Relationships: Tips for moving in with a partner

Relationships: Tips for moving in with a partner

COVID-19 lockdowns have led to significant changes to peoples work situations and living circumstances. We were invited to speak to Nat Tencic (Twitter @nattencic) on Triple J’s The Hook Up about tips for moving in with a partner just as Melbourne’s extended lockdown in 2020 came into effect. You can listen to the podcast and read about our full tips below:

Relationships: Tips for moving in with a partner

How do we make the decision to move in together?

Couples arrive at the decision to live together in many ways; sometimes couples are ready to take the next step in commitment in their relationship and it is an emotional decision; sometimes it makes financial sense or sometimes the decision is forced due to external circumstances such as a COVID-19 lockdown and not wanting to be isolated or separated. Sometimes the couple arrive at the decision at the same time and other times the discussions are prompted by one person when the other is not yet ready.

No matter what the reason or how the decision was made, it is important to reflect on whether there is a good degree of trust and commitment in the relationship and whether you feel a degree of confidence in your communication as a couple and ability to manage conflicts. If after assessing these circumstances you do not feel ready, you may benefit from postponing the decision and allowing more time to work on your relationship.

What are useful things to discuss before moving in together?

It is helpful to have a discussion around your values and needs whilst taking this next step together. If you have lived with a housemate or partner in the past, it could be helpful to disclose the things that went well and the things that did not go well.


  • How will we split up the finances; rent, utility bills, grocery bills and entertainment costs?
  • What is a fair or comfortable balance for us if there is a big difference in our incomes or if one person owns while the other rents?
  • If one of us cannot contribute as much financially, would it be helpful for that person to contribute to the relationship in other ways e.g. picking up other responsibilities such as doing most of the cooking or taking more responsibility in looking after a pet?

Making a home

  • How will we both contribute to making our place feel like a home? This can be particularly important to discuss if one person owns the home or is already living in the home. This includes discussions around how you will furnish the home together to reflect both of your tastes and how you will entertain people in your home.

Division of responsibilities

  • How do we share the division of practical tasks as well as mental load?
  • Practical tasks may include: cleaning tasks, doing groceries, cooking and maintenance tasks.
  • Mental load tasks are not as obvious but can be very taxing. These include remembering what bills need to be paid, keeping track of what groceries need to be purchased or what repairs need to be made and communicating with your leasing agent.

Working from home

A growing issue now that more people are working from home is how you will use your space as your home as well as a work space. You may need to discuss:

  • Who gets what space to work in? At what times?
  • What time is it appropriate to switch off from work?
  • What level of verbal interaction do we have while someone is “at work” from home?
  • Will we break for meals together?
  • Will we take breaks from work together?

Relationships: Tips for moving in with a partner

How do we keep the romance alive when we start living together?

Quality time

A common issue that often arises for couples after moving in together is having different expectations around what constitutes quality time. For some, quality time means going out on dates or at least having time in the home where they are actively engaged in meaningful activity and conversation with their partner. While for others, quality time means just being in each other’s space in the home, whilst engaged in a shared activity such as watching TV or engaged in different activities. After learning about each other’s quality time needs, try to find a way to meet both people’s versions of quality time during the same week or perhaps alternate weeks.


Another important issue which impacts romance is the use of technology in the home. It can be helpful to discuss:

  • When is it appropriate for us to be on our devices?
  • Do we wish to avoid using them in the bedroom or at meal times?
  • How much time is considered appropriate to use devices in the home, whether it be for work, gaming, social media, reading blogs or online shopping.

Time alone

It can also be important to discuss how you will manage ‘alone time’ in and out of the home when living together. It may be helpful to discuss what time during the week you wish to do things on your own e.g. exercise, see your friends or family separately, or just have time alone in the home. You might also discuss the space you would use in the home for ‘alone time’ if both people are present.

How do we bring up difficult issues?

It is useful to have a plan around how you wish to manage conflicts when living together.

A common pattern that occurs which isn’t helpful is when one or both partners is passive or avoidant of bringing issues up when things upset them. They might be thinking, “I don’t want to rock the boat”, “they should just know”, “maybe things will get better eventually” or “there’s no point, things won’t change”. Passive communication or avoidance can cause issues to build up and lead to feelings of resentment, cause distancing or even lead to emotional outbursts when individuals can no longer take the situation.

Some helpful tips around healthy communication include:

  • Coming up with a regular time to reflect and discuss on how the living arrangements are going – perhaps once a month.
  • Discuss and show appreciation for the aspects of living together that are going well.
  • Bring up the more challenging aspects of living together in a gentle way.
  • Express how certain difficulties makes you feel using an “I feel…” statement.
  • Be specific about the actual situation or behaviour that upset you.
  • Try not to criticise or attack the other person.
  • Express your ideas around problem solving the issue and invite your partner to come up with suggestions too.
  • Express the bigger picture values or goals in having this issue resolved.

Lastly, having a discussion around worst case scenarios can actually help people feel safer about moving in together. If living together doesn’t work out and causes stress on the relationship what is your plan?

  • Would we plan to have a temporary break from living together to reset and come up with a new plan for living together?
  • How long would that be, who would move out, where to?
  • Would we seek couples therapy to support us through the difficulties?

Reducing any expectations that moving in together will ‘make or break us’ takes the pressure off the relationship and allows for more healthy expectations that living together is a work in progress.

Relationships: Tips for moving in with a partner


Moving in with a partner is an exciting time in a relationship which usually signifies growing trust and commitment to each other. Investing time in exploring and discussing issues such as quality time, communication and each other’s needs can enable you to start your new adventure with healthy expectations, and processes to help manage issues when they arise.

If you would like some support with building healthy relationships or adjustment to life changes, contact us at

We provide Clinical Psychology services in Adelaide for adult individuals and couples, and provide Telehealth services Australia-wide.

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