When attorney David Beraka, 30, and Rachel Brody, 28, his girlfriend of almost two years, started talking about living together, it wasn’t about convenience or savings on rent.
“Those are great benefits,” Beraka says. But, in his estimation, “the reason should be that you want to share your life with somebody.” That reasoning was why they decided to move into a two-bedroom condo in Logan Circle together.
If you’re thinking of moving in with your special someone, here are a few things to consider before taking the roommate plunge.
Go for a common ground
Agreeing on a place where both people feel at home is important, says Elisabeth LaMotte, a couples therapist (5304 Sherier Place NW; 202-333-7424). “That’s harder to achieve when one person moves into another person’s space,” she says.
That’s exactly why Brody wanted to start off in a new place. “It was much easier to both fit in,” Brody says. “I feel like it was our place.”
That was the same feeling Radhika Mohan, 32, and her now-husband, Lionel Lynch, 34, had when they moved into the two-bedroom condo they rent near U Street after getting engaged in 2013.
“It’s something that we could potentially grow into if we decide to have kids,” Mohan says. “It’s the first place that felt like a home.”
Time it right
If both parties are moving, coordinating multiple leases can be tricky. Be prepared to pay double rent (or even triple!) for a month or two in order to snag that perfect new place.
Brody broke her lease early and had 60 days to find a replacement tenant or else pay a fee. To her, breaking the lease was worth the extra dough.
“This place was so great, and it had everything we were looking for,” she says. “It would have set us back another month trying to find something similar.”
Telling your landlord about your situation might save you some hassle — and potentially some cash, too. Brody notified her building management, who helped find a new tenant for the pad she was vacating.
Keep in mind that paying double rent for a short time might be worth it in the long run. By combining their rent, Brody and Beraka ended up saving several hundred dollars compared with what they paid with their separate apartments.
Pay attention to details
Rent aside, be sure to discuss finances before moving in together, like who’ll pay for groceries and how you’ll pay each other back for expenses.
Combined finances, such as a joint bank account, can work well, LaMotte says, “if both people … are financially in a similar place.”
Beraka and Brody opted to get a joint credit card account that they use to buy household goods and groceries. They split the bill at the end of the month.
Discuss chores, too. “If I cook, David’s happy to do dishes,” Brody says. “If I go to the dry cleaner, he’ll pick up something to eat for dinner. We’re pretty even.”
Make sure you’re ready
When Jeremy Mitchell, 29, and Catherine Stephens, 26, moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Columbia Heights together, it cemented their commitment after nearly four years of dating.
“We knew we were in it for the long haul,” Mitchell, a program coordinator at AmeriCorps, says. He says they plan on getting married.
Even if wedding bells aren’t in your future, be prepared for a honeymoon period — and an adjustment period.
“You’re just not used to being their roommate,” Brody says. “You’re used to being a significant other.”
Before you put a (key) ring on it …
The most important thing for a couple to do before moving in together is to make sure they’re on the same page about what it means, says couples therapist Elisabeth LaMotte. Often “one person is ready to get married, and the other person is not,” she says. “So they compromise by moving in together.”
Couples would also be wise to talk through a plan B in case cohabitation doesn’t work out, LaMotte says.
“That’s the hardest thing to bring up,” she says. It may be an awkward conversation, LaMotte says, but both parties need to “be willing to at least entertain that possibility” that things could turn sour.
That’s precisely what Niki Novak, 27, a director of training for a nonprofit in D.C., did before she moved in with her beau, Seth LaShier.
Early in their relationship, she says, they chose to share a two-bedroom apartment, because “in case we broke up, we could at least be in separate rooms until we figured out our game plan.”
“We were pretty pragmatic about it,” Novak says. It turned out to be an unnecessary precaution: The two are now married.
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