roommate around guests, when, and the frequency of visits can help avert conflicts.
This way, both of you will be okay with each other’s policies on guests.
6. What Would Your Previous Roommates and Landlord Say About You?
Before signing a lease agreement together with your potential roommate, it is important to do a background check on him or her.
Although it can be difficult to get a recommendation letter from their previous landlord, or contact details of their previous roommates, you can still bring up the topic and listen to what they have to say.
If you realize that they have a pattern of nasty room incidents, they are partially to blame.
7. How Often Do You Do Cleaning?
Most roommates break up because of uncleanliness. Whether you are clean or messy, there’s a lihood that discord will arise if both of you are not reading from the same script. But it is avoidable. Instead of being blunt and asking your potential roommate whether they are clean, ask them how often they do cleaning.
8. Do You Have Any Difficulty Paying Rent?
This is so important, and we ought to have placed it at the top of the roommate checklist. Not paying rent on time is one major reason roommates break up.
So, listen for clues to determine whether they’re reliable financially, or whether they have a pattern of late payments (or non-payments). You can easily know this by first knowing about their job, expenditure, etc.
Or yet still, you can create a conducive environment for them to talk about this issue freely.
9. What Does Your Typical Schedule Look ?
Roommates can have rough times with each other if their schedules. For example, you might want to sleep while the other one wants to play music with the volume up.
You don’t need to have identical schedules for you to get along well, but you can work to accommodate each other.
Make sure to discuss your schedules right from the beginning, and also find workarounds where mismatches come up.
10. Do You Avoid Certain Foods?
This is a great question to ask your potential roommate. It makes you aware of what you can or can’t keep in your apartment. And it also shows that you care. Some people avoid certain foods due to health issues, beliefs, principles, or fitness goals.
11. What’s Your Take On Pets?
If you love pets, you really need to ask yourself if your roommate is okay with your little beasts roaming around your apartment. Allergies are yet another thing to keep in mind. And even if you aren’t a pet lover, don’t turn your roommate down until you have made sure that it’s a bother to you.
12. What Can Stress You in Life?
It is important to know what your roommate considers stressful so that you will be able to handle them carefully when they feel down. Life will certainly bring drama, but knowing to detect red flags in advance will help both of you to compassionately maneuver through stress. Additionally, you will also learn to avoid doing things that can stress them.
13. Are You Dating?
We talked about visitation limits earlier on. This question might seem awkward but it is worth asking. Living with a roommate whose significant is over often amounts to having a third roommate who is exempted from paying utilities and rent.
14. How Long Do You Plan to Stay?
While we know that there are circumstances that require a person to break the lease agreement quickly, it can be daunting and annoying if you are left with the task of finding a replacement. Ask your potential roommate how long they plan to stay with you, to avert the possibility of being left hanging in case they move out earlier than planned.
15. What Do You Expect Me?
Before opening up about what you expect your roommate, it is important to allow them to finish their thoughts. This way, both of you will be forward with your expectations in such an arrangement.
16. How Can We Split the Costs?
The most obvious method of splitting utility costs and rent is 50/50- every one of you contributes half. But this may not be the case, especially if your earnings are way too far or lower than those of your roommate.
For example, you could find that due to financial constraints, your roommate may be able to settle rent only. Talk with them and see where you can help if that extra coin remains after you pay your bills.
And remember, if the roommate is the kind of person that nitpick about who used more money, water or food, that is not a good fit for you.
17. Do You Have a Little Savings for Expenses or Emergency?
Whether the chair breaks and you have to share the costs, or if their car develops a problem, you will need to know whether there’s a separate budget to cover such costs.
18. Have You Been Arrested in The Past and for What?
This is one way to tell what is in your roommate’s past-just by looking at them. A ‘’Yes’’ to this question doesn’t render them unfit to be your roommate. Just gather all the information from them before you can decide.
19. Roommate Checklist: What Do You Do in Your Leisure Time?
If your main aim to find a roommate is to fill the space, you might not care much about how the two of you get along. But if you are looking for a friend in a roommate, having common hobbies or interests is a great place to start.
20. Have You Ever Shared a Room with Someone?
Asking your roommate this question helps you to be aware of the circumstances that lie ahead. If they haven’t ever shared a room with someone, there are chances that banter could arise. That said, you can always make sure to be on your guard, especially if sharing is something they will need to adjust to.
21. Do You Suffer from Illnesses I Should Know?
Now, since your roommate is more of a stranger to you, you’ll need to know them better, from their strengths, weaknesses, attitude, passion, interests, hobbies, and even bodily health.
Besides snack allergies, your roommate could be the kind of person that is affected by smells and scents. Knowing what allergies that they could be suffering from will go a long way to help you choose body lotions and air fresheners wisely.
They will know that you’re caring and considerate.
22. Do You the Room Cold or Warmer?
You could be a cold person, and then your roommate a person who prefers hot air. This can lead to conflicts because of your preferences. So, when finding a good fit for a roommate, ask them this question.
23. Are You a Party Animal?
If you are looking for a roommate that can throw parties apart from being a roommate, then this question is pretty important. If you fail to find one that s parties the same way as you, you can consider letting your roommate know when you expect to come in late, and vice versa.
24. What Music Do You ?
Music is fun, yeah? Well, you need to test if both of you enjoy the same type of music, or better still, the same volume. If either of you doesn’t loud music, this question should be asked so you can accommodate each other’s tastes and preferences.
25. Do You Have Future Goals?
Asking them about their personal and career goals will spark a new conversation. We all know great business partners who started as roommates back in college. This could be you and them. Who knows? Dig in!
26. Can You Tell Me About Your Family?
Every one of us s talking about our families, right? You’ll accommodate your potential roommate more if you get to understand his roots. So, prepare to spend a few hours on this question.
27. What’s Your View on Privacy in the Apartment?
There are many questions that relate to privacy in your room. You know, it is easier to forget what is and isn’t cool, especially now that you don’t have the room to yourself. Are they OK with you being in the room when skyping or face-timing?
28. How Will We Fix Disagreements?
People living together must differ or disagree on a whole range of things. Some people will leave angry notes when they are angry, while others will confront each other directly. It helps to communicate about communication in times of disagreements.
29. Is There Anything You’d Want to Know About Me?
Even if this question will spark a random conversation, leave the floor open for questions. Your potential roommate will begin feeling at ease to be open to you.
You know, an introverted roommate might not open up about what they feel about you unless you open the floor for questions. Maybe other unrelated issues weren’t addressed.
Also, ask them if there’s anything else you should know about them.
30. How Do You Feel About Move-in Day?
Let them say how they feel about the day you’re planning to move in together. Are they excited about that day?
Prepare Roommate Checklist in Advance
A potential roommate could be a total stranger, a co-worker, a friend of a friend, and such. Moving in with someone you know little about can be scary at first, but you can fix that by ensuring that you sit them down and get to know them better. You can practice such questions because no matter the choice you make; you will still feel the consequences.