Moving in together guide
By Najah Ayoub
If you’re fed up living between two apartments and missing your better half when you’re not together, you may be planning on moving in.
It’s a romantic leap of love and commitment but it comes with a host of practical issues to work through.
On the upside, you can be free of your roommate, avoid renewing a lease at a place you don’t love, stop keeping multiple sets of toiletries everywhere and be able to see each other every day. On the downside are questions like how you will negotiate spending and who would take possession if things don’t go well.
The right approach is to address these issues before you choose a new apartment together, or move one of you into whoever has the nicer place. We’ve put together our top tips to the issues you should address and how to manage to move to help smooth the way for love.
A little planning and preparation will help you navigate some common and normal pitfalls.
1. Your Budget
Hopefully by this stage you each have a genuine understanding of each other’s finances, like any debts and other responsibilities.
You’re going to be increasingly involved in each other’s financial lives, someone will be noticing how many Amazon deliveries you get every week and communication will be the only way forward.
As you’re going to be signing a joint lease together, a talk about the details of your financial life, like your credit score, income and investments is wise to help you set a rental budget that is fair to each of you. Your new landlord will ask you for pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns and other documents so there’s no holding back if you need to take your spending down a notch, this is the time to share your worries with your partner.
Determine what your monthly rental limit is and whether you want to stay in one of your homes or find somewhere fresh for a new start.
With your rental budget set, you should know whether you can afford a broker fee or will be hitting sites like Craigslist to keep costs down. You should also discuss whether you will have a DIY move or use a professional mover. If you’re moving into a Co-Op where a Certificate of Insurance to the value of millions of dollars is required to move in, a professional mover may be your best choice as they will handle it and take all the pressure off you two.
Now the fun can begin, that means making shortlists and sharing great apartment finds with each other when you unearth them online or a friend gives you a good lead.
2. Find a place you both love
If you’re not moving into the other person’s apartment you have the enviable task of apartment hunting in New York City.
It’s high drama and a musical number rolled into one. But combine the appointments and viewings with weekend brunch, lunch breaks on the run and drinks after work and you may just have some fun together along the way.
Create a checklist of all the attributes your apartment will need, so that each of you defines what will make you happy. If you have large objects to house like an expensive bicycle or music instrument, put it on your checklist. The same goes for any pets or plans to get a pet together. If you have a much loved plant, natural light could be a deal breaker. Whatever your hopes for your new place, get on the same page and agree to support each other when the realtor is sweet talking you with the view.
Your respective workplaces – and the commute to them – will play a major role in how easy your lifestyle together will be and is always a central consideration.
Amenities such as dry cleaners, grocers and medical facilities are essentials, but if you fell in love with an area off the beaten track, then who are we to argue? As long as you know the lifestyle compromises you are making, there could be no better town to rely on delivery for almost anything.
3. Matter of Space
Once you’ve found your ideal apartment, your application is submitted and the waiting game begins, it’s time to review your storage space in the new apartment and decide how much each of you can afford to keep.
There will be duplicate items you don’t need, like two sofas, two toasters and two kitchen tables. This is a time for planning which will be your main items of furniture, whether you want any new pieces and if one of you feels strongly about some of their items. Compromise so that each of you feels like it will be a fair mix of old and new.
Even if you have spare rooms to swing off the chandeliers in, every great move starts with a review of a cull of possessions you don’t need or want. That includes recycling, disposing of and donating items appropriately. Take some time separately to work through your items as individuals, noting what sentimental items need to come with you, what you love having around, and what it’s time you let go of.
Once you have your items sorted and reduced to a “must keep” list, talk to your partner and determine whether you will need to install some new wardrobes for storage or find some affordable warehouse storage space to give you some time to work things out. Movers like Piece of Cake offer moving and storage services in the same move, so your boxes marked home will go with you, while the boxes marked storage will be taken back to base by your movers and securely stored until you need them.
If you have large items you intend to dispose of, be aware of the regulations in New York around furniture disposal and book a collection through the City. They will pick up 10 items of less including mattresses, but metal items need to be put out with recycling. To search your items and see how the Department of Sanitation recommends you handle them visit https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/site/services
Our final piece of advice to anyone packing is to create a moving day suitcase, with essentials like medication, phone chargers, important documents and jewellery that you can keep with you and have immediate access to as you need it. While you may be packing ahead of time, create a list of items you will need the night of your move and set them aside closer to the time. If you are planning an interstate move, refill medical prescriptions to give you lots of time to find a new PCP once you settle in. The same applies for any pets and children, have any day to day essentials handy as unpacking normally takes a few days.
