7 Things Agents Tell Their Clients Who Are Moving in Together for the First Time

published Feb 21, 2021
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So you’re thinking about moving in with a significant other. Shacking up together, no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship or what kind of space you’ll share, is no small feat. There’s no way to guarantee a smooth process, but fortunately, a bit of strategy and communication ahead of time can make things a whole lot easier. Who better to ask for advice than real estate agents who help couples take the leap for a living? 

Here are seven pieces of advice to consider if you’re planning to move in with a significant other. 

Have a plan in case you split

If you’re not marrying, have a plan — in writing — for what happens if your relationship ends. San Francisco-based Realtor Cynthia Cummins, who’s helped many couples end a relationship by selling a shared home, suggests hiring a lawyer to execute a tenancy-in-common agreement. “Even if it’s ‘amicable,’ the split-up is saddening, and every choice feels unfair,” she says. “If the partners haven’t already planned for the possibility of rain, it’s too late to turn back for an umbrella as the tears begin to fall. Consider the worst case now, while you’re full of love and positive regard for one another.”

Get rid of stuff

Marie Bromberg, a real estate agent in New York City, suggests every couple moving in together conduct an honest, ruthless discussion about how much stuff you have and how much you can get rid of — especially if you’ll be working from home together. After all, do you really want to have to prioritize closet space or cabinet storage but in turn have to sacrifice other things like light or layout? Parsing through clutter, Bromberg says, can open up possibilities for a better space — which will only benefit your relationship.

Contribute equally

Whether you plan to rent or buy, Canada-based real estate agent Tal Shelef, co-founder of Condo Wizard, says it’s helpful when couples are both financially equipped to pay equally for the home — not only logistically, but emotionally. “In my experience, many of my couple clients typically experience a phase in their relationship where the other measures how much they’ve given compared to their other half which creates gaps towards each other,” Shelef says. “Of course, both of you are not planning on splitting up outright, but paying equally together will both save you that emotional phase.”

Pinpoint negotiables and non-negotiables

You can’t have it all in a home, so you’ll have to compromise on something — and what that compromise is should be a shared decision. New York-based real estate broker Daniel Blatman suggests hashing through what’s really important ahead of looking for a shared space. For example, do you absolutely need to have a washer and dryer in the unit, or is it OK if it’s on the same floor or in the building instead? And if you need a large, renovated apartment at a modest price, are you OK with living in the area next to the popular neighborhood? Coming up with compromises ahead of time will not only prevent scuffles mid-search, but prevent you from making a decision you both regret.

Communicate your living style and needs

Jonathan Klein, a real estate agent in Los Angeles, suggests all couples take time to reflect on and communicate about their at-home behavior. What quirks do you have that may seem awesome to you, but a bit odd or inconvenient for others? What do you need to be “you” in your place? You don’t have to give up your 2 a.m. dance parties or messy bathroom habits, but you do need to communicate them with your partner. “Fight for the things you can’t live without, and have an open mind and consideration for your partner’s needs and wants,” Klein says. 

Find the right agent

Moving in together is a huge, sometimes scary, step. Klein suggests finding a real estate professional who really knows the areas you’re looking in — and make sure you have a connection with the agent, too. “Finding someone who is sensitive to your unique situation is paramount to a successful process,” he says. “Your agent can help with compromises as well — we’re really good at that!”

Map out success from the start

Once you find a home you both like, work to figure out how you’ll use the space to live successfully together before you commit. Miranda Cady, an Orlando-based agent, recommends literally mapping out the space and how you’ll use it, both individually and as a couple, to prevent stepping on each other’s toes. Mark it up with arrows and lines depicting how you go about your typical day, from the time you get up until you go to bed, and have your partner do the same. Then, look for areas that overlap, and decide if space will meet the functionality of how you spend your time and if it’s open enough to accommodate you both during “peak traffic.” “It’s important to know ahead of time if the property you’re choosing will adequately support your growing relationship,” she says.