"3 Things We Did Before Moving In Together"

Rule number one: set ground rules before setting foot in your new space.

On the days leading up to graduation, I felt ready to move back to New York. After living there the summer before, I was excited to get back to the same daily bustle, endless food options and nightlife. Only this time, my experience wouldn't include scouring the internet for a decently appropriate Craigslist-found-roommate. This time, I was moving in with my boyfriend.

I know what you're thinking: Really? You just graduated college and you're already moving in with your boyfriend? You're ready for that kind of commitment? And yes, I simply am ready for that kind of commitment. After being together for six years, four of which were long distance, moving in together felt right. Not to mention, it took the stressful guesswork out of finding a totally new roomie. Now, it's been almost eight months since the two of us moved into our room one-bedroom in Queens. While it's definitely been easier than starting from scratch with a new roommate in a new place, it's still been—and continues to be—a learning experience. We give, take and compromise the same way someone would with a college roommate or with a bathroom-hogging sibling when you're still shacking up at home. It's not always easy, but at the end of the day, I believe we make our situation work really, really well. It's just the beginning, but ultimately, there are three things that make cohabitating with my boyfriend doable.

We set ground rules before setting foot in our new place.

Conversations about finances and chores aren't glamorous, sure, but they're necessary. In the weeks leading up to the big move, Mike and I discussed how we would split rent and other living expenses like groceries. Laying your financial status out on the table can be a nerve-wracking moment, but it prevents innumerable disagreements down the line about who owes who what and when they owe it. We set up a system for monthly rent and pay the bills proportional to our paychecks. This method might not work for everyone and that's fine; the important thing is you figure out your plan of action before you get into arguments over money.

Aside from financial planning, we also discussed the chores we hate to do and the ones we don't mind. Luckily, we fill in the gaps for each other pretty well. I like to cook but hate doing the dishes, so Mike does the dishes most nights after I make us dinner. He vacuums the apartment while I volunteer to clean the bathroom on a bi-weekly basis. This made the transition easier because we understood each other's standards of cleanliness (don't take the standard for granted—it could be wildly different than your expectations) and didn't drive one another up the wall by leaving a ball of hair in the shower drain or a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Sure, I still get naggy sometimes about the pile of clothes Mike leaves on the floor, but it's not a constant struggle to feel at home because we predetermined what home looks like to us.

We don't spend all of our free time together.

I'll be honest—when we first got our apartment I thought This is great! No more long distance and we can do everything together! I soon realized this thought was unrealistic and also not the mark of a good relationship. It's the time we spend away from each other, having our own experiences, that make our time together extra special. Mike and I went to different colleges, have different interests, and work at two different places in two completely different industries, so coming home after a long day and speaking about those things is what forms a mutual bond and understanding.

Don't get me wrong. We love the time we do spend together running errands, going to concerts or just kicking back in front of the TV. But things remain interesting because we have our own stories, opinions and friendships we bring to the table.

Even when we're physically in the same apartment, we aren't always spending time together. Alone time is a necessity in my opinion and I wouldn't be sane without it. So sometimes I retreat to one corner of the couch and watch my favorite YouTube videos while he retreats to the other and catches up on the latest BroBible stories. We don't bother each other and it's a nice way to feel each other's presence while still being with our own, individual thoughts.

We both have a say in the space and what it looks like.

I strongly believe that your living space should be a reflection of your personality, and our apartment is no exception. When we first moved in, I had grandiose plans for what I wanted the decor to look like and where each piece of furniture to go. But once we got here, I had to backtrack because I forgot one important thing: Mike's opinion. He didn't care nearly as much about the artwork on the walls as I did, but I could tell he felt better having a say. Now, before I add a new piece to our place, I at least ask his opinion first. No one wants to spend all of their down time in a place that doesn't feel like his or her own.