4. Managing your move
Once you have a new lease signed (congratulations you two!!) you’re ready to book your move.
If you are only moving a few items and your move is DIY, be sure to touch base with both your old and new apartments to book an elevator on the time and day that suits you and inquire about any other requirements like parking permits, moving in insurance to protect the building against any damage from mishaps and check the width of door frames and access as they truly can vary in NYC. If you’re in a pre-war walk up, now’s the time to call in favors from strong and fit friends who can help.
If you have oversized or heavy items, a professional mover will take the stress out of the day for you. They’ll provide you with an arrival window to pick up your belongings at each address and deliver them to the new one.
Movers like Piece of Cake will pick up your items from two separate pick up addresses so you have one moving day – his in the morning, hers in the afternoon and then delivery in the same truck – so romantic – for helpful and smooth moving.
Professional movers will also assemble and disassemble any items you arranged during your booking and provide free extras like moving wardrobes and TV boxes for the day of your move. They’ll unload your boxes into the rooms you need them, and can provide contactless, covid-safe processes.
Create a shortlist of potential movers and vet them through the quoting process. We’ve created a quick guide to the questions you should be asking reputable movers before locking them in, find the details at this page.
Once you have locked in a mover, one or both of you can take time off work or make changes to your routine so you can be there on the day.
5. The No-Nup
As moving day comes down the line faster than you expected, there are still some sticky issues to address together and ensure your life together is well prepared for any curve balls.
There is always the cute stuff that’s easy to resolve if you can meet in the middle – the partner who hates shoes in the house, the one who prefers to wash dishes than cook and how much gaming time is too much.
But in the event things don’t go well for your relationship, one of you has a major life change like getting ill or needing to look after a sick relative in another state, you’ll want to have resolved how the economic impact of change will be dealt with, before either of you is under stress.
Financial and legal considerations can be difficult to resolve when there is conflict, so negotiating them while you’re in planning mode is a smart approach.
It’s rough to imagine your separation when you’re in the throes of big love but once you’ve talked your finances through, you can park it all to one side and hug it out. Instead of seeing the exercise as a pessimistic reflection your relationship is doomed, approach your talks about finances like a project you can work on together.
The way you discuss and resolve these matters together will help you improve your communication or highlight weaknesses to work on.
- How will groceries and bills be paid together?
- What will your household budget look like?
- How will you divide chores?
- How will you maintain your independent activities and interests?
- Whose will take over the lease in a breakup?
- Where will the other partner go in a break up?
- Who will take possession of pets?
- How will large purchases made together be allocated?
- How will any fees or penalties be paid if one partner moves out?
There are no conversations that are “too hard” with the person you love. Some couples argue about these questions well after they have moved in, when a disagreement brings things to a head at a less than ideal time. By resolving them up front, you can move ahead with confidence there is a plan in place and a respectful understanding of how you both feel.
6. Moving Day
The boxes are packed and you’re both ready to move into your shared home. Last minute cleaning and logistics may distract you all day, but try and separate the romance from the roommate factor.
This is a huge step for any couple and you’ll want to take in the moment and appreciate the love between you. If you have booked a professional mover, sit back with an espresso and let them take over while you have a well earned rest. If you’ve taken our advice about packing a moving day suitcase, that’s all you have to worry about taking with you when it’s time to leave your old apartment.
Before you arrive, you might want to pick up a nice bottle of wine to mark the occasion and plan a takeout dinner to take the pressure off cleaning and cooking. Sure, you’ll have to unpack the cleaning supplies, set up the bathroom for a hot shower and have to make the bed before you can call it a night. But you’ll be home, together, and that’s all that counts.
7. Great communication
If you’ve made it inside your new apartment after navigating all these steps successfully, you can pat yourselves on the back for having great communication. That is all you’ll need to navigate any bumps ahead – and address them in a respectful and open way.
It’s time to explore your new neighbourhood, always book date night and make space for yourselves as a couple and as individuals. There will be some bumps in the road so tackle them upfront. Setting issues aside to deal with another day can only make them harder to resolve.
If you lead with acceptance and love, this will be the romantic chapter you were hoping for. Let us be the first to wish you luck.
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