The decision to cohabitate with your significant other is a big one by itself. But filed just under the act of moving in together are dozens of smaller decisions about, well, stuff. With any luck, your decor styles mesh well together, but discussions about wall art and furniture represent only one portion of the negotiated peace accords. If you're bringing together two fully furnished homes, you're probably each bringing a slew of tech gear into the new place. There will be redundancies - televisions, speakers, routers - and you won't want to simply leave the unwanted duplicates out on the curb. How will you decide whose tech stays and whose goes?
What if you don't share the same priorities about tech placement around the house? I've been mulling over these very questions in recent weeks. Consider these strategies we've employed after combining two apartments into one house, or offer your own tips and tricks in the comments section below.
Dealing With Duplicates
Once all your gear has made its way into the new, shared space, survey the goods. If your situation is anything like mine you'll see two smallish HDTVs, two Blu-ray players/Web streaming devices, two turntables, two wireless routers, several sets of speakers and iPhone docks, two all-in-one PCs, and two laptops. Some of that stuff just has to go. Craigslist is an obvious place to start, but can often require more legwork than you want to devote to the task of selling off your gadgets.
Besides, with something like an HDTV, you're not able to bring it to meet the would-be buyer at Starbucks, and sometimes you'd rather not host a stream of strangers in your home. eBay is also an option, but I advocate for an Amazon Seller Account, especially for tech gear. If Amazon already sells the exact model you're trying to sell, you don't have to bother writing up a detailed product listing - its already in the system, you just has to list the specifics (price, level of wear, etc.). With millions of people browsing Amazon every day, relatively new tech items sell quickly. All you have to do is take the gadget to the post office within three days of its sale.
What Not To Sell
By 2013, I'm sure most of you agree with me: each adult member of a household should have his or her own computer. Don't sell off your laptop just because your boyfriend has one. Having a personal computer definitely adds to domestic tranquility - this is not an item you should have to share. Having a shared third computer--a desktop, most likely - is reasonable. I'm lucky to have a devoted office space in a second bedroom, which means there's also room for both of us to keep our desktop machines.
In the Case of Two Small HDTVs
We each came into the new house with a 32" LED TV. We were in agreement these were simply not suitable for the new living room. A new, bigger HDTV needed to be purchased, and quick, but what to do with the smaller screens?
One could be sold to help defray the cost of a newer, bigger one. But should we sell both, or should one go in the bedroom?
Tech in the Bedroom
Perhaps one of the touchier subjects involving technology and cohabitation, almost everyone has an opinion about watching TV in bed. Especially with the advent of cheap Netflix streaming devices and multi-room DVR (which is a feature of our Internet Service Provider, AT&T U-Verse), the bedroom can become just as appealing a locale as the living room for watching favorite recorded shows and movies - if you let it. Ultimately, we agreed to place one of the smaller TVs, along with an internet-enabled Blu-ray player and DVR, atop the dresser in the bedroom. Would you do the same?
The biggest challenge this poses is what to do when one of us wants to watch something while the other person wants to fall asleep. One potential solution: wireless headphones for the TV. Though this eliminates noise, it doesn't eradicate flashing lights in an otherwise dark room.
Buying a Big TV Together
If you've agreed to upgrade the main TV together, you have to determine your individual priorities. Size usually dictates price, but not always. Features like internet connectivity, resolution, and panel technology (LED vs. plasma) result in different prices at different sizes. The size of your living room and how far back your sofa is from the screen will help you determine an ideal TV size (here are a few recommendations), but other priorities might trump size: what's more important to each of you, the perks of a plasma display (deeper blacks, better contrast, wider viewing angles), or the energy efficiency of an LED screen? The difference could save you a few hundred dollars a year, though the plasma might be cheaper in the short-term.
Wi-Fi: Choosing a Name
You've just moved in, and the cable guy has installed your Internet connection. Quick: what name will you give your home's SSID? A trivial matter, you say? Its only something you'll have to say out loud every time a friend or family member comes for a visit and asks to use the Wi-Fi. I bet you don't want to give it a boring, default name like Linksys111, so talk it over. If you think about it, our hotspots are often the first things our new neighbors know about us--and it has to represent both of you. Once you've come to a consensus, naming a new puppy or even a child might start to sound like a piece of cake.
(Image: Creative Commons photo by Christopher Thomas; Rachel Rosmarin; Kristen Lubbe from Amanda's Retrolicious Headquarters)