Should You Move In Together?

Thinking about living together? Find out if you’re ready to cohabitate with our exclusive 9-question quiz.

By Laura Gilbert

“Living in sin” is a fact of life for many adults—according to the U.S. Census, the number of unmarried couples living together jumped a whopping 72 percent from 1990 to 2000, and there are now an estimated 11 million Americans cohabitating without a marriage license.

Now, if you’re in a relationship that’s lingering somewhere between “Let’s be exclusive” and “I do,” you may wonder if shacking up is right for you. Our quiz will point you in the right direction.

1. Say you move in together and then your honey gets transferred to a new city for six months. How would you pay the bills?
  1. No problem; I’ve got savings and can cover the shortfall.
  2. I could scrape it together by juggling my budget.
  3. Uh-oh; I’d need to borrow money or get a roommate.
2. Do you know what neighborhood you both want to live in?
  1. Yes, we’re totally agreed on an area.
  2. We’ll probably just move all of our stuff into the partner’s apartment with the best deal.
  3. No, but we can figure that out if we actually decide to go through with it.
3. Within your circle of friends, you’re the ones most likely to:
  1. Get married.
  2. Start a business together.
  3. Kill one another.
4. How much time do you spend together right now?
  1. Almost every night at one of our places, plus weekends.
  2. A couple of nights a week; we’re definitely in a routine.
  3. Not enough—that’s the point of moving in together!
5. Do you know what’s on their credit report?
  1. Yup—we’re on full-disclosure status.
  2. I know about the outstanding debts, but we haven’t discussed anything in depth.
  3. No, but it doesn’t really matter as long as he or she is reliable.
6. True or false: Since you started talking about moving in together, you seriously considered breaking up with your partner in the last six months.

7. True or false: You’re still a little hesitant about whether living together before marriage is the right thing to do.

8. True or false: You want to marry your partner and see living together first as a good way to prove you’re a real catch.

9. True or false: You and your sweetie have never taken a vacation together longer than 3 days.

Scoring: For questions 1 through 5, give yourself 1 point for every time you answered a, 2 for every time you answered b, and 3 for every time you answered c. For 6 through 9, give yourself 2 points for every true answer, 0 for each false.

5-10 points: Homeward bound
Your relationship works because you feel comfortable asking for your own space, and you know each other well enough to share the boring times as well as the fun, loving ones. Plus, you can both be yourself all the time, without feeling self-conscious. “The number one reason couples move in together is to test their long-term compatibility,” says David R. Gudgel, author of Before You Live Together.

“Couples might even want to make a date ahead of time to check in and see how the relationship is working,” says Dorian Solot, author of Unmarried to Each Other and executive director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project. Checking in regularly gives you the opportunity to bring up issues easily, rather than letting them simmer. Now, it might not be romantic to have “house meetings,” but neither is gritting your teeth over every dirty sock you find in the corner of the bathroom.

11-16 points: Roommate potential
You and your pumpkin are well past the puppy-love stage and fully on the path to partnership. But don’t go blender-shopping together just yet. Too often, one partner assumes that shacking up is one more step on the way to getting engaged while the other just considers it a test run. When those two ideas clash, it’s an understatement to say that feelings get hurt. Bottom line: If you’re not comfortable talking about “where this is going,” you’re definitely not ready for a live-in setup. And if you do have different ideas about a timeline for your relationship, you need to honestly evaluate whether you’re willing to compromise.

Another thing to consider when moving in is that you and your soul mate may well have less fun. “People are surprised that when they move together they’re actually spending less quality time together, because instead of focusing on dates, they’re worrying about dinner and the garbage,” says Solot. Just like with any roommate, to make it work, you’ll need to talk about pet peeves and chores with the person you only associate with sweet nothings.

17-23 points: Let freedom ring
Put down the packing tape for now. Yes, you’re crazy about the person you’re dating. But moving in together guarantees some ups and downs ahead. As a couple, you should spend more time developing the kind of intimacy that lets you weather any up or down. “A new relationship is so exciting and passionate; it’s tempting to want to move in together as soon as possible,’” says Solot. “A relationship isn’t really ready for cohabitation until you’re past that stage and are certain that there’s a lasting bond underneath the attraction.”

But just because you’re not ready to move your stuff into your cutie’s closet doesn’t mean you don’t have serious long-term potential. Remember that few, if any, happily-married couples say they wish they’d moved in together sooner! Instead of testing to see if your relationship is solid by sharing a cable bill, you can use the time (and space) building a relationship so solid that you know it can handle a cable bill. “Marriage is a lifetime commitment to an imperfect person,” says Gudgel. “When couples live together, they often think that they’ll get married in the end if it goes smoothly. Since no one is perfect, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.” Besides, are you really ready to tell your darling that it’s time to get over that mirrored Jim Morrison painting from college?! Some things can wait….

Laura Gilbert is a New York City writer who cohabitates with her two one-eyed cats.
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