On moving in together.

My boyfriend and I are talking about moving in together. He’s 21 with quite a decent job, and I am a 19-year-old waitress at a shady diner and a full time college student, bringing in less than $1,000 a month. (I live in the ‘burbs of a Midwestern city where the cost of living is relatively low. We could easily find an apartment for less than $500 a month.)

Needless to say, I’m feeling a tad apprehensive.

How do you know if moving in with someone you’re dating is a good decision? I love this guy. He is my very best friend and we get along quite well. I just don’t want to be naive and rush into something foolish. I feel like living with someone is a big step, and once you take it, I don’t know if you can really go back. (I mean, what, once our lease expires we’ll just take out another… indefinitely?)

In the short term, am I kidding myself? Can I really afford this? (School is my top priority. I work about 25 hours a week as it is and could feasibly work only 5 or 10 more.)

Also, I’m afraid of running myself into debt and/or being totally broke when those student loans come back to bite me in the ass in four years.

Any words of wisdom?

I’m assuming you’re either in student housing or living with your parents. If so, you’re right. Moving in with your boyfriend is a big step. It will forever serve as your own personal demarcation line between adolescence and adulthood.

That’s fine. We all have to take the leap sometime, and you seem to be asking all the right questions. Keep asking them.

Really, that’s my only advice. Keep asking questions. Do it together, and force yourselves to come up with the tough answers.

When it comes to legal and financial decisions, always stay rational and unemotional. If it helps, try pretending that you two would be merely roommates, not at all romantically involved.

As roommates, how would you handle the lease? How would you handle monthly rent and utilities? Who owns the furniture? How will you divide up responsibilities? If either of you decided to move out before the lease was up, what would happen? Come up with mutually agreed upon answers to all these questions and write them down.

You’re essentially going through the same process as a couple drafting a prenuptial agreement. Making plans for every possible worst case scenario is the best insurance against rushing into something foolish.

Good luck. You’re gonna need it.


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