All Couples Should Do This Before They Move in Together

published Oct 17, 2018
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

When my boyfriend and I decided to move in together after a year of long distance, I knew there would be our share of compromises. One in particular would be combining the contents of two apartments into one singular household. Though I had done a thorough cleaning of my space and came out with a chunk of items to throw out, sell, or donate, I still naturally had accumulated a good amount of things. There were extra towels and bedding that I never really used, throw pillows and blankets, pots for my plants, books, old paperwork, and documents over the years. My boyfriend, however, came into our new space with just the essentials and very minimal “stuff.”

I thought my cushion of things would balance out with his minimalist haul to make a somewhat normally-filled apartment… but it didn’t. Far from it. Turns out each of us had brought in little things (throw pillows, wicker baskets, mismatched bowls, coffee table books, etc.) we thought our apartment might need. It wasn’t anything either of us were particularly fond of, just stuff we both thought we might want one day. But when these items were multiplied by two, our apartment ended up being filled with non-necessities. And to house all of these “one day” items, we would have to use up our already precious closet space, under the bed storage, and cabinets. We weren’t going to do that, so as we unpacked our boxes, we instead decided that we were going to do another decluttering together.

Things I thought were must-haves when I evaluated it in my old space ended up being an easy thing to toss once my boyfriend entered the conversation. We were able to say what stays and what goes by asking each other the following questions when a miscellaneous or duplicated item came into question:

  • Will we both use this?
  • Will it be put to good use in the near future? (not “one day”)
  • Does it fit the look and feel of our shared space?

If the answer was no to any of these questions, we donated it, gave it to someone else, tossed or recycled it. Thankfully, we didn’t have to make any keep or toss decisions with big ticket items like mattresses or furniture since really didn’t have much to begin. But if we had to—the same general rules would apply. Also we decided that non-negotiables like his comic books or my extra beauty products were off limits.

When couples purging, there have been times when we’ve had to pick one of our duplicates over the others (like a set of dishes or knives), and we just can’t decide which ones should say. In those rare cases, we’ve actually just donated both sets and purchased something new together to start totally fresh. It’s nice in these instances to feel like we’re making our own home, rather than combining two existing homes together.

Though it’s not all that annoying to do after the boxes are in our new apartment, I’ll admit having the foresight to do this before we moved in would have saved us a couple of boxes and trips to the donation bin. But it’s actually been fun to settle into our space together—and make that minimal and neutral space we both envisioned for our home feel more like a reality bit by bit